Riding along a ridgeline, after a grueling ascent, the view of the West Kootenay mountain ranges finally comes into view. Our legs are burning, our lungs heaving and we have only just begun the bike trail that will take us over seven summits and back down to where our vehicle awaits us. The day will be long but it will also be unlike any other.
The town of Rossland has a plethora of amazing trails surrounding the city but none stands out more than the Seven Summits. This 35-km (22 mi) behemoth and International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) Epic Trail is the premier trail in the region.
We hop on the shuttle to the drop-off point along with riders from Vancouver, Calgary, and Washington. I hear a couple talking about their training regimen to prepare for this trail. I can only hope my pre-season rides have prepared me for what is to come on this 8-hour long journey. Our driver interjects mid ride and offers some cautious words “If you haven’t drank half of your water before reaching the top of the first ascent you’re done!” We take this to heart.
The beginning of the trail is an absolute beast; 600-m (1,969 ft.) of elevation gain just to reach the first ridge. This continuous, unforgiving climb sets the pace for the day and kicks you into high gear first thing in the morning. Once you reach the ridgeline between Lepsoe and Plewman you can see all the incredible peaks the Seven Summits traverses. The single track winds down open slopes with wildflowers blooming all around. This is alpine riding at its best and our group is inspired knowing the hardest climb is behind us and the fun is about to start.
After many stops, a couple crashes and many litres of water drank; we reach the final descent down the classic Dewdney Trail, 5.4-km (3.3 mi) of loose and fast downhill riding. With muscles aching and fingers stuck in a claw-like grip, our crew reaches the final stage of the Seven Summits. Now, time for a beer.
Know Before Your Go – While you’re out enjoying the trails, remember to respect the terrain and ride within your ability. Check the difficulty rating systems on apps such as TrailForks or at your local visitor centre. Stick to the smooth trails to avoid erosion – local trail builders do an outstanding job of maintaining the trails we get to ride on. Remember, bikers yield to all other trail users – give a “hello!” or heads up signal to passersby. BC Adventure Smart is a great recourse to help you get informed before heading into the outdoors!
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~ Our Kootenay Winter Celebrations: Along the Powder Highway
~ Out your Back Door: Kootenay Community Treks
~ Powder Highway 101
~ Rossland’s Unique Cabins
~ The Best Summit Hikes in the Kootenays
Story and images by Ryan Flett, a local photographer from Nelson, BC.
Ryan started skiing at Whitewater Ski Resort at a young age and knew that his obsession with the outdoors would guide him. He sought a career where he could experience the world around him and capture its beauty. He’s chased skiers down powder runs in the Kootenays, experienced the culture wonders of South America, sailed the majestic BC coast and travelled east to west in Canada. And continues experiencing as much as he can, with his camera in tow.
(Original story published: August 16, 2016)