Video: Remy Metailler Rides Infamous Portal Trail in Moab

Oct 20, 2023
by Rémy Métailler  

Words: Remy Metailler

Portal is one of these trails that many people put on their bucket list. Why? I'm not too sure... but maybe because it is ridiculously dangerous.

Anyways, I got to ride it when in Moab a few weeks back, and yes it's is extremely exposed and quite a difficult trail. Pretty awkward in some sections for sure but also has some good flow towards the starts and the finish.

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New video of the deadliest trail in the US

New video of the deadliest trail in the US

New video of the deadliest trail in the US

New video of the deadliest trail in the US

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Author Info:
remymetailler avatar

Member since Feb 25, 2009
192 articles

  • 231 9
 It's a very American approach to technical riding: no one can afford to get injured so all the features are next to massive exposure so if you mess up you just die.
  • 34 2
 well...we did coin the term "go big or go home" or in this place "go big or go to heaven"
  • 65 19
 nothing worse than being the only first world country without free healthcare
  • 108 0
 @danielfloyd: those eleven carrier strike groups are not going to feed themselves
  • 1 0
 lol, what a solution
  • 23 0
 @danielfloyd: Strava should come with a complimentary gofundme page for US riders
  • 39 86
flag TwoNGlenn (Oct 20, 2023 at 8:01) (Below Threshold)
 @danielfloyd: I understand the allure of “free” healthcare. However, I can’t think of a single thing the feds do cheaper, more efficiently, or better than the private sector. I’m not defending the current system, but government healthcare ain’t the awesome answer we’re looking for.
  • 30 3
 @danielfloyd: Yeah we get double f*cked here. Pay high taxes, and insane insurance premiums, oh and here's a bill because we decided to not cover one half of your surgery just for funsies.

I don't know what the answer is, but I know our current system isn't it.
  • 36 2
 @TwoNGlenn: intuitively most would share your skepticism. I would too.

However when you look at the %age of GDP spend per person and another efficiency metric (OECD study. I'll dig up the link if anyone's interested) the US private/public system as a whole is remarkably more expensive than other systems. We're talking multiple percentage points.

Added to this many other countries have universal healthcare schemes that aren't government run with for eg private providers but with price transparency and much less administration. It's interesting to see that there are many models other than a government-run model
  • 26 3
 The USPS is fully self-funded and will deliver a letter anywhere you want in the US for $0.66.
  • 4 0
 @TwoNGlenn: Also does your employer share how much they pay for your healthcare on top of your contribution? I work for a state employer that gets pretty good rates on their healthcare, and my contribution + employer's contribution totals to ~11% of my salary ON TOP of all the healthcare I pay for through state/federal taxes.
  • 18 34
flag TwoNGlenn (Oct 20, 2023 at 9:19) (Below Threshold)
 You negative nellies just gonna gloss over the fact the federal government is a black hole of waste, fraud, and abuse? You can downvote me to Hades, but tell me one thing the feds do better, cheaper, and more efficiently than the private sector. Again, I’m not saying I like the current US system. I’d like to see changes. But I think looking to the US government to solve the problem is a poor, poor idea
  • 26 1
 @TwoNGlenn: Every other advanced nation spends less on healthcare than we do for same or better outcomes. If your argument is that the US is specifically poorly suited for a nationalized system to work due to an independence mentality I won't argue, but I'd rather change that aspect than argue that we'll forever overpay for a critical service and underprovide those that can't afford coverage.
  • 1 1
 comment of the day!
  • 3 0
 @thinkbike: "those eleven carrier strike groups are not going to feed themselves"

so freaking true
  • 15 0
 @TwoNGlenn: Because there is no waste, fraud or abuse I the entire private sector. lol.
  • 1 0
 @preach: many will fall short
  • 5 0
 I remember a story decades ago about the seeming lack of urgency by Moab search and rescue: "On that trail there's no rescue, only recovery."
  • 4 0
 @TwoNGlenn: The VA healthcare system is a prime example.
  • 5 10
flag suspended-flesh FL (Oct 20, 2023 at 12:07) (Below Threshold)
 I rode the Portal trail in 1992 on a Cannondale hardtail with a Rockshox Judy SL. It was no big deal. I did not have any health insurance at the time.
  • 7 10
 @thinkbike: man… ya know I kinda like not having a 68% tax…. But yeah. That’s just me…. You?
  • 2 1
 @suspended-flesh: HAHAHA Well done patriot
  • 11 22
flag Mtbdialed (Oct 20, 2023 at 21:51) (Below Threshold)
 @danielfloyd: there is no such thing as "Free" healthcare anywhere.....just places where you force your neighbor to pay for you. lol.

go live in the UK and get hurt, and see how that "free" NHS care goes for you.....
  • 2 0
 @preach: buy 50 is ok???
  • 9 0
 @Mtbdialed: said like someone who has only read news stories of public healthcare systems without ever actually using them. My experience (several surgeries and traumatic injuries) with the Canadian public health system has been fantastic.
  • 1 0
 @danielfloyd: our system is trash but I’m pretty sure there are still a lot of things that are worse. Smile
  • 4 0
 @TwoNGlenn: As a user of government healthcare for everything from bike crashes to major surgeries I can say you could not be more wrong. It's not perfect but it's pretty great.
  • 12 0
 @Mtbdialed: You again. Don't you have a Trump rally to go to?
  • 4 18
flag Mtbdialed (Oct 21, 2023 at 8:53) (Below Threshold)
 @Super7: go suck some trudeau peen, would you!?

yes....everyone you disagree with is just a Trumper and you can dismiss anything they say, because that way you don't have to pull your head out of your ass and consider that the left/right paradigm is simply mind control....

have a good one, eh?
  • 6 2
 @Mtbdialed: Okay Karen
  • 5 5
 @Super7: population of Canada is roughly 10 percent of USA. Forty percent of US citizens pay no income tax. We’re trillions in debt and there’s a half dead guy slumped over the throttle. It cost us half a billion dollars just to get the Obamacare website running. I have zero confidence in our ability to pull off national healthcare.
  • 2 0
 @TwoNGlenn: as I mentioned, there are other countries with private systems, public systems, and mixed systems which deliver as good ( and some better) results for meaningfully less money than the US system. And also some better than the Canadian system.

Some (like Germany) are fairly big populations). These other systems are worth considering
  • 2 2
 Such dichotomous thinking around here! Multiple things can be true at the same time: The USA system is garbage and could be improved. Also, comparing the USA to Canada or European nations is often silliness and what works for them may not work for us.

Now here's something to argue about: Moab is overrated.
  • 1 2
 @Super7: Okay, Justin.
  • 3 2
 @BiNARYBiKE: I have already gotten downvoted for saying Moab is overrated. lmao
  • 3 1
 @leelau: definitely other systems are worth looking at if they make sense and can be successfully scaled. The younger, less grisled crowd in here seems to think everything is going to be free or cheap. Lol, no.
  • 45 1
 Glad you walked that spot for this video. If anyone could ride it, it's a rider like you and some high school kid contemplating it will now see you using better judgement rather than just sending it. Well done.
  • 44 1
 Glad to see you walk that death section. I have seen plenty of videos of pros riding it. Doesn’t seem worth it even for the best in the world.
  • 8 0
 Oh so caring from the number of death itself
  • 25 0
 Portal is a fun trail, yes there are very spooky sections but after the exposure bits it becomes really fast and fun.

However I feel like the novelty of portal overshadows what is arguably the better trail, gold bar rim. The features on it are more challenging (albeit without quite as much certain death in spots) and overall it's a ton of fun. It's tough, the climb up will test your merit, but it's worth it.
  • 7 1
 Yeah that climb to get up there is not the best time, coming from someone who likes to climb.
  • 11 0
 @neatoneto: It's a lung/leg/soul buster for sure. Weirdly though, I found it "easier" than most the steep climbs back home on the east coast solely due to traction. The ability to just keep going because that rock is essentially Velcro on your rear tire is a game changer. Back home climbs of that caliber are usually punctuated with roots that are essentially covered in astroglide, and not having to constantly change cadence and position and just grind it out was awesome.

That being said, hopping up all those ledges on gold bar was.......taxing.
  • 2 0
 Completely agree, I am in Moab as we speak and was actually talking to someone about this yesterday. Gold bar is probably my favorite trail in Moab yet I rarely hear anyone talk about it.
  • 1 0
 I guess I'm weird, but I love the climb. Its a beautiful set of trail and kudos to the trailbuilder for making a very unique alignment.
  • 1 4
 @neatoneto: well just cause you like it, doesnt mean your good at it...
  • 18 2
 I’m so impressed with how humble and professional Remy is. An amazing ambassador for our sport and good human. Just love watching his edits - easily one of THE best riders, and super entertaining.
  • 13 1
 Moab is fun and often not as scary as it looks on video. That said, my motto when I go is, “Live to ride another day.” If I walk 5-10 feet of a trail, but ride 15 miles of it, that’s great. I’d rather get down to the bottom and be stoked about the 15 miles I did ride, rather than be down there with a broken bike or some injury wishing I hand ridden that 10 feet.
  • 12 0
 I was descending Portal sometime back in the 1980s. I had come across Gold Bar Rim, and a guy who came up Poison Spider started right in front of me. He fell off at the crux maybe 100 feet before I got there. I was staring at my front wheel so (thankfully) I didn't actually watch him dive off.

It took me a while to snap to what had actually happened, but after a while I realized he couldn't possibly have ridden away from me. I didn't want to accept that he had died right before my eyes, but that was the inescapable conclusion I came to after I made it to the ramp down to the road.

They recovered his body a day or so later. And just so there's no doubt, I didn't even think about trying to ride the crux.
  • 1 0
  • 9 1
 The portal trail is pretty chill. You just cruise along next to a cliff for a while and then descend into the desert. Its really not scary if you're just riding along. The section that they walk would be pretty dangerous if you wanted to ride it. I've seen HB do it, but its high risk - low reward. Not a hard move, but not really worth the risk. Other than that, the trail is cool but not all that dangerous.
  • 2 0
 Agreed that it's not necessarily got the most technical moves if you assess it move by move; with the exceptions you mention.

However, jmo but taken as a whole there's not many "rest" non- technical spots and the features are continuous with consequence for body and bike if you crash.
  • 7 0
 I love the sandbagging going on… perfect way to send people into oblivion ‍♂️

And I did ride the Portal (minus the 2-3 features recommended to walk) for the first time in 2001 on a Rocky Mountain Hammer rented from Poison Spider. A good tech rider would appreciate the challenge but I wouldn’t call the trail mellow. That’s just plain showboating.

Let’s keep it real and call the trail for what it is…
  • 1 1
 Blue Square
  • 6 1
 Seriously amazing trail. It's two trails in one. The first part is the high exposure bit and then you come around the bend which throws you on the fast chunky technical bit. I found it to be way easier than it looks not sure if anyone else found the same.
  • 3 0
 Didn't like the look of the exposed part at all, but the later sections looked super.
  • 3 1
 @G-Sport: watching videos of the upper part is enough to trigger my fear of heights. I honestly would struggle to even walk that section. The bottom half looks fun as hell though
  • 7 1
 @mtmc99: it's honestly easiest to just ride the exposed bit (with the exception of 2 features) it's super mellow, so if you keep your mind on the trail rather than the cliff, it's not that bad.

It's worth riding just to be able to hit Gold Bar Rim and lower Portal in one ride.
  • 3 0
 @DaneL: Yeah. I found “Mag 7” to be an even better day than “Whole Enchilada” (which is also great)
  • 11 0
 @pmhobson: I share this opinion wholeheartedly. Whole Enchilada is great, or at least parts of it are great. I know echoing youtubers is frowned upon here, but BKXC is right when he says "you can't have a 20+ mile ride without some of it being garbage."

That being said, I could ride the descent off burro pass for the rest of my life.
  • 1 0
 @grnmachine02: I hear that. Next time I end up in Moab, I’m thinking it’d be cool to just tool around in the Burro Pass zone. Less shuttling, more exploring.
  • 3 0
 @grnmachine02: the biggest downside to WE is that Burro is unrideable for most of the year. Starting at Hazard makes it a fun morning ride. Starting at Burro makes it an epic half day ride.
  • 1 0
 @DaneL: I just got back from a trip to Moab. Being my first trip out there, and driving from Virginia, I wanted to make sure I did all the bucket list trails. WE, slickrock, mag 7. Knowing what I know now, I'd probably skip WE and slick rock and focus on things like Captain Ahab, or ask around and find some trails that only the locals talk about, or just take more time to really enjoy gold bar and portal.

I'm happy I did WE and slick rock, because they truly were a blast, just next time I'd like to focus more on smiles per mile in stead of just the big names.
  • 1 0
 @grnmachine02: Awesome! I try to do a yearly roadtrip out there from the East coast too. How far up did you start on TWE? In my opinion TWE lives up to it's name.. specially if you're lucky enough to do the whole thing.
  • 3 0
 @neatoneto: we were able to do the whole thing. We got shuttles up by Coyote Shuttle (side note, the owner is super awesome as is their shuttle vehicle), and then climbed up to burro pass while trying (and failing) to get used to the elevation. Then we started down what was possibly the most slippery descent I’ve ever done as it rained that morning at elevation.

We had setup camp at goose island, so our camper was practically across from the tunnel exit. Anyone who decides to boon-dock it, for $20 a night goose island is the tits.
  • 2 0
 @grnmachine02: dude that was nuts.
  • 7 0
 Was that Wade Simmons at the beginning?
  • 1 0
 He was picking it apart
  • 3 0
 Such a stunning trail, maybe one day. I'd be white knuckling the whole time which is probably exactly what not to do...

Looks like some kind of new grips from Ergon on Remy's bike? Never seen those before
  • 17 1
 Good eye. They are the new GDH. Very soft, love them. I have switched from the GE1 on all my bikes now.
  • 2 0
 @remymetailler: That's high praise. I'll be looking for them once my GE1s wear out. Thanks Remy!
  • 5 0
 One pedalstrike and you are done. Not sure if the risk-reward makes sense here.
  • 2 1
 Sounds like a trail Gee Atherton wants to ride
  • 2 0
 @theteaser: No, where's the 60ft drop????
  • 2 0
 @theteaser: He made a video riding it a couple years ago.
  • 3 1
 That boulder in one of the crux’s serves no purpose. It’s not that cool of a feature and it’s just tempting enough to seem doable but damn the consequence of death if you don’t get it. Why even keep it there? Sure it makes the trail easier but honestly keeps more people alive. It wouldn’t totally neuter the trail into a flow trail for everyone
  • 3 0
 I miss riding in Moab so much. I only lived in UT for 3.5 years, but I went to Moab as often as I could. It's just amazing.
  • 1 0
 I rode Portal about 5 years ago (walked the couple of high risk/low rewards spots mentioned above) but one of my ride buddies rode it all (and got told off by his wife!)
I also rode Palisade Plunge/Rim a couple of weeks ago and, frankly, I thought that was more "dangerous" than Portal as there are many more exposed sections with tricky switchbacks (granted, maybe only 500ft drop rather than 1000ft drop...).
  • 1 0
 Moab & surronding area of arches national park, canyonlands, dead horse point & if you're prepared to travel a bit further utah goosenecks/ valley of the gods/ monument valley is 1 of my fave places on the planet. if you ever get chance to go there & ride, or just take in the scenery, dont put it off, just do it
  • 4 0
 I don't even want to walk that trail
  • 6 4
 rode portal the first time in 1997 on this bike.

cool story bro
  • 3 0
 1994 for me on my Eldridge Grade (with a brand new Manitou 3 fork)
  • 3 0
 That IS a cool story bro. I mentioned iT above but I rode my shiny new 1992 raw aluminum Cannondale SM-800 HT with the RS Judy SL with the massive 2.5" of travel. We came up via Poison Spider Mesa - odd that Remy and Drew walked up Portal but they had their reasons.
  • 1 0
 I was hoping that was a link to the infamous Shit Bike lol

But common now, was it really that bike or a bike just like it? I bet the latter Wink
  • 2 0
 @likeittacky: link is not my bike, it was years before cell cameras. Only difference is that mine came with a RS Quadra 21r. 2 inches of magical MCU suspension!
  • 3 0
 "It's a trail you ride once and done." Hahaha. - signed, a Moab local
  • 1 1
 My first thought was … I bet Gee would do that. Quick google to last year .. Gee breezes past the dismount sign .. bop-bop. Cruising. But he did have a butt clencher moments before ! Heal up Gee !!
  • 1 0
 I rode the section in question and got a sick photo for my efforts... didn't die! I was so focused that it only registered afterwards.
  • 2 0
 If it scares Remy it'll terrify me.
  • 1 0
 That last spot he stopped does go, but speed helps. Love that trail; one of our best DH singletracks.
  • 1 2
 At 7:29, my wife Melissa tagged her bar on the uphill outcropping, went off the low side and did a volleyball dive to the precipice.
“Good dig” I said.
She laughed, as she was quite elated to have not died.
  • 2 0
 Live free or die! Dude who said that, never died before.
  • 2 0
 Honestly that trail just doesn't look that fun or worth the risk.
  • 1 1
 Nate Hills and Kyle Mears rode it at full speed. That is incredible how precise and fast they were.
  • 2 1
 This guy is such an insane rider. And Remy's pretty good too.
  • 1 0
 I'm glad Aaron Rodgers took a safe sport to rehab.
  • 1 0
 video still private Frown
  • 2 0
 Its public now!
  • 2 2
 For sure one of the most insane mtb content creator's!
  • 2 0
 props for repping the real mtb 828 sir.
  • 1 1
 That's what she said.
  • 1 3
 Portal sucks..and so do most of these trail videos that u tubers do..
  • 4 0
 thank you

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