CHILCOTIN ADVENTURE
RENE WILDHABER
and ROSS SCHNELL
WORDS/PHOTOS MARCO TONIOLO

The last September Ross Schnell, Rene Wildhaber and I had the great opportunity to ride 2 days in the Chilcotins, BC, with the brand new Trek Slash that had been showed to the press just a couple of days before. We booked a floatplane flight to the remote Lorna Lake and found our way back to civilization riding on stunning trails in an even more stunning nature.

This was possible thanks to Sterling Lorence, who spent a whole evening showing us on a map how not to get lost, even if he tried to convince us to hire a guide. But, hey, we wanted adventure and without a GPS device, a satellite phone and a guide it felt right, like in the good old days. Actually I could already figure the newspapers: "Two Euros and an American get lost in the Canadian backcountry", or something like "Grizzly enjoys Euro meat a lot", but I could not tell this to two tough guys like Rene and Ross. So, that's how I climbed in the floatplane and let the animal side of myself take the lead during two beautiful days.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
The best flight ever. Imagine you don't even feel the landing in the water: you cannot have a smoother landing.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
The plane was 50 years old but still the best you can get on the market. That's what some friends of mine told me when I went back home and showed them the photos. In some video game this plane is famous for being the nonplusultra.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
It was Randy's last day before retirement and one of his last commercial flights.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Lorna Lake

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Was I writing about adventure, the old good days and no mobile phone? Well, after unloading, Randy was to drop our camping gear some 25+ km away at Spruce Lake, but while unloading our days worth of gear and bikes, Rene managed to unload one bag too many. What do you do?

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Exactly: you put 2 backpacks on the shoulders of the one who made the mistake. Renè carrying his bike at the beginning of a very long 8 hours ride.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
We are not alone and we are not at the top of the foodchain.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Lorna Pass

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
A supersmooth trail leads us down from the pass to the valley into a spot that you might mistake for a Sterling Lorence photo location.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Heading to Deer Pass, a long push

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
That's what happens when you try to cross a stream with 2 backpacks.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
The trail to Deer Pass

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Not only pushing, you can also ride some sections of the trail. The Slash has a great geometry and rides uphill as good as downhill

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Some snow to remind us of the great winter Canadians had last year

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
The pass is not so far anymore

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Done!

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
The downhill from Deer Pass: flowy and funny, a good reward for the long climb

2 days trip in the Chilcotins

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
At the end of the downhill a very long flat trail needs all of our energy. The scenery is stunning but we are getting tired and out of water. I have to fill my Camel Back at a creek - the photo equipment is heavy and I don't want my backpack to get too heavy so I never carry too much water. Rene and Ross are betting on how long it will take for me to run to the toilet, but my stomach stays all right.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Spruce Lake, 3 T-Bone steaks on the barbecue, fresh beer. Life is good.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Breakfast. We need some energy because the next uphill is just behing the corner, up to Windy Pass

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
It should have been called Dusty Pass

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
That's mountain biking for me.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
We are now heading to Eldorado Pass following an old mining path

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
We all hope this to be the last climb of the day, but Sterl planned another uphill for us: Camel Pass

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
This is actually our way up to the pass but I had to ask the boys to ride down once for this shot.

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
...and this

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
Camel Pass! Now it's only downhill to Tyax lodge..

2 days trip in the Chilcotins
.. where our private yacht is waiting for us

Obviously we are not leaving without a hard earned fresh beer and good food.

If you'd like to ride this tour you should hire a guide (haha). You can find all the information here: Tyax Air.
Thanks to Sterling Lorence for showing us the right way and to Trek for giving me the right bike for this tour. Thanks also to Dale and Randy of Tyax Air for the stunning flights.
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56 Comments

  • + 34
 the mustache adds a whole nother level of epic
  • + 1
 "...me and a great big Leatherman rollin'...
Me and a great big Leatherman ridin'...
Travelling all over this vast and mighty land...

With a Great Big Leatherman,,,"
  • + 1
 I was going to comment something along those lines. Great 'Stache.
  • + 3
 That burger looks sooo goood!
  • + 3
 Stache on a Slash.
  • + 2
 Sweet trip
Finally got my Slash 7 on friday.....thought it would be just like my 08 Remedy but it does feel upgraded Smile Stiffer, better rear end performance, looks more space agey...result!
  • + 1
 I've told Wildhaber to get Shandro to take him up to the Koots for the best epic heli drops, and since he has no time to show Wildman around there.... seems there may be an equal to the best epics in BC....

damn epic!! (not the damn stache).... I cried through all those shots though, cause it snowed here today ( finally !).
  • + 1
 The Kootenays have good riding but neither their heli drops nor their long rides come close to equalling the sheer wilderness experience of the Chilcotins
  • + 1
 couldn't you tell I was trying hard not to admit it... damn epic was all I could muster between the tears (wishing I was there). But there are a couple up the lake that I'd have hard time saying are not at the damn epic like the chilcotins.

when you coming back to der Schweitz fro some shoots? like you said, theres a few huts to stop at along the way here:-)
  • + 1
 Next September! It's so good we come back for more. Grass is greener and all that stuff. But I'm also planning 4 - 5 day chilcotin adventure in summer where there are more grizzlies than people. No bergrestaurants anywhere so all the food and other stuff goes on our back.
  • + 1
 That was an awesome photo set aye... I'd be really intersted to hear from these guys how the Slash does as a "do it all" bike cause it's billed as more of an Avalanche/Enduro DH bike so I'm suprised to see them ride those for a multi-day epic over say a Remedy or something more XC-ish. Certainly a GREAT endorsement to see them climb those passes on it though aye (course Rene and Ross could probably clinb that on my old Norco 4x4 but still Wink ...) The Slash looks like a SWEET bike, but I'm sad they got rid of the Scratch Air (I realize it's really easy to make your own out of a Scratch, but it's far more costly if you;re buyng everything new).

What amazing country and what a BURLY trip to make on a bike. I've never done any "Bike Backpacking" but it's certainly piqued my interest again. I had thought it might be fun to do years ago, but none of the guys in either my riding group or my rafting/backpacking group is in BOTH groups so I didn't have anyone to go with. Now that the fiance is getting pretty dam good on the bike (it's pretty awesome to have a woman who can ride with you and WANTS to get better...) I think this would be AWESOME to do around here in Oregon (same terrain, just lower elevations then the Chillcotins)...
  • + 1
 Yep, I was also curious about how the bike worked out for them. Great photos and great article still, really makes me want to go on epic trips like that.
  • + 1
 Nice - you are in my neck of the woods. Glad you enjoyed it There would be many restaurants with beer and apple struedel on the way if this was anything like Switzerland. Beautiful shots from you; the camera gear was used well
  • + 4
 I want a full review of that awesome bike please Smile
  • + 2
 Ditto...
  • + 3
 Cool, some day Big Grin , this are the kind of trips that any MTB rider deserves before die Big Grin . Saludos desde México Big Grin
  • + 2
 Great write up and trip.
Quality shots from you, but do we get to see any vids?
BTW- some spots look like from commercial film from Shimano where Shandro and Wier ride.
  • + 1
 thanks. No, no video, we didn't have the time. The first day was very tight because of the riding + photos, we arrived at Spruce Lake right before sunset.
And yes, some Shimano ads were shot there.
  • + 0
 Awesome shots man... I don't know how to say this with out sounding like I'm baging on your shots, but I really LIKE how they're not really dynamic or overly composed. I LIKE how they're NOTover processed or enhanced like alot of biking shots are is I guess what I'm trying to say (poorly HAHAHA)... They're awesome shots and I feel like they're more "true to life" color-wise then alot of shots where they've tweaked the colors and screwed with the depth-of-field and what not. It looks like you've used a polarizing filter on them to get the colors to pop, but none of the post-production I see alot of. You took great shots at the time you were taking them, not shots thaty were meant to be "starters" to be done up on the computer later (what's you camera set-up BTW?) Your pics just seem to make me feel like I'm THERE in them with you. I also REALLY love the big wide angle shots where you get a sence of how BIG the terrain and the scenery is. Pretty impressive considering you had to haul your photo gear on your back AND get out to the place you took the pics from ahead of those guys. I'm guessing you were working your BUTT off, nice work mate.

Do you have any review-like comments on the Slash in terms of how it is as a "do it all" bike for multi-day epics??? Likes and dislikes???

Once again, great shots and thanks for sharing.
  • + 1
 Ciao Marco , ho già seguito questa tua bellissima avventura su mtb-forum, vorrei sapere come posso fare il vostro stesso percorso , a chi posso rivolgermi e cosa e consigliabile portarsi ? gps sofisticati , ???
  • + 1
 c'è scritto tutto in fondo all'articolo ;-)
  • + 1
 nice pics as per usual for the chilcotins! ya, nice stash on the slash! but how was it really for pushing up the passes...
  • + 2
 my fav shot was that dank looking burger! lol itd been a memory for the books
  • + 2
 I want that bike!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But they can have the moustashes.
  • + 3
 DLC lyrics spotted
  • + 2
 I want some!
  • + 1
 Great article. How tall are you guys and what size of slashes were you riding?
  • + 2
 Is this the same ride Matt Hunter did in his Lone Wolf video?
  • + 2
 he rode our 2nd day I think
  • + 2
 Marco dropped into Trigger Lk after Deer Pass. I believe Matt got floatplane dropped on Warner Lk which is W of Trigger Lk - about one hours ride
  • + 1
 I knew I recognized that lake turn!
  • + 1
 So this trip was really about selling the bike, right? So how about that bike?
  • + 1
 So many amazing shots. Beuatiful!
  • + 1
 Excellent photos- always nice to see your work!
  • + 1
 All I remembered was "Hey! Its the guy with the wicked moustache!"
  • + 1
 Great stuff as always, congrats!
  • + 1
 EPPPIC ps that burger looks well deserved!
  • + 1
 i wish i had that sort of money to buy a bike like that
  • + 2
 nice photos!!
  • + 1
 Nice story guys, I did the same ride earlier in the season. AMAZING...
  • + 1
 WoW.... Nice Trails and well Burgers and Beers.. Cheers
  • + 1
 awesome photos and awesome scenery.
  • + 1
 nice one marco...nice double backpag from Renê
  • + 1
 Nice environment
  • + 1
 Slash is pefect...
  • + 1
 Very beautiful
  • + 1
 How was the bike?
  • + 1
 Amazing trip and pics.
  • + 1
 Some day....
  • + 1
 Mo
  • + 1
 video please Smile
  • + 1
 sick!
  • + 1
 Epic!
  • + 0
 what no video, shame, cool photos
  • + 1
 So how was the bike?
  • + 1
 love 3

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