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RETALLACK | FROM MINING TO MOUNTAINBIKING

 

Deep in the British Columbia (Canada) interior there is a new mountain biking mecca being built. With an old heritage from the golden years of mining, Retallack Lodge is one of the most interesting destinations in mountain biking right now. Dirt Magazine went for a visit last summer for a trip of a lifetime.

DIRT ISSUE 133 – MARCH 2013

Words by Riley McIntosh. Photo by Mattias Fredriksson

Kris blasts the corner ahead of me like a rocket. Loamy earth flies everywhere, and I shred into the corner, leaning my bike, trusting my tyres to grip with all my faith. I have never had so much fun on any trail…ever. I have never experienced dirt this deep, the trails are like a soft thick carpet and as you ride soil and earth is flying everywhere. I am at Retallack Lodge.

Picture in your mind a massive timber frame lodged perched in the forest. Above is a huge green mountain. Four thousand vertical feet of forest bursting with the flowiest, most creative trails you can imagine. Filled with loamy dirt, curving berms, and hand split cedar bridges The crazy thing about Retallack is that it is a business that runs on one core product: shredding the best trails, and skiing the best snow on the planet. Tucked deep in the Selkirk Mountains in the Kootenay Region of British Columbia, Retallack isn’t easy to get to, but that is part of what makes it so amazing.

It wasn’t always a mountain biker’s dream though. Starting in the 1890’s, a mass migration of miners flocked to the region after the discovery of massive veins of Galena Ore on the very mountain Retallack’s trails are built on. This led to the staking of hundreds of mines, and the town site of Retallack being serviced by hotels, brothels, and a train. After 50 years of incredible back breaking labour by many interesting characters from all over North America, silver prices dropped, the mines lost their yield, and everybody vanished. What was left behind? Miles upon miles of trails carved into the mountains, through deep forests, alpine meadows, and across slopes that nobody would dare to build a road across in modern times.

Today, Retallack Lodge sits on 30 city lots in what was once the main street. All winter long a steady stream of clients pay big money to ski the best powder skiing terrain in the world. And in the summertime? Mountain biking nirvana.

During my stay at Retallack, I was guided around the trails by the head trail builder Kris McMechan. I have never been shown so much fresh trail and descended so many vertical feet in such a short time. Following Kris down the trails was like being thrown into a New World Disorder movie. He was whipping every little rise and fall, airing into steep downhills, exploding over bridges, and making it look so easy.

That night, we shared beers with the likes of Evan Schwartz and Garret Buehler, who were both there filming big mountain lines in Retallack’s terrain for upcoming video parts. In the previous few weeks Retallack had played host to a continuous stream of talent including James Doerfling, Ian Morrison, Matt Miles, The Coastal Crew, and some of the best mountain photographers on the planet. From what I heard everyone was blown away by the massive amount of riding and fresh new trails.>>

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