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Sproatt Alpine Trail making progress

WORCA happy with first year of construction



Though there were some unpleasant bumps in the path this year, the Whistler Off Road Cycling Association (WORCA) is pleased, overall, with progress on the Sproatt Alpine Trail.

The project is being undertaken by WORCA and the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), with WORCA creating the descent and the RMOW making the ascent for the trail, which will be between seven and eight kilometres when completed. The descent will take riders from Mount Sproatt to the Flank Trail near Function Junction. The project is part of a new alpine trail network on Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain.

WORCA president Jerome David said in a phone interview on Nov. 10 that volunteers were able to build 1.6 km of trail over the summer. The group had hoped to complete a full two kilometres, but David was proud of the year's accomplishments.

"We're really happy with the 1.6 (km). It's top-notch product that we're super happy to have," he said. "Given the challenges of the first part of the project, we're not too upset about not being at the two kilometres, but we're now planning to go and tackle next year a little bit bigger."

David noted the project faced challenges with grant applications, as timelines for some of the grants didn't line up ideally with the project schedule, and builders didn't receive permission to go ahead until later than hoped. There was also some difficulty getting enough workers in place early on. He added that some of the early work needed to be completed on steep terrain, which builders anticipated, but not to this particular degree.

David lauded lead trail-builder Dan Raymond's work, noting he will be back next year. David said WORCA is taking stock of this year and wasn't yet sure what a reasonable goal to accomplish next year would be. He said the project timeline would be determined in the new year.

WORCA is also planning fundraisers to help the organization reach its $206,000 share of the project price tag.

The RMOW constructed its portion of the ascent up to 1,300 metres this year, according to a spokesperson. It is expected to complete the ascending part of the trail at 1,650 metres next year.

Like David, Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden was impressed with the year's accomplishments, noting there were also improvements to existing trails on Rainbow Mountain and Mount Sproatt. The RMOW has budgeted $250,000 for the project over the 2013 to 2017 span.

"There has been significant progress made this summer with the new alpine trail network," she said. "There's been a lot of work and we're getting a lot of positive feedback about it."

The Alpine Club of Canada is constructing the Skywalk Trail that will ascent to Rainbow from Screaming Cat Lake and the Flank Trail, while Recreation Sites and Trails BC has improved the Rainbow Lake Trail.