Blake Jorgenson // Pemberton, BC

Whenever there's time for air, there's time for style—or so says Ollie Jones, as he tweaks out a mini-sender while dropping into Cream Puff ahead of Andrew Baker.
NIKON, 1/1250 sec, ISO 3200

Blake Jorgenson // Pemberton, BC A Different Sort of Harvest

Though only 20 miles north of the bustle of Whistler, Pemberton has always been a bit different.

For the majority of its history, the town was only accessible via foot or a sporadic train ride, and while it has standard BC mining roots, it’s been a farming community for nearly 2,000 years—and a unique one at that. The indigenous Lil’wat began harvesting wild sweet onions when they settled the valley two millennia ago, and the backbone of the modern economy is its virus-free potatoes, the first of their kind grown commercially in the world.

But in recent years, the little farming town at the end of the Sea to Sky has been harvesting a different type of crop: Whistlerites and other adventure seekers, escaping the clamor of mountain biking’s ultra-nexus and looking to put down a settlement of their own.

For the many years I lived in Whistler, Pemberton was the place to go mountain biking in the spring, fall or even winter. Almost 1,500 feet lower than Whistler, it offers warmer temps and longer riding seasons—both winter and summer—while mostly avoiding Whistler’s cold, wet shoulder seasons. As a result, it’s pulled in an ever-increasing community of outdoor enthusiasts, and become a quiet hub for all sorts of adventuring, be it of the snow or dirt variety.

I made the migration permanently two years ago, and now it’s almost the only place I ride. Each morning I leave my house, pedaling in the shadow of Mount Currie toward the huge network of trails butting against town. Everything is within a few-minute spin: Blackbird Bakery, the Pony, Mile One Burgers, Pemberton Bike Co., and just about all of my friend’s houses are a stone’s throw from each other—and from nearly all of the local trails.

While the area may not have quite the multi-decade mountain bike history of Whistler, it still has a robust heritage. The Pemberton Valley Trail Association is extremely active and is responsible for 30-plus miles of trails, and the list of options is long and colorful. Trails like Cream Puff, Tower of Power, Rudy’s, Jack the Ripper, Middle Earth and Meat Grinder are just a few highlights among many epic rides, and are the fruits of countless hours of passion and labor by so many people. Pemberton residents don’t take their playground for granted.

These days, Pemberton is a far cry from its lonely, isolated origins. Since its beginnings in 2008, each July the Pemberton Music Festival draws tens of thousands of concert goers to the valley, and the are is no longer a secret on the outdoor scene. Some of Whistler’s events have spilled into the town, such as the Ironman Triathlon, bringing with them a swarm of competitors and spectators.

Yet something is still different about the little farming community at the end of the Sea to Sky Corridor. It’s no longer a long walk from the end of the road, but the fields of the “Seed Potato Capital of the World” still glow gold each year before harvest, and for the greater part of the year, the 2,500 permanent residents enjoy a sleepy scene markedly different than an hour-and-a-half down the road. And above it all, Mount Currie still keeps its granite watch over the valley, a reminder of the area’s frontiersman origins that have drawn so many to this wondrous place.

Cream Puff Shuttle

After Cream Puff’s 1,000-vertical-foot descent, the arms may be a little pumped and the fingers a bit cramped, but the trail is just as fun. Rider Hailey Elise.
NIKON, 1/500 sec, f/5.0, ISO 1000
The funny thing about epic views is they’re always there, you just have to be at the right vantage point from which to see them. Luckily, in Pemberton that isn’t difficult, especially on Cream Puff, where the views are as plentiful as the thrills. Hailey Elise, Ollie Jones and Andrew Baker take in the surroundings.
NIKON, 1/640 sec, f/7.1, ISO 400

Tower of Power Loop

While Mount Currie is officially named after John Currie, a pioneer settler in the valley, it’s called Ts’zil by the L’íl’wat Nation, who believed the face was etched by a giant two-headed serpent. Hailey Elise, Ollie Jones and Andrew Baker ride Tower of Power with some serious history in the background.
NIKON, 1/1250 sec, f/6.3, ISO 250
Ollie Jones and Hailey Elise have a mid-trail moment.
NIKON, 1/125 sec, f/5.0, ISO 1000
As with the rest of the Sea to Sky Corridor, Pemberton has no shortage of granite. Ollie Jones and Andrew Baker enjoy this surplus on the Mother Slab, a steep feature that takes full commitment and a gentle braking finger.
NIKON, 1/640 sec, f/5.0, ISO 2500

Rudy's Loop

Pemberton’s mountains are known equally for their summer and winter terrain, as the two often resemble each other. Hailey Elise leads Ollie Jones and Andrew Baker down a summertime pillow line on Rudy’s.
NIKON, 1/800 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1250
Hailey Elise does some damage control on her shin, which encountered a not-so-fun combination of bikes, high speeds and rocks.
NIKON, 1/200 sec, f/5.0, ISO 2000
Rudy’s was built in memory of Rudy Rozsypalek, a glider pilot and beloved Pemberton resident who passed away in 2013. Andrew Baker pays homage with a little dust and light.
NIKON, 1/1600 sec, f/5.6, ISO 2500
Whatever your viewpoint, Mount Currie is a force to be reckoned with. Hailey Elise, Ollie Jones and Andrew Baker take in the beast along Rudy’s.
NIKON, 1/1250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 1000

The Blake Jorgenson Gallery as originally published in The Sea to Sky Photo Book - Freehub Magazine Issue 7.3