This is a full on trip for those with a suitable set of skills and a suitable bike to match, but if you match up to this one and have the right attitude for an “Adventure” then this one will not disappoint.
This is a difficult Grade 5+ technical “Mountain Bike Adventure” this is not an easy intermediate grade ride by any stretch of the imagination. As such there are numerous hazards and opportunities to hurt yourself and it is expected that you have both the skills and a suitable bike to cope with this trip. Body Armour is suggested, at least knee and elbow pads. If you have any doubt at all about your ability to get yourself down safely, then we strongly advise that you reconsider joining this trip. If for any reason we do not think it is safe or sensible for you to do this trip we reserve the right to refuse.
What to expect
If you have read all of the information below, and fully understand that this is a technical ride with a lot of carrying and pushing in the first stages, and still feel you would like to experience “Ben Nevis”, then I don’t think you will be disappointed. For the people we take that have the right attitude for Ben Nevis, there is always a huge sense of achievement and a big grin to go with it. You will need to be fit, able to lift and carry your bike over some difficult rocky outcrops, and able to ride roots, rocks and steep combinations of both of them.
Getting to the top
The trip starts with a 45 minute shuttle ride from Nelson out to Wakefield, then up the scenic Wairoa Gorge to our lift zone to meet our waiting Helicopter. After a safety briefing and a check that we all have what we need, we take off and enjoy a very scenic flight up out over the Mount Richmond Forest Park, climbing all the way to the top of Ben Nevis at almost a mile high.
The Helicopter trip itself rises up above the river and pine plantations, and eventually up over the beech forests, up the Ben Nevis ridge, past the bush line, and up to the trig on top of Mount Ben Nevis. Once at the top and the Helicopter has departed, you will enjoy some great views out over the Richmond Ranges, and north out over Nelson. It is so stunning up here that many riders just like a moment or two to take it all in and are in no hurry to start the descent.
The ride down
There are several sections to the ride down. The first section down the open ridge from the Trig to the Bush line is not entirely rideable, and there are some sections you will have to dismount and clamber down. However the rest of it is a good challenge and gets easier the further down you go.
Once at the bush line, there is a fun rocky section with a couple of nice drops to negotiate. A brief clamber with your bike brings you to a fantastic steep section that you wish you could ride again and again.
Following this there is about 15-30 minutes of carrying, up over rocky bluffs to the grassy knob at the end of the ridge; from here the “adventure” turns into a “ride”. This section is easier and more flowing than the technical sections at the top. Eventually you end up at the car-park at the top of the Downhill Tracks.
The final section is down the Ben Nevis Downhill Tracks, there are three sections to do (four if you want to do the manic end one), and then a final ride out via the road back to the DOC Reserve you were lifted from.