The Canadian resort town of Whistler, British Columbia is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. The landscape offers lush rolling hills, mountains and evergreen trees for miles. The sights are beautiful, but unless you are an experienced hiker or mountain biker, you really can only enjoy them from afar.
Alpine Works, a contractor from Whistler, is working hard to give the vacation destination more accessibility, one trail at a time. Not only does the contractor plan, design and construct trails, but it also performs tree service and general excavation. But, primarily, they are known in the area for their trail work.
Spencer Charlton, owner and founder of Alpine Works, employs anywhere from one (himself) to five workers depending on the season. His busy months are anytime Whistler is snow-free, which typically is between March to November.
The city of Whistler has a population of only 10,000. But, it welcomes more than 2 million visitors annually. They come primarily for alpine skiing and snowboarding in the winter as well as mountain biking in the summer. The landscape is so scenic that it hosted several events in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
When it comes to the city’s recreation, parks and trails, Whistler is very progressive. City officials know that the landscape of their town is what stimulates the economy and why their visitors come to vacation.
The city continues to plan and develop hiking and biking trails, including one that is currently underway on Mount Sproatt and Rainbow Mountain. Alpine Works started working on one of those trails in August. However, the public dig on the mountains began back in 2014. The contractor hopes to wrap up the project for the season before the first snowfall.
“This project is the first of its sort — at least around here,” Charlton says. “It is a very cool project and the trail we are building is basically the width of my excavator.”
For Charlton’s excavator needs, he goes with the Takeuchi TB216 excavator, the second smallest in the manufacturer’s lineup. The machine has been instrumental in working on the new trail for its ability to work in a wide range of applications that have limited accessibility. The excavator’s outstanding accessibility is due, in part, to its retractable undercarriage.
“We are constantly dealing with tough terrain and slopes,” Charlton says. “In most situations I have the tracks of my excavator in the narrow position because I am on such steep terrain, so it is the most efficient way to move.”
The undercarriage on the TB216 can be retracted from 1300mm down to 980mm (51 inches down to 39 inches). The blade also can be adjusted for both operating widths. The compact excavator’s rated lifting capacity also impressed Alpine Works.
“For a small excavator, the TB216 is capable of moving some serious boulders, even in restrictive terrain,” Charlton says. “We can squeak by almost anywhere on a cliffside with its small footprint, while still lifting large rocks or boulders.”
By the end of October, Alpine Works had completed 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) of trail in 2016. With over 18 kilometers (11 miles) of non-mechanized multi-use trail, and options for everyone, access to the Whistler backcountry has never been better.
There is no question Whistler offers breathtaking views. But now, the town is more accessible than ever before thanks to a progressive approach that draws thousands of visitors each year.