Reuben Krabbe // Squamish, BC

Half Nelson doesn't have many obvious takeoffs or mega booters, but if you have an eye for subtle bumps and rollers you can find plenty of air time. Silas Krabbe takes a tricky line and does some sending.
NIKON, 1,1000 sec, f/2.0, ISO 1600

Reuben Krabbe // Squamish, BC The Sometimes Soggy Oasis

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Squamtopia, Squampton, Squamish—each moniker speaks to a different side of this town I now call home.

I passed quickly through Squamish on my first journeys along the Sea to Sky Corridor. I had heard the megaphone of the boisterous Whistler bike scene, and the loam-covered legends of the North Shore. For me, like many others, it was the place with “the big climbing rock” or “those gas stations between Vancouver and Whistler,” a mesh of roadside power lines, hunkering box stores and fast-food spots. It started as a railway town, a hub for a long history of logging and mining that continues to this day—attested to by the trucks and trains that still rattle through town. The “Squampton” nickname made sense.

As the volume of Whistler and North Shore wore off, I began to discover—and fall in love with—the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh side of town. It’s the traditional name for the area’s indigenous people whose relationship with the land inspired strikingly bold art and music. And if you (like pretty much anyone who has driven the Sea to Sky) have wondered about the number seven in the name, it’s a character that represents a “glottal stop.” The pronunciation is almost impossible to capture with English words, but when spoken it sounds like wind, or a storm moving up Howe Sound.

And it’s Howe Sound that is the key to Squamish riding. A coastal fjord, it’s bordered by towering granite walls that rise directly from the milky aqua waters. Trapped in this stony funnel, clouds are forced to the end of the valley and over the town, where they drop more than 80 inches of rain annually.

Thus, “Squamtopia”—the coal-black loam, the huge, second-growth trees of the coastal rainforests, the surging rivers and vibrant flora. Under the watch of 8,711-foot Atwell Peak and the rocky mass of “the Chief,” I can’t help but feel tiny by the scale and awestruck by the complexity and beauty of the region.

In this sometimes-soggy oasis, all manner of outdoor activities have flourished, earning the town the title of the “Outdoor Capital of Canada.” Rock climbing, hiking, kayaking—and, in the shadow of the oh-so-holy Whistler and North Shore monoliths, mountain biking.

Perhaps it’s this unassuming status that’s softened the animosity besieging so many riding communities. Instead, land managers and logging companies haven’t only allowed mountain biking, they’ve also helped preserve and promote the trails winding through the privately licensed land above town. The result? A place where kneepad-clad bikers and (nonironic) flannel-clad loggers coexist. Some of the loggers have even become fervent trail builders.

Other towns across North America have seen mountain biking as the salvation to a post-industrial slump. For Squamish, it’s just a part of the continually diversifying town. It’s become the home of Vancouver and Whistlerites pushed out by unfathomable pricing, and, over the last 15 years, it’s also become home to a university, several microbreweries and companies such as OneUp, Pinkbike, Anthill films and 7mesh clothing.

All of this, however, is invisible with a drive-by glance: The freak athletes with full-time jobs and families who are way faster than you. The subtle culture belied by the strip malls along the highway. The active and authentic citizens, who are die-hard locals whether they wield a chainsaw or a chainwhip (or both). It’s an understated but unabashed character that makes our little gas station strip the center of paradise. Whatever name you call it, it’s a place I'm proud to call home.

Half Nelson Loop



Half Nelson was the first government-funded bike trail in Squamish and has since become one of the area’s iconic flow trails. Speed doesn’t always come hand-in-hand with flow, but Silas Krabbe and Dennis Beare manage to find both in just about every corner.
NIKON, 1/1000 sec, f/4.0, ISO 3200
Squamish’s logging history is visible in many places, one of the most prevalent being the massive stumps littering the woods. Dennis Beare corners around the base of a particularly large one on Half Nelson.
NIKON, 1/800 sec, f/2.0, ISO 800

Boney Elbows Loop

There are a few line choices from the top of Dirk’s, but once you’re on the granite slab there’s no turning back. Fully committed, Stephen Matthews and Sid Slotegraaf make the drop.
NIKON, 1/500 sec, f/9.0, ISO 200
Squamish’s infamous granite features can raise the pucker factor to 11—like the off-camber slab to corner swoop that kicks off Dirk’s. Stephen Matthews and Sid Slotegraaf show it’s just a matter of trust.
NIKON, 1/500 sec, f/16, ISO 400
Ferns first appeared on the Earth about 360 million years ago, in the Devonian Era—it’s amazing how a single leaf can really put the scenery around Stephen Matthews into perspective.
NIKON, 1/320 sec, f/6.3, ISO 3200
Line choice is key when rolling granite slabs, as sometimes only one option goes. Keeping the train tight, Sid Slotegraaf and Stephen Matthews ride the spiney river of granite on Dirk’s.
NIKON, 1/1250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

Somewhere Over There

Riding flat, loose corners with grace requires a balance of speed and control, but it can be done. Going wide on on Somewhere Over There, the extra view (and exposure) doesn’t distract Silas Krabbe from the task at hand.
NIKON, 1/1000 sec, f/8.0, ISO 1600
Squamish’s coastal climate keeps the forests green and dirt tacky, which in turn keeps Silas Krabbe (and every single other mountain biker) happy.
NIKON, 1/640 sec, f/2.0, ISO 800
“Somewhere Over There” is a trail name that is as vague as it is accurate—it’s what you tell your friends when you don’t actually want them to discover it. Luckily, Dennis Beare knows the way.
NIKON, 1/500 sec, f/2.0, ISO 1600

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