Access Challenge brings the backcountry closer 

Adventure race brings disabled adventurers to Black Tusk and back

The grind to the base of the Black Tusk peak is not an easy one, but for the view of the meadows and a closer look at the volcano, it’s always been worth the trouble.

This year six teams of able-bodied adventurers will accompany disabled adventurers and make the ascent and the descent over a three-day period on a trip that is part adventure, part competition and part-education.

"I grew up in Northern B.C. where hiking was a way off life," said Alexis Chicoine, a 33-year-old quardiplegic who is making the trip.

"To be able to get back into the wilderness through Access Challenge is like getting a bit of normalcy back into my life."

Chicoine, who is currently a resident of Vancouver, lost the use of her legs and partial use of her arms in a bus accident in Venezuela three years ago. This is her second Access Challenge, which is run by the B.C. Mobility Opportunities Society (BCMOS).

The teams, each consisting of one disabled hiker and four-able bodied teammates, will start at Garibaldi Lake on Tuesday, Aug. 20. They will take a route that winds through the Taylor campground, Black Tusk Meadows and the Helm Creek Campground.

Technical assistance in laying out this year’s Challenge was provided by Scott Flavelle, a master mountaineer who is well known in the Whistler area, and recognized for his work as technical director for the Eco-Challenge television series.

The disabled hikers will travel using a BCMOS Trailrider, a specially designed, multi-terrain access wheelchair that can be simultaneously pushed and pulled by their teammates.

The Access Challenge will culminate with a spectacular crossing of the Cheakamus River at the House Rock site in the late afternoon on the final day, Thursday, Aug. 22. The participants will cross a high line over the river to make the finish line between 4 and 6 p.m. The public is invited to come out and celebrate with the participants at the finish line.

Making the trip with Chicione is Michelle Amerie of Toronto, Linda McGowan of New Westminster, Brad Jacobson of Vancouver, Mike Nemesvary of Ottawa and Sam Sullivan of Vancouver.

Nemesvary made history last year by becoming the first quadriplegic to drive around the world, raising funds for spinal cord research.

Sullivan is a Vancouver City Councillor and BCMOS founder.

Volunteers are needed to help with the event. If you are interested, or would like more information on Access Challenge, contact the BCMOS at 604-222-1312 or 604-688-6464, extension 126.

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