Lorraine Blancher & Robin Munshaw
The Atacama Desert
In 2017, Lorraine and Robin received the MEC Adventure Grant to pioneer and develop backcountry mountain bike trails with local communities in the Atacama Desert of South America. Lorraine and Robin will join us to tell the story and premiere their film about the project.
“Full of magnificent vistas, endless kilometers of natural ridge lines and unmapped wild vicuña paths was the destination Robin Munshaw and I went to embark on a multi-day bikepacking adventure. The barren landscape was the appeal, but we knew it was going to come with a unique set of challenges – lack of maps, guidebooks and water sources, daily temperatures gradients of -10 to +20 with strong winds were welcomed when weighed against experiencing the rich cultural experience by mountain bike. We had insight from a seasoned Canadian Atacama Geologist, the Argentina Wildfire Suppression crews and an Argentinian mountain bike guiding company that was excited to discover remote areas with us. Little did we know that mother nature was going to blast the driest place on earth with snow, making our objective more ambitious. We might not have achieved our exact route due to the unforeseen weather, but the invaluable lesson of perseverance along with the friends we made gave us the ability to adapt and create a new exploratory multi-day bike-packing adventure of linking together traditional trail and wild vicuña paths.”
After their presentation will follow the World Premiere of the film Beyond Trails: Atacama.
Growing up in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Lorraine’s passion for adventure started at an early age. From the moment she woke up to when her head hit the pillow, her days were filled with exploration to whatever destination her two feet or bike wheels would take her. That passion and drive to be outside never left. Over the year she’s instigated international exploratory mountain bike trips and achieved notable mountain bike titles, including National Champion, Master’s World Champion and silver at the 2017 Crankworx Whip-Off World Championships. The accolade she’s most excited about isn’t in the form of a mountain bike medal, it’s in the form of a mountain bike trail with her surname in honor of her advocacy work in helping create a Regional Park, that was later acquired by BC Parks.
Growing up in BC’s Coast Mountains, my parents threw me out into the forest one day and I never really came back. Exploring the backcountry around British Columbia for work and fun by foot, mountain bike, kayak, and skis has given me an appreciation for the mountains and how we interact with them. Leaving my career as a conservation biology researcher, I decided to pursue my true passion and have spent the past several years chasing adventurers through the wild with camera in hand, telling their stories along the way