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Behind the Shot: Matt Bolton’s Wild Line Past a Rock Climber

How the B.C. mountain biker ended up sharing a Squamish slab with a rock climber

Squamish is famous around the world for its massive granite slabs. First in climbing, then in mountain biking, the slabs of Squamish are featured in countless magazine spreads and videos. Matt Bolton combines both into one photo, which is quickly making the rounds online in mountain biking and climbing circles.

In the photo, captured by Clint Trahan and Travis Bothner, Bolton descends a near-vertical rock face, travelling parallel to a climber going in the opposite direction.

Bolton is no stranger to Squamish’s slabs, he has a hand in setting some of the hardest lines in the Sea to Sky and riding many more. Sharing a route with a rock climber is different. The line, which he’s named Finger Biter, is an escalation of difficulty, and an impressive feat.

“I’m always trying to push my limits with trail building and riding,” says the Squamish-based freerider. “I’ve done similar steepness slabs in the past but this one had almost no run in and a tree right beside the run out. I pretty much had to get on my bike at the top and track stand before going over the edge.”

In the sequence, Bolton’s rear wheel is clearly off the ground for most of the slab’s top half. While nose-manualling a near-vertical rock face, where most would be worried about surviving on two wheels, seems crazy, a difficult entry to the feature made the added flair necessary.

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“The entrance to this slab was a 90° edge,” Bolton explained. “I was worried about scraping my bottom bracket so once my front wheel was over I lifted the back wheel and nose pressed the slab.”

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THE FINGER BITER 💅🔥 I've had this crazy idea for a while that I wanted to ride down a rock slab at the same time a rock climber was ascending 🧗‍♂️ I'd been looking for the right spot for a while and when I stumbled across this slab with climbing anchors I knew it was time 👀 When I first went to clean the line with @jtiezy I slipped on some wet moss at the top and ended falling to the bottom 💀🤕 Luckily I escaped with just some scrapes and a few ripped off fingernails 😅🤞 Big thanks to @adamluu for coming climbing and watching me ride my bike off a cliff 🙏👀 Swipe 👈 for the sequence 🔥🔥 📸 – @ride_nf and @clinttrahan #ridenf #worklessridemore #oncoil #onpatrol #rideoneup

A post shared by Matt Bolton (@matt_boltz) on

Scouting and setting up the shot

While the riding is impressive, it’s only part of the story. Getting the shot took planning and a bit of luck.

“I’d been looking for a slab I could ride down at the same time as a rock climber ascending for a while,” says Bolton. The final find came on foot. “I stumbled across this one while hiking and I saw it was already bolted, so I knew it was perfect.”

To complete the shot, the Squamish freerider called in a few friends. Clint Trahan, a pro photographer who spent most of his August travelling with the Crankworx Summer Series, and Travis Bothner – the founder of one of Bolton’s sponsors, NF joined behind the lens. Bolton still needed someone to join him in frame, though.

“I told my climbing buddy Adam what I wanted to do and he was super stoked on the idea.”

Finger Biter: by the numbers

Bolton cleaned his route, scraping away some moss for his own entry to parallel the climber’s ascent. For those into numbers, the crag has several bolted routes, ranging from 5.9 to 5.11c in difficulty.

For those not familiar with climbing, Bolton says “The bottom of the rock, closest to the transition, was 69-degrees (I can’t make that up!) but the top and middle are closer to vertical.”

View this post on Instagram

THE FINGER BITER 💅🔥 I've had this crazy idea for a while that I wanted to ride down a rock slab at the same time a rock climber was ascending 🧗‍♂️ I'd been looking for the right spot for a while and when I stumbled across this slab with climbing anchors I knew it was time 👀 When I first went to clean the line with @jtiezy I slipped on some wet moss at the top and ended falling to the bottom 💀🤕 Luckily I escaped with just some scrapes and a few ripped off fingernails 😅🤞 Big thanks to @adamluu for coming climbing and watching me ride my bike off a cliff 🙏👀 Swipe 👈 for the sequence 🔥🔥 📸 – @ride_nf and @clinttrahan #ridenf #worklessridemore #oncoil #onpatrol #rideoneup

A post shared by Matt Bolton (@matt_boltz) on

Written by Terry McKall for Canadian Mountainbiking, one of Gripped Publishing’s many media.