8th Edition


"British Columbia is an amazingly diverse and expansive location for Primal Quest. We are thrilled that the event will take place in this area rich with demanding and challenging terrain, it is sure to be a full-intensity adventure."

- Maria Burton (Primal Quest Race Director)

The main disciplines for Primal Quest are navigation, trekking, mountain biking, whitewater rafting and fixed ropes. The race may include additional disciplines that reflect the demands of the terrain. Where important specific skills are required in a certain Chapter of the event, detailed information will be provided in the Newsletters to help teams prepare in good time.

Mountain Trekking (PQ Pure & PQ Pursuit)

It’s a fact of life that teams spend a lot of time on their feet in expedition length races and it is no different at Primal Quest. Traveling by foot through a wide variety of terrain is one of the most basic skills of the budding adventure racer but you should not underestimate its importance. Teams will need to be competent trekkers, be confident over rugged terrain and understand potential hazards such as exposed ridges and river crossings. Those who have experienced previous Editions of Primal Quest will understand that travelling along paths is often the exception and not the rule so teams should prepare for rough travel.

Due to the wild nature of Primal Quest courses teams must ensure that they carry all required items on the Mandatory Gear List. This means that the 20L backpacks that have become almost the norm in other races rarely have the carrying capacity required. This additional burden may slow teams down considerably and can have a debilitating effect on feet if they are not well prepared.

Mountain Biking (PQ Pure & PQ Pursuit)

Teams should be prepared for a range of riding surfaces including fire trails, steep hills, unsealed roads, cross country, sealed roads and single track. The organisers prefer to keep bike pushing and carrying to a bare minimum but teams should accept that it is not practical in all situations to avoid every route which throws up such challenges. Hike a bike is a part of adventure racing and amounts may depend on bike skills and strength.

There is a lot of debate about the ideal mountain bike for expedition length events. Teams would do well to consider the additional benefits of comfort over performance on an event that might take as many as 10 days to complete. Teams are expected to carry out running repairs during the race and should ensure they have the appropriate skills to fix all manner of bike related problems. Many teams carry spares in their bike boxes to ensure that they may continue should something break. It is highly unlikely that spare parts will be located on route.

Whitewater Rafting (PQ Pure & PQ Pursuit)

All PQ Pure & PQ Pursuit teams need to be prepared for whitewater rafting. The raft section may contain 6 person rafts (1 per team plus guide/boat provided) There is another section which will be self-navigated in 2 person inflatable rafts. The two team rafts must travel together and be prepared to assist each other for navigation, safety and boat recovery if necessary. There will be a darkzone in place for these rafting sections ie no forward travel on the river at night. Specific details will be outlined at the pre-race briefing and in the team handbook

All teams will need to bring their own paddles (can be double bladed). It will be a mandatory requirement for competitors to wear a PFD (buoyancy device) whenever in the raft. More information about rafting will be released in the Newsletters.

Glacier Trekking (PQ Pure & PQ Pursuit)

The Glacier travel in 8th Edition Primal Quest is a prime feature of the course an consists of magnificent and contiguous glaciers. There are long approaches and retreats on/off the glacier which can be quite tricky which take safety care and precaution. Serious technical sections or risky crevassed areas will be either event staffed and/or fixed with ropes and mandatory checkin/out procedures and may not be permitted at night. Specific details will be outlined at the pre-race briefing and in the team handbook. All participants should view the Certification page and take note of the rope safety requirements before entering the event. Teams should take their rope training seriously to ensure safety and enjoyment. Skills and glacier awareness are important.

Details for skills and preparations will be released in the Newsletters. Mandatory harness/crampons/ice-axe and familiarity/comfort with their use will be required.

Fixed Ropes (PQ Pure & PQ Pursuit)

Primal Quest will have fixed ropes which will have to be negotiated for teams to proceed along the course. These could include, amongst other things, rappelling, ascending steep terrain (no wall ascents or jugging per se), tyrolean traverses, roped scrambling, crampons and ice axes and even canyon swings. As a general rule, fixed ropes will be a logical progression of the overall course and detours to a suitable fixed rope site will be avoided.

All rope activities will be supervised by experienced and trained professionals. Any mandatory equipment needs to be relatively new, in excellent condition, will be checked at registration before the start and meet specifications set out in the Mandatory Gear List. Teams may have to demonstrate use of equipment at the pre-race skills check. Further information on equipment required for any fixed rope sections will be released in the Newsletters. All rope specific skills, such as that used for descending and traversing, will also be set out in the Newsletters well in advance of the event start.

Alpine Navigation (PQ Pure Only)

All teams will need to have familiarity with reading and navigating with 1:50 000 maps. There are sections of the Primal Quest course that are quite remote and require proficient map skills and navigation to keep your team on track and safe.

Please take the time to practise navigation skills,read terrain and orient yourselves. There will be several supplementary maps provided with varying scales and you should be able to utilize multiple maps in parallel.

Ocean Kayaking (PQ Pure Only)

Kayaking in Primal Quest could be on inland rivers, lakes, fiords and on the ocean. Generally, inland paddling will be permitted during both day and night, though this may be dictated by ocean tides. Dark zones may also be enforced on white water and any exposed lake sections or the sea if the conditions merit it.  Specific details will be outlined at the pre-race briefing.

All participants should view the Experience & Skills page and take note of the water safety requirements before entering the event. Teams should take their water training seriously to ensure safety and enjoyment. Teams will paddle double kayaks, more details outlined in the newsletter.

Other Disciplines

From time to time a course or stage will pass through an area which offers unique opportunities for other methods of travel. This may be related to geography, be of cultural significance or both. Information on other disciplines may be released in the Newsletters or as late as the pre-event briefing. Primal Quest likes to keep some secrets up its sleeve. However, there will be no secret discipline that requires a significant amount of skill without information being provided to teams beforehand.

Teams are extremely likely to spend a fair amount of time paddling at Primal Quest, they may have to swim, canyon or cross deep rivers at any time of the day. Therefore, it goes without saying, that every competitor at Primal Quest should be a competent, confident and strong swimmer. Any long swims will be notified to the teams in advance. However, teams must ensure they can cope in the water in all sorts of conditions.