Ziplining thrills in Whistler
Story by Adrian Brijbassi
WHISTLER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Heights don’t do it for me. In general, danger isn’t my thing. Standing in front of a hot stove is about the only position I will routinely put myself in when I know pain is a possibility. Yet, as a travel writer, you have to be game to get out of your comfort zone at any moment. It’s a call of duty, of sorts. That’s how I ended up tiptoeing on a platform 1,100 metres (3,600 feet) above the safety of firm ground while tethered to a steel cable I was about to trust with my life. Once I found the gumption to lift my toes, my feet would not touch down again for another 90 seconds — if all went as designed.
It’s at moments like these where the repeating of facts come to act as affirmations or mantras. “Nothing’s going to happen;” “250 people go across this rope, er, sturdy cable each day and they’re all fine;” “Little kids can do this.”
One last breath and the guide released the safety hold, sending me crossing 1.2 kilometres (4,000 feet) of mountain terrain. It takes approximately a minute and a half to cross the first of the four ziplines on the Superfly circuit in Whistler. Somewhere between the two stations — each on a separate mountain — exhilaration eclipsed my fear. Though windy, the trip proved serene, as the sun slathered light onto the hills and the peaks of the Coastal mountains spread out in a big, wide expanse reminiscent of a movie scene.
Up, Up and Away in Whistler
It’s a long ride, though, and I was glad to reach the other side of the zipline — despite the fact the chances of anything going wrong are infinitesimal. Riders are securely harnessed in and the cables include a strong triangle grip that is just above your head. I held on tight the entire way, which slowed me down. With the TAG system, two riders can traverse the crossing on side-by-side cables, which can create competition. The more gutsy riders would travel hands free and legs straight, torpedoing from one end to the other.
I’ve been on ziplines before, but the Superfly was by far the best. One reason is the harnesses feature a padded back that folds around you like a seat. So, your body position is familiar to you and I believe that helps to put fears aside. The four ziplines in the circuit on Cougar Mountain are unique. The first two offer the most scenic views, while the final two are about speed and the roller-coaster sensation of a thrill ride.
The third one, called Godzilla (the rumour is director Gareth Edwards rode the zipline while filming the 2014 monster movie, hence the fitting nickname), is reputedly the fastest zipline in Canada, with brave riders able to top speeds of 100 kilometres per hour (65 mph).
Even for me, the ride was ecstatically fun. It begins with a mammoth drop that builds up your speed and then the cable whips up to a clattering finish.
Operated by The Adventure Group, aka TAG Whistler, the ziplines offer a special experience that was far from the frightening, gut-wrenching ride I expected. In fact, it did what any great ride is supposed to do: Make me want to go again.
Going Back-country In B.C. During Summer
Similarly, the RZR back-country tour of Cougar Mountain offers a fun and safe outing. The RZR is a Polaris-built all-terrain vehicle that can navigate over rocks and rough terrain with remarkable agility. A dusty ride in the back roads takes drivers through ancient cedar forests and passed Snowh Lake. The trek leads to a couple of viewpoints, but the highlight for those who book the advanced program is an obstacle course designed by TAG Whistler. It features a couple of ramps that look like something you’d see in a monster truck exhibition. One of the ramps is at the foot of a steep vertical descent that could use a Godzilla-like name of its own.
MORE ABOUT SUPERFLY ZIPLINES AND RZR TOURS
Telephone: 1-855-824-9955 (toll free)
The Adventure Group Website: tagwhistler.com
Zipline Cost: $149 per adult (summer); $129 (winter). Click here for details.
RZR Tour Cost: $219-$279 per RZR (which can fit one or two passengers). Click here for details.
Zipline and RZR Combined Tours: $209.