TS's Experience Whistler :: Ziptrek

[trip style = active & adventure]

{Editor's Note: This week we're starting a three-part series---that we'll likely add to in the future---focusing on extraordinary experiences in one of our favourite trip style = weekending destinations: Whistler, Canada. This week we take flight on Ziptrek, next week we brush up on our Nordic bathing skills at Scandinave {outdoor} Spa, and the following week we'll venture into cellars and frosty rooms to experience Whistler's food and beverage marvels. PS. Stay tuned over the coming week for a not-to-be-missed Whistler giveaway---our biggest yet!}

This past weekend I got a taste of an Ewok village and Cirque du Soleil-esque aerobatics. This unique combination, coupled with an almost anyone-can-do adventure, has made this sky-high, over-water flight path one of Trip Styler's must-do Whistler activities.

With a six-point harness intimately close to your nether-regions---the parts you want protected while flying down a steel cable at up to 80km/hour---you criss-cross between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, dangle over Fitzsimmons Creek {which looks more like a raging river} and walk over suspension bridges between treetop platforms.

Even if you've never been to Whistler, Ziptrek Ecotours might still ring a bell. You may recognize the name or experience from The Bachelorette or Lonely Planet's Top 10 Canadian Adventures. If not, here's a visual: helmet and harness-clad zippers strap in, step out into thin air and assume the tuck or spreadeagle position while gliding {and often screaming} from platform to platform at Trans-Canada Highway speeds.

Addressing the obvious, if you're afraid of heights, it can be scary. Usually, this turns into exhilaration. I've zipped twice before; once  into the Pacific Ocean, and once on North America's longest continuous dual zipline, and I wasn't scared Ziptrekking until I inverted myself for 15 seconds on the last of five lines. I don't like handstands at the best of times, but being upside down made my body realize I was flying at the height of treetops in an old-growth rainforest. For five seconds, my brain panicked, then I remembered my six-point harness, my guide double- and triple-checking my zipping getup and the fact that Ziptrek is the North American pioneer of zipline tours. Momentary freakout averted.

My guide said he replaces his well-worn gloves once every three weeks. Not for fun, but for necessity. Guides use a smart and stealthy combination of pulleys, foot pedals, bicycle break handles and their glove-covered hands to slow zippers to a grinding halt at the base of each line. This is especially unbelievable when you consider the longest line, a 2,000-foot rush, where for 45 seconds you and Tarzan have a lot in common, aside from the leopard print loin cloth.

While my ecological exploration from 15 storeys high will not encourage me to run off and join Cirque du Soleil's ariel acrobatics team, it's enough to make me feel like I gave a great audition. Oddly, post-Ziptrekking conjures up the same feeling as après-ski, so make sure you set aside time for wine and cheese or beer and nachos.

The Skinny
  • Who: Anyone older than six and less than 275 'ish' pounds. Perfect for singles, couples, families or groups. Check specific tours for more details.
  • When: 365 days a year. {Gas heaters warm zippers at platforms in winter.}
  • How/Cost: Starting at $89 for adults, the 2.5- to 3-hour Bear Tour is best for first-time zippers with 5 ziplines up to 1,100-feet in length and 4 treetop bridges. Starting at $109 for adults, the 2.5- to 3-hour Eagle Tour is for the adventurous soul with 5 ziplines up to 2,000-feet in length and 4 treetop bridges. Starting at $199 for adults, the Mammoth Tour combines the Bear and Eagle experiences with 10 ziplines and 9 treetop bridges. For those who simply cannot stand a high-wire adventure, there's the two-hour TreeTrek Canopy walk from $39.

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[photos by @TripStyler]