Thursday, January 17, 2008

Whistler Zip Line - Harness Gravity For The Most Bizarre Ride This Side Of The Universe

If an alien dictionary on human activities existed, it would be an interesting read. Flipping through its hyper-advanced pages (likely written in their alien script, but for this thought experiment, let’s pretend it’s English), under Hockey it would say, “An activity where humans slap around a bit of plastic with sticks.” Keep flipping, and the definition of Heli-skiing would read, “The act of being dropped off at the top of a mountain, using two modified planks of wood to skim down.” And finally, near the back of the book, under Ziplining , it would read “An elevated and inclined wire from which a pulley and a one-person seating apparatus are strung, allowing gravity to pull the human between two points. Used in some places as a tourist attraction.” The moral of the story? Humans will use any excuse to invent a brand-new way of having fun. Should you decide to prove the aliens correct and try ziplining for yourself, Zip Trek Ecotours in Whistler, British Columbia is the place to do it. Why Zip Trek in Whistler? Let’s be honest. If you are even remotely interested in skiing or snowboarding, you’ve probably heard of Whistler Blackcomb. I’ve done a bit of traveling in my time and if I mentioned British Columbia (or even Canada) to anyone I met, they would bring up the world famous ski resort. Why all the fuss? Whistler is nestled among vast and imposing mountains, nudging against the Pacific Ocean, which culminates in unparalleled natural beauty. How Do Zip Lines Work? Ziplining, while baffling to aliens, is the art of gliding along steel cables, using a pulley and climbing harness. Zip Trek Ecotours takes full advantage of their favourable environment. Their tour area covers over 11 hectares (33 acres) woven throughout areas of untouched, ancient coastal temperate rainforest. Guests are treated to a total of five zip lines, spanning between 80 to 1100 feet (yes, that’s very high). Total duration of the trip (depending on the tour) is approximately 2.5 hours, including a short shuttle to and from Zip Trek’s base on Blackcomb mountain. What’s It Feel Like? Being strapped into your harness and hooked to the zip line feels a little like a farewell moment. Like any experience of leaving behind the “normal” some people will find it out of character. All that empty space beneath your feet is slightly unnerving. What if the line breaks? What if the opposite platform collapses? What if I’m attacked by an eagle? It’s normal for your left-brain to try and rationalize your decision to zip line, and sometimes it wins. Yet there’s something uncannily primal when the right-brain urges you to leap out over the rushing creek below, and suddenly the world looks a whole lot different moving at high speed. Then suddenly you’re on the platform and eager to move on to the next line. What To Wear Whistler Zip Trek provides all their guests with all suitable equipment for the tour, so you can leave your own pulley’s, harnesses, and climbing helmets at home. It’s recommended to dress in the same garb you would for a regular day of skiing or hiking (depending on the season). In winter, layers work best. All of the platforms have heaters installed in case you need to thaw in-between zip lines. In the balmy heat of summer, despite the desire for wearing sandals, hiking boots or other athletic footwear are prescribed. Environmental Learning With the natural beauty of Whistler comes the desire to learn about and protect it. That’s why Zip Trek has maintained a commitment to minimizing its impact on the environment. The entire zip lining course is constructed in an area where paved road was not required, with the platforms and zip lines suspended high above the forest floor. Zip Trek is thus able to introduce guests to an ancient coastal rainforest with minimal damage to the ecosystem. They also aim to promote environmental awareness through dialogue with the guides, and interpretive signs on the platforms, illustrating key points about local ecology and wildlife. So there you have it. It’s likely humans will invent even more bizarre and wonderful ways to cure boredom, and when they do, the aliens will have to update their dictionary. But until then, Whistler Zip Trek will satisfy all those looking to try one of the most unique experiences in the galaxy. Tours run regularly throughout the day, all year round, and in almost all weather conditions. Reservations are highly recommended. Devon O’ Malley is a staff writer for, a vacation rentals website offering powerful search and instant booking features for owners and guests alike. On your next Whistler vacation, check out their Whistler lodging directory and save 10% on Whistler zip line tours .

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