Whistler-Blackcomb looking to add zip to summer activities 

Adventure tourism may be reaching new heights in Whistler next year with the addition of a zipline over Fitzsimmons Creek.

Whistler-Blackcomb's proposed zipline would criss-cross above and below the tree canopy and over the creek in a system of different cable lines.

But the design of the course is yet to be finalized because the proposed site is on Crown land and therefore the British Columbia Assets and Land Corporation (BCAL) must first approve the land use.

In the initial plans however, the zipline is contained in a plot of almost 12 acres located in the Fitzsimmons drainage area. There will be five to seven cables on the course, the longest being roughly 500 metres. Those cables may be suspended as high as 40-50 feet above the creek water.

"It's both a thrill experience as well as an ecotourism experience," said Arthur De Jong, the mountain planning and environmental resource manager at Whistler-Blackcomb who has tried out ziplines on the Sunshine Coast.

"It's like a very controlled free fall," he said. "You have this freedom of feeling the air and wind and moving your body around."

Although De Jong says the primary focus group will be teenagers, he is hoping a lot of parents will use the zipline too.

"We like the fact that we get several demographics and we can capture the family."

Throughout Whistler-Blackcomb's proposed zipline there will be explanations of the surrounding environment, thus combining the thrills with some environmental education.

De Jong stresses there will be a very limited environmental impact if a zipline is built over the creek. The trees will be used as supports and none will be cut down for the construction.

Likewise, there are no plans to build any roads to the zipline, as existing logging roads will be used to access the site.

"It is an experience that integrates into a landform rather than altering it, and as a conservationist, I find that very palatable," he said.

The cables will cross over the river and at each side the person will detach from the cable and walk through the tree canopy to another cable where they will reattach and slide to the other side.

"You're actually flowing though the terrain and the land form," De Jong said.

If all goes according to plan, construction of the zipline will begin in the spring and De Jong estimates it will take between four and five weeks to build – just in time for the summer months.

"The prime season is focused on the summer," he said. "We need more activities in the summer."

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