Whistler Bungee almost ready to fly 

Owners expect to be open for business in early August

To get an idea how high you can freefall with Whistler Bungee, you’ll have to go to the city – there aren’t any 15 storey buildings in Whistler to compare it with.

After years in the planning stages, Whistler Bungee is just weeks away from opening to the public. Starting on July 29, a massive crane will begin the task of lifting a solid steel bridge from a construction site along Daisy Lake Forest Service Road and laying it east-west over the Cheakamus River.

Once it is secured in place, the company’s owners will start making test jumps to figure out jump logistics for different water levels, different customers and situations like tandem jumps.

"Everything should be built by about Aug. 16, and we plan to have a media day on the Friday. After that it’s open to the public. We’d like to have something like a locals’ day, probably on the 17 th but we haven’t had time to work out the details. We’re still in the middle of construction," said Chris Rollett, one of the owners of the Whistler Bungee. "We’d like to have Whistler council there on opening day because they’ve been really great for us."

The other owners are Mike Krieger and Don van der Horst.

Krieger, 40, is a California native who is considered something of a bungee jumping pioneer in North America. Whistler Bungee was his idea, and he first incorporated the company name back in 1994.

Don van der Horst, 50, was the last owner to come on board, after working as a consultant on the project. A former employee of B.C. Assets and Lands (Now Land and Water B.C.) he was instrumental in securing tenure for the project.

Rollett himself has lived in Whistler for a number of years, and brings his own expertise to the company.

"It has worked out perfectly," said Rollett. "Mike brings years and years of bungee expertise to the project. Don dealt with all the red tape to get this off the ground, which is just a mountain of paperwork. I bring local knowledge and a marketing background to the company.

"We’re all excited and enthusiastic, and we can’t wait to start taking people out there. It’s a beautiful spot and a great jump."

The Bungy Zone outside of Nanaimo is currently the only other bungee operation in British Columbia, and has been a popular attraction for the past 10 years. They boast 100,000 accident free jumps since opening day.

Rollett and his partners are confident that Whistler Bungee will be a good addition to Whistler, as well as an attraction in its own right.

If bungee enthusiasts are willing to go as far as Zimbabwe in Africa to do the highest commercial bungee in the world at 111 metres, Whistler is a shoe-in.

They plan to charge between $80 and $100 for jumps, which includes transportation to the site from Whistler Village as well as a T-shirt and a video of the experience.

Another feature of the jump is the two kilometre scenic walking trail from the parking lot to the bridge. More trails are planned to the Calcheak camping area and into the forest the other side of the bridge. All will be fully accessible to hikers and cyclists.

"The trail to the bridge will be completed this year, and more trails in 2003 and the next year. We’re working with the RMOW to determine where those are going to go and what they’re going to look like," said van der Horst.

The bungee operation itself will operate from a platform in the middle of the bridge. And it will be safe.

According to Rollett they will be using the latest bungee cords that are up to seven centimetres in diameter and that are good for at least 600 jumps. Static lines will also be attached to the jumpers for extra security.

Whistler Bungee will be announcing a schedule for opening some time next week, as well as more details about the company and the tour. A Web site is also planned, although that too is under construction.

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