One of the benefits of working for Whistler Blackcomb is something called Club Shred. This is a group that costs about $20 a year, and gives you a bunch of discounts and deals in the village on top of what you already get. One of the biggest advantages is the discount days, where certain activities are half price to Club Shred members. This month, The Adventure Group is offering half price on their Treetop Adventure Course ($35 instead of its usual $70), so I sign up along with Maddy and Maggie, and a few other people. We head to the office for about 3pm, sign the waivers promising not to be idiots, and set off in their bus out into the mountains. This also gives me my first up close look at Green Lake since it’s usually just a little too far for me to walk to.
The Treetop Adventure course is nestled in the forest less than five minutes from Whistler, and is essentially an obstacle course in the trees, consisting of balancing beams, nets, rope swings, ladders and ziplines. They start off relatively easy, and get progressively harder as the course continues, with escape routes along the way for those that can’t keep up.
Before we even get near the course though, we’re fitted with our kit. In order to keep us safe, we have two support wires that we’ll need to attach and detach to the safety wires. These are designed that if one is detached, the other cannot be detached under any circumstances – guaranteeing that you’re never without a safety wire. We also have a zipline handle that we have to learn to attach to the wires. To learn how to do this, we spend the first half hour at a training course, just learning the basics of the wires and how to zipline properly, and then it’s on to the course.
The first section isn’t all that high, and our biggest issue is learning the balance on the wood planks balanced along the wires. This is also the children’s section, so at the end we unhook ourselves and walk along the forest to get to the next step, which involves quite the ladder upwards. The second section becomes slightly harder, but my issues start when we hit the third level and get close to the black courses. By this point I’m at least 30 feet in the air, and these courses can reach 60. I’ve gotten good with my vertigo, but by the third level I’m starting to panic just a little. It doesn’t help that I’m a little slower than everyone else and getting left behind while I deal with it, although our guide on the ground is great, coaxing me along and over the first zipline into the rest of the course.
It’s around this section that we also encounter another problem. Traffic. The course is very popular, and takes 2-3 hours to complete depending on the person. We had a large group in front of us that was causing congestion on some of the smaller support ways, and there was a small, fairly athletic group behind us. By the time I caught up with everyone else, they were waiting for five people ahead of them to get across.
This did start to become a pattern, eventually resulting in a lot of our group darting down an emergency exit line to get their hands on some water and make some space between us and the group in front. We also recommend the group behind us do the same, because the obstacles are getting hard for even the most athletic in the group. We end up cheating on quite a few obstacles, choosing to hook our zipline handles to the support lines and sliding ourselves along rather than try our luck with the course. Certain obstacles included rolling balls which we just couldn’t balance on, and one that required us to balance on said ball while swinging it to a loose plank while about 50 feet in the air. As much as I wanted to try, my brain short circuited and decided to play it safe.
The only time I insisted on doing it the hard way ironically, was when there were options to zipline or do the course. For example, anytime there was a rope swing and net. You swing on the rope and grab the net, using it to pull yourself up onto the platform next to it – or you ziplined across on a different wire. It’s really hard, especially when you have no upper body strength, but I refused to take the easy route despite it being an acceptable option!
The final hazard is one long zipline that takes you back to the entrance. By this point our guide had gone missing, so we grabbed another staff member and removed our gear before heading towards the shuttle bus back into town.
I kind of wish I’d had the guts to do some of the harder obstacles, but otherwise this was a great way to spend an afternoon. Perhaps I’ll try it again before summer is over or after winter, so I can try and beat them. Definitely go in the morning though to avoid traffic in the trees.
There was also a staff event for Rendezvous happening today, Mini-Golf, but when we heard about it, Maddy and I were already locked in for the Treetops. Did manage to meet up at Merlin’s with everyone afterwards though. I stuck around until everyone headed off to Karaoke, since I need a good nights sleep – tomorrow I’m taking on the biggest zipline in Canada.