Video by Tamara Hynd
If you’re looking for an exhilarating outdoor experience, a tour with Kokanee Mountain Zipline might be just the thing.
The new zipline attraction on the North Shore features a series of six — count them, six — lines on which thrill seekers zoom through the forest canopy of ponderosa pine, fir and hemlock until bursting out into the open sky hundreds of feet above the tree tops.
Yipee!! Heather Good ziplining through the forest canopy at Kokanee Mountain Zipline. Tamara Hynd photo.
Looking down, Kokanee Creek appears as a blue and white ribbon snaking through the dense green forest which seems more like 500 to 600 feet (152 to 183 m) than the 300 feet (91 m) that it is. Staring down, the tree tops look like green pipe-cleaners sprouting from the earth, the similar view you get when flying low in a helicopter.
But you’re not on your own. Well-trained guides like Ashley Lacoursiere and Amy Richardson are there to take care of everything so you don’t have to. From getting snug into a full-body harness to attaching equipment to the steel cables, you will glide from one station to the next.
Guides Amy Richardson and Ashley Lacoursiere are just two of the zesty team at Kokanee Mountain zipline. Tamara Hynd photo
Even when you’re not attached to a cable, the guides clip guests into a station at all times when standing on one of six elevated platforms built around towering ponderosa pines whose striking orange and black bark command attention.
Once you have the guide’s okay, all you have to do is get the gumption to take a step forward. The first two stations are tame. Consider them appetizers to the main course that keeps getting larger. Each line becomes progressively longer.
Heather Good of Calgary gathered her courage to share the breathtaking ziplining experience with a high school friend, adding one more crazy experience to their memories. Tamara Hynd photo
That’s when the real rush happens.
You will eventually cross vast open spaces with views of Kootenay Lake downstream and mountain tops looking west. Not only will you feel the wind, you will hear it and the hum of the line which amplifies as you accelerate.
While the weight restrictions range from 50 to 275 pounds, it’s hard to believe a child could handle the heights. But in the first week, a five year old and an 83 year old both ventured out with a family and loved it.
Lacoursiere said the facility is designed to help build up courage for those who fear heights. That and the “comfort sandwich” of being between two guides can help ease apprehensive guests. Lacoursiere loves getting people adventurous.
Heather Good looking like a pro on the fastest zipline with 10 per cent grade. Tamara Hynd photo
“After they try it, they’re inspired and tell me they are going to start trying ‘bigger and better’ things. Of course, we get to zipline too,” she smiled.
“It’s such a nice area to be in,” added Richardson, sweeping her arms upwards to the forested valley lining the sloping drainage of Kokanee Creek.
On the half kilometre walk through the woods on the opposite bank, you can wet your dry mouth with a swig of water from coolers delivered via zipline earlier in the day.
Guides also share a bit of local history as you walk on the dirt trails they hand-dug prior to opening.
Owners and brothers Todd and Jay Manton said their July 1 opening went “extremely smooth.”
“I couldn’t have seen it going any better,” said Todd, who has been on two previous zipline start-ups in New Zealand and Oyama. Their guest numbers doubled each of the first three days from 15 to 60. Their maximum capacity is 90 per day.
Francoise Pouliot of Rossland built the actual ziplines at Kokanee Mountain Ziplines. He and his wife run his self-named zipline building contracting company and he’s thrilled to create one so close to home. Tamara Hynd photo
That said, there were some unexpected interruptions days before they opened. While the violent wind storm on June 29 didn’t touch any of their lines or stations, about 12 large trees fell, blocking the access road to their south-side stations.
Jay said it was a good thing they spent the day clearing the trees away immediately because within 12 hours, a small forest fire erupted within view of the first two zipline stations. Firefighters and aircraft hit the blaze hard, Jay said appreciatively. While the smoke and activity halted their guides’ training briefly, in the end they opened only two days behind schedule.
A full crew is ready for you and your friends or family to come feel the thrill of ziplining in the Kootenay.
Access is 2.2 km north of Highway 3A on Kokanee Glacier Park Rd.
Admission is $89 for adults and $79 for kids 14 and other. (Special rates are available for groups of eight or more.)
For more information, visit zipkokanee.com.
Owners Jay and Todd Manton (far left) with their zipline crew. Tamara Hynd photo