When SPIN visited the site, a group of men had just finished putting the final touches on the landscaping in front of the sales office in Chase. The air was tinged with wood, soil and anticipation as the team envisions a one-of-a-kind zipline traversing the Chase Creek Canyon.
It was a long way to get to this point for the fledgling company. Ron Betts, general manager of Treetop Flyers and former Tourism Sun Peaks (TSP) regional sales manager, says he’s relieved to finally get a glimpse of their goal. What started out as an award-winning business plan is now turning into reality.
The idea behind Treetop Flyers was conceived by Daniel Ruzic and Matt Lepp as adventure tourism students at Thompson Rivers University. Along with Betts and zipline builder Kevin Smith of Skyline Ziplines, the team sought to fill the lack of a ziplining course in the Interior.
“It’s a fun activity and we saw the potential for it in this area,” said Ruzic, who also worked at TSP before embarking on this venture. “It’s such a cool and new emerging activity that’s getting more and more known worldwide.”
For those who are unfamiliar with the activity, ziplining falls under the category of other adrenaline-inducing outdoor recreational activities like bungee jumping, kayaking, or whitewater rafting.
A zipline is a cable installed on a slope where a pulley or a trolley can be attached. Using a harness and with the help of gravity, a person zips down the line in mid-air. People say the experience is much like flying.
Treetop Flyers will be offering two zipline experiences. The Flying Fox features two parallel 100 metre cables that allow you to try ziplining on a smaller scale. A guide teaches the flying and braking positions before you zip from the top of the 15 metre tower onto the roof of the sales office. The 30 km per hour ride is perfect for first timers. It will also be used as a training line for those who are going on the canyon zipline.
A full canyon tour will also be available for those who want a more adventurous zipline experience.
“We’ve been calling it among ourselves “The Bighorn”,” said Betts of the soon-to-be launched 213 meter zipline. Visitors can spot the bighorn sheep and enjoy the scenery at the Chase Creek Canyon before flying 60 to 80 km per hour past the canyon walls and the waterfalls.
“We’re going to go right through the middle of the canyon. Once you go past the opening, you’re gonna be close to the canyon walls,” said Betts. “You’re just going to feel like you’re flying in an airplane low to the ground. And you’re going to fly right up to the waterfall.”
Dangling on a cable through a canyon may sound intimidating, but there’s no reason to worry, said Betts. “On a risk scale, it’s one of those things that people perceive as more risky than it actually is. I think we’re thrilling but we’re not risky.”
“There’s several safety checks for every single rider and in every single ride,” added Ruzic. “Plus we have daily inspections on all of our equipment.”
Treetop Flyers use Smith’s patented trolley and harness system, more comfortable and stable than the standard climbing harness used by other zipline operations. A person has to be at least six years old and 60 lbs to ride the zipline. The maximum weight limit is 275 lbs.
Sun Peaks visitors can do either a half-day or a full-day itinerary. Located on the Shuswap along the East Trans-Canada Highway route, visitors can easily add whitewater rafting, boating or standup paddle boarding to their list of activities when visiting the area.
“They could come over in the morning, do the experience and be back in Sun Peaks if they wanted to go golfing in the afternoon,” said Betts.
“We hope that it’s going to be a benefit to the region. It gives more people one more reason to come to Sun Peaks, Kamloops or Salmon Arm.”