The Summer Adrenaline Vacation
As Whistler is practically synonymous with outdoor adventure, many people come here to try a new sport or activity, push their skills further or test their physical limits.
From jumping out of airplanes to whitewater rafting to riding a zipline that spans from one mountain to the next, these activities offer the kind of intensity and thrill that will stoke the fires of the bravest daredevils. If you check off a few items on this list, you will have experienced a vacation you won’t soon forget.
The Sasquatch Zipline
Yeah, my mom has gone ziplining too but I’m not sure she’d step up to this one! Ziptrek Whistler went big with their latest line, dubbed The Sasquatch. How big? Well, you start on Blackcomb and finish on Whistler Mountain. The Sasquatch is North America’s longest zipline, at more than 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) long, carrying guests up to 183 metres (600 feet) above the ground at speeds of more than 100 km/h (62 mph).
Ziptrek’s Director of Marketing Warrick Hubbard says guests are often surprised when they get a look at the massive expanse they’re about to cover. On the landing side, tears of joy and wobbly legs are common.
“It really has it all — extreme speed, heights, stellar views… and in the belly, or sweet spot of the line, it becomes almost serene, where riders can take in the spectacular views of the entire resort,” Hubbard says.
The Sasquatch can be done alone or combined with Ziptrek’s multi-line tours. This year, there’s also the option of riding the Peak 2 Peak Gondola from Whistler to Blackcomb, then zipping back. The Sasquatch zipline opens in early June, and tours run in all weather conditions. Visit whistler.ziptrek.com.
If you would dare to face a raging river, Whistler’s Wedge Rafting offers whitewater rafting tours that will pump up your adrenalin (and probably your arms). Experienced guides provide safety briefings, then lead groups on an exciting run down the rapids.
The company offers a few different trips (including a family-friendly tour on the Cheakamus River), but the Green River tour is Wedge’s most popular choice, offering a mid-level experience that’s ideal for first-timers.
Guests travel north of Whistler to the Green River, which offers Class 2 and 3 rapids. This tour takes 2.25 hours, with four trips departing daily. All guests need to bring is a bathing suit and towel — wetsuits, boots and lifejackets are provided.
If that sounds too tame, check out the full-day Elaho-Squamish River tour. The trip shuttles guests south of Whistler into Paradise Valley, where your crew will tackle challenging Class 3 and 4 rapids. This tour also includes an on-river snack and a barbecue lunch.
Whistler Mountain Bike Park
The Whistler Mountain Bike Park is a world-renowned playground for downhill mountain bikers, with an expansive network of approximately 70 trails. While the park offers plenty of beginner and intermediate-level terrain, there are also tons of advanced trails and features that will challenge even professional-level riders.
If bobbling over big rocks and gnarly roots floats your boat, double black diamond trails like Goat’s Gully, In Deep, Rock City and Joyride will rattle your teeth into a smile. If you prefer to get airborne on jumps, step it up from A-Line to Dirt Merchant and Freight Train. And once you’re comfortable there, Crabapple Hits offers the park’s biggest jumps — which are huge!
Between the trails there are also a few large rock slabs and steep roll-ins to tackle as well. Thousands of skilled downhill riders visit Whistler, but only a few have mastered every trail and feature in the bike park.
Whistler Bungee operates year-round in all weather conditions, so fear is your only excuse for missing out on this thrill! Whistler Bungee’s scenic setting makes for an impressive backdrop as you leap from their suspension bridge and freefall 50 metres (160 feet) towards the raging Cheakamus River below.
Almost anyone can bungee jump. Single or tandem jumps can be accommodated, and even wheelchair users can be safely harnessed and tossed. Jumpers under 16 will require a parent or guardian to sign a waiver.
Whistler Bungee offers transportation to and from Whistler Village by request, but you can also drive yourself to the site 15 minutes south of Whistler, just off Highway 99. Advance booking is required, so drop by their office in Village North or visit whistlerbungee.com.
The Porsche Off-Road Driving Experience presented by Canadian Wilderness Adventures
IMAGES COURTESY CANADIAN WILDERNESS ADVENTURES
While cars and trucks are simply a transportation tool for most, some people prefer to see what their vehicles are capable of off-road. With no shortage of backroads surrounding Whistler, all you’ll need is a suitable truck to check them out… so how about a Porsche Cayenne S?
The Porsche Experience allows you to enjoy piloting an off-road, capable yet luxurious SUV. The Cayenne S’s are equipped with eight-speed tiptronic gearboxes, adjustable off-road air suspension, and active all-wheel drive.
The tour leads into the Callaghan Valley trail system, where guests get to navigate an off-road course with side hill, hill climb, descent, water crossing and axle-tilt features. Throughout the tour, Porsche-trained driving instructors provide helpful tips to ensure drivers are confident behind the wheel.
“The car is capable, comfortable and impressive both on and off-road and is really a blast to drive. The scenery the Coast Mountains provide is the perfect backdrop for such a unique adventure,” says Nick Ryall, CWA’s assistant operations manager. Visit canadianwilderness.com.
“Learning to fly” is often a metaphor, but in this case it’s quite literal — paragliding is a popular activity in Pemberton, and there are two local companies that host tandem flights and/or instructional sessions. Pemberton is a beautiful place to experience the sport; in fact, the town hosted the Canadian Nationals in 2017.
Tandem paragliding flights take off from a launch point at more than 4,000 feet of altitude and gracefully soar over the scenic Pemberton Valley before touching down. The length of your flight will vary based on weather, as you ride “thermals” to maintain altitude.
Paragliding is a highly weather-dependent activity, so it’s best to allow for some alternate fly days alongside your first-choice date. There are some physical requirements for paragliders, so check the operators’ websites for more details.
Sea to Sky Paragliding offers tandem flights and instructional packages from May to October. For details go to seatoskyparagliding.com. Cayoosh Expeditions provides tandem flights only.
Finally, it doesn’t get much crazier than jumping out of an airplane. Of course, it’s possible to do near Whistler, and what better place to jump than over a valley in the Coast Mountain Range. Whistler Skydiving offers tandem jumps, where you are harnessed to a skydiving instructor as he or she makes the leap and controls the chute.
Tandem jumps include a 20-minute briefing on the ground, then a 20-minute flight over the Pemberton Valley before you leap out at 10,500 feet into a 45 second freefall. At approximately 5,000 feet. the chute opens, and you glide for about five minutes before touching down.
A jumpsuit and all other required equipment is provided. Photo and video packages can be added so you can relive your experience. Whistler Skydiving is located at the Pemberton Airport, 25 minutes north of Whistler. Visit whistlerskydiving.ca.
PHOTO STEPHEN SMITH - WHISTLER SKY DIVING