High wire acts with zip

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by admin on July 24, 2010

Reporters test out three Gatineau Hills zip lines

Video: Low Down reporter, Marketa Stastna, takes the leap of faith on the most extreme zip line at Lafleche Adventures July 16, 2010.

By Marketa Stastna and Gavin Thomson

Zip lining is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for anyone afraid of heights and confined spaces. That’s what we – Low Down reporters Gavin Thomson and Marketa Stastna – found out for ourselves. Over the course of two days, we zip lined at Great Canadian Bungee, Lafleche Adventure and Camp Fortune, in order to determine how facilities in the National Capital Region compare.

Reporter Marketa Stastna flies like Superman over the Morrison's Quarry on the Great Canadian Bungee Co.'s zip line.

Reporter Marketa Stastna flies like Superman over the Morrison Quarry on the Great Canadian Bungee Co.'s zip line. Gavin Thomson photo

Zip lining is an outdoor adventure activity that involves flying through the air, propelled by gravity, to traverse from the top to the bottom of a long and inclined cable to which you’re suspended by a harness, two clips and a pulley. But the term refers to the above and whatever other physical activity a course includes.

Necessary flight equipment includes heavy gloves and a harness – and a safety helmet at some venues. Attached to the harness are two carabiners and a pulley. The carabiners, which are mountain climbers clips, attach to the wire to keep the rider safe and the pulley attaches to the zip lining cables to let the adventure enthusiast fly. Fully geared, a zip liner looks like a mountain climber missing only the boots.

The course at Great Canadian Bungee comprised just one actual zip line, angled down the hill and over the water in the Morrison Quarry. Lafleche and Camp Fortune, meanwhile, offered a variety of rides and an adventure course with ropes, tight ropes, logs, steps and even wooden barrels.

We found the Ripride at Great Canadian Bungee, located at Morrison Quarry off Hwy 105, to be   the fastest, easiest, cheapest, and most scenic of the three venues we tested. The ride cost $31 a person and lasted less than half a minute.

Marketa was given the option of either zip lining in the “normal” position, where the pulley is angled up from the waist and the cable runs a few feet above the face, or the “superman” position, where the pulley angles up from the back and the cable runs a few feet above the back of the head.

Contemplating the fearful 200-foot drop to the lagoon below, Marketa hesitated. But amid the distressed screams and the profanity-spiked, bilingual encouragement from the bungee jumpers nearby, she chose the latter. Attached to the cable, she accelerated above the hill and over the water before stopping abruptly, turning backwards and dismounting on a raft in the centre’s pool.

The Camp Fortune (Gatineau Park) and Lafleche (Val-des-Monts) offered similar courses, except that both were diverse and lengthy – about 2 1/2 hours – and both were set within the woods and required leg power. The obstacles ranged in height and difficulty, and the zip lines ranged in length and speed.

But Lafleche was slightly more enjoyable. Its obstacles were taller, its zip lines were faster and its equipment and gear were of better quality. Overall, there was a bit more of everything. It offered riders 55 obstacles, including 17 swings and 14 zip lines. The highest line zipped us along at 30 km/h, 47 metres above a pond, for 45 seconds.

You pay for the difference, though. Zip lining at Lafleche costs $48 a person for the day, compared with $35 for Camp Fortune. Both facilities offer kids courses, but we chose to pass those up.

For more information about area zip lining adventures, visit www. campfortune.com, www.aventurelafleche.ca or www.bungee.ca.