That’s me, zipping along in a Ziptrek Ecotour in Whistler, BC.
I’ve never been so frightened in my life — but I did it!
But there’s more zipping to be done — right?
North America’s longest and highest zip-line tour has opened in Hoonah, Alaska. It’s a 5,400-foot-long ride that takes brave thrill seekers from the mountaintop all the way down to the beach below.
The Icy Strait Point ZipRider™ includes a brief history of the area while journeying to the jumping off point. You may even see wildlife, including Sitka black-tailed deer and Alaska coastal brown bears.
The zip-line launch pad is tucked inconspicuously amid the dense forest, located 1,330 feet above sea level. Riders are buckled in securely, and within seconds are treated to an eagle’s-eye-view of the surrounding mountains and ocean. Traveling at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, riders reach the bottom in just 90 seconds. Six individual cables allow up to six passengers to launch simultaneously or independently.
Safety is key. The zip-line features a unique braking system that is activated, but not controlled by the rider’s weight. Once the rider leaves the loading platform, the brake is constantly applied, eliminating the uncontrollable speeds seen in traditional zip-line systems. In addition, the rider hangs four feet beneath the cable and cannot interfere with the trolley or its braking system. Rider restrictions are based on weight rather than height, with 90 pounds being the minimum and 275 pounds being the maximum rider weight.
Because the zip-line consists of only a launch tower and landing platform and no ground contact between the two terminals, there is minimal impact to the environment.
Icy Strait Point is located in the Southeast Alaska wilderness 50 miles west of Juneau and 1.5 miles north of the Tlingit village of Hoonah. It’s a popular recreational destination for cruise ship visitors. Icy Strait Point was originally a salmon cannery. Today, the early 20th century buildings and much of the salmon packing equipment have been restored by Huna Totem Corporation, the Native village corporation for Hoonah. It’s also the only privately owned cruise ship port in Southeast Alaska.