Saturday, October 6, 2012

in which I broke no bones, thank you very much

My birthday’s coming up in a few weeks, and Kevin treated me to an early birthday present.
Anything that involves putting on a helmet is bound to be fun.

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What could it be? What could it be?

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It involves a chair lift…

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…and fall foliage…

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It’s zip lining! This is where you strap on an awkward-looking harness (the men are advised to “put all their furniture in the same room”) and get cabled in to a pulley that lets you slide from one tower to the next all over a ski mountain. Frankly, it’s a brilliant way to get a ski area some income during the off-season, and what could be more fun than zinging along through the trees?

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There were twelve in our group, plus three guides, and we opted for the medium-size-bowl-of-porridge option, which involved seven different lines ranging from a couple of hundred feet to 800 feet. The long one was the most amusing.

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Here’s our guide, Alexis, getting ready to go first on the long one, so that she could then retrieve us when we got there. It took them a couple of tries to get this particular one right, when they built it. It’s an 800 foot run, and it started off with the landing on the ground – but that turned out to be way too fast, so they had to construct a tower so that the vertical drop wouldn’t be so great.

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See the dude behind me? (Ignore the fact that my helmet’s not positioned correctly.) That’s Justin. On our longest ride, Justin was all tucked up into the proper “bullet” position – knees drawn up – for maximum speed. He came in so fast, and consequently bounced so hard off the padded pole awaiting him, that he had no time to grab the magic green rope.

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Magic green ropes. You grab on if you might not make it all the way to the tower…or if, like Justin, you smack into the tower and start to go back down the line the wrong way. So anyway. Back to Justin. He smacks into the pole. Slides backwards down the line.

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And there he is, dead in the water, some two hundred feet away from us, and maybe 40 feet off the ground. Hah hah!

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A rescue operation commenced.

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We all waited with bated breath. Those vertical things are cables we all get hooked into after our run, while we’re waiting for the others in the group to arrive. We’re standing on a tiny metal platform twenty or twenty five feet off the ground, having already completed this run. No sense accidentally falling off the platform – you’re cabled into something every second of the way.

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Back to the rescue operation. The one guide slid most of the way out to him and then pulled herself hand-over-hand to get to him. She tied him to her somehow, and another guide pulled them both in using that orange rope.

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We all applauded his safe return.

Next time, we’re doing the “Valley Jump”, which includes a couple of ~2,600 foot runs from one hilltop to the next, and back again, with a 185’ drop beneath us. You go 50 or 60 mph on those. Heh heh.

After all the flak I endured for announcing I was doing this (“Don’t go breaking any bones!”) I’m just glad it wasn’t me who had to be rescued from the middle of the line!

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