Friday, February 26, 2010


For the Olympics, there's a free zip line ride over Robson Square. Lineups to get on it are very long (sometimes 8 to 10 hours). This morning, Andy and I woke up at 5 and got downtown about 6:30am to stand in the queue. By 11:15 we were zipping!

It was dark and raining lightly when we arrived, and about 50 people were already waiting. The mood was buoyant in the lineup. We were all there to do something new and fun and it was a bit silly being there so early. There were plenty of security guards milling about, chatting in a friendly way and handing out rain ponchos. Someone bought two big boxes of timbits and handed them up and down the line. Far Coast Coffee sent a sample-giver out to dispense mini cups of coffee. About 9am they let us in off Robson Street into the official waiting area which was covered and out of the rain. I had a stiff back from standing, so I sat down on the ground on my poncho. Andy and I listened to the radio on his mp3 player and read the newspaper.

As 10 o'clock neared and the zip line got ready to actually open, I started to feel some twinges of nervousness. I looked at the big tower, and watched the staff checking the rigging and taking a test run (hanging upside down and laughing and yelling all the way). Then they took in the first group of 8 people, and I watched as the first customers of the day went for their zip trip. A man and a woman appeared at the top of the tower. They wore helmets and body harnesses. The zip line staff people hooked the riders' gear to the overhead cables, and hung their bags off the rigging to go along with them for the ride. The man and the woman stood up there on the edge for what seemed like an agonizingly long time, then they each slowly stepped down off the top platform, to descend a set of 4 stairs TO NOWHERE! There's no railing or hand hold, you just walk town these steps about 8 storeys over Vancouver, and stand on the edge until the man says, "GO!" I knew then that the stairs would be the make or break for me.

Soon it was our turn. We signed waivers and walked into the room to be outfitted. I was stumbly and clumsy after the long, chilly, damp wait, but I got all hooked up. I kind of felt like a baby being put into a carseat. The woman in the suiting up room even put my helmet on for me. Next, we climbed the stairs - 81 steps up a see-through metal tower to the top platform. My heart was racing from fear as I turned each corner from flight to flight to flight. Higher and higher we climbed. Then we were at the top. We watched two other pairs of zip-trekkers depart the platform. The uneasy feelings bubbled and stewed but I felt determined to go through with it. Andy, meanwhile, kept finding me small items from his pockets to zip into my jacket pockets. That was probably good because I was kind of going inside my own head, and might have disappeared altogether without his requests to find a safe place for his keys and coins.

Our turn. I took the left-side cable and Andy took the right. The man at the edge was roped up to the platform, I noticed, so at least I knew I could not pull him off the edge to his death. First, he hooked me to the platform (temporarily) then he allowed me to approach the edge. He secured my harness to a pulley overhead and checked all of the adjustments on my harness. I told him that I was afraid of the stairs, and he offered to hold my hand all the way down. I tried that but felt better grabbing the overhead cable for the first three steps down. "It's okay," he said, "You're doing great, Sue, just one step at a time." Thing is, I couldn't reach the bottom step and still hold the cable, so I let go and just held the tether strap that hooked the front of my harness to the pulley. Somewhere in there the man unhooked me from the platform, because next thing I knew, he was counting, "1 - 2 - 3" and I took a step off the bottom step, into the air, and WHOOOSH! Andy and I were flying side-by-side (well for a moment, then I scooted out ahead). I turned and waved back - "THANK YOU!" as the pulley screamed along the cable and I looked out over the square and the street and the people. Andy and I were both whooping and cheering and before we knew it, we were on the other side. The staff on that side hauled us up onto their platform, clamped us on there, and talked us through the quick process of unhooking from the pulley and getting fully onto the platform and out of the landing zone. I think I said "Thank you!" about a dozen times - for the fun, and also for allowing me to make it to the other side in one piece. It was a surreal feeling. I don't think our feet really touched the ground for another 5 minutes after our landing. It was that much fun.

I would do it again in a heartbeat. Maybe if I have enough money sometime I'll go try the trek up at Whistler. It's run by the same company that has run the line at Robson Square. And now I have a souvenir caribener and a 10% discount coupon for Whistler Ziptrek and my most amazing Olympic experience for sure.

question: have you zipped?

mompoet - WHEEEE! Thank you thank you thank you thank you!


Sara R said...

I turned and waved back - "THANK YOU!"

How very Canadian of you, Sue!

Sounds like you had a blast :D

Lynn McG said...

Congratulations,Sue! And you discribed your experiance so well! Yes, I have done the Ziptrek at Whistler and it was an amazing experiance-like no other. It was like I can now relate to what
birds feel as they soar through the air! Being off the ground with the wind sweeping across your face,it was the most exhilerating experiance I've ever had.

mompoet said...

It was a blast Sara! And I guess it was Canadian of me to react the way I did. Come to think of it, gratitude was a suitable sentiment for the 30 second ride.

Lynn, I have to go do this again. I'll save up.