If an Indiana Jones-style rope bridge over a 450-foot chasm gives you pause, hold onto your hat, Dr. Jones: You might not like what comes next.
At Seven Falls in Colorado Springs, a five-station zip-line course propels adventurers hundreds of feet above a creek that leads to the namesake attraction – all while canyon walls zip past and a waterfall crashes beneath their dangling feet.
The last two aerial lines are about 1,000 and 1,500 feet long, according to Johnny “JT” Turman, a former arborist and high-rise construction worker who combines those skills in his work for Bonsai Design, the Grand Junction-based company that built The Broadmoor Soaring Adventure at Seven Falls.
The attraction eventually will offer two courses, each with five zip lines. Adding to the thrill: the second course, under construction, includes a pair of rope bridges that will span the canyon, giving visitors an extra dose of adrenaline as they trek from one descent to the next.
“Then there’s a 60-foot rappel that gets you down to the ground,” Turman added.
Only one of the zip-line courses is open, and it provides plenty of thrills as riders reach up to 45 mph flying across the scenic canyon.
Once the province of summer camps and boot camps, zip lines have become an increasingly popular thrill ride in Colorado.
Although designs vary, riding a zip line generally involves strapping yourself into a harness that is secured to a pulley placed over a wire stretched between two points, one a bit lower than the other. Riders hang on to a handlebar on the pulley, using their gloved hand to control their speed.
Seven Falls had initially planned to build its zip lines in tree tops – as part of what’s known as a “canopy soaring experience” – but decided against it because the forests are susceptible to insect infestations. Instead, you zip between elevated platforms, high above pine trees, waterfalls, a creek and jagged rock formations.
“It’s just a lot more exposure to heights,” Turman said of the course.
The zip-line adventure begins with a harness fitting and safety briefing. Each rider tests his or her skills and gets a sense of the action on a 20-foot zip line that dangles mere feet above the ground. Guides show riders how to correct their alignment should they twist to one side or the other and to slow their descent using a heavily gloved hand.
More than once along the course, guides check the fit, straps and buckles on each rider’s harness.
Keeping customers safe at Seven Falls is the priority, and thrills were designed with safety in mind, Turman said.
“Our goal in this industry is to have a higher level of perceived risk than actual risk,” said Turman. “It’s a safe way in which people can push their adrenaline while still maintaining a high level of risk management.”
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