High-Flying Adventures


Story by Dee Raffo


Image Courtesy No Limits - Sonia Lence

From soaring over mountaintops and ancient glaciers in a helicopter to ziplining over lush, old-growth forests to bungee jumping above a raging, glacier-fed river, a wide range of Whistler-based adventures will put the wind beneath your adventuring wings.

Let’s start with helicopters. Why? Because there’s something so intrinsically cool about them. Maybe it’s that feeling of being so close to the action, the beating of the blades matching your heart rate and the unique perspective of seeing things from far above it all.
No Limits Heli Adventures offers three different Whistler sightseeing tours year-round, where epic, panoramic mountain vistas come standard. The Sea to Sky (42 minutes in the air) and The Summit (24 minutes in the air) tours offer breathtaking views over the sparkling turquoise waters of Cheakamus and Garibaldi lakes, as well as a flyby of the iconic Black Tusk, a strata volcano pinnacle mountain that’s believed to be the roost of the legendary Thunderbird in First Nations lore. The Sea to Sky option includes a 15-minute stop on a mountaintop. The Glacier tour is 14 minutes, flying above Wedgemount Lake and around Wedge Mountain, the highest peak in the Garibaldi Range. Sunset tours, during which you can witness the skies turn incredible hues of pink and purple if you catch the alpenglow, are also available by request.

Starting in March, No Limits offers two incredible ice cave experiences. These combine the helicopter flight with the chance to weave your way through tunnels of azure blue, marvelling at crystalline ice formations in the vaulted ceilings of an ancient ice cave with a trained guide.


Image Courtesy No Limits

“When you see a glacier up close, it’s a profound experience,” says Julie Landry-Moreau, marketing and communications manager at No Limits Heli Adventures. “It’s a paradox of fragility meeting ancient power. People find it very moving to be able to reach out and touch the glacier, marvelling at its magnitude and pristine beauty. We also offer a tour which heads from the ice cave to a live volcano, where you can see steam rising from its molten depths. These experiences are truly unforgettable. Guests we’ve had with us recently have shared that they felt a sense of gratitude in being able to see raw Mother Nature up close this way, in all her glory.”


Photo Joern Rohde

Now, being in a helicopter certainly gives you a bird’s-eye view, but ziplining can give you the sensation of being one. That anti-gravity feeling is exhilarating as you lift your feet off the wooden platform and take to the air. Of course, you’re securely attached to the cable spanning the beautiful valley below, but you can spread your arms out wide and imagine it’s not there.

"On our Eagle tours, we take our bundled-up guests up the Whistler [Mountain] Gondola to mid-station and then lead them through the snow-covered trees to our zipline course,” explains Kirsty Smyth, guest service supervisor and senior guide with Ziptrek Ecotours. “There’s a real magic to being up on the course at this time of year. It’s peaceful as you soar through the trees, and the views from each zipline are incredible. Our Winter Après tours happen later in the day and are perfect if you have other activities planned throughout the day. The course is lit up by coloured lights and has an amazing winter wonderland feel. Guests return from our tours rosy-cheeked, smiling and exhilarated. It is an absolute privilege to share in that."

Ziptrek has been an environment-forward company since its inception, and zippers will learn a lot about the surrounding flora and fauna as they adventure. They offer two winter tours: the Eagle (five ziplines and four treetop bridges, 2.5-3 hours) and Winter Après (four ziplines and four treetop bridges, approximately 2 hours). The latter is in the early evening, which gives zippers the unique opportunity to experience ziplining in the dark when the stars are sparkling overhead.


Images Courtesy Whistler Bungee


Imagine a peregrine falcon, the fastest animal on the planet, reaching 300+ kilometres (186 miles) per hour when it dives for its prey. While you will not travel quite that fast, it might feel like it when you take the 50-metre (160-foot) leap from the bridge at Whistler Bungee.
Unique basalt rock column formations and old-growth forests surround the jump over the glacier-fed Cheakamus River. You can also see Black Tusk in the background, which makes this one of the most stunning bungee locations in the world.

“People go from being completely petrified to completely elated in seconds,” explains John Hunter, operations manager at Whistler Bungee. “They often tell us it’s the best thing they’ve done in their lives, which goes a long way towards my job satisfaction. My first jump, which was over 14 years ago, was in the early winter. It was snowing hard. Everything was white, and I jumped through the snowflakes, which made a tunnel effect like I’d hit warp speed. It’s overwhelmingly beautiful.”

Whistler Bungee is the only place in Canada where you can jump while it’s snowing. They operate year-round and in all weather. You can also jump tandem, a fun way to celebrate a landmark birthday or special occasion.

High-flying adventures in Whistler are not hard to come by, but deciding which one(s) to do might be tough. Whether you soar above the peaks, zip through them or dive between them, have fun in the mountains this winter.