Big Sky Zip Line!

Dave Reuss's picture

Ready for the Zip Line in Big Sky You’ve double-checked every piece of safety gear, but your stomach still drops out every time you leap into the void. There’s always that split second of uncertainty just before the line catches and you rocket off through the trees at 25 miles per hour, 50 feet off the forest floor. The O.B. crew headed to Big Sky recently to check out the newly installed zip-line, so with five digital cameras and a bevy of Southern housewives (they showed up separately, I promise), we took to the skies.

About half an hour before the ride, we met up with Trey, Scott, and Sally in front of the Adventure Center to sign waivers and get our name-tags. After the legal necessities, we circled up like gym class to get decked out in full safety gear, complete with a body harness and stylish Petzl helmet. A quick ten-minute hike up the hill brought us to the first zipline, right at the bottom of the Huntley Hollow run. We lined up like little helmeted Big Sky Zip Linelemmings, clipping ourselves to the safety line, while the guide outlined a few more issues to keep in mind.

“We’ll do all the work, so relax and have fun,” Sally reassured us in her southern accent. “Just lift your feet up when you get to the trees at the other side. Remember to yell!” I didn’t think that would be an issue. I was first in line, so I bravely walked on to the wooden platform and Sally attached my pulley and safety line to the cable. “Well, you can either walk off the end, or take a little running jump.” I glanced back at the line of wide-eyed people waiting for me, so I knew I couldn’t back out. With a deep breath, I took two running steps and leapt out into the forest. The line caught and I rocketed across the landscape, giggling uncontrollably.

After all our group had all zipped, it was the ladies’ turn. The first two zipped with the expected hoots and laughs, but the third lady really surprised us. Ann, in a slight departure from her otherwise quiet and polite demeanor, let out a full blast, blood-curdling scream for the entire length of her ride. After crying with laughter, we got it on video the second time. Check it out, and make sure to turn the volume up.

Big Sky Zipline“We had no idea how it would perform, but the response has been overwhelming,” Chad Jones told us. As the P.R. director for the mountain, he’s watched the zip-line’s popularity skyrocket over the last few months. “We started with just a few trips every other day, but during the busy season, we have the line booked solid for three weeks ahead.” And it’s easy to see the appeal. Anyone over three feet tall and under 300 pounds can sign up, and Chad’s seen everyone from little kids to grandparents ride the line. “It’s a great activity for college kids when the parents come into town.”

At the second line, Scott outlined the different tricks one could do. “There’s the backflip, front flip, gainer, back-flop... you can really get creative on this one.” This approach was different from the first one; instead of running and jumping, you climb up a six-foot platform and jump off like a diving board. “Which trick do you wanna do?” I opted for the front flip. It was just like jumping into a pool, only the sting of the water was replaced by the exhilaration of flying through the trees. Here’s a first Big Sky Zip Lineperson video of David riding the second line.

The third line, Moose Drop Alley, has yet another type of approach; this time you start with the line about even with your shoulders and run straight down the hill. You leap just as the path drops away, but there was one more important piece of advice. “Try not to jump too early, or you’ll be making friends with Proctology Rock down there,” Scott said as he gestured toward a football-shaped spire just down the path. Thanks, Scott. This final line runs above the stream with Mt. Wilson in the background, making for exquisite photographs.

Ryan on the Big Sky Zipline
Originally, the plan was to run only during the summer, but the Zipline now runs during the ski season as well. When the snow flies, people can suit up at the base, ride up on the chairlift and then ski down to the line. Anyone interested can sign up at the Snowcrest Adventure Center or call 406-995-UZIP to set up a trip.

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