Blue Mountain Resort’s latest green-season attraction is the ultimate treehouse. The Canopy Climb Net Adventure adds even more kid-friendly vibes with bouncy nets, slides and a watchtower. We talked to several of the key players behind the Canopy Climb.
Mountain Life: Tell us what we can expect on the Canopy Climb.
Graeme Dugale, Director of Recreation and Programming: It’s a series of nets linked together with tree houses and anchored in a main watchtower. You enter via this watchtower. (The inspiration for it was a wilderness fire tower.) From here you’re free to explore, bounce, roll around, jump, lie on the net and explore the tree houses. And all the while, you’re suspended on average about 30 feet off the canopy floor, within the nets.
Chris Lewis, VP Resort Services: It’s almost like trampolines in the trees—the netting is tight enough that you get some tremendous bounce.
ML: What was the impetus for the Canopy Climb? Were you looking to add another active family attraction?
Rob Sheridan, Senior Director, Mountain Maintenance, Operations: We were looking for an attraction that would be entertaining for all ages. And one that was harness-free and would take guests up in the trees for views over the Village.
ML: How did you arrive at the placement of the Canopy Climb?
GD: We were spitballing a number of different locations considering things like proximity to the Village. We also needed a site that didn’t encroach on a ski trail. To this day, I don’t know how [BMR President] Dan Skelton found the location because it was not evident to any of us. It was over top of a ravine, which really added to the feel. It’s just below our high ropes and zip line attractions. And it’s visible from our Ridge Runner mountain coaster.
ML: Can you tell us about how your operations team makes ideas like this come to life while still providing all that Blue Mountain already has to offer?
RS: Our team worked with a lot of different people to make this come together. We had the netting design from our supplier but we had to build the access tower and deal with all the landscaping. We had to make adjustments around the water course that runs underneath the structure. And of course we did all of this while running and maintaining our
GD: We have a lot of specialized and skilled labour here. And I think at any given time, Funcha! [the Dutch net park engineering company who collaborated with BMR on the project] had about four or five of their staff members onsite. And where they were really skilled was in the netting. A lot of that came prefabricated, but where the nets attached to one another, or whether they’re attached to a wire or a post—that’s all pretty intricate. Rob [Sheridan] and his team did a lot of the heavy lifting of the poles and the compression bracing. And a lot of the carpentry work. The guys used an off-road Skylift. It had knobby tires and about a 70-foot reach. There’s not too many of those around. We had to plan quite far ahead to get access to these units.
CL: I think what made the project successful was the collaborative effort, the specific local knowledge, and the technical knowledge from Funcha. And the crossover skillsets of our teams from winter to summer. This project brought forth a lot of the unique talent at BMR which allows us to be nimble and innovative.
ML: How happy are kids when they’re in it?
GD: I think we knew it was cool but we didn’t know how cool it was until we saw them in there, bouncing around going crazy. But also once the initial wave of excitement subsided then they started looking around and realized they were in the trees and could move around wherever they wanted to and it was all safe. And mom and dad could either be with them on the nets or in the viewing areas on the canopy floor.
CL: Or you can just lie on the nets. You can just have a peaceful experience even with people jumping around. And you still have that feeling of weightlessness. You’re in the trees and you can just be there and enjoy that space.
Melissa Kurtin, Social Media and Sponsorship Coordinator: Part of my role at Blue is to manage our GoPro Program, so last summer we gave one to our daycare kids and I was able to spend one day each week with the kids doing various activities across the resort—like a fun aunt to 20 kids. The day before Canopy Climb opened we arranged to bring the kids for a big surprise: They got the entire attraction to themselves for the morning. The smiles were cheek-to-cheek and the eyes were wide with magic. I had two three-year-olds, Nora and Cameron, and within five minutes this offensive team had overtaken my defense and I was ready to throw in the towel.
I spent the next 15 minutes with Cam and Nora sitting, giggling and being bounced all over the place while my cardio and legs went from “slightly tired” to “I just ran a marathon.”
We were running across the nets, playing in the treehouses, playing peek-a-boo through the windows but most importantly trying all of the exit chutes (or slides), and racing each other back up the stairs. Screams of laughter filled the air as we raced across the nets to get to the fastest chute, or “slide-slide” as they were referred to. The nets are tight and can bounce similar to a trampoline—but the longer net to the right of the staircase has the most bounce. The kids knew it and so did I. I spent the next 15 minutes with Cam and Nora sitting, giggling and being bounced all over the place while my cardio and legs went from “slightly tired” to “I just ran a marathon.”
The hour is more than enough time for everyone to enjoy themselves. I can honestly say that everyone’s experience is different. As I was being run through the Olympic trials of toddlers, some of my coworkers and their little ones were lying in the small nets looking up at the sky and relaxing in nature.
And afterward, nap time at Kids at Blue was the easiest it has ever been. — ML