MOUNTAIN VILLAGE – The new Mountain Village adventure course is up and running smoothly according to its younger visitors. On a recent overcast afternoon, Braedon Raey, 9, of Arizona, wasn’t having any problems or doubts as he scuttled across the above-ground obstacle course, giggling and giving his parents ample photo opportunities while they relaxed below.
“This is the funnest thing I’ve ever done! Even more than a Disney ride!” he said.
The rope course and water-walker area at the base of Lift 4 in Mountain Village are new to the mix of Mountain Village’s family-friendly, outdoor entertainment offerings this summer, and provide, perhaps, a taste of bigger things to come.
According to Jeff Proteau, vice president of mountain operations and planning for Telluride Ski and Golf Company, the rope course represents “a way to find another activity for kids to do every day.” Perhaps more significantly, he says “from the ski area’s standpoint we’re looking at doing a full-blown aerial adventure course at some point in the near future and this is a good way to test it and see what kind of popularity something like this has.”
Mountain Village is already home to two playgrounds, a bike park, an outdoor bouldering facility and a bungee trampoline. The new addition of the rope course/water-walker facility will add even more to the town’s appeal as an outdoor recreation mega-center and launching pad for families looking to enjoy the mountains and the outdoors in different ways.
The rope course and inflatable water-walkers, or “hamster balls,” were constructed this summer and according to the estimate of employee Damon Huber, cost approximately $120,000 to erect. The structure is impressive: the rope course itself is suspended about 22 feet above a shallow pool where people can get inside the colorful hamster balls, which resemble huge, transparent beach balls, and run around on the water much like hamsters in an exercise ball.
Huber says that so far, the rope course and hamster balls attract mainly visitors to Telluride, but he does say that there have been a decent amount of locals who have tried it out.
Huber also explains one of the main safety features of the apparatus: carabiners that “talk to each other.” People secure themselves to the cables above the rope course via a harness attached to two carabiner-like clips (very similar to a Via Ferrata “lobster claw” setup). The attachments in these setups “talk to each other” and when one carabiner is unclipped, the other will automatically lock. Becoming detached from the cable above the course is more or less impossible.
The rope course and the hamster balls are $15 per session each, a mere fraction of what it costs to set foot in a Disney theme park, and those who want even more adrenaline can combine the rope course with the bungee trampoline on the other side of Heritage Plaza for $35. The course is open from 11 a.m. – 6:30 and will be open for use until the end of the summer.
There is no age limit. In fact, Huber has noticed “adults usually seem to have a harder time than the kids do.”