Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Maui EcoAdventure - The Kaanapali Zipline

So, the last time I was in Hawaii the future Mrs. TANBI and I discovered this activity in the forest on the side of Haleakala: The Zipline. At the time one of the rules for the activity was that you could not be more than 240#. At that time I was, so we never really looked into it; although I do seem to recall hearing even then that it was difficult to schedule.

Flash forward to a couple of months ago when we decide we will go to Maui for our vacation. The very first thing we did after booking flights and a room was to look into the zipline activity. And the very first thing I discovered about it upon finding it online was that the weight limit had increased to 260#; a number I ought to be able to make all things being equal. The next thing we found was that it was booked, all day, every day through September.


Still, it seemed worth a phone call. I figured that maybe activity brokers were the ones booking it and so the wite itself would show no availability, but perhaps a broker would have it. When we called the broker, she told us that she couldn't get it, that nobody could get it because the cruise ships that come into Maui book just about every slot and they do so months in advance. She also said there are waitlists for each day, but that the waitlist can be like 50 people - for an activity that maybe only does 50 people through an entire day.

But, she informs us, but the same people with the Haleakala Zipline are soon opening another venue in Kaanapali. That venue hasn't gotten it's inspection clearance, so maybe if we call them direct in a week or two we could get in at that site. Which we did, and we did. By now it is probably as hard to book as the original location.

Plus as it turns out, the new location has 8 zips while the old only has 5, and the longest zip in Kaanapali is 1000 feet - quite a bit longer than the longest at Haleakala. If you were to go, this is what it might look like:

So it is the BIG FUN. For the record I tipped at 254.1# which made me a sort of worst case heavy/faith in the gear/not afraid to go fast customer. While a part of my brain says they must say this to a lot of people, one of the guides did tell me it was the fastest he'd seen anyone go in the six weeks they'd been open. The views are great, the activity is great, the hiking isn't too hard, and while maybe a little flip the guides are mostly great too. We had a lot of fun.

One thing you might want to know is that when it says "white clothing not recommended due to dusty conditions" they might be making a play for understatement of the year. Marisa ruined a shirt, and my shoes are still red from volcanic dust more than a week later.

Also, it seems like even if you can't book, if you are a small party - like 2 people - it might be worth just stopping by early in the day. The guy that checked us in said he was able to get people in that way, and we did see a sign at the Haleakala site that said "walk ins welcome." Also, where we went, we were told that the cruise ships release their spots at noon the day before. So even if you are unable to book weeks or even months in advance, you might do ok at 12:05 less than 20 hours before.

The gear is climbing gear, except for the cable which appeared to be at least 5/8" GAC. All of the anchors looked really well done. It was kind of difficult to turn off my ETCP Certified Rigger mode. You don't see this kind of installation too often. Probably they could do even heavier than 260# if they are going by capacity. But the story is that they don't think they can stop someone heavier than that. If you see the "high-tech" stopping mechanism in the video you can probably tell why. For part of the time we were there I was designing passive dampers in my head, but Marisa pointed out that people might be more comfortable with the active method they were using even if it is more limiting to capacity.

I'd be lying if I told you I hadn't thought about calling Cory, Matt, & Avery about a possible business venture in Seven Springs. Shouldn't be too difficult to set up (I'm told at the Haleakala site they didn't even have to do anchors - just used existing trees) or too hard to run. So maybe if this teaching thing doesn't work out I'll become a Zipline proprietor.

Anyway, two thumbs up!

(oh yeah, if you can't book either of these the guys said there was a different company building one in Kapalua that was going to have a mile long zip. Not sure if I believe all of that, but like it was for us - might be worth a phonecall.)

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