It’s a rare sight to find hundreds of people at Hunter Mountain in the Catskills during the summer months. Not any more. The newly opened New York Zipline Adventure Tours is attracting people from all over in search of an adventure of a lifetime.
“New York now has the highest and longest Zipline in North America,” said Bradd Morse, principal partner of New York Zipline Adventure Tours. Morse has been building Zipline tours for 26 years and currently runs a Zipline in Montego Bay, Jamaica–voted the number one attraction in the country–among others throughout the country.
New York Zipline Adventure Tours is located just two hours north of New York City on Hunter Mountain and offers visitors an experience unlike any other in New York.
“People want to try something different than the beach,” said Amy Amodio, customer service manager at New York Zipline Adventure Tours. “This open space is something that people don’t get to see and we get to see it from an unusual height and speed.”
The company allows guests to unleash their inner-Tarzan and fly through the Catskills on a number of different Zipline tours. After all, who wouldn’t want to channel their inner Tarzan for a day? Lady Gaga did.
“We built a custom Zipline for Lady Gaga,” said Morse. Earlier this year, the company was contacted by the singer who requested they build a Zipline; one she would travel on to her “Today” show appearance. “I was the one who got to push her off,” said Amodio.
While Lady Gaga was more of a concrete jungle kind of Tarzan, Hunter Mountain offers amazing views of the beautiful Catskills.
“The general experience of the Catskills and such a unique adventure that just isn’t available down on Long Island. You could never build something like this down there,” said Morse. “Most people don’t realize how beautiful the rest of New York is, and that’s what we are here to do, highlight it and that’s what you will get to see.”
New York Adventure Zipline Tours offers three different options, from “mild to wild,” and Morse insists they’re no rollercoaster ride. “It’s not an amusement park, that’s the beautiful thing about it. You really have to be involved,” he said.
The first offering is an Adventure Tower. The 60 ft tower consists of nine obstacles that are each uniquely challenging and require both balance and strength. After one climbs across a suspended net, maneuvers across wooden planks and tackles other intense obstacles, climbers will find a repel station and will be lowered to the ground, or choose to have another go. The Adventure Tower costs $19 per climber.
And that’s just the first challenge at New York Ziplines.
“For all of our activities, we require that you be in good physical condition,” said Morse.
Another option, and the most popular one, is the Mid-Mountain Tour. The tour opened last year and has quickly become a family favorite.
“It has such an appeal because such a wide audience can take part in it,” added Morse. “We have 8-year-olds to 80-year-olds taking their grandchildren on it.”
It consists of six Ziplines, four foot bridges and a repel station. True to a canopy tour, moving through the trees while in the tree line, zippers travel from platform to platform for about 3 hours in total. The Mid-Mountain Tour costs $89 per person.
By far, the most extreme option, and the reason why thrill seekers have been flocking to Hunter Mountain, is the Skyrider Tour. It’s the highest and longest Zipline in North America.
“This tour is not for everybody,” said Amodio. “You must be pumped up ready for adrenaline. You’re basically going from mountain top to mountain top.”
The Skyrider Tour took nine months to construct, and once the tour is completed, a zipper will understand it was well worth the wait.
“To build this tour, it was very difficult,” said Morse. “Some of the areas are very remote. To access certain areas, we had to use helicopters to bring the cables in. We had to drill right into the mountain, embedding steel rods into the actual foundation of the mountain.”
Safety is a main concern for Morse who revealed that the some cables have a breaking strength of 65,000 pounds, while others have strength of over 100,000 pounds.
One of the Ziplines found in this tour is an astonishing 600 feet off of the ground and allows zippers to reach speeds of 50 mph. It spans 3,200 feet and that’s just the first of five Ziplines on that tour. The total Skyrider course covers more than 4.6 miles of forest and includes five unique dual racing Ziplines.
“Each Zip is really unique. The second Zip you get a great view of the mountains,” said Amodio. “The third is the fastest Zipline, taking adventurers through the trees.”
The tour also gives people the option of taking a 500 footbridge or a Zapline. Unlike a Zipline that’s powered by gravity, the Zapline is more level and one must run and zap across to the other side. The fourth Zip is called “Yo-Yo.” The ends of the cable are very high but belly is low, leaving adventurers to pick up speed going down and end up going back and forth until they are lowered down on a ladder. The final Zipline on this tour is a combination of all previous zips. It’s high, it’s fast, and a zipper will have to use piloting skills learned during previous Ziplines.
“The Skyrider Tour is very physically challenging,” said Morse.
There are different body positions one must hold to be a successful Zipliner. Positions include the “pencil” and “cannon ball” and are important to maintain on the Zipline because they determine speed.
“When you are covering 3,200 hundred feet your body position and aerodynamics means a lot. To be able to hold these positions is very physically challenging,” said Amodio. “We get people coming back ‘Oh man that was awesome I feel a little burn, great I got a little workout,’ we love that. It adds to the adventure and makes it even more exciting.”
As for the future of New York Zipline Adventure Tours, Morse hints of a new adventure. “We have finished phase one of construction. I am in the process of creating something that will be a new experience that no one has seen before.”
With reporting by Joanna Frank.