Zipline and Rappel – Elora Gorge, ON

As part of a four man team, we headed up to Elora, just north of Guelph, early on Tuesday morning (I’d pin the wake up at around 5 am for the two girls driving in from Peterborough). With the crew assembled, we grabbed some breakfast and in less than two hours had crossed over the top of Toronto, defeated rush hour, and landed ourselves in the midst of a beautiful setting that seemed like it had to be farther from downtown Toronto than it actually was. There’d be time to take that all in later. In the meantime, we had some cliffs to walk down and vast expanses to zip across.

I had never been rappelling before, but I expected the device used to be similar to the belaying devices I’ve used in rockwall climbing – a sort of metal triangle with a lever on it that controls your rate of descent. The device that kept our speed in check was actually a rope wrapped around another rope. Such a manual device took a few runs to earn my trust, but this “autoblock” as it’s called, did its job wonderfully while also comforting me by sounding like the good guys in Transformers. The Decepticons would never get me as long as this autoblock had my back.

When the time came to take those first few backwards steps off the cliff, we let the girls go first so they wouldn’t feel pressured to try and match our manly efforts.

Always the gentlemen.

Our guide Steven guided each of us down our first rappel, side-by-side; one at a time. The hang of the whole system comes pretty quickly, and after our first walk down we were good to partner up and head down together – onto the bigger cliff face and over a small cave where we stopped for a few minutes so Paul could pretend he was a monkey.

Once we had made a few runs at the rappelling courses, it was time to take on the zipline. No matter how safe you felt walking down the escarpment, it tests your faith in the ropes the first time you’re strapped in and asked to run straight off the cliff. As I prepared to run into the Gorge’s airspace, I took four confident, long, strut-in-my-step strides before tapping the brakes and tip-toeing off the edge. Admittedly, I lost some style points there.

Once you’re out over the gorge, you apply your new found rappelling techniques to lower yourself down into the water or gently onto the shoreline – or, in my case, pretend you’re a green beret storming down through a tree.

I’d like to thank Fred from OneAxe for having us out, and Steven for showing us the ropes. If you’re looking for a getaway or a team builder, check them out at oneaxepursuits.com.