Ski resorts seek warm weather customers with new attractions

A roller-coaster that takes people over a 279-metre drop down mountain in the Rockies is a few weeks away from opening at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

The Pipe mountain coaster needs a few final touches before thrill seekers get their first taste on May 21.

Travelling up to 42 km/h, people wind through tight forest paths, zoom through a tunnel, and sail over wide open plateaus with stunning mountain views.

The ride allows people to control their speed as they go down the 1.4 kilometre course.

"It has a bit of an edge to it, it brings you into nature — you interact with nature but it's thrilling at the same time," said Peter Nielsen, vice-president of operations at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. 

New Pipe mountain coaster in Revelstoke

Revelstoke will open its new mountain coaster on May 21. (RMR)

The coaster crosses some of the ski runs, so it has to be dismantled before winter and then rebuilt in the spring.

Mountain resorts across the country are trying to strengthen their summer activities so people see them as year-round destinations, instead of just ski hills.

"Having an attraction that is more than four months long is very helpful for our bottom line," said Nielsen. 

Peter Nielsen is expecting tens of thousands of riders this summer0:25

All-season attractions

Many resorts began by offering sightseeing trips up gondolas, promoting hiking paths and allowing mountain biking during the slow summer months. 

Now, the traditional off-season is becoming much more of a priority.

  • Mount Norquay launched a Via Ferrata, a series of cables and spikes to help climbers, two years ago to let people climb high above Banff National Park.
  • The Sun Peaks resort in B.C. opened a downhill dirt go-kart track last summer.
  • Blue Mountain in Ontario has its own coaster, along with high ropes and zip lining. The resort opened its summer activities last December after mild weather made it impossible to keep snow on the slopes.
  • Whistler Blackcomb recently announced a massive $345 million proposal, which includes constructing a water park. 

Revelstoke expects to count its summer visitors in the tens of thousands this year, especially after the promotional video of the coaster reached nearly 200,000 views online.

"The reaction was almost immediate," said Nielsen. "We had a target of seeing maybe 50,000 to 100,000 views. We had that in the first couple hours."

The ride lasts between about three and five minutes, depending on how fast or slow a person wants to go.

Kids must be three years old to ride as a passenger and at least eight to go by themselves.

Adult ticket prices vary from $19 for one ride to $50 for an all-day pass. 

Go along for a ride down the "The Pipe" mountain coaster with Kyle Bakx2:34

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