The Aerial Park
I am a recreational thrill seeker – I love skiing and biking but tend to keep my skis and tires firmly planted on the snow or dirt. Getting air is never in my plan, and if I do end up there, it’s generally not on purpose and a crash is likely coming. So the Aerial Park was a bit of a stretch for me – balancing and climbing around way up in the trees and jumping off elevated platforms is not usually my thing. But with family visiting from out of town wanting to experience it, I went for it. I went in thinking I would (proudly) bail after the beginner section, and ended up loving the challenges, completing the full course, and wanting to go back for more.
In a nutshell, the Aerial Park is an elevated playground. It uses 15 trees to support the 23 challenges / features and three zip-lines. These features are positioned between the trees and increase in challenge and height from the ground as you progress from the first tree through to Tree 15. All participants wear a helmet and harness, and guides give full instructions on how to use the gear.
The course is divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced sections. The beginner course has features like the Klatter Bridge, Indy Walk and Jacob’s Ladder. Progressing into the intermediate section, you’ll zig zag over large beams, balance your way across the Shrinking Islands, and zip along the Tree to Tree Zip. For those looking for more adrenaline filled challenges, head to the advanced section where you can climb the Picket Fence and cross the tippy but fun Log Drivers Waltz. And to descend from your time in the trees, you can take one of two ziplines. Or try the Step of Faith – where you literally step off a platform (which is very high in the trees) – and the auto belay system gently floats you to the ground.
The resort has amazing guides that teach, coach and encourage you while you’re in the Aerial Park. Here’s Heather Watson – one of the experienced Aerial Park Guides at the resort:
When and why did you come to Fernie?
I originally came to Fernie with my family in 1995, and spent the majority of my weekends and holidays here. I moved to Fernie in the winter of 2012 to take a break from university, expecting to go back in a year. Instead I rekindled my love of the mountains, and for the sense of community that exists in Fernie, and haven’t left since.
What jobs have you had since you’ve been in Fernie?
Besides being an Aerial Park guide, I will also be working in the Adventure Centre this summer. In the winter I work at Fernie Alpine Resort in Guest Services and Winter Sports School Sales.
When was the Aerial Park installed?
The Aerial Park was installed in the spring of 2012, and opened to the public in July 2012. This will be its sixth year of operation.
What kind of training do you need to work as a guide in the Aerial Park?
All staff undergo 40 hours of intensive training that culminates in a pass/fail practical and written exam. The course and equipment are inspected daily and rescue simulations are a weekly occurrence.
What’s your favourite feature? Why?
My favourite feature in the Aerial Park is called Step To It. It’s a simple feature, as all you have to do is step from one platform to the other, but it never fails to get the heart pumping.
What’s the best thing about working at the Aerial Park in the summer?
The best thing about working in the Aerial Park is being outdoors, and the opportunity to meet new people.
What’s your favourite activity to do on your days off?
One of my favourite things to do is head to Silver Springs for some cliff jumping.
Be sure to come out to the Aerial Park and meet Heather this summer! Check this fun, heart pumping activity off your bucket list this summer. There are height and weight restrictions, so visit skifernie.com for full details.
Insider’s Tip: For younger children who don’t meet the height and weight requirements, there’s a super cool kids playground right beside the Aerial Park!