On any given day if you look up in Golden there is a good chance you may see a paraglider flying gracefully over the town.
For Hugo Tschurtschenthaler and Scott Watwood, paragliding offers visitors to Golden the chance to fly off one of the best mountains in the world.
As the owners of Altitude Adventures the men take people to the top of Mount 7 and beyond for tandem paragliding flights and rocky mountain heli-paragliding experiences. (Available June through October.)
Both instructors started paragliding through friends and have never looked back.
“The sport was new. You have to be a little bit of a risk taker or you would never try it,” said Tschurtschenthaler who has been involved with the sport for 26 years and is a former Canadian paragliding champion.
Tschurtschenthaler thinks the Mount 7 experience has something for everyone.
“The altitude difference from the top to the bottom and the exposure of the valley makes it a great place. Access is also a key. There may be other places where you can do it but you may need a helicopter. It is a two wheel drive road up to Mount 7,” he said.
Scott Watwood has been paragliding for 17 years and believes the sport and mountain are great for Golden.
“It is a great resource for the town and the area. It is great for bringing in mountain bikers but also hikers and other tourism based stays,” he said.
Watwood said many people who try paragliding in the area come from Alberta but they also get people from across the world.
“Most people realize it is the closest place to Alberta that they can paraglide. Many people come out for different adventure like rafting as well. They see us here and finally decide to try it,” he said. “People think it is very dangerous and even though it can be, in comparison to something like skiing where people can go to a hospital with broken bones every day, it is not.”
Watwood explained that the mountain originally had a fire lookout tower with a small path going to the top.
The first hang-glider went off the top of the mountain in the 1970s after being taken up in a helicopter.
This would change in the late 1990s when the late Peter Bowle-Evans worked to get the road built up and raised funds to make it easier to drive to the top.
Since then eight world records have been set off the mountain over the years and according to both men it is one of the top five places to jump in the world.
“Anytime we travel and we tell people where we are from, they know exactly where Golden is in the paragliding circle,” Watwood said.
One thing both men would like to see is for the road to be looked after in a better way.
“There are so many people using this road for sightseeing or mountain biking. It is too bad that it is in the shape it is in,” Tschurtschenthaler said.
They also said it was important to thank the owners of the Eco Ranch in Nicholson who allow people to land on their property.
“It was a horse pasture before the current owners bought the land. We are thankful to them because we can still land there and it helps flying big time in Golden. It is a huge field in the area where we can land,” Tschurtschenthaler said.
To learn more about Altitude Adventures and check out what the company has to offer got to www.altitudeadventures.ca or call Altitude Adventures at 250-344-3214.