3 min

Adventure camping

For the not-so-faint of heart

Credit: Out On The Slopes Productions

It’s not enough that they have cornered the winter market. Out On The Slopes Productions-the company behind the internationally renowned Altitude gay ski week in Whistler-now have their sights on taking a big bite out of summer too.

While they’re at it, they may as well just cunningly provide you with every possible avenue for adventure-from every imaginable way to thrill and excite adventure extremists to lazy-hazy free time for those who prefer to lie prone by the poolside and have massages every day. Hence the name: Adventure Summer Camp.

Hearing about this scheme, I thought that I’d find gaping holes in the itinerary possibilities. Tried to stump them with ingenious requests they were sure not have thought up.

How about a fishing derby? “Sure thing,” they reply. Okay, can you transport me to a remote mountain top location for a romantic picnic beside a cool, pristine alpine lake? “Not a problem,” they respond. Mountain biking? Check. Bungee jumping? Check. Heh, heh, what about horseshoes? “There’s pits at the campground you mindless eejit!” (Alright, they were much nicer than that, really.)

But before packing up the Coleman stove, a look into the Riverside Campsite would be appropriate. Aha! Sure to be a rat-infested dive with no trees, pit toilets that could use a good cleaning and at least 100 miles from any known humanity.

Wrong again.

The place is beautiful, with treed walk-in tent sites, an RV area for queers with fifth wheels, and the cutest hand-hewn log cabins just perfect for homos. A market and café ensures you’re not left short of marshmallows. And shock of all shocks-it’s a mere stroll away from Whistler Village.

There are daily stretch classes and swims at Lost Lake each morning before campers-and those slumming it at one of the luxury boutique hotels in the village-take their pick of activities.

There’s white-water rafting, horseback riding, salmon barbecues at the top of Blackcomb Mountain, zip trekking, ATV tours and even skiing and boarding on the glacier if you’re so inclined.

If that’s not tempting, there are still world-class golf courses, canoeing and kayaking, inline skating trails, rock climbing and tennis to amuse you. Campers, along with the outdoor-challenged, meet daily for après adventures to re-live their moments of terror or paradise over cocktails.

Where’s my flannel shirt?

Organizer Brent Benaschak, the brains behind the success of Altitude, says a summer camp plan has been in the works for six or seven years. Without wanting to risk being sidetracked with the growth of Altitude, they’ve waited for what they hope is the right moment to introduce a summer Whistler experience.

“We want to keep the momentum going for Whistler, to keep it at the top of the news and at the top of people’s minds all year,” says Benaschak. “There’s great potential and Whistler has a lot to offer in the summer.”

They’ve also planned the weeklong experience around Vancouver Pride with the final three days spent enjoying the fireworks and Pride Ball on Saturday, the parade, and a party Sunday evening called DNA. Miami-based DJ Tracy Young, who spinned at Madonna’s wedding a couple of years ago and has worked with celebs such as Lenny Kravitz, Cher and Christina Aguilera, will be a star attraction at DNA.

Seems they’ve got it all wrapped up.

Benaschak says that Altitude attendees have been asking for a summer event, many of the requests coming from partners of skiers and boarders who dislike the snow. Though he expects upwards of 200 people in this inaugural event, Benaschak knows that with more notice, the international clients who make up a good number of Altitude participants will be arriving in full force in future years.

“We didn’t expect Altitude to grow as big as it has,” says Benaschak. “The tourism industry is tough this year and everyone’s numbers are down.” Still, he says he has “high hopes of this growing exponentially like Altitude did.”

Getting in on the fun are Seattle partners Peter Doney and Miguel Apodaca, who’ve attended five Altitude weeks in Whistler. The pair, who’ve been together for 14 years, say via an email message that they’ll be attending the camp while staying at Club Intrawest Timeshare.

“The gay equivalent of tenting,” writes Doney.

And though they plan on doing a bit of mountain biking, hitting the nude beach and “a lot of drinking and dancing, a Whistler requirement,” this pair is planning the biggest adventure of all-getting hitched.

Though they planned on taking the marriage plunge in Toronto in the fall, the news of BC’s acceptance of same-sex marriages meant a change of plan. They’ve relocated the ceremony to Vancouver’s Stanley Park, with the reception to be held at DNA.

It may just be that this couple will celebrate their anniversary each year by the campfire.

Altitude’s high-energy snow fest it’s not, but with a bit of sun, a lot of bug repellent and a few death-defying activities in store, it could be the start of something big.

Adventure Summer Camp.

Jul 28-Aug 3.