Written by Anahit Antanyan Photos by Nina Pijoyan
I was standing in a small square room full of climbing harnesses, ropes and blue helmets. Like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, my arms were stretched out and my feet apart as the instructor was putting necessary equipment on me in preparation for my first ziplining experience. My great excitement was mixed with an enormous fear of the unknown. I was not sure if I will have enough courage to try something very dangerous but, supposedly, safe. While instructors were equipping our team of adrenaline-addicts, I was periodically calming myself down thinking that ‘I don’t have to try. I will slide down the rope after I watch a few people do it before me and only then I will decide if I want to be next’.
In Armenia’s majestic highlands, ziplining is definitely one of the best ways to explore the beauty and power of nature. Yell Extreme Park provides some exciting options for lovers of extreme sports, including ziplining, paragliding, mountain biking, horseback riding, and many other activities. And so, after a long hike in the mountains near Yenoqavan village that morning, me and my friends decided to try ziplining for the first time.
Once every member of our team was well equipped and ready to fly, the two instructors lead us towards the main rope lines. I felt my heart beat fast and loud as though it would pop out of my chest in a moment. I was about to try something that would certainly break my long-standing fear of heights. While I was mentally preparing myself for the air-slide, almost everyone in our group was doing so out loud. All of us were nervous about the upcoming challenge and to ease out the stress my friends and I were making silly jokes about deciding what would each of us write in our will. Before actually stepping off the cliff into the depth of 985 feet above ground, the instructor asked me to help him demonstrate the safety rules. Once he finished explaining, the preparation phase was officially over and it was time to fly! After the quick demo everyone was ready to slide down the zip line except…except for me. I was still unsure whether it is worth trusting my life to a thin cable that was the only thing keeping zipliners from falling down into the forest hundreds of feet away.
I watched everyone from our team slide before me. One after the other I was witnessing how each of my friends let go of their fear, run down the wooden springboard and fade in the distance. I was happy for them and yet scared for myself. Finally, it was my turn! I made a couple of steps towards the rope and stopped in place. I was looking at the wilderness around me – the huge green mountains and the forest far beneath the cliff I was standing on. The most frightening of all was the very long thin cable connecting the peaks of two mountains that I was attached to. I looked down the abyss that I was about to fly over and got even more terrified. The entire landscape around me was so powerful and absorbing that I felt like a tiny ant in the world of elephants who was trying to cross their path. It was an indescribable fear I felt at that moment. My instructor came up to me smiling, as if he knew what I was thinking. He suggested that I sit down and let the cable hold my weight while I was still touching the ground with my feet. That made me trust the cable and relax a little bit. As I sat down however, I unintentionally turned with my back toward the abyss. The instructor then slightly pushed me forward, and the next thing I knew - I was already in the air! I was flying over thousands of tree tops in the forest under my feet. The wind was whistling in my ears and blowing my hair away from my face. I was holding tight to the cable as I looked down. It was terrifying. And so, I decided to admire the surrounding mountains instead. As I was arriving at the station on the other end of the zip line and the people waiting for me were becoming larger and larger in my sight, a wave of pride hit me. Suddenly, I realized that I overcame my fear - I broke another wall of the unknown and unexplored.
The entire zip line consisted of five different lines, ranging from 440 to 2460 feet in length. There was a 15-20 minutes walk from one line to the next. After each line I felt more and more confident. The last line was the most emotionally intense. Before I confidently walked towards the end of the cliff, I decided to make that last flight unforgettable.
And there I was - flying over the forest that was about 1000 feet away. I wasn’t scared to look down anymore. I was grasping the incredible beauty and power of my homeland with a thirst of a curious explorer. Flying from one mountain to another all by myself, I felt the enormous power of nature as never before. The sun, the wind, the sky – all became one wonderful combination and took me to a completely different reality. I felt tiny in comparison to the mountains and trees surrounding me – a little person embraced by powerful Mother Nature. At the same time, I admired the genius of humankind for finding ways to explore the wild using its limitless mind power.
To learn more about ziplining in Armenia, go here.