Outdoors Digest

Posted: Sunday, May 20, 2007

New zipline said to be North America's highest, longest

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HOONAH - A zipline billed as the longest and highest in North America opened here last week. The 5,330-foot-long ride takes thrill seekers from the heights of a mountaintop to the beach below.

"The Icy Strait Point ZipRider is a unique adventure that appeals to visitors of all ages without detracting from the area's natural beauty and rich cultural heritage," said Johan Dybdahl, president of Icy Strait Point.

"Guests will receive a brief history on the area and its people on the drive up the mountain to the start of the ride. Wildlife sightings-Sitka black-tailed deer and Alaska coastal brown bear-along the way are common."

Traveling at speeds of up to 60 mph, riders reach the bottom in just 90 seconds. Six individual cables allow up to six passengers to launch simultaneously or independently.

Fifty miles west of Juneau and 1.5 miles north of the Tlingit village of Hoonah, Icy Strait Point offers cruise visitors the experience of authentic Alaska. Originally a salmon cannery, the 1912 buildings and much of the equipment have been restored.

Icy Strait Point is owned by Huna Totem Corporation, the Native village corporation for Hoonah, and is the only privately owned cruise ship port in Southeast Alaska.

Liberty Media takes controlling stake of Backcountry.com

PARK CITY, Utah - Liberty Media Corp. bought a controlling stake in Backcountry.com, the second-largest online retailer of outdoor gear, the companies announced Monday.

Denver-based Liberty Media, with assets ranging from cable television networks to interactive commerce, didn't reveal terms of the transaction. Its Liberty Interactive Entertainment Inc., which owns TV shopping channel QVC, expects to complete the transaction by June.

Jim Holland and John Bresee, ski bums who drew up plans for Backcountry.com on a coffee table in 1997, will continue to run the Utah-based company.

"It's the best of both worlds," said Holland, the 39-year-old chief executive of Backcountry.com, who could start planning retirement but would rather stay involved. "John and I are still significant stakeholders with some serious might behind us now."

Liberty Media "doesn't manage companies. They invest in companies that have capable management and step back," he said.

Backcountry.com uses a 200,000-square-foot warehouse in the Salt Lake valley to ship merchandise from leading outdoor brands and operates a number of affiliated Web sites, including BackcountryOutlet.com and TramDock.com, with some merchandise overlap.

It is second only to REI.com in sales of outdoor gear with sales of $82 million last year, Holland said.

"We look forward to driving collaboration among Backcountry and its world-class outdoor brands and Liberty's existing e-commerce and television companies," said Michael Zeisser, senior vice president of Liberty Media.

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