A Rocky View County engineer has built a 90-metre tow rope for his three daughters to use while sledding down the hill in their backyard.
Springbank resident Ian Park, who has a background in mechanical engineering, built a rope-based pulley system for the hill in his family’s backyard. The tow rope means he and his wife, Heather, no longer need to drag their three kids up the hill after each thrill-seeking descent.
“We have a nice gentle long slope in our backyard here, and we always talked about how nice it would be to have a tow rope,” he said. “Especially with three kids, it gets pretty tiresome pulling them up the hill. You can probably do it once or twice before everyone is pretty tired.”
After a few months of preparation, tinkering and finding the right size of motor, the tow rope was completed over the Christmas break. According to Park, it was built just in time for his three daughters – six-year-old Avery, four-year-old Lydia and Madelyn, who is nearly two – to enjoy some backyard sledding following the large snowfall on Dec. 21 and 22, 2020.
“There was some trial and error, because it’s not really something you can find info on the Internet for,” he said. “There were a few YouTube clips and I had to go back to some of my old school books and things like that.”
The set-up uses a three-horsepower electric motor, which Park said is attached to a rope and pulley system. The trip up the hill lasts about 15 seconds, and the pulley is able to support up to 500 pounds of weight.
He added the tow rope has already gotten plenty of use in the last month and its completion was “just as exciting for the adults as it was for the kids.”
“Once we got it working properly, the kids were whipping up and down the hill,” he said. “You know it’s working when the kids say it’s more fun going up than going down.”
Park said the hill in his backyard is great for tobogganing, but will also be a good spot for his daughters to learn and practice skiing in the coming years.
“Lydia likes to do the skiing a bit more,” he said. “We’re still waiting for a bit more snow to do it because we’ve really flattened it out with all the tobogganing.”
He said the project cost approximately $500 and the whole system took about 40 hours to build from scratch.
“I was joking it was over budget and over schedule,” he said. “I was disappointed when it [cost] a little more than I wanted to spend, but then I thought about what lift tickets and rentals for a family of five would be to go skiing for one day.”