Recipe For Zip Lining Success

by Sydney Kahl / Mar 29, 2014 / 0 comments

The first time I tasted zip lining was at Bretton Woods, NH. I loved that this experience was so diverse, offering more than just zip lines. We also encountered rappels, suspension bridges, and to end off the experience, a race where two participants zip lined side by side to see who was fastest. We also had fantastic views of the Mount Washington Hotel and the tallest peak in New England as a backdrop - Mt. Washington, which is known for recording some of the worst weather in the world. A location like Bretton Woods also offers zip lining during three very different seasons- in the summer, during fall's colorful changing foliage, as well as in the winter; each is a different experience.

I’ve been zip lining only once, in New Hampshire, so I’m not an expert. However I wish someone had told me more about the experience before I went, so I would have known more about what to expect, and could have relaxed a bit and enjoyed it even more. I was nervous and wanted to make sure I had the commands down right, so I didn’t focus on the scenery like I will the next time. I can’t wait to go again, maybe in the tropics next time to see a different canopy ecosystem.


I’ve written a recipe based on my own experience to help you craft a memorable, safe, rewarding zip lining experience.


Recipe for Zip Lining Success



1. Start with a base of safety and practice. First, the company you are zip lining with should provide the harness, helmet, and gloves. If they don’t, find another company. Ideally, the experience will include some "how to" information plus a safety briefing. You'll receive instructions on how to put on the harness, latch onto the cable, and brake when you need to slow down while zipping on a cable. You’ll have a chance to practice on a short zip-line that is just a few feet off the ground.


Recipe for Zip lining success - start witha  base of safety & practice


2. Add a scoop of daredevil. Ask around to see if you can find anyone who has ever known anyone who was injured zip lining. I’ve heard of one person. She worked for a zip-lining company. A ladder was left against a line and the young woman hit the ladder, so accidents can happen, but I’ve never heard of it happening to a customer. The guides always go first, so they will encounter the obstacles first.


Recipe for Zip Lining Success


3.    To go with the daredevil attitude, you need a healthy dose of an invincible attitude. These two ingredients always go together.


4.    Add a friend — someone to prod you into stepping off the platforms when you least want to.


Zip lining in NH


5. Mix in some common sense. As far as clothing, plan ahead. It can be warm and sunny when you start off at the bottom of a mountain, but hours later, a breeze can pick up in the canopy and the temperature can drop. I recommend morning trips because everyone is fresher - and if you’re in the mountains you are less likely to encounter an afternoon thundershower. 


Recipe for Zip Lining Success


6. Leave your fear of heights at home. On some zip lines, you have to learn to rappel off of a platform to reach another platform to continue your experience. This can be harder than sliding on the cable, because you don’t have a cable, only a rope that you have to control with your hands, as your body weight causes you to slide down the rope.


Zip lining in NH


7. To add to the flavor, add a GoPro camera. These can be mounted to the front of your helmet in a headlamp-like position. The video can verify your experience. As the GoPro advertisement says, “The world’s most versatile camera. Wear it, mount it, love it.” The company will also provide you with a special cord to tether more traditional cameras to your body.


8. Bonus ingredient: a guide with a good sense of humor; someone who is willing to tell stories about previous clients. For example, after our guide told us to take everything out of our pockets, he emphasized everything. To illustrate his point, he mentioned a client from Texas who carried a concealed gun because he was afraid of encountering a bear in the New Hampshire woods. On the topic of black bears, they are known to climb trees for food (nuts mostly), or they will take to a tree if dogs chase them, but they wouldn’t really have a reason to climb pine trees unless someone hung a bird feeder in the branches. So, in New Hampshire woods, squirrels are the wildlife you’re mostly likely to see.


9. Another good addition that isn’t essential, but is worth considering is adding a healthy dose of skepticism when you hear you are about to go on the “longest zip line in North America,” or the “highest zip line in New Hampshire.” These claims often have lots of qualifiers. Everyone wants to be able to say their zip line experience was noteworthy in some way; so probe your guides for unique features. What I cared about more than any marketing superlatives describing my zip line experience is the fact that the course was built with best practices in mind, meaning, an effort was made to not remove any unnecessary trees. The course runs through a stand of old growth, giant hemlocks, and the platforms and bridges are made from locally harvested wood, which makes this an environmentally sustainable course.


10. On the topic of wildlife, hopefully, your zip line experience will include some natural history about the area, like information on the native plants and animals.


11. If you travel to other countries, you’re likely to experience some cultural differences as well as unique ecosystems. For instance, in Costa Rica, one could see the wildlife that lives in rainforests. I would love to hear monkeys or get a close up view of colorful birds like toucans on my next zip lining experience. 


12. The last essential ingredient is cash or a credit card. The experience will cost you between $45 to $120, at least in the United States.


Recipe for a Successful Zip lining Experience


Finally, following the advice above, stir in all the ingredients together and taste - you’ll have an exhilarating, sensory experience.





Sydney Kahl is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program


All photos courtesy and copyright Sydney Kahl