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Building and riding a home-made zip line is extremely dangerous! I am not recommending that anyone attempt what I have done - doing so could result in serious injury or death. I am not an expert in this subject, and it's quite possible that what I have built is a death trap! I am writing up this web page just to document my experience with constructing a zip line, but I do not recommend that anyone try this. There... now that I've said that...


I've ridden many zip lines around the world: Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, and Texas. They've all been a blast even though some of them were a bit dangerous. The one in Costa Rica was probably pretty dangerous, and the pulley they used was really unstable. We all survived:

Costa Rica Canopy tour

But that was nothing compared to the one in Chile. This was just a short zip-line off of a cliff, and we had to let go and jump into the water below. Luckily, it was on a rafting trip so we all had our rafting gear on. Otherwise, one of our fellow zippers would likely have been killed by this. Lesson to be learned: never tie a large rock onto the zip lines trolly as a counter weight. After I did this zip the woman next in line had the rock come loose when she let go - the rock followed her all the way into the water and hit her right on the head! I have pictures...

This is how it's supposed to work - the rock stays tied to the trolly

This is what happens when a large rock falls on your head - note the cracked helmet and the blood.

Don't worry, nobody died. The woman who got hit was taken to the hospital for a CAT scan, and she was fine. The helmet saved her skull for certain.

Not all zip lines are dangerous death traps. The ones in more industrial parts of the world where there are safety guidelines are usually really well built and designed. The best zip-line I've ever ridden was in Whistler, B.C. up in Canada. This zip line was awesome, and it was extremely well built. The runs were really long and went really, really fast!

Awesome zip line in Whistler, B.C.

Another zip line is right here in the Texas Hill Country not too far from where I live. This zip line was the most well built and probably the safest of them all, but it was the least fun because most of the runs were short. Still... zipping is never dull.

Zip line in the Texas Hill Country


©2011 Brian Greenstone