Zip It Up — And Down

Apr 10, 2017 by Mike Bibb

Went out to see the new Rocky Point Zipline on Competiton Hill in Cholla Bay. No doubt, it’s quite an exhilarating contraption; an intrepid individual, tied to an overhead cable – a hundred feet above the surface – coasting downhill at accelerating speeds, slowing in time to safely land onto a stationary platform.

It’s got to be an adrenaline rush or some kind of dare-devil experience. Maybe a mixture of both.

At the time, there were about six or seven “zipliners” (if that’s what they call themselves) busily involved in using the equipment. Not certain if they were zipline workers testing the equipment or actual customers. From what I observed, participants climb into a large army type transport truck at the base of Comp Hill, drive the short distance up the hill and disembark. Then it’s a brief trek to the first zipline station.

Looking from the ground up presents an optical illusion; the initial zipline appears to ascend to the next platform, when actually it descends. Using my trusty Timex, it takes about 17 seconds to transit the 300 meters between the two stations. The second zip to the third platform is about the same distance and time. The third leg, 420 meters, takes approximately 30 seconds. The longest stretch between the fourth and fifth station – around 600 meters – took almost a minute. The final decent to the starting point, an additional 300 meters, only takes 14-15 seconds.

Completing the course takes less than three minutes, not including transfer time between stations, which can take longer than the actual zip time.

While a functioning zipline in Rocky Point is a new feature to the area, contractor Universal Zipline Technology of Nixa, Missouri has been designing and constructing ziplines for over twenty years in the USA and various countries. According to their website, UZT is a full service zipline company, offering consulting, turnkey projects, course inspections, staff training and specialized equipment. Although they perform accident investigations, UZT boasts having a 100% safety record at all its courses.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never zipped down a zipline, nor jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, or swam the English Channel, or peered into an active volcano, or stared down a King Cobra, or disagreed with my mother-in-law. But I did spend a few years in the Marine Corps, which is probably a close second – just not as dangerous.

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