What it's like to be a Zipline Guide

“Wow, you’re a zipline guide?

That sounds like a fun job. I want to be one too.”

Now hold on. Before you pick up that harness and helmet, I want to share with you all my knowledge and experience of what it’s like to be a zipline guide. 

Before I get to the “expectation” part, I want to share my story of how I became a zipline guide. First of all, I applied to various outdoor companies back in April 2016. You can google “OUTDOOR COMPANY JOBS” and each individual company links will pop up.

Soo Cha

Soo Cha

So after a few weeks of applying and waiting, I got an interview from a well-known outdoor company in NC called Nantahala Outdoor Center about my interest in being a zipline guide. I’ll skip the interview part but fast forward a week later, I finally got accepted the job offer. 

WHOOO!!! Got the hard part out of the way! After graduating college, I packed my bags and flew to Asheville, NC where I requested an UBER to take me to the destination. Strangely enough, the UBER driver and I remain good friends to this day. 

Once I arrived, I got real comfy and met my “future” coworkers. Two of them actually finished the Appalachian Trail.

Fast forward two days later, my coworkers and I went through intense, rigorous training from learning how to tie knots to clipping a carribbeener to rescue training. This lasted for a good three days and I have to admit, I was soooo nervous that I’d fail this training. We even had a test to see if we’re ready to move on to being a zipline guide. When I say this training is rigorous, I mean it’s R-I-G-O-R-O-U-S.

About a week later, I was finally able to start working. Mostly during that first week, I worked the ropes course where I learned to clip the carribbeeners quickly (which was my main weakness). Another week past, I finally got to shadow a zipline guide. Basically what I did was I watched the lead and the assistant zipline guide. It doesn’t sound like much, but you learn a lot just by watching them. You learn how to work as a team especially communicating through a walkie-talkie, how to teach guests to zipline, how to clip yourself onto a trolley, etc. 

Few days later, I was being shadowed by my assistant manager. Nervously, I quickly clipped the carribbeeners and yellowtail onto each guests, communicating with the lead guide to make sure it’s safe to send each guests down. If the lead guide says so, then I unclip the yellowtail and attach to their carribbeener which allows the guests to zip safely to the next platform. In short, my training was a success! 

I finally became a zipline guide and led as many as 30 tours during the summer season. 

Now one question I get the most often is, is it a FUN job?

Yes, BUT it can be super stressing at times. It’s fun because it doesn’t feel like work if you wanna put it that way. Plus, you get to zipline everyday and that’s always the best way to start and end your day! But it’s also very stressful and at times very exhausting. For example, I had one incident where another kid had a stomach pain and he had to be taken off the challenge course immediately. My coworker and I had to deal with the frantic parents who were panicking and telling us to do SOMETHING. Turns out the kid didn’t eat anything before doing the challenge course so we gave him some carbs and Gatorade. But yeah, this can MOST DEFINITELY happen.


Now another question and probably the most anticipated question is "what’s it like to be a zipline guide?" 

Well, being a zipline guide is still WORK first of all. Every morning, two zipline guides (one lead and the other assistant) goes and runs a full inspection on the course about 30 minutes before each zipline is open. Basically, we make sure there are no fallen trees or insecure cables or broken equipment. This goes the same with the Challenge Course. Sometimes I work both zipline or challenge courses or mixed. 

When I work the “main” zipline, I have to make sure that the guests are properly wearing a harness and helmet. I even share a bit of knowledge about the Appalachian Mountains and throw in a joke every once in a while. I make sure to instruct guests on how to zipline safely, what to do and what not to do on while ziplining, and answering any questions they have.  I then take guests out to the practice zipline to get them comfortable before they go up the treetops.

When I work the challenge course, I work the lower or higher ropes course and the mini-zipline. So basically, the ropes course has 8 different obstacle course challenge…but don’t worry, you’re strapped onto ropes and a carribbeener for your safety. 

But the best part about working at the zipline/challenge course is the guests. They each got their own “spunk” and that’s what makes it either dull or fun. For example, I had a tiny boy about 6 years old challenge me on the challenge course. We timed ourselves to see who goes the fastest and this was a fun little game to keep both of us entertained.


I hope my Zipline Guide review has been useful for you. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below!


About the author

Soo Cha aka Little Nugget is a Travel Blogger from Los Angeles, California

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