Kickin’ it in Keystone: Zipline and Ropes Course



Ziplines rock. And so, I recently learned, do ropes courses.  I got to do both – after riding the alpine slide with Mike – in one place: the Rushmore Tramway in Keystone, South Dakota.



The coolest thing about this zipline was how you got to it. A curving dirt path cut into the hill led to a rope-and-plank bridge. That’s what you walked to get to the zipline platform. The back-and-forth motion of the bridge was kinda freaky.  The more unsettling feeling, however, came when you were on the platform, waiting to zip.  As other people walked up the bridge, the platform would sway. Gulp.

(The punching bags at the end of the zipline were there to stop you if the guy couldn’t manage it.  It was the first time I’d ever disembarked down a ladder, as opposed to a platform or the ground.)


After zipping, I swapped the full-body rig for the half harness of the ropes course, which was made up of rope, net and plank bridges, ladders, and ziplines between the trees.

Before getting started, there was a tutorial on the equipment that would keep me from tumbling to the ground.  The harness had two large carabiners, as well as a zipline handle. An odd little number called a “tweezle” was the key to safety and moving to each obstacle.  (A tweezle is a small mechanism attached to each tree on a wire that locks and unlocks the carabiners.)   After a while, a flow developed:  push the carabiner into the tweezle to lock/unlock, scale the obstacle, use the tweezle to lock/unlock, and repeat.



The course had levels of difficulty.  My instructor said that the seven- and eight-year-olds had to start with the yellow course, the easiest one, but adults could start on any of the four, progressively more challenging, courses.  Erring on the side of caution, since it was my first time, I stuck with the yellow route.  I was relieved that the threat of rain kept most people away.  I didn’t want to be holding up some nimble-footed kid as I tentatively made my way along.



Even though my heart was pounding as I inched platform to platform, I loved the ropes course.  I’m super excited to try another one. Maybe the teenage route this time? 🙂




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