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Zipping the gym

There is something enticing, something totaly magnetic about screaming down a rope at blurring speed, its like being in a seen from a Holly Wood action movie. Part of it is the thrill of going fast and part of it is the “I did it” factor, never the less it is doing something out of the ordinary, something very exciting, something to tell others about.

While I will discribe in some detail how I set up and operated my version of a Zip Line, the details I provide are only a discription of what I did in relation to my background in technical rock climbing techniques and equipment, as well as a sound understanding of building construction. If you lack in any of these aria’s of expertise seek the advice and assistance from someone who is a certified expert.

How to cover the length of a basket ball court and make a slam dunk in 2.5 seconds.

Entertaining 40 young adults ages 18-30 for an evening.

The take off platform.

  1. 7 - 2″ x 4″ x 4′ fir, 16 inches on center.
  2. 1 - 4′ x 4′ x 3/4″ plywood
  3. I assembled the platform by screwing it together with 3-1/2″ grabber screws, using six inch spacing, 16 inches on center, except on corners where I place two in each end of each 2″x4″.
  4. I glued the 2 x 4 ends and sheeting with construction adhesive.
  5. I attach platform to masonry wall with 4 - 1/2″ x 10″ steel bolts washers and nuts.
  6. I attach the front of the platform to the cealing using 1/2″ x 6″ eye bolts, nuts and washers and two lengths of 500 pound strength chain.
  7. Every application and installation is different and will require changes in mounting procedure. I built my platform to safely support the weight of the platform and two large adults (600-700 pounds).


  1. I used one thirty and one forty foot heavy duty extension ladder to rig my platform, and for my participants to climb up to the platform.
  2. You will need at least one eight foot step ladder for rigging and at the finish end of the zip line to unload participants.


  1. I used two ropes long enough to span the gym, with plenty of excess left over to rig the cinch system I used to create the proper tension on the rope, this also controls speed and where you stop. (I used two 200 foot, 11 millimeter static ropes, 6000 pound break strength each, there was plenty of excess rope left over)
  2. One rope was my primary rope on which my main pulley system traveled.
  3. The other rope was my redundant safety system, in case my primary rope failed, it was rigged independently of the primary rope system.
  4. I did not skimp on my ropes, I used top quality 11 millimeter certified mountaineering static ropes. ( Manufactured by the Blue Water Ropes Co.)


  1. Pulleys must be strong and dependable they must be designed for the kind of weight and dynamic stresses that will be placed on them in a zip line assembly. (I used a Petzl Tandem Speed P21 for the primary pulley and a Petzl Fixe P05 for the tension system.)


  1. I used one inch climb spec webbing, doubled or tripled to rig to fixed objects, carabiners and pulleys. I used approximately 60 feet in my rigging situation.

Carabiners and Quick Links .

  1. I used a variety of these items to complete my connections. I recommend screw lock, twist lock or try lock carabiners, real certified and rated quick links. The steel carabiners I used are much stronger than than aluminum, I checked the break strength rating on each peace of equipment I used to insure that there were no weak links in my system. (Omega Pacific Steel Mod D SG, Omega Pacific Tactical D SG, Omega Pacific Jake HMS TL, Fixe Maillon Screw Links 10 mm )

Each installation is different

  1. Each time I’ve constructed a Zip line the set up and installation have been different, I have to be flexible as to how I will set up each Zip Line, while still maintaining the highest degree of safety. I have encountered differences in existing walls, ceilings, rafters and connection points, as well as the necesity of working around existing back boards and other obstacles. Therefor you and only you can determine the realistic feasibility of constructing such an apparatus, and therefor you must assume sole liability for such.

Commercial Zip Lines

  1. There are a number of commercially manufactured Zip Lines that you can find by googling “zip line”, most of them run on steel cables. However you are still responsible for proper installation and operation of them and you should get professional assistance for that.




Redundancy - You are solely responsible it insure that at least two independent systems, the primary system and the back up safety system are used.

Tested and certified equipment and materials - You are solely responsible for the acquisition of safety inspected, tested and certified equipment, bearing the certification stamps and strength ratings, on all ropes, rigging and connections,carabiners, helmets and harnesses.

Materials - You are solely responsible for the acquisition, use and maintenance of all materials. These including ladders, ropes, pulleys, carabiners, webbing, harnesses, gloves, helmets, lumber, bolts, etc.

Participant instruction and supervision - you are solely responsible to instruct all participants in the safe use of the equipment and to personally supervise their use.

Proper fitting - You are solely responsible for the fitting and adjustment of harnesses, helmets and gloves for all participants.

System Testing - You are solely responsible for testing and adjustment of your equipment before and during use.

Disclaimer - You understand that there are inherent risks in this activity and that possible permanent injury or death could result to those who participate.

Qualified instructors - You must provide qualified instructors to instruct and assist participants; and to opperate and maintain equipment.

Bomb proof - A term used to signify that you have reviewed all elements of your equipment, rigging and construction, and that partisipant are properly instructed and supervised; and that you are completely satisfied that there is no possibility for failure.

Doubt - If any doubt should arise over any aspect of your equipment or its safe use, operations should immediately be suspended until proper correction and repairs have been made.

Padding - all immovable objects such as the bottom of backboards etc. that may be impacted at high speed, are protected with a sufficient amount of padding to ensure the participants safety.

Loose clothing and long hair - Secure all loose clothing, long hair and anything else that might get caught in the pulley system while traveling at high speed.

Maintain a safe clear path of travel, to avoid high speed collisions with other persons or equipment.

You must be vigilant - You must double check and recheck all aspects of your design, installation, and operation of your Zip line.

Brakes - everyone who participates must were gloves and be instructed in how to use them to slow down and brake at the end.

Testing - you and only you must test out the Zip Line and be sure it functions properly.

Responsibility - You are solely responsible for the following,

  1. to administer this activity in a safe manner.
  2. to understand that the information provided in this article is not to be construed to be complete and total as to your specific circumstances and is only a representation of what the author did in his specific circumstances.
  3. for your personal training by qualified, certified instructors and the use of quality tested and certified materials and there proper maintenance.
  4. to obtain liability wavers from all participants. BLB 2009





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