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Zip-lining instructor helping a woman buckle in for a zip

Thorough Training Makes for Enhanced Canopy Tour Experience

By Bruce Lessels

CHARLEMONT, MA — Zip guide Zach Morris stood on a platform, high up under a heavy canopy of maple and beech
trees, on the first day of a week-long training for new guides at Zoar Outdoor one June afternoon.
As Morris began to lead trainee Abby Schlinger in belaying down to the ground, he noticed that each of their lanyards, which serve as their primary safety devices, were entwined. Morris didn’t panic. He taught the group a lesson on troubleshooting. “Hey, everybody,” he said, calling down to the trainees, standing below on the forest floor. “I’m going to take this moment to teach you about lanyard entanglement.”
Morris held up both his and Schlinger’s lanyards to show trainees that they were clearly crossing one another. “It’s awkward, not dangerous,” he said. “It happens all the time.” As he pulled Schlinger back toward him, Morris explained to the group that had Schlinger begun to belay, he would have gotten tugged toward her, but he would not have fallen, as his lanyard was also secured to the tree—standard procedure.
Morris used exaggerated gestures to detangle the two lanyards and then began anew the process of sending Schlinger down to the ground. “We’re good to go,” he said, adding, “We’ll go over it a million times. Don’t worry.”


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