You probably heard the news of a tragic death at a Go Ape Treetop Adventures in Delaware yesterday. While I do not know the particulars of what caused the accident, I can tell you about my experience at the Go Ape location in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In July, my family of four had an exciting afternoon as we navigated the ropes course and zip line adventures at Go Ape.
Getting to be Tarzan or Jane can be a thrilling experience, which is exactly what happened for us at Go Ape Treetop Adventures in Myrtle Beach. But it is inherently risky, so you have to learn the ropes, have a safety briefing, and sign a waiver.
Our experience began by checking in to sign waivers and make sure everyone qualified to do the courses. In this case, that meant that you must be 10 or older to participate; have closed toe and closed heel shoes on; and meet the height and weight requirements. (There is a Treetop Junior experience at select locations with no age requirements.)
Minimum age: 10 years old
Minimum height: 4 feet 7 inches
Maximum weight: 285 pounds (subject to harness fit)
The most impressive thing to me was the emphasis on safety. The safety training lasted about 15 minutes. The guide explained all the equipment parts, including a harness and two carabiners (your safety lines). On the ground, you practice clipping in and out of the lines. The key rule is to always stay attached at all times to the safety line.
The first section of the course is a set of obstacles at a lower height where you show the instructors that you know what to do. A woman in our group could not climb up the Tarzan swing (a lattice of ropes) to reach the platform. So she remained there on those ropes and no one else could move forward.
This continued for about 15 minutes before the guide on the ground was able to talk her through attaching his line to her carabiner and then lifting her up to the nearest platform. Needless to say, at her first opportunity, she opted to exit the course. So there are opportunities for people to leave in between the courses if they feel they are unable to complete them.
Did I Feel Safe?
Sure, we were up high in the trees. Did I have a sense that I needed to be careful? Absolutely. Did I feel safe? Yes!
I was in charge of that. I knew the safety rules and had been well trained. As a parent supervising my 11-year-old as he went through the course, I was keenly aware of each time we clipped and unclipped in from the lines to move from one safety line to the next. But we ALWAYS kept attached to a safety line.
We would go to Go Ape again. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience that challenges you physically and mentally. We felt an extreme sense of accomplishment when we exited the final course after the last zip over the lake.
But I totally understand that when incidents like this happen, people feel less comfortable or confident about the activity. That’s why I wanted to share our Go Ape experience. Then families can make an informed decision about what is right for them.
So I’m curious, would news like this keep you from going to Go Ape? Why or why not?