Profiles

My Other Life: Catherine Porche, Zipline Instructor

When nail tech Catherine Porche started work as a ziplining instructor at a company near Austin, Texas, she planned to pay her way through nail school, but she loved the job so much that she couldn’t give it up after getting her nail license. 

When nail tech Catherine Porche started work as a ziplining instructor at a company near Austin, Texas, she planned to pay her way through nail school, but she loved the job so much that she couldn’t give it up after getting her nail license. She had no adventure experience when she found the job on Craigslist, but was offered the job immediately after her interview and received 40 hours of intensive training.

Ensuring guests’ safety is the most important part of the job, she says. The course has five ziplines, the longest over half a mile long. Two tour guides take groups of four to 12 guests through the 1.5 miles of hiking between the lines, clip and unclip them from the lines, and stop them at the end. “Some zipline courses have guests handbrake themselves (they use a gloved hand to grab the cable and slow themselves down), but because our lines are so long and fast, tour guides are in charge of stopping guests to maintain safety,” she explains. “Our braking system uses pulleys and friction to bring guests from as fast as 65 mph to a safe and full stop.”

Porche loves getting to meet people from all over the world as part of her job. “I’ve had guests from countless other countries, and I feel honored to be able to show them a little Southern hospitality for a few hours,” she says. Working in 100-degree Texas summers can be challenging, so she makes sure she and her guests stay hydrated. She appreciates being outside too, though: “I love having the balance of working both indoors and outdoors,” says Porche. “I find it pretty easy to balance my time, because I have my dedicated salon days and dedicated zipline days,” she adds. “And the days I go to the zipline, I don’t have to worry about going to the gym.”

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