Amazing slacklining

Lukas Irmler slacklining over Cape Town

If, on a sunny day in the park, you’ve ever noticed someone hovering in mid-air between two trees, the chances are they probably weren’t hovering but were actually balancing on a slackline, having sneakily tied it between the trees prior to your arrival.

For those unfamiliar with slacklining, think of it as a modern-day, freestyle version of tightrope walking (as wingsuit flying is to the human cannonball). Part of the You Tube generation of sportsmen, slackliners are not confined to the circus tent of their forebears, so these slackers can put up their line in whatever amazing places their ad revenue and sponsorship (part-time pizza delivery job) allows them to.

The sport of slacklining was born in 1979 when rock climbers Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington began to string up cables and chains around their university campus in Washington state, USA, drawing crowds of spectators at lunchtime. They soon settled on 1-inch flat climbing webbing as their line of choice, and began developing tricks to perform on the line — now sometimes known as ‘tricklining’.

Slacklining began to spread throughout the West Coast rock climbing community, and naturally it wasn’t long before the slackliners started to test their nerve by stringing up lines in daredevil locations. Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite National Park was one of the earliest and most amazing highline sites. It was first traversed in 1985, but it was another eight years before a second slackliner made it across!

Slackline at Lost Arrow SpireSlackline at Lost Arrow Spire

Today, Andy Lewis is one of the biggest stars of the sport, recently hitting the big time with a slackline dance performance alongside Madonna at the Superbowl. More amazingly, here he is in 2010 traversing a World Record-breaking highline in Moab, Utah: 103.5 metres across, and more than that off the ground!

Helpfully Andy was wearing a tether on that crossing, which helped him not to die on his first three attempts. However, as this DVD trailer about ‘Sketchy’ Andy shows, he also does freesolo crossings and backflips on the highline — though thankfully (it appears) not at the same time…

Get the DVD featuring Andy Lewis, ‘Reel Rock 2011’, here:
Pic via
Thanks Ali Stanger-Leathes for the suggestion!

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