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What exactly IS Slacklining?

It’s been a while since we talked about slacklining (some call it baselining or highlining), and to remind you what the more extreme slacklining is about I show here, again, Dean Potter highlining across Hellroaring Canyon near Moab, UT:

Dean Potter

Dean is one of the forerunners of this sport and has pushed his skills to the limit. He slacklines with a parachute rather than a safety harness!

However, slacklining has received some bad press and a fair amount of intolerance in some circles.

Most people slackline no more than a few feet off the ground. It is all about balance and control and that is what satisfies a lot of people. “It’s almost like meditation. You get on a slackline, all you think about is the next step,” Kate Vander Wiede, an engineering student at the University of Colorado said. However the university itself takes a more dim view of the sport. Citing safety concerns and possible harm to trees, they have banned slacklining on campus this year after dozens of students started showing up at slacklines strung across campus quads.

“Look, we’re not trying to be killjoys here,” said CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard . “You simply, as an institution, can’t accommodate every single fun thing kids want to do when safety and environmental factors come into play.” Which I suppose is true, although when the pastime is relatively harmless one would think it would be encouraged, or at least tolerated, rather than banned. Slackliners insist the activity is no more dangerous than skateboarding or bicycling, and that properly attached slacklines, which include pads, don’t hurt tree trunks.

So, what exactly is slacklining?

Thanks to DamianRoyce for the video.

“It is a balance sport which utilizes nylon webbing stretched tight between two anchor points. Slacklining is distinct from tightrope walking in that the line is not held rigidly taut; it is instead dynamic, stretching and bouncing like a long and narrow trampoline. The line’s tension can be adjusted to suit the user and different types of dynamic webbing can be used to achieve a variety of feats. The line itself is flat, due to the nature of webbing, thus keeping the slacker’s footing from rolling as would be the case with an ordinary rope. The dynamic nature of the line allows for impressive tricks and stunts.”

Thanks to Wikipedia for that succinct explanation.

There are two main mediums to slacklining:

  • Tricklining or lowlining: this is the most common as it can be strung up between any two secure points and is low to the ground. A great number of tricks can be done on the line, and because the sport is fairly new, there is plenty of room for new ones
  • Highlining: this is slacklining at large distances above the ground or water. When rigging highlines, experienced slackers take measures to ensure that solid, redundant and equalized anchors are used to secure the line into position. To ensure safety, most highliners wear a climbing harness or swami belt with a leash attached to the slackline itself; however, unleashed walks of highlines are not unheard of.

Long slackline walking was pioneered most notably by Dean Potter, Larry Harpe, Ammon McNeely, and Braden Mayfield. Rumors of 200–300 foot slacklines were talked about, however there is no known official line length record from this period.

As www.slackline.com says: Slacklining is the sport of walking a small, flat nylon rope between two points. It is practiced in the backyard, on college campuses and city parks, and even 3000 feet above the ground. Some people do it for fun, others for the obvious athletic benefits, and others still for meditative purpose, in seeking a higher state of mind. Since slacklining’s development in the late 1970s, it has grown into an international craze, and is a common and popular pastime with the outdoor community.

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And here’s a slightly more extreme slacklining/highlining video to really get the pulses racing, thanks to virtualPublishing for sharing it.

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