How extreme is slacklining?

March 17, 2009

Thanks to CatalysticPro for the video which highlights the new extreme climbing discipline called slacklining.

Well, don’t they make it look easy?

Where on earth did slacklining come from? I know we have already done an article or two on it, and showed you Dean Potter dong it without a safety line – only a small parachute between him and his maker… but here’s some more information incase you are thinking of giving it a go.

While rope walking has been around in one manner or another for thousands of years, think of circus performers and tight rope walkers, the origins of modern day slacklining are generally attributed to a pair of rock climbers living in Yosemite Valley, California, in the early 1980s. Adam Grosowsky  and Jeff Ellington started their walking on loose chains and cables alongside parking lots, and over time progressed to stringing up their climbing webbing and walking it. The sport grew from there among climbers in the valley, and then branched out elsewhere all over the world.

Slacklining is so called because of the slack webbing line used in the activity. It involves balancing on an elastic man-made fibre line stretched between two points over the ground. The slackliner sways slightly from side to side to stay balanced.

As well as the webbing, you will also need a tensioning device and a system to clamp the line to two fixed points. Two slings are generally placed around the fixed points and attached to the line using a fixing system. If the slackline is tensioned between two trees, padding must be placed between the sling and the tree to protect the bark.

Slacklining helps to train balance, coordination and concentration, which makes it is a useful foundation for many other sports. Anyone can learn to slackline, and rapid progress can be made at any age. A basic sporting aptitude is undoubtedly an advantage, but there are no specific requirements.

Typically, slacklines range from 15-50 feet for those just getting into the sport. However, if an extra challenge and thrill is desired, long lines can prove to be more difficult. Anything over 100 feet requires increased concentration, balance, and skill. Because of this increased degree of  difficulty, many people have embraced long slacklines in the same way that they embrace highlines; it creates the necessity to be completely focused. Many notable slackliners have pursued long slacklines, but only in recent years have attempts been made to set a “world record”.

There is video evidence validating a long line walked on July 1st, 2008 by Stefan Junghannß in Dresden, Germany –  171 meters, or 561 feet. (breaking Damian Cooksey’s previous record of 506 feet). It is rumored that a long line of 200 meters has recently been walked but there is little official documentation to validate this claim.


One comment

  1. slacklining is a great extreme sport, as you can start with small beginnings, in the back yard, garden or local park. You can walk longlines, or experiment with tricks on shorter bouncier lines, or you can take your slackline to remote spots at high altitudes and break world records.

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