Give Us A Little Slack...Please!
Slacklining is one of the coolest, easiest to enjoy sports out there. For some sports you need a whole host of equipment (just imagine Lacrosse or Archery). But, with Slacklining, all you need is one well-built strap to connect between two trees. After that, the rest of the magic is in you. Slacklining, if you haven't seen it or heard of it, is the deceptively simple process of balancing on a thick, webbed strap and walking from one end to the other. The slackline is generally fastened to two trees, although there really are limitless options for where you can set your slackline up. In a moment we’ll get to some of the craziest places people have decided to tie up their rope and go for a jaunt.
We call slacklining ‘deceptively simple’ because, upon first glance, it can look as simple as walking a straight line on any flat surface. In fact, with enough practice, I’m sure it feels quite similar to that. For the vast majority of us, however, slacklining is nearly impossible. The line has some slack, as the name infers. As such, balancing on it is incredibly challenging. Even just the simple act of getting both feet up onto the line can be where most people hit an impasse. You need to have extremely well conditioned balancing capabilities. Your sense of balance is put to the highest challenge immediately. Once you’ve gained your balance, keeping it is the next most difficult thing. As you walk your way through the air even the slightest wind or movement can cause you to lose your grip and fall. This is why slacklining is always enjoyed as close to the ground as possible, at least in most cases.
As with any sport there are some that take it to the extreme. Slacklining is no different. Although some form of rope walking has been around for thousands of years, it wasn’t until the, then 16 year old, Adam Grosowsky came up with the idea in 1979. He was obsessed with pictures of circus performers walking on tightropes and wanted to find way to make this circus act available to the masses. Now that the sport has had a few decades to expand, people are coming up with more and more unique ways to enjoy.
Highlining has to be our favorite way to slackline, just for the fact that nothing can be more extreme than walking through mid air with nothing to hold you above the earth but your own wavering balance. Incredible feats have been achieved by highliners all around the world. Yosemite often acts as a breeding ground for the most extreme version of outdoor sports. Slacklining is no different. In Yosemite National Park in California, athletes have been trying the unthinkable for decades. From free climbing at insane speeds to base jumping from every clifface in the park, this is a hub for all things extreme. In perfect Yosemite style, some slackliners have free walked (without the assistance of a protective belt or harness) from Taft point onto the top of El Capitan. During this walk, only the length of a city block but feeling like a journey of a million miles, the walkers are suspended thousands of feet above the earth. With only the slightest error of the feet, the walker is sent plummeting to their certain death.
Other fun ways to enjoy slacklining are with Yoga Slacklining and Waterlining. Both of these incur much less risk than their high altitude counterpart, highlining. Yoga Slacklining offers the ability to attempt a wide range of yoga poses with the added struggle of needing to maintain perfect balance throughout. For those that already enjoy both activities and practice them well, this is a great way to increase the difficulty and the fun. Waterlining is another up and coming way to enjoy slacklining. As the name indicates, waterlining is when people walk along a slackline above the water. Not only does this greatly reduce the danger in partaking in the sport, it also makes it a fun way to spend a sunny day. Every day people are finding new, fun ways to enjoy slacklining. Next time you’re at your neighborhood park, take a look around for any slacklines hidden amongst the trees. If you do see one, ask to give it a try!