SLACKLINE – THE JOY OF BALANCE

What started as a pastime for climbers has evolved into a professional sport and a movement. It even made its way to one of the biggest stages of the world: The Super Bowl Halftime Show.

However, Slacklining is about more than entertainment. For some, it is a way of life, the slacklife. It combines coordination skills, athletic abilities and mental focus. While the act of balancing represents a way of meditation, Slacklining is also a competitive sport.

The modern slackline scene has its roots in the legendary Camp 4 on the bottom of Yosemite Valley. In the early 1980’s Adam Grosowsky and his buddy Jeff Ellington started experimenting with climbing gear and slacklining was born. Inspired by them, Scott Balcom walked the first highline, rigged beneath a bridge near Pasadena, CA. Extreme sport pioneers like Dean Potter gave the sport a new turn and pushed its popularity, partly because of their breathtaking free solo lines.

A whole bunch of disciplines has evolved from the same principle of walking the line. Here is a brief overview of the most exciting ways to slackline.

Tricklining

Apparently just crossing the distance between two trees was just not enough drill and thrill for some slackliners, so they decided to try tricks on it. By now, tricklining is well established and attracts hundreds of people to events like the World Cup.

Tricklines are characterized by very dynamic webbing, which allows for trampoline-like jumps. Top athletes like Andy Lewis and Jaan Roose steadily invent new tricks and turned the once calm sport into an acrobatic sensation, showcasing all kinds of flips and spins.

Highlining

As the name indicates, the slackline is rigged in great heights. Obviously, this adds a whole new aspect to the walk. Even though highlines are heavily secured and most highliners use a belay by leash, you can imagine the adrenaline rush, just standing on one inch of webbing with an abyss beneath you.

Deep focus and inner tranquility are required to deal with such exposed lines. Highliners have to be completely in their zone and often refer to the crossing as pure flow.

As in any other sport, there are those athletes that take it to the extreme.
The highline experience can be spiced up by walking free solo (without any belay).

Waterlining

Get ready for the ultimate summer fun! Rig a line over a river or find a suitable spot at a lake and you have your waterline. It’s not only great fun for beginners, who prefer a rather soft and refreshing landing, but also a nice chance to fine-tune more demanding tricks in a relatively safe environment. Plus, it looks awesome!

Baselining

If you’re looking for a nerve-wracking sport, this is it! This mix of BASE-jumping and Highlining is the ultimate thrill of slacklining. While it can only be recommended for skilled athletes with high risk tolerance, it’s still safer than free soloing. That is, because you still have a parachute on your back. Walk a highline to the middle, then turn, jump and pull the chute. Easy!

The slackline community is quite a social bunch with festivals and meetings almost always turning into really special happenings of outdoor lifestyle. Just hanging out is also a key part, like at this Highline Meeting in Monte Piano, Italy.

© Sebastian Wahlhuetter Photography | www.walhuetter.net | sebastian@wahlhuetter.net

© Sebastian Wahlhuetter Photography

A more competitive and action-fueled event is the Red Bull Airlines in Sicily, where the athletes perform stunning tricks on multiple slacklines, rigged across a street with a giant air pillow beneath them.

For the first time, slacklining has been featured in a E.O.F.T. movie in the 05/06 Tour with HIGHLINER.
Since then, the sport was present in A WALK IN THE CLOUDS, THIS MUST BE THE ONE, PETIT BUS ROUGE and SKETCHY ANDY. Our very own production MASTERS OF SLACK was part of the E.O.F.T. 15/16 and was awarded with the ISPO Gold Award in the Category Film. The film has been part of the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, the Kendal Mountain Film Festival and the Telluride Mountain Film Festival.

Slacklining is a sport on the rise, without limits to the imagination. We’ll leave you with this glimpse of what’s possible.