It’s not every day you see people walk across a thin strip of nylon webbing between to fixed points, using all the balance and nerve they can muster. It even more unusual and impressive to watch this when the two fixed points are cliffs towering 700 meters over Verdon Gorge in south-eastern France gorge and remind said people of what, should anything go wrong, would mean certain death. Check out the following video of photographer Pierre Chauffour’s first trek across a highline.
That, friends, is the sport of slacklining, a feat Damien Mercier knows well. Mercier is an avid slackliner and mountaineer from France who founded the comany advertised in the video, slack.fr six years ago when he recognized the growing interest in the sport. What started out as a small online company has turned into an international hot spot for all kinds of slackline gear. From first-timers to seasoned pros, Mercier has put together packages to cover all the bases of his favorite sport. He also offers information on safety, history, installation, and good locations with the added bonus of some amazing photographs.
Slacklining is different from tight rope walking in that the “rope” is flat and is not taut. Essentially, the extra slack and flat, one-inch wide surface of the nylon webbing allows for stretching and bouncing similar to the feel of a trampoline. Many times, each side of the line is attached to a tree, but some take the idea to the extreme. Slacklining at high elevations is often considered the highest form of the sport—no pun intended. It is called highlining. As the video shows, it takes a great deal of nerve and skill to traverse a line that far up in the air.
The first time someone took a line to elevation was in 1983 in Yosemite National Park at the Lost Arrow Spire at around 880 meters above the ground. Neither of the two men involved made it across. Two years later, Scott Balcom accomplished their mission, becoming the first person to complete a highline cross. And the rest is history. Highlining has been growing in popularity ever since. Check out Mercier’s website, and discover all that this graceful sport has to offer. As always, remember the proverb the company quotes on their webpage, “To trust is good. To check is better.” Be safe and enjoy the world of slacklining!