Join 3,425 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Not quite a tightrope...
August 18, 2007 1:05 AM   Subscribe

Slacklining is like tightrope walking on crack. There's even instructional sites dedicated to it. I'd never heard of it until running across this pretty unbelivable video, which led to the discovery of keywords and what is apparently an entire culture. Some of the basic tricks include surfing, the 360, various acts of balance reminiscent of breakdancing or olympic balance beam and even a front flip. Oh, and of course then there's complete insanity...
posted by twiggy (38 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
"this proves humans evolved from monkeys"

Agreed.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:17 AM on August 18, 2007


Monkeys brachiate.
posted by orthogonality at 1:31 AM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


that "completely insane" video is amazing. My heart is still stuck in my throat - gulp...
posted by janetplanet at 2:15 AM on August 18, 2007


I knew a guy in Eugene, OR, ... Adam Somethingorother. He was the local hard-man. I believe he slack-lined Monkey Face at Smith Rocks without a safety rope. I think that a photo of it made a Patagonia catalog cover at some point.

But it was fun to watch him at The Crux, the local rock gym. He would hop up on the ropes dividing the bouldering area and do some slack-line, then do a handstand on the line, then some silly yoga poses, then hop off.

He was at least 45 years old at the time, around 1994.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 2:19 AM on August 18, 2007


The "completely insane" video is too heavy for vertigo-sufferers like me. I couldn't watch it to the end.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:29 AM on August 18, 2007


Nice. Tim O'Neill first came to prominence in the climbing world (as far as I could tell), with some crazy & comical climbs on buildings in Boulder, in Front Range Freaks.
posted by Flashman at 4:18 AM on August 18, 2007


Whenever nerdy white guys do anything physical, I can't help but think it's a lot easier than it looks.
posted by pokermonk at 5:12 AM on August 18, 2007


The last link has caused my testicles to crawl up to an area somewhere near my liver..... They have threatened to never return... thanks a lot!!!
posted by HuronBob at 5:27 AM on August 18, 2007


My Wow-Filter must be mis-calibrated, because those links barely registered on it. Shit, the Great Farini walked across Niagra Falls on a tightrope with someone on his shoulders, and that was more than a hundred years ago. It's nice to see the tradition is still going strong, but walking 70 feet across a couple of rock pillars while harnessed is pretty tame compared to walking three-quarters of a mile across two mountain tops.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:48 AM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's always this guy.
posted by octothorpe at 6:24 AM on August 18, 2007


Civil_Disobedient, if the Great Farini had stuck it on Youtube, it'd be here and our wow-filter would have loved it too.

Given that he didn't, I'm voting O'Neill for the visceral wow, as noted earlier by others.
posted by imperium at 6:28 AM on August 18, 2007


Just because you change the name from "tightrope walking" to "slacklining" doesn't change the fact people have been doing this (and doing more impressive things than that last link) for over a century.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:57 AM on August 18, 2007


Can we, as a culture, please stop saying "on crack"? Firstly, it's disrespectful to all those whose lives have been ravaged by the drug (disproportionately lower-class, urban dwellers/prisoners). Secondly, this is not the 1980s and you are not in the Valley, girl.
posted by Eideteker at 7:14 AM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


So many comic book guys, so little time!

I thought this was cool, even after googling french world trade center guy. Everyone bitching and moaning about the unoriginality of this should come back after they've done a backflip on a slackline.
posted by craniac at 7:18 AM on August 18, 2007


Mr.Encyclopedia, while it looks more or less the same as tightrope walking, the difference is in the ropes - tight ropes are high tension static lines, and slack lines are usually loose and bouncy. Since slacklining comes from rock climbing, usually "dynamic" or stretchy climbing rope is used, which has four cores of bungy-chord-type material adding to the bounciness.
posted by dabhaid at 7:39 AM on August 18, 2007


There is an indisputable sign that I will never be able to do anything approaching that (last link). Not only is my sense of balance dog-toffee anyway, but when walking along a rope, my last possible instinct, when it all gets a bit shaky, is to half my contact area with the rope by standing on one leg in a star shape and, keeping my breathing the same, wobble about a bit.

No no no.

The correct, logical, response to wobbling while walking on a rope above a bloody great drop is to throw yourself down at the rope, hug it firmly with every limb and, in between deep and panicky gulps of air, cry for your mum at great volume.

Doesn't everyone KNOW that?
posted by Brockles at 7:43 AM on August 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Hmm. Actually I saw something like this on a circus video as a kid. They called it "Low-wire" walking (as opposed to high wire, I think) and the guy was wearing a bunch of padding and a helmet.
posted by delmoi at 8:04 AM on August 18, 2007


Just because you change the name from "tightrope walking" to "slacklining" doesn't change the fact people have been doing this (and doing more impressive things than that last link) for over a century.

Slacklining really isn't the same as tightrope walking. I've done both at the staggering altitude of about three feet, because that's just how hard I am.

Pretty much anyone can advance along a tightrope; what makes it scary is when it's strung over the Niagara Falls. I couldn't take a single step on the slackline without falling off, which hurts even at three feet.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:14 AM on August 18, 2007


For those in London wishing to give it a try, there's usually a crowd of worn out climbers trying to injure themselves outside the Palm Tree pub in Mile End park on a Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
posted by Kiell at 8:38 AM on August 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Agreed-tight and slack lines are totally different games. When you take a step on a slackline you have to release the pressure from your following foot...imagine trying to balance on a board that is on top of a can that really wants to roll...now think of that sort of balance being used while trying to walk a line. The line is always trying to shift, move and swing underneath you. The hardest thing to get used to is the swinging. Think of balancing on just about anything-you'd keep your balance by adjusting your weight from side to side to establish your balance point. On a slackline, that just makes the line swing...swing too much and it WILL pitch you. As for calling someone lame for wearing a harness on a slack highline, please keep a few things in mind. If a slackliner begins to fall and and can't catch their balance, the slackline can swing in one direction and pitch the person in the opposite direction. This is taken out of the equation on a tightline-if you start to fall on a tight rope it will stay where it is, and you can fall and catch yourself. It can be done on a slackline, but there are too many variables that could work against you, making a harness a good idea. In some instances the harness will be connected to another(dynamic) rope entirely...that's because slacklining is done on webbing(think of a tie down strap for a pick up truck). Webbing can snap, and the longer the distance of the line, the higher the risk. If the webbing snaps, the dynamic rope will catch the line walker.
posted by cloudstastemetallic at 8:50 AM on August 18, 2007


A friend of mine has a slackrope in his back yard. I’ve tried it. It’s hard. I couldn’t take a single step, even holding a support. Apparently it’s very popular among rock and boulder climbers.
posted by ijoshua at 8:53 AM on August 18, 2007


Whenever nerdy white guys do anything physical, I can't help but think it's a lot easier than it looks.

Just because you change the name from "tightrope walking" to "slacklining" doesn't change the fact people have been doing this (and doing more impressive things than that last link) for over a century.

I can assure both of you that slacklining is in fact much harder than it looks. I consider myself a pretty athletic and coordinated person, I played three sports in high school and one in college, I stay in good physical shape. I have a good friend who slacklines and while watching him I got the same impression as #1 quoted above: there's no way this is that hard.

I was wrong. I, literally, could not stand on the line. Couldn't even push up onto it with one leg and stand with two feet. It started to wobble furiously when I put all my weight on my one foot that was raised to meet the line, even with my other foot on the ground.

I'd challenge you to try it if you get the chance, you'll find it's amazingly much much harder than it looks. And as for the comparison to tightrope walking, not even close. Tightropes don't wobble: they are a "fixed" line, usually made of some form of steel cable. Slacklining is usually a 2"xpaperthin strip of vinyl that moves with your every shift in body weight.
posted by jckll at 8:54 AM on August 18, 2007


DO NOT WANT
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:45 AM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


You think you're hardcore about walkin' a rope, dude? Noooo. This guy is hardcore.

Usually when a paralyzed 64 year old man says, "I want to feel alive and productive. I just can't sit around the house and not do anything." it doesn't mean they want to cross the Chicago River on a rope.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:47 AM on August 18, 2007


Are you implying that slacklining craps itself and cries a lot?
posted by JDHarper at 9:48 AM on August 18, 2007


Usually when a paralyzed 64 year old man says, "I want to feel alive and productive. I just can't sit around the house and not do anything." it doesn't mean they want to cross the Chicago River on a rope

...unless they happen to be named Wallenda.

...and that complete insanity link was truly sphincter-clenching. I had the same experience cklennon had when I tried slacklining -- flung me right off. Your weight-bearing leg starts vibrating like a tuning fork and every tightrope reflex you have tells you precisely the WRONG thing. Splat.

But I just thought it was something climbers did to horse around and kill time, I had no idea people actually had perfected this skill.

Well, that's my adrenalin surge for the day. Time for a nap.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:11 AM on August 18, 2007


That was kinda the point, bitteroldpunk.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:16 AM on August 18, 2007


I knew a guy in Eugene, OR, ... Adam Somethingorother. He was the local hard-man. I believe he slack-lined Monkey Face at Smith Rocks without a safety rope. I think that a photo of it made a Patagonia catalog cover at some point.

Adam Grosowsky, and he's still here and still doing it. He recently got a big write-up in the paper due to the sudden surge of slackline popularity.

For those who are all worked up and need something a little more relaxing, please note that Adam is now a relatively successful painter and art instructor.
posted by medialyte at 10:48 AM on August 18, 2007


great post
posted by vronsky at 11:04 AM on August 18, 2007


Adam Grosowsky slacklined over to the mouth at Monkeyface? Big deal, I inched over the line harnessed from both sides and gripping with arms and legs that were twisted around the line about 80 times.

Once in the mouth, I totally climbed to the very top of the monkey's head. With the assistance of a ladder.

I'm hard.
posted by jragon at 11:32 AM on August 18, 2007


My palms literally started sweating when I watched that "insane" video. Wow.
posted by mtstover at 11:40 AM on August 18, 2007


*watches 'complete insanity' link*

*introspectively examines strange feelings in my stomach*

Oh, so this is what a fear of heights is like. I never understood what people were complaining about before, but now I totally get it.
posted by quin at 11:46 AM on August 18, 2007


I tried this, oh, 25 years ago. It hurt a lot when I fell off, and that was just a low rope. Just as well I was drunk.
posted by zingzangzung at 1:33 PM on August 18, 2007


Can we, as a culture, please stop [...]

I have been told to stop using this, stop with the LOL...ians, stop talking about cats, stop posting Iraq, stop this meme and that one.

How about we stop forming whiny shit clouds over threads?

Oh, wait ...
posted by YoBananaBoy at 3:06 PM on August 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's also Slackline Yoga for people who think that yoga isn't hard enough already.
posted by sculpin at 6:47 PM on August 18, 2007


Great post, twiggy. I spent a year in Squamish, BC ('03-'04) working on this among other rockclimbing activities. One fall off a high-ball put me out of commission.

But I saw people do this without grapples at 300 ft up and for over one hundred feet of walking.

Wow-filter? Gone bust in Squamish. Good times, good people, good soul...good God!
posted by humannaire at 7:36 PM on August 18, 2007


Those are some awesome paintings, medialyte. Thanks.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:54 AM on August 19, 2007


medialyte: yeah, that's the guy.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:41 AM on August 19, 2007


« Older Diebold Election Systems is no more...  |  Urban Scarecrows! A fundraisin... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments