What a weekend this past weekend was! Chris, Preston, Ryan, Susan, and I decided we wanted to rig the 451 foot gap that we established the previous weekend. I got pretty close to sending the line the first time we rigged it with just 3 falls on one of my 6 crossings. I was very confident that I could get across this line with zero falls!
Rigging was somewhat interesting as we were trying out a new method to help make carrying the line across the gap a lot easier. This combined with trying to lower the weight of our packs (200 lbs of gear is not easy to carry) made for a somewhat difficult rig. However, we were still able to get the line up in under 2 hours. The static side is an 8 bolt anchor with 4 of those bolts being used for the mainline and 4 for the backup. On the tensioning side we had a very big oak tree with a smaller one directly behind for backup. I was super confident with this rig, especially with the low tensions that we were at.
Walking this monster was like nothing I have ever experienced. On my first attempts I was expecting it to be absolutely ridiculous with HUGE oscillations and uncontrollable movements. But, when I stepped up on to the line, it was quite the opposite! It was so slow and easy to control, I was astonished! I was able to get across the line with just 5 falls on my first go! At this point, I was confident that this line could be done. It would just take a ton of concentration, a tight core, and steady breathing.
On the first day we had the line up this weekend, I got across the line 4 times. Every attempt had at least 2 falls, but there was one attempt where my two falls were at the very beginning and at the very end. I knew that if we left the line up for just one more day, I could definitely get the send. So, I went home, had a great meal, a good nights rest, and came back in the morning fully prepared to commit to getting across this line.
I walked the line 4 more times before I started to feel exhausted. One of those attempts I had just a single fall at the very beginning of the line. I knew I could do it, but I was just so damn tired! That's 1,800 feet of highline walking on the most intense line I have ever been on. I was learning more and more about the line with each attempt. I found that if I relaxed my shoulders, I could control the movements more. If I limited the movement in my hips, the wobbles in the line would not be as intense. If I kept moving and didn't stop anywhere to try and correct, I could usually walk through whatever was happening. If I focussed solely on my breath, it would help me stay focussed throughout the whole walk. When I fell, it was usually because I was giving up mentally. I had been on every part of that line 14 times already and had gotten through any crazy movement that had happened, it was just staying focussed that was the issue.
When I got across the line for the 14th time, I was totally done and was thinking that I would not go for it again. Another defeat from a 400'+ line. Just then when I thought I would have to come back yet again to get the send, I hear my wife from across the canyon. "Jer, I think you should try again".
"I'm totally exhausted", I yelled back
"But you did really good and I think you will send it!" She exclaimed
"Alright, one more time", I said with little hope
I got up on the line and felt it under my feet. It really didn't feel that bad. I started to gain more confidence. As I got further along the line, I started to put to use the things I had learned on my 14 previous crossings. "Breath, keep walking, control your shoulders, don't move your hips", I kept telling myself. Surprisingly, at no point during the walk did I have any close calls. I felt strong the whole way, all the way until the last step. I sent this freakin' line! It felt so good! This was by far the most rewarding send of my slackline career.
Here are a few more pictures of the line and the walk:
- Length: 451 feet (137.5m), laser measured
- Sag: 18-20 feet
- Tension: 800 lbf (363 kgf) on main and ~150 lbf (68 kgf) on the backup
- Webbing: Double Type-18