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Tuesday, 14 September 2010 11:43

The Master of the Afrodisiac

It has been a historical time in the age of Slackline. Two new lines, two men, two incredible records. In the past few weeks there has been a stir in the slackline community because a set of new lines has broken barriers in our sport that we thought were still a ways off. Thanks to an incredible new webbing that goes by the name Spider Silk, we were able to reach these limits much faster than anticipated.

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On August 27th, 2010, a set of 5 people: Janek from Poland, Faith from USA, Kwjet from Czech Republic, Jordan from USA, and myself from USA, all went to rig what we thought to be a GIANT highline in a small town called Ostrov in the Czech side of the Saxony Sandstone. A beautiful spot with sandstone towers as far as the eye could see. A place where rigging highlines is a whole other thing in itself. All natural anchors, leave no trace highlining, a beautiful thing.

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On our first few days in Ostrov, we decided that we wanted to rig a smaller highline before we committed to doing the giant one. There happened to be a line that shared one anchor with the big line that went to a rock somewhere in the middle of the big gap. It was a 56m (184 ft.) long highline that everyone just cruised right across without any troubles. This line was fantastic, the easiest 50m+ line that I had ever walked.

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Rigging the 57m

We called this line Eiland King in order to follow the them of the area. There happens to be another highline that the Landcruising team rigged that goes from the far anchor in the picture to the pillar to the left of it, which happens to be the other anchor for the big line. They called this line Eiland Cruise, and it’s 40.5m long.

Here are the specs for Eiland King:

Mainline – Czech Industrial Orange – 3tonne, 65 g/m
Backup – Spider Silk
Tension – ~2200 lbs
Sag – 1.5m @ 75kg
Anchors – All natural boulder wraps

Having walked this line so easily gave me hope for the next day when we planned to rig the big gap.

The next morning we awoke earlier than usual and got started on the rig as soon as we possibly could. Ostrov has this reputation for being very rainy all the time, so we had to battle this little fact the entire time we were there; including while rigging the line.

The main battle with rigging this giant line was getting the line across through all the trees below the gap. We spent a good 2 hours getting this part done while trying to keep the lines flat the entire time. We ended up having a half twist in the walking line and backup was flat. But once this part of the rig was done, it was smooth sailing. We used a beautiful 9:1 pulley system that Kwjet came up with to tension the lines: 2 x SMC 3″ double pulleys, 2 x CMC Micro double pulleys clipped to the beckets of the SMC pulleys, and a Petzl RIG as the brake. This combined with the LineGrip, made for easy tensioning of both the main and backup lines. We had the line tight in under 30 minutes.

Now for the first attempts at this monster of a line. I can’t remember who went first, but everyone’s first tries were very discouraging. None of us made it more than 20 steps out on this monster of unknown length at the time. Jordan’s first attempt was the best out of all of us; he would just stand up and start walking as fast as he could it seemed, and he would make it out to about 1/4 of the length. This gave us all hope that this line may be walkable. We decided to retire for the day after everyone tried once because we were all beat from rigging and we wanted to save our energy for the attempts the next day.

Attempting a 95m line

Again, we rose early the next day and tried to beat the rain, which was pretty much impossible in Ostrov. I went up to the line before everyone in order to get some attempts in without any distractions. These are the times where I feel I work best, when I think no one is watching. I was able to get out to about 1/3 of the length on my best attempt with everyone still down at the pub.

Hardly ever do I get frustrated while trying to walk a big highline, but this line was getting to me at this point. I was trying SO hard to stay on top of this thing, but it just would not let me! I wanted to just walk this damn highline and be done with it! I had to take a break, it’s not healthy to highline when you are frustrated. I wanted to see everyone else fight this monster and hopefully get some inspiration from them.

All through the day, we all had attempt after attempt after attempt and none of us seemed to be getting anywhere. Then Jordan comes along and has an amazing attempt that landed him almost to half way. This was the try that made us positive that this line was walkable. We decided to add a bit more tension, then have some fighting attempts to try and finally send this line.

We all tried a few more times with little success until Kwjet comes along and has an amazing try. He walked to the half-way point and then took a MONSTER whipper. It was very inspiring. I knew that I had to walk this line. I’d come all the way from America to this place asking Janek, Faith, Jordan, and Kwjet to find a big line that we could do thinking that I could walk it. I had to do this line, it was absolutely necessary.

I got up on the beast and had my first go…problem with the head phones, so I fell. I scooted back to the beginning and made sure my headphones were okay, stood up….problem with my harness, so I fell. I scooted back to the beginning and made sure my headphones and harness were okay. I stood up, started walking, had many many many troubles, but I fought hard to stay on top of the line. I was fighting the entire time during this walk, but I finally made it to the end of this 95m long highline, The Master of the Universe. What an amazing feeling it was to arrive at the other side of that line, where I had never been before, after fighting for SO long that day and the previous day. That was the best feeling highline send I’ve ever had, so incredible.

Here are the specs for this line:

Name – The Master of the Universe
Length – 95m (312 ft.)
Height – ~40m (130)
Main Line – Czech Industrial Orange – 3tonne, 65 g/m
Backup – Spider Silk
Tension – ~1.4 tonnes (3,000 lbs)
Sag – ~1.5m @ 75kg
Anchors – All natural boulder wraps

Cruising the Master of the Universe

We had done it, we had broke the 300 ft. barrier for highlines! I remember about 2 years ago having the goal to walk a 300 ft. line on the ground. It’s incredible to look back and see the progression that has happened in slacklining. We are now capable of walking 300 ft. highlines, thanks in part to the amazing new slackline webbing: Spider Silk.

All photos from The Master of the Universe highline were taken by Jordan Tybon (www.somewhereelseland.com)

This is not the only accomplishment that has happened in the last month. An even bigger line has been walked with an even more epic tale to go with it.

Back in April of 2010, Andy Lewis and Mike Payton had this goal to walk a 100m long highline at the Fruitbowl in Moab, UT. This line was freaking amazing: 340 ft. long and 400 ft. high. A 100m highline that is higher than it is long…something you will not find that often. They rigged this line using a webbing from Slackstar that is known as ‘Line Longway’. This webbing is extremely strong and very very heavy. It weights 84 g/m and is rated to 10,000 lbs. It’s a beast and a half to walk on. They rigged this line with 2 pieces of this stuff, so the total line-weight came in at an astonishing 168 g/m. They had this line rigged for 10 straight days and the furthest they were able to get out on it was 30 steps, which is about 1/5 of the way across the gap. Andy was heartbroken, a line he could not send. This was his first line like this that he had come across since he started slacklining 7 years ago.

Then came Spider Silk. When Andy saw this new, high-strength, low-weight, super-webbing, he had to get some to rig this line again. So, with the help of Balance Community, Andy was able to acquire a piece of Spider Silk long enough to double up for his 100m highline gap. After a long wait, and a very hot summer in Moab, Andy finally re-rigged his master-piece highline in Moab just a week ago.

The same day he was rigging this line, I happened to be eating lunch at a burger place after doing some errands. I get a text message on my phone and I look down to see who it’s from…it’s from Andy. The message read “Just crushed the 100 meter line at the Fruit Bowl! Spider Silk is the shit Jerry…”. Wow, the 100m line has gone down, what an amazing month this has been. Not only have we passed the 300 ft. barrier, but the 100m barrier as well! Slacklining is accelerating at an alarming rate. I fully expect to start seeing 500 ft. highlines setup and walked in the very near future. It’s all thanks the the amazing technology of Spider Silk webbing, offered exclusively by Balance Community: Slackline Outfitters.

Andy cruising the Afrodisiac

Here are the line specs:

Name – The Afrodisiac
Length – 103.5m (339.5 ft.)
Height – 110m (361 ft.)
Main Line – Spider Silk
Backup – Spider Silk
Tension – 1.56 tonnes (3,440 lbs)
Anchors – 6 bomber Terry bolts per side.

Congratulations Andy, together we have propelled the sport of slacklining to new heights.

Andy on the 103m line

The photos from Afrodisiac were taken by Ryan Matson.