The most advanced and challenging form of slacklining is balancing up high and exposed. Slacklines between rock formations, buildings or over canyons are called highlines. A highline is a slackline which is higher than 10 meters. For safety reasons, you have a harness connected by a leash that to the line you are walking on, so that, if you fall off, you don´t lose your life.
The walk over a highline is very different from normal slacklining. Why is it so different?
As well as the total balance control that you need on a low slackline there are some extra important requirements.
First and foremost is knowing how to build a safe line. Every highline has different characteristics with respect to available anchor points, the length, and local conditions (rock structure, exposure, wind impact, etc.). The ability to make this information useable is based on a lot of experience with climbing and rigging techniques and, of course, having the correct equipment for the job at hand. Just knowing how to set up a normal slackline isn't enough. It's not enough to just attach a rope underneath a normal slackline. In order to be safe you must take account of many other factors. The consequences of poor construction (e.g. material failure) can be serious and even fatal. Therefore, before setting up your own highline, make sure that you spend time with an experienced highliner to learn about the tricks of the trade. This will ensure that your first highline experiences are done in safe conditions.
Another important element is to learn some specific techniques, like knowing how to catch the line if you fall off. If you fall off without catching the highline, it generates a lot of power, and may damage the highline. Catching preserves the material and is therefore safer. Learning how to stand up from a sitting position, is necesarry also, to avoid the dangerous areas on the ends of the highline. But also the safe practice of leashfalling and climbing up on the leash again, belong to the basic repertoire of the highline.
Within the highline community, the security aspect is a prominent place and is discussed continuously and intensively. Statistical analyzes have shown that only 5% of all slackline accidents are assigned to the highline (ISA accident statistics). The "low-tension trend" has also made a significant contribution to safety, that is, the use of very low pre-tension highlines. Thus dangers with regard to insufficient material dimensioning are mitigated, in particular when going for increasingly gigantic highline projects.
The mental resilience and a strong will are the decisive factors besides the aforementioned requirements. "Head-fitness" is determined on the one hand by the personality type (stress management) and secondly by safe rigging, safe walking and safe catching. A good methodology of getting there, could be a gradual increase in stress. Here each Highliner will have its own concept.
Highlining is about breaking through your limitations and mental walls. The high stress level causes a strong adrenalin rush which amplifies your feelings. If you succeed in keeping control (which means the balance) you will feel very intense moments of joy and deep inner peace. If the fear is dominant or you fall off the line, the inner walls of frustration and doubt will increase. But, by taking it one step at a time, you are able to minimise it.
Next to the preoccupation with your own psychology, highlining also contains another aspect - a visionary, aesthetical idea. The fact of existence of vertical structures in our environment and the engagement with balancing nearby the ground merge together in the mind of the slackliner. Like other alpine sports, where a rock face presents a climber with a myriad of possibilities, to discover possible lines, you need to allow yourself room for creativity and making things happen.
One of the oldest dreams of mankind, to float like a bird through the sky, comes within reach. Highlining creates a form of freedom, like a source of life, which ignites the inner fire anew.