Riding the Slackline

A slackline at Xandari (photo credit: S. E. Inman)

2014 marks the 150th anniversary of the land grant that yielded Yosemite National Park (Seth will be talking more about this in a post on the topic). But why should this matter for a post on slacklining? Well, as it turns out, Yosemite was one of the early hotbeds for the development of this increasingly popular outdoor activity. In celebrating Yosemite’s anniversary, we can also take a moment to appreciate all the good things the preserve has made possible. Although the origins of modern day slacklining are somewhat obscure, it is generally accepted that rock climbers in Yosemite played an important part in the development of the activity.[1]

For those who are not familiar with the “sport,” a slackline is a piece of webbing (typically nylon) rigged between two sturdy objects (typically trees). The line is pulled taut and secured, either through knots and carabiners or the use of a hand-winch. The more traditional style of line is 1″ thick, although 2″ kits are very popular, especially among beginners and casual users. Once the line is hooked up, the immediate object is to balance upon it and walk from one end to the other. Once you’ve mastered this basic goal, more complex maneuvers can be introduced: turns, jumps, even flips! Slacklining can be said to differ from tight rope walking in that a slackline is just that—“slack.” It bounces and sways under the walker, meaning that the person crossing must constantly adjust for the line’s sway. Despite the “intimidation factor” of getting onto and walking across a thin piece of cloth, it seems that for most (in my experience) it is only a matter of about a half hour before there is real improvement and the fear of falling is gone. (Slacklining is obviously a dangerous activity, like any other sport, but with a little practice there is a surprising amount of control over getting back down. Practice over grass or sand and with a low line at first!)

Slacklining has spawned a number of variants, from “tricklining” and “urbanlining” to the spectacular “highlining.” Highlining combines the dizzying height of a tight rope with the sway of a slackline. Another popular sort is “slackline yoga.” In slackline yoga, the goal is to perform yoga poses while balanced on the line. Slacklining taxes your core muscles by its very nature, and “yoga slacking” takes that training to the extreme, requiring perfect discipline and balance in performing the movements and maintaining calm and composure.

Seth and I have been having a lot of fun learning how to slackline here at Xandari Resort. (I packed a line in my bag.) We have found ideal spots in Xandari’s orchard, where the wafting smells of citrus fruits, mangos, and papaya conduce relaxed and steadied walking. In the future, we’ll put up a video showing the fruits of our labors—for now, we’re just trying to get it down!

No, Seth is not bowling–he’s slacklining!

[1] Cf. GIBBON Slacklines, http://www.gibbonslacklines.com/us/what-is-slacklining.html, and Wikipedia (s.v. Slacklining), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slacklining

2 thoughts on “Riding the Slackline

  1. Pingback: A Different Brand Of Men’s Linen Suit | Raxa Collective

  2. Pingback: Slacklining Revisited | Raxa Collective

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