A little history on where all these slackers got their start…
Yosemite Valley was discovered by modern man in 1851 and was immediately recognized as a sacred place. In the early 1970′s as the sport of climbing developed, the National Park became a mecca, pilgrims travelling to be among revered rocks and striking precipices. From short hikes to multi-day epics on popular features such as Half Dome, El Capitan and countless others, climbers and adventurers experience a magical world. Pioneers in the sport tell stories of camp 4, a popular campground amongst the trees which quickly became a regular community of thrill seekers pursuing the rapidly growing sport, and was soon the center of rock climbing’s modern cultural development. It was in this place that the sport of slacklining came into existence. After long days of jugging, hammering, scoping, bolting, cleaning, smearing, crimping, jamming, bleeding, taping, sending and summiting, climbers would flock back to camp 4 and create new ways to spend down-time. The inhabitants could be found walking parking lot chains, hand railings, and ropes strung up between the trees. As local hotshots and visitors alike were seen achieving dynamic balance, the practice became increasingly popular, and noted for its added positive effects in honing balance for climbing, and strengthening the legs and core. Right on! For these same reasons, slacklining has become pretty popular among the surfer crowd.
It is distinct from tightrope walking in that the line is not held rigidly taut, it is instead dynamic, stretching and bouncing like a long and narrow trampoline tensioned between two anchor points. Usually trees greater than 12” diameter are considered ideal and there are different materials you can use to protect the trees like towels, mats, cardboard, carpet, and purpose-made tree protectors. The line itself is flat, typically 1-2 inch nylon webbing, thus keeping the slacker’s footing from rolling. The line’s tension can be adjusted to achieve a variety of feats, allowing for impressive tricks and stunts.
Urbanlining or urban slacklining gets in name from being practiced in urban areas like city parks and on the streets, and combines all the different styles of slacklining. Throw it up between light-posts!
Tricklining is the most common type of slacklining because it can be set up between almost any two secure anchors. It is done low to the ground, and often called “lowlining.” Some basics include walking backwards, jump turns, Buddha sit, moonwalk, lying down, ollies, moonwalk, flip dismounts, and 360s.
Waterlining is simply the beauty of balance over water. Set it over pools, lakes, rivers, creeks, between pier pillars, and boat docks. What an awesome new way to play!
Highlining is slacklining at higher elevation above the ground or water. When rigging highlines, experienced slackers take measures to ensure that solid, redundant and equalized anchors are used to secure the line into position. To ensure safety, most highliners wear a climbing harness or swami belt with a leash attached to the slackline itself; however, unleashed walks of highlines are not unheard of.
YogaSlacking or Slackasana takes traditional yoga poses and moves them to the slackline. The practice has many layers, simultaneously developing focus, dynamic balance, power, breath, core integration, flexibility, and confidence. Utilizing standing postures, sitting postures, arm balances, kneeling postures, inversions and unique vinyasa, a skilled slackline yogi is able to create a flowing yoga practice without ever falling from the line.
Freestyle slacklining (aka “rodeo” slacklining) is the art and practice of cultivating balance on webbing draped slack between two anchor points, typically about 15 to 30 feet long and a couple feet off the ground in the center. This type of very “slack” slackline provides a wide array of opportunities for both swinging and static maneuvers. A freestyle slackline has no tension in it, while both traditional slacklines and tightropes are tensioned. This slackness in the rope or webbing allows it to swing at large amplitudes and adds a different dynamic.
Slacklines range from $65 -$200 and you can purchase varying widths to suit your preference! Take it backpacking with you, take it to the dog park, get one for the kids and you can all play together! Get some sunshine and get that core workout in too! Happy slacking