by Scott Rogers
This year’s Slackline.com Lost Arrow Spire trip was full of fun and adventure, as every highlining trip should be. What started out as a dream for many became a reality for some as July 4th approached this year. Through talk and gossip it seemed that the annual trip to the spire would be crowded and unappealing. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case, as a very small group of individuals made the yearly pilgrimage to Yosemite.
It was an important trip for everyone; some were there for the first time, others there for the 10th trip in a row, and still others who had helped pioneer and shape the sport to what we know it today. In fact it was an eclectic group of balance enthusiasts, flying in from around the country to be a part of something beautiful. And beautiful it was.
Harlan and I went out to Santa Monica on the 3rd to do some slacklining out there. I had never slacklined in a place with such positive energy flowing. Muscle beach is a really neat place to find your center and focus. Slacklining with the setting sun is a neat thing too. The group trickled in to Yosemite Point between Friday July 4th and Sunday July 6th. The hike from the meadows wasn’t too bad, just rather long with the heavy packs. It is a lot easier than hiking up the falls trail with all the gear though. Buddha and Darrin Carter rigged a line to the spire after Robi graciously climbed it and set the Tyrolean. After a little bit of deliberation, it was decided, with no disrespect meant to anyone, that after Darrin’s line had been played around on, a more modern line should go up with stronger anchors and double threaded lines. We rigged the beefier line, and then had some fun. More people started to show up: Libby and her cousin Becca, Clay and Corbin, and some curious onlookers from the valley below. The small group setting was really fun. We had a small slackline family gathering there and everyone had a good time walking the lines, playing on the flake, dipping in the creek, and enjoying the incredible meals that were prepared. By the end of the week, hardly anyone was hungry!
The walking was incredible though. Having never personally been on a slackline higher than 400ft, I didn’t know entirely what to expect, and it appeared that everyone else who was there for the first time was a bit inundated by the experience as well. The sheer magnitude of the spire was staggering. Standing on the ledge, looking out towards the spire, a hefty 2800 feet above the valley floor, wind blowing from all directions and birds cutting through the sky like razors, it was an incredible place to just be standing, let along be walking a highline. But the line was perfect. I think Pierre said it best when he claimed that the spire was meant for slacklining. It seemed every feature of rock there was placed for the sole purpose of walking a highline. So thats what we did.
Walking the line was a surreal experience. Highlining in general is an interesting experience. Everyone’s reasons for highlining are different. You can see Libby’s account of the trip, and some awesome photos here. You can tell that everyone had a great time though. Almost everyone who got out onto the line was able to get out of their comfort zone and into the higher state of mind to walk across the line. There was some incredible energy out there, because not once during the whole week did anyone take a leash fall. Everyone either caught the line, or just didn’t fall at all. I guess there were a lot of bad ass slackliners out there this year.
Sometime during the middle of the week Clay and Corbin rigged the second spire line, measuring in at 110 feet across. Buddha let them tension the Amsteel, which turned out to be a pretty cool looking line. Corbin walked it several times and made it look easy. A few others got on the Amsteel line, but it was such a foreign material when compared to nylon that it was much more difficult to walk on.
Other notable events during the week included Pierre spending the night on the line in his hammock rig, Libby finally getting the full babe (the first and only female to walk the line, in either direction), and dozens of cool and unique tricks being done on the spire for the first time. Like I said, it was a blast for everyone involved.
Walking the line is a tricky activity though, and one as amazing as this leaves you with a feeling that words cannot justly explain. You try and you try to prepare yourself for a line such as this, but there is no way to do it. The magnitude and insanity of the exposure and pressure inundates you with emotion and saps you of focus and energy. It certainly is a terrifying and exciting experience. Looking down below you, seeing a waterfall from the misty remnants of what was a roar of powerful water rushing off of Yosemite falls just moments earlier, listening to the swifts cut through the air at neck-breaking speeds, feeling the wind through dirty hair and sunburned smiles. The only way walking is possible is by turning off all of these acute feelings, devoting yourself to the sole purpose of taking one step after another. Time melts away and an elevated feeling of happiness washes over you as nothingness sets in. The world has no influence over your actions and you achieve a peace so beautiful that the rush lasts for several hours. Picture that scene, imagine putting yourself in that situation, and then imagine something 10 times better than that. That is almost coming close to the emotional appeal of walking the Spire. At least, that is one perspective. Again, everyone’s reasons are different, and everyone’s experiences are changing.
If we took one thing from the spire trip this year, it is that everyone is capable of something amazing, and that you should never try to hold yourself back from what you are capable of.
Here are some more pictures of the trip: