Lost Arrow Spire Crossing ‘85 | The History of Slack


By the time Scott made it back to the Lost Arrow Spire in the summer of ‘85, Chris didn’t want to go back. Chris writes: “My passion for highline was beginning to wane at this time. I was a senior in high school with college knocking at my door. I was urged by Scott to return with him to Yosemite that summer of '85, yet I declined and moved to San Diego in pursuit of my own independence. As a slackliner, I had accomplished my goals. "Swing walking" close to the ground and riding the line were my specialties. Highlining, while extremely rewarding, just wasn't as fun for me as swinging. Scott, however, was driven. He returned to "The Spire" that summer and recruited his friends Matt Dancy and Ken Klis as the climbing crew. Another acquaintance, Paul Borne, showed much enthusiasm and was brought along to help rig the highline.



Scott and Paul rigged the line late in the afternoon July 12, 1985 [once again on the one inch tubular threaded with two 9/16ths and a piece of 3 mil purlon]. The day was very breezy and the wind continued to blow throughout the night. The next morning at 8:00 am the breeze died down. Now was the perfect time. Early morning, fresh and ready to go, Scott rappelled down to the highline. He traversed the line Tyrolean style so that he could walk from the spire to the Valley wall. Once in place and secured to the highline, Scott took his time to mentally prepare himself. He could feel the confidence swell within himself. This was not new to him. He had stood here before, and he was truly lusting to reach the other side. There were a number of false starts; but this year, he could nimbly jump back to the spire with ease. On two different occasions he got out as many as five steps only to fall, grasping firmly to the line with his hands. Hardly shaken from the events his determination pushed him. Again, being five steps out, he could feel himself loosing his balance. Yet this time something clicked within his mind. . . . He had now walked 45 of the 55 foot walk, and he was feeling pretty certain he would make it. From the gallery of viewers there was uncertainty and complete silence, except for the clicking of camera shutters. The smile on Scott's face grew. With calm resolution, he gracefully took his last step to the granite ledge that had eluded him the year before. The jubilation was enormous. Scott Balcom had successfully walked the Lost Arrow Spire on July 13, 1985, and with that walk inspired the growth of highlining on slacklines as we now know it.” [The Evolution of Slacklining]


Scott talks about this “click”--that switch in his mindset--in our interview: “The real turning point for me was.... I felt like I was lusting after the other side. Like I wanted to be over there, and I wasn't taking care of being...now. And it took me a few months to realize this. I was taking a shower and all of a sudden I thought "OMG, this is the ultimate be here now kind of scenario."




But I was out there about 4 or 5 steps and all of a sudden I'm like, you know what? I'm struggling, I'm struggling, and I'm like... okay, YES, it feels like you're jumping into cold water. YES, it's scary as fuck. But just focus on balance. What does it take to be balanced RIGHT now? Don't look at the other side---the other side doesn't matter. You're not there. Just BE. Right here. Right now! The conversation with balance, you are having NOW.


And I didn’t just all of a sudden enter flow state. That didn't click. But the click was that now I had something to focus on to keep out the fear. To keep out the feeling of that tearing away as you step away from the rock. So now, I was just like, “Okay, step. Okay, balance. Balance, balance, step, balance, balance, step.” And then I was maybe ten steps away...maybe like 3/4 of the way across... and I felt, “Okay! NOTHING is gonna knock me off this line now.”


As you know, every line is different, so trying to figure out what a line is like when you're scared out of your mind is hard enough. But then, if it's in the neighborhood you've been walking, you start to get the feel of the line. You start to think, “Okay, okay, okay. We're slacklining! Right! I remember now!” Because when you initially go to step off of it, you're thinking, “HOLY SHIT. There's no way that thing is gonna hold me. It's gonna just...ya know…” You start to question everything.


And I chose to walk off that day because nobody had ever crossed the Spire before me, and I didn’t want anyone challenging it. There are some who might say, “If you scoot really far out and then you walk part way across, then you didn't really walk the whole thing.” I wanted to WALK from the spire TO the rim of the valley. In a very literal sense.”

If you have feedback, additional information, more correct information, or just good ol' typos that need fixing, please email me at skylining@live.com or leave a comment below.



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