“We had this plan that I would try first, and then Chris would try second, but we would be each other's photographer. So Chris is up on the rim, and we got Darrin and this other guy called Bob the Aid guy to climb the Spire for us. And Darrin is a hard headed guy that doesn't get along with anybody, and by the time they got to the top of the spire they were bickering at everything.
So I get out there...I wanted to start from the spire and walk back to the flake. So I had gone up there, I had rappelled off the tree that's now dead I guess. (There's another one that I actually clipped to in 1995 that has broken and fallen.) So anyways, I had already gone up and previewed the anchors. I had rappelled off, looked at the flake, and figured out what I thought would fit in there. I didn't want to use cams, so I used hexes...big opposing hexes, and then I also backed it up to the tree.
Then I'm all ready to go and I'm FUCKING scared out of my mind. And I was just thinking, “Wait a minute. Why am I here? I thought this is supposed to be fun. This is NOT fun.” And nobody else has tried yet because Chris is up on the rim, sitting there with a camera, waiting for something to happen. And I'm waiting for the moment to get less scary, and it doesn't.
My mind was racing. My entire life was flashing before my eyes because I knew I was going to die. And when I step on the line, it slides down the rock, so I wrap it in nylon and I try to get Bob the Aid man to kind of sit on it in the already slipped position. I keep trying to step off and I just keep chickening out. I keep jumping back on, and then I'm like, "Okay, I really just have to try this time because I'm not trying hard enough.” And so I go out and I try hard enough and by the time I realize that, “Yes, I am really falling this time,” I look through my outstretched arms and I'm falling into the Lost Arrow Chimney.
I had read about the first people to explore the notch in that area...The first guy down the rope to rappel into the notch ended up rappelling off the end of the rope because it didn't have a knot in it. He fell into the Lost Arrow Chimney, and it ate him. So I'm falling into the Lost Arrow Chimney thinking, "I'm it's next meal, here it goes!" And I had my arms stretched out in front of me. I'm looking at sure death (though my leash is tied to my side, and I have a swami belt on with leg loops). And then I start to swing and I see the notch below me. And then I swing a little further and I see the Valley below me, and as I come towards the end of my swing I am able to just jump up. It was like throwing a cat in a bathtub. I mean, I was off the line, and on the arch of the swing, I just kept going and jumped back up on the spire somehow. I don't know if it was a one armed pull up or what, which I can't actually do, but it was just adrenaline. And then Darrin's like, "OH MY GOD. That was the raddest thing I've ever seen anybody do! That was so fuckin rad! You looked like you were superman flying through the sky with your arms out in front of you. You screamed like a girl!" And I'm like, “Wait a minute. I did? I screamed? I don't remember screaming.” (THAT moment is what planted the seed for Darrin later on-- THAT moment is what is burned most deeply into his mind.)
I tried one more time and this time I think I jumped back to the rock. I bounced off and I ended up looking through my feet this time for the panorama... the dangly panorama. And then I was like, ya know, “I can't fucking do it.” And so we went home and there was people up on the rim going, "Man, that was rad!" And I was like, "No. That was fucking stupid."
And they're like, “Well, it was rad though! You tried!” I'm like... “Yeahhh, that's not really how it was supposed to work.” Chris didn’t even get a chance to try because I burned up all the time, and then by the time I was done he didn’t even want to try anymore after watching me flail around out there. It was scary enough for him just watching it happen.
So I went home and I was discouraged... you have probably had these sort of experiences at some point, and I realized that my training under the bridge had not been nearly scary enough. The bridge was different. It gives you almost an arc-ed field of exposure. When you’re jugging next to a wall or just dangling nearby… even if you can’t grab onto it, being next to the wall feels different than hanging free in space. There's something about the electromagnetic connection to ground, and rock is ground.
On the bridge walk, as soon as I stepped out I was scared out of my mind, until I stepped off. And when I got to the very end of the line, stepping off of the rim of the bridge was a little hard because we didn't have very tight lines either. It's not like the super slack stuff now, but not like the super tight stuff. So the first two steps are hard, but once I committed to stepping off the bridge and took another quick step, I was locked in. I was just all of a sudden….success was absolutely assured, and I just cruised to the other end of the line (though it was only like 20 feet long). After I committed to it then I just--boom. It clicked. And so I thought all I had to do was step off the highline on the Spire and it would be like that, but that wasn't the case at all. It was still scary. So I started trying to really mentally prepare myself for the next time. [“Scott changed his focus from pure balance, to a more holistic approach of mental visualization, line and distance perception, and of course, a balanced regiment of practice.” (Carpenter, The Evolution of Slacklining)] Before I'd go to bed and when I'd wake up in the morning I would imagine being out there, imagine being comfortable, and then imagine stepping onto the flake at the other side.”
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