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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I Highline and Climb: Questions Answered

I'd like to take a minute and talk about why I highline and why I rock climb. I'm sure for those of you who don't do either of these activities are curious as to why it's so appealing! Why would someone want to climb hundreds of feet up a rock? Or, why would someone want to walk across a 1 inch piece of material over a void, over and over again? I can understand why this would be so baffling to some, but that's why I am taking a minute to explain.

I've found that by challenging myself mentally and physically, I have something to feel proud of. After walking across a void without taking a fall or feeling scared I feel like I've conquered the fear inside of me that is so inherent. Everyone has an innate fear of heights but by exposing myself to it and pushing myself into it, I begin to feel fearless. In both sports, the challenges are endless. As the highlines get longer, the scarier they are! You have to be calm and focused for so much longer on a 100 foot line than you do on a 20 foot line. It's the same with rock climbing: the longer the climb and the harder the moves the more mentally prepared you have to be. I have to say that these two activities have completely changed my life for the better. I feel stronger, and I feel like I can push through anything that comes my way.

I've always seen slacklining as a metaphor for life. You stand up on the line, you balance, you struggle, and a lot of times you will fall off. But, with patience and determination you will find your center and are able to take steps. As the line gets longer it becomes more shaky and by pushing through the shakes and the wobbles and the fear, you become stronger and more able.

Here are a few commonly asked questions that need answering:

Are you in the circus? No, I am not in the circus. Slacklining is an activity that anyone can participate in regardless of their age, gender, or physical shape. That's why I love it so much! It's the simple act of balancing.

Have you seen Man on Wire? Yes! I have seen Man on Wire and am inspired by his passion. I would love to walk a slackline between sky scrapers someday, if the law allows :)

Is it safe? YES. Highlining is extremely safe. If you have the proper gear know how to rig, highlining is statistically safer than rock climbing. The accidents I forsee are probably not going to be due to gear failure but rather to human error.

Are you scared? Always. It's pretty rare that I will walk up to a highline and feel completely calm. But, that's my goal. I want to get to the point where I am no longer scared. Where I can step into a void and remain completely composed.

How do you get the line from point A to point B? It depends. Sometimes you can walk it around, sometimes you have to rappel down and then climb up the other side. It really varies and that's why I love to combine the two sports of highlining and rock really opens up a lot of doors!

Do you wear a harness? Yes, I do. I am always tied into the line. Although, I have recently begun to challenge myself with something called a Swami. A Swami is like a harness, but it has no leg loops. So, if I fall it might hurt (there is the risk of breaking a rib). The reason I've decided to start experimenting with this is because if I know I can walk a line without falling and feel completely confident, I want to add the extra risk; scare myself a little more. So far I've walked about 5 highlines in a swami and havent fallen once. I perform well under pressure.

This is what a Swami looks like.