Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Slacklining

So. I’ve mentioned slacklining a couple of times now, and I had to explain to my parents what a slackline is. I’m used to explaining it to urban Egyptians, who have no such thing, so…

Slacklining began as a recreational sport in Yosemite National Park, as bored climbers in the 1970s got creative with their climbing gear. Nowadays the equipment and recommendations for use are a tad more geared towards the general public. A basic slackline is a long strip of nylon webbing perhaps 2” wide with a ratchet connected to a much smaller chunk of same width webbing. Both strips have large sewn loops on the ends. In terms of equipment, think about the materials holding down semi cargos on interstates, and you’ve pretty much got it. Wrap a strip around a pole, tree, or anything else solidly anchored, pull the other end through the loop (like tying up a dog via the leash), weave the long strip through the ratchet, and tighten. If you do those steps correctly, you have a long strip of webbing able to hold your weight off the ground.

You see, that is the point of slacklining – to walk on a thin material at some distance off the ground. The necessary balancing is great exercise anyway, and with time, you can do tricks, yoga poses, sleep, and pretty much anything on the line that is possible on solid ground. Loosen the tension just a bit, and you get a harder workout. Tighten it, and it’s great for beginners. Same thing with distance off the ground – small is great for beginners (me!), whereas distances from the ground reach over 500 feet in the subset of slacklining called “highlining.” Of course, you can YouTube both terms and find crazy videos of really awesome examples, as well as people trying hard.

Yes, Egyptians don’t understand the set up until either Ben, Brannon, or I get on and begin doing our thing. Brannon is far and above the best (he’s done it longer), creating higher lines at 10’ or doing tricks at shorter lengths and lower heights. He averages lines of 60-100’ long, while Ben and I stick to 15’ maximum. Another difference is when we go slacklining. As a beginner, I’m self conscious, and can’t concentrate with an audience. I’ve found that going to our prime location, the British Embassy Gardens, at 7 am gives me space. (Yes, the fact that I get more attention naturally as a blonde young woman did factor into that decision. I use slacklining as time to focus on myself, almost as meditation, and that is really hard to achieve when men pester me with questions.) Brannon tends to slackline in afternoons, and Ben in the evening.

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