Yosemite Highline Across El Capitan’s Steepest Section Pushes Limits

James J. Latham

The activity of slacklining and highlining has deep roots in Yosemite Countrywide Park, heading back again 40 many years. Early pioneers like Chongo Chuck, who some call the godfather of the activity, practiced strolling tensioned one particular-inch webbing in between tree trunks. Slacklining is about harmony and movement, and as Chongo walks […]

The activity of slacklining and highlining has deep roots in Yosemite Countrywide Park, heading back again 40 many years. Early pioneers like Chongo Chuck, who some call the godfather of the activity, practiced strolling tensioned one particular-inch webbing in between tree trunks. Slacklining is about harmony and movement, and as Chongo walks the line, his frame swings gently back again and forth in excess of the floor. It may well look effortless, but slacklining calls for a solid core and hrs on hrs of muscle memory.

Chongo mentored the late Dean Potter, who, by ‘highlining,’ pushed the edge of slacklining higher higher than the valley flooring. Potter was an early pioneer of highlining on El Capitan. Incorporating to the challenge, Potter would walk without the safety of a leash, or though wearing a Base parachute rig. He’d walk throughout dizzyingly higher formations, which includes the top of the 700-foot Rostrum. Other occasions, with hundreds of ft of exposure below him, he’d walk from Yosemite Falls to the Lost Arrow Spire, and also across Taft Place.

Exploration, pushing as a result of perceived limitations of fear, creating power and harmony, these are factors why there’s a lifestyle bordering slacklining and highlining. Like climbers establishing very first ascents, highliners, also, make very first line-crossings.

As the activity gains popularity throughout the U.S. and around the entire world, new slacklines proceed to surface at tall cliffs and in excess of wide valleys.

This fall, Yosemite local Ryan Sheridan and his buddies established a new highline throughout El Cap’s steepest, most uncovered section termed the Alcove. The goal was two-fold: very first was to highline in a new place, one particular where by the impossibly steep rock close by would sense like a giant wave cascading in excess of the slacker second was to make it one hundred % normal and go away very little guiding. That ethic is why they did not count on anchor bolts, and alternatively relied on the keeping power of equalized cams used for rock climbing. On one particular aspect of the anchor they made use of 26 cams. On the other aspect, they made use of seven cams and wrapped giant slings around boulders.

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Mike Greene attempting to cross the Alcove line Ryan Sheridan

Sheridan, who analyzed physics at the University of Buffalo, puts all those techniques to use when rigging highlining anchors. There are higher forces to contemplate, upwards of 675 lbs of power (3kN) for each aspect. The terrain is so overhanging that it distorted the slackliners’ proprioception. “The rock around you feels warped and it is tough to explain to distance,” Sheridan claims.

The project took two many years to comprehensive. Sheridan very first rigged the line in September 2017, but no one particular was ready to cross it without falling. Kaj Pandey and Scooter Finney walked the line both equally ways in September 2019.

“Kaj is insane,” Sheridan claims. “He’s one particular of the ideal slackliners in the entire world. They’re both equally pushing the benchmarks of highlining.”

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Kaj Pandey successfully strolling the Alcove Line Ryan Sheridan

It took a complete 7 days to climb and get the line in put, and then less than 10 minutes to cross the 209-foot span. “These fellas are made use of to strolling five hundred-meter strains,” Sheridan claims.

“It’s a ton of get the job done to rig these strains,” Sheridan ongoing. “Rigging the Alcove is the most complicated matter I have ever completed. I do not have any fast designs to rig it once again, but when I know I’m solid ample to walk it, I’ll set it back again up.”


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