What do you get when you have a bunch of bored climbers, some extra webbing, and a couple of strong trees? If it’s the 1980s, those climbers are Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington, and they’re looking for something to do in Yosemite Valley, the answer is slacklining.
Modern slacklining was born out of a rest-day activity developed in Yosemite’s Camp 4, and has quickly evolved into a sport in its own right. It gets its name for the flexibility of the line itself; a one- to two-inch wide line is stretched between two anchor points with plenty of tension, but unlike a tightrope, it dips, moves, and feels slack when stepped on because of the dynamic nature of the tubular webbing. This makes slacklining a great exercise in balance and core strength.
There are variations on slacklining besides simply walking back and forth on the line. Highlining is one popular style that involves rigging and walking a line far above the ground (most highliners wear a harness and leash that will keep them attached to the line should they fall). Another crazy popular variation is tricklining, where flips, spins, and other airborne stunts are performed by bouncing on a very dynamic line. The lines themselves have also evolved quite a bit since the early days of simple webbing and you can now find specialize slacklines for any number of slack-related pursuits.
Want to catch some sweet slacklining action? Check out this Red Bull “slackladder” in the Hawaiian jungle: