Account of my 255m Highline walk at Marmotte Highline Project on 3 June 2015
I slowly tie into the line, positive vibes coursing through my veins. Super relaxed and supportive environment at the anchor with. Psyche is thick in the air. One of us was going to send this line very soon. We could all feel it.
Pablo told me to relax, not to rush my steps and to just take my time and enjoy the walk. Best Attempt that I had done previously had been a crossing with 5 catches. This would be my sixth crossing of the line and I had no expectations of walking this line.
I had just drank half a litre of water to try and avoid dehydration on the line but as soon as my feet left the cliff my mouth became a desert. I looked ahead of me and saw the curve of the line to the left. The soft wind was a good sign. It helped to stabilise the line as I was walking. I get into sit start position. Slowly breathing and preparing myself mentally for my crossing attempt. I lean forwards, stand up, and take my first step.
The whole time that I was on this line, I didn’t view it as a Highline but rather as a longline. To balance on the line wasn’t too much of a challenge for me, but I felt like the real challenge was in fact the mental endurance necessary for such a walk. It’s an emotional test of concentration and mental strength.
As I was walking the beginning of the line my thoughts were on keeping my back straight and trying to keep my balance until the middle. I hadn’t walked the first half of this line in one go yet so I this was my aim. I just kept walking and kept my breathing slow and in time with my steps. Soon I stopped walking downhill and my path ahead of me started to level out. This was a good sign, the middle must be near.
I reach the tape marker hanging from the line marking the middle and I was so happy. I had finally reached the halfway point! I imagined the cars passing below me on the road 60m below and it filled me with hope for the rest of the line. As the leash ring passed over the tape I suddenly realised that I was still walking! But how was this possible?! I had just walked half of the line and I was still standing! I silenced my thoughts and kept taking steps.
Just 120m more to go now…
Little did I realise that when I started I had in fact stood up on the reverse side of the line. This meant that every few meters, I had about 1m of super careful walking to navigate my way over the twisted backup. It happened about 20 times in the line that I was walking on top of the backup, the chance of slipping was high if I didn’t take my time.
After the midway point, the road up started. 20m of sag means that in the middle, I am 20m lower than the anchors. So in fact as well as waking a further length of 125m, I was also walking up 20m with a steadily increasing inclination until it gets so steep that further steps are impossible due to sliding backwards.
I kept walking…
Thoughts of a 65m line at Malham Cove, UK started to drift into my concentration. How calm I felt on that line and how simple it is for me to walk that line. How would I be breathing on the 65 if I were about to send it? How would I relax my arms?
Soon after reaching the middle my shoulders began to burn. Calmly and slowly I secured my balance and lowered each arm in turn to rest my shoulders just how I would have on that line at Malham. What a wonderful feeling it was.
It was when I reached the 2/3 point that I was confident that I could walk this line.
Towards the 200m mark, the backup started to gently remind me that it was there. It was up next to my calf when I was waking on the mainline and I had to make an effort to step on it so that I didn’t trip when I reached a tape.
Onwards. Nearly there…
Just 50m to go as I finally reached the last marker. This was the home run. I was almost there. My thoughts began to be a little more disturbed. Where should I look as I get closer? Looking at the anchor was out of the question as it was too high up. I just looked straight ahead at some rocks. During this time I stayed in the same place for about 10 seconds; waiting for my body to calm down so that the movements of the line relaxed and I could keep taking steps. Right, I was ready. Onwards to the anchor. Now the hardest part starts.
My balance completely changes when I get near to the anchors because the line becomes so steep that it’s difficult to keep both my feet facing straight. I usually place my back foot perpendicular to my stronger left leg and advance two steps at a time when the line becomes inclined like this. So close- just 20m to go.
I heard Pablo and Nico faintly encouraging me in the distance far behind me. I could feel their positive energy with me for the whole distance and it was pushing me on towards the end. Finally I couldn’t take any more steps. I look down and realise that I’ve made it! I dismounted 3m from the end. Sliding backwards immediately because of the angle of the line. I guess my feet have more friction than my ass.
I had done it! I had walked a 255m Highline.
I am now one of the few people in the 200m+ club and man does it feel good.
This line had doubled my personal best in longline. And more than doubled my Highline personal best from the week before in Millau at the Natural Games.
I think that not having the pressure to send this line had a big effect on me. I felt peaceful and at ease for the whole duration of the line and my breathing mostly stayed calm throughout.
On my way back to the others I stopped in the middle and enjoyed a bit of exposure balancing and then walked the last 100m towards the anchor.
I have no doubts that I can top my personal best again, I just need the opportunity to session a longer line.
Time: 15-20 mins
Webbing: Double Fugi by Line Spirit (37g/m)
Location: Lans-en-Vercors, France