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How Highlining Works

Highlining Hotspots

If you're going to risk life and limb walking a highline, why not make a vacation of it? The sport's athletes have set up lines in some of the world's most beautiful places and accomplished some pretty amazing feats while they were at it. With a little practice, you could travel to some of these spots as well and walk some of the planet's most notorious highlines.

Because rock climbers pioneered highlining, many of the sport's premier destinations are also popular climbing spots. This is the case with the canyons around Moab, Utah, which boast numerous established highlining routes. Here, notable slackliner Andy Lewis completed the longest ever "free solo" highline, meaning that he didn't use any type of tether to protect him from a fall. The route, known as "The Great Bongzilla," was an incredible 177 feet (54 meters) long and 200 feet (61 meters) high [source: Five Ten]. Moab is also where Dean Potter walked out on a 900-foot (274-meter) high highline at Hell Roaring Canyon, lept off, and parachuted to the riverbed below [source: Longman].

Of course, highlining is still alive and well in California, the sport's birthplace. Joshua Tree National Park, west of Los Angeles, is home to a rugged pile of desert boulders known as "Hall of Horrors" where a typical highline is 70 feet (21 meters) long and 200 feet (61 meters) high [source: Sahagun]. The world's best highliners also flock to Yosemite National Park where the Lost Arrow Spire remains a coveted route almost three decades after Scott Balcom first traversed it in 1985.

Although highlining started in the United States, it isn't limited to that country. Athletes from all over the world have set routes in places as varied as France, Spain, South Africa, Brazil and New Zealand. In fact, the highest line ever walked was located in Kjerag Lysefjorden, Norway. There, Christian Schou traversed a highline measuring 39 feet (12 meters) long and 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) above the ground on Aug. 3, 2006 [source: Guinness].

So, whether you think highliners are brave or just crazy, you have to admit that what they do is pretty amazing. And who knows, maybe you'll find yourself battling fear and wind gusts on your own highline someday!