Slacklining Isn’t Just For Adventure Seekers


A few weeks ago I was doing some research for the novel I’m working on and I saw these three guys walking on what looked like a tie-down that was suspended between two trees. Being the curious sort (and really, what writer isn’t?), I asked the guys what the heck they were doing.


Um, okay. Never heard of it, but it looked fun. Apparently slacklining came about from some wacky mountain climbers who weren’t satisfied climbing up the face of a mountain. No sirree, these guys had the brilliant idea to tie a nylon rope thingy between two mountain cliffs and walk across it. Crazy!

Slacklining is now so popular there are competitions all around the world. Not only do people walk across the 2″ nylon line, but they bounce on them, do flips, and basically give moms all over the world heart attacks.

Here’s the cool thing ~ slacklining isn’t just for thrill seekers. Kelly McBride, one of the guys I met, is a teacher at a private school in San Diego and they use slacklining in the classroom to help kids with special needs. I loved that! Before you panic, Coach Kelly (as his students call him) assured me when they work with the kids the line is only a few inches above thick pads. They are all about challenging the kids, but safety always comes first.

Apparently using slackling with the special needs students teaches them body awareness which helps with balance and fine motor skills. I would love to see the kid’s faces while they are slacklining ~ the huge grins of accomplishment, the focus and concentration.

Here are a few pics of Kelly and his friends Chris Mathes andΒ Jarrod Wyss. I know it’s hard to tell in a still photo, but in the last pic, that’s Kelly walking backward on the line. I tried to get them to do some flips, but they were too shy.

Anytime someone takes an ‘off limit’ activity and adapts it so anyone, even kids with special needs, can do it, I’m a fan. I think what they are doing in the occupational therapy lab at Coach Kelly’s school is nothing short of amazing. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll see a video with one of Kelly’s students doing crazy stunts like this! I just hope their mom’s hearts can take it. This seriously makes mine sputter.

After you watch the video below, ask yourself if you would’ve thought to take that knowledge and technology then apply it to kids with special needs. I know I never would have! Living life without constraints. That’s what Coach Kelly and his teacher pals have taught me. The limits we place on ourselves are the only thing holding us back from being amazing. My hope for all of you today is that you go out there and find your own slackline, be it in the form of finishing that novel you’ve been fighting with, or asking your boss for a raise. Don’t be afraid. Be amazing.

The video is kind of long, so jump ahead to the 2:30 mark. That’s where the guy gets a little crazy. Okay, a lot crazy.

Have you ever been slacklining? What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of ‘adventure’?


51 thoughts on “Slacklining Isn’t Just For Adventure Seekers

  1. That is insane. It must be amazing to have that kind of control over your body. I am way to big of a klutz to even attempt. At the super bowl half time show they had a guy who performed all these jumps and flips on a line like that. Now I know what it’s called.

    • I know, right! I’m such a spaz I don’t think I could do it even a few inches off the ground. I’d be all over the place. I remember the guy from the halftime show and when I was researching this post it mentioned him being a part of Madonna’s show. I should try to find a video of him from the show…

  2. A few inches off the ground, to get in touch with your balance and body, okay. Across mountain tops, with the abyss below you – hell, no. I’ve ziplined in Alaska – fun. I was also a flying angel in the Glory of Christmas and flew about 60-80 feet in the air – again, fun. They were relatively safe activities with the proper equipment. I wasn’t wandering across a shoestring tied between two skyscrapers with a cord tied to my waist – what if you fall and break/untie/dislodge the rope?

    As far as the most adventurous, though, none of that holds a candle to raising a child.

    • I totally agree, on all counts! I’ve always wanted to go zip lining ~ it’s on my bucket list. That is too funny that you were the Christmas Angel! I can totally see it. I bet you made the cutest angel ever.

  3. Ok. Wasn’t this called walking a tightrope when we were kids?? When I was younger, I would have tried the “close to the ground” version, but way up there like those guys are doing? Um… no. Probably the most adventurous thing I did involved climbing to the top of a redwood tree and trying to jump onto a trapeze (yes, I was in gear with a safety line). There’s a lot of hidden nuttiness in some of us πŸ™‚

  4. There is a slackline in front of my daughter’s next door neighbor’s house and I so wanted to try it! She said, ‘No mom. No.”
    I wanted to set one up in my yard but I can’t find a spot where I have 2 trees close enough together!
    Great post!

  5. I can’t look over the edge of a tall building without getting queasy. Driving on winding steep mountain roads makes my hands sweat. Slacklining across mountain tops? I have to agree with Gayle – hell no!! I am not a thrill seeker at all.

      • I’m with all of you on this! I can look over the edge of a tall building, but I prefer not to. Winding roads on mountains scare the crap out of me, but I’m usually the one driving so I have to tamp down my fear. I would like to zip line, but hell no to the slacklining!

        Kristy ~ I felt the same way when I saw that trailer, but if you focus on the guys’ face it isn’t so bad. There’s another movie, Man On Wire that tells the story of a French tight rope walker who wanted to walk between the twin towers. It’s a fascinating movie and only slightly terrifying!

  6. LOL! Like I said once to Susie, I think I’ll just live vicariously through you! But I think what Kelly and those kids are doing is simply amazing! πŸ™‚

    • Living vicariously isn’t such a bad thing, is it? πŸ™‚

      Kelly and the teachers in the OT lab are super amazing. I recently read the term ‘differently abled’ and I love that.

  7. This story reminds me of the book The Man Who Walked Between The Towers, true story of Philip Petit who walked on a wire between the Twin Towers as they were being built. As for me, Ive lost all risk-taking behavior since having my son for sure! I would never put myself in harm’s way and leave him motherless…oh, but how I would love to! Craziest thing I did was speed race down a mountain on skis…and ended up cartwheeling to the finish…then came the snowmobile stretcher to cart me away for a full length cast.

    • I didn’t know there was a book about Philip. I’ll have to read it ~ I saw the movie, Man on Wire and it was simply amazing.

      It’s true, once you have kids suddenly the idea of thrill seeking doesn’t look as promising. Like Gayle said, raising kids is an adventure all in itself!

      I hope you were okay from your skiing accident! That doesn’t sound like fun at all. Take care and thanks for stopping by!

  8. Slacklining? Looks like walking a tightrope to me. Same old thrill; bold new name. These new-fangled adventure-seekers are really just circus people without the big top.

    I am so excited that this adverture sport (or circus act) can be tamed down for special needs purposes. How exciting that those persons with special needs can participate in an activity that is not only exicitng, but rewarding as well to their bodies, minds and spirits. Yay, Coach Kelly for seeing the benefits and incorporating them into such a rewarding program.

    Oh, by the way, I am in no way belittling circus acts. I love circuses!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Circus people without the big top! That is so true. Just go to a Cirque du Soleil show…

      I hope more schools will shift the paradigm of learning like Kelly’s school has. It’s such a remarkable thing to do for the kids.

  9. Hi Twin!! πŸ™‚
    I would only attempt this if there were a net below..and it was not that high. I don’t like the idea of dangling by that clip on lead. No thanks. I get enough adrenaline moments from my kids and the consequences of their “great ideas.” Like my son and his trampoline act a few weeks back which then meant 2 dr appts, 2 PT appts and 1 visit to the chiro.. or this morning when my daughter slammed into a parked car (no one was hurt thankfully!). I don’t even need to leave the house for adventure. LOL Instead I would really like to be hanging out on a hammock next to the beach πŸ™‚

    • I totally agree ~ that little clip to hold all of me? Um, no thanks! Even the net idea makes me queasy.

      Yikes! Your kids sound like mine. I hope both your son and daughter are fine. Kids are a constant adventure, that’s for sure.

      By the way, we have a hammock and a beach. Come on over any time you need to chill. πŸ˜‰

  10. I have a fear of heights, even watching this video makes my legs feel like jelly πŸ™‚
    Inspirational post as usual, Tameri.Thanks.

    • Thanks Emma. I had a hard time watching the video, too. I kept focusing on the guy because if I looked down at the city I’d get all wobbly. And I was sitting down! Such. A. Spaz.

  11. Hi Tameri – great post. You’re right about scaring moms the world over – and dads! My son is training to be a stunt person for the movies. He’s passed the first level, and got some work being thrown down stairs. Now he’s learning to be set on fire. As for me – nope- not my cup of tea.

    • Please tell me Mike has never done this slacklining thing! Actually, with all the crazy stuff he does this would be pretty tame.

      I was just mentioning your son to my friend yesterday ~ there’s a show on here in the states called American Ninja Warrior and it’s a bunch of guys doing parkour and crazy stuff like Mike does. Some of the contestants are stunt men.

      You have to let us know when you son is in a movie! That would be so totally cool to see, but not as a parent, I suppose.

  12. I swear my heart skipped a beat looking at those photos. Talk about brave! I would only attempt it if the line sat directly on top of the ground. Do they have bumper slackliningβ€”with squooshy aids, like in bowling? Sounds like you’ve been up to some awesome research. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to hear more.

    PS Thanks again for the beautiful blog love & support today… You’re the BEST!

    • On top of the ground sounds about right to me! Even that might be too high. πŸ™‚ What about slacklining over a pit of foam? Or a pool? That might be fun. In my youth I was a terrible thrill seeker, but not so much now. Must be that inching toward 50 thing…

      The research was fun, I’ll post about it soon! You’re welcome for the blog love, it was a total surprise and filled my heart with such joy.

  13. Absolutely amazing. I have tremendous admiration for their talent and guts.

    I love your encouragement:
    “My hope for all of you today is that you go out there and find your own slackline, be it in the form of finishing that novel you’ve been fighting with, or asking your boss for a raise. Don’t be afraid. Be amazing.”

    Such inspirational words!

  14. OMG – when he did the splits on that rope I nearly fainted. I’m with August and would need the line set directly on the ground. Otherwise I’d trip over that safety line and be tangled in a knot in seconds. Tell us more about your research!

    • I almost fainted when he started rocking the line back and forth like a freakazoid. Really, what is he thinking?

      For the research ~ I have my main character living in La Jolla, so I wanted to see how far her house was from the beach, was there a coffee shop nearby? Those types of things just for my own edification and authenticity. I’ll write up a longer post on that and the other research I’m doing. No porn shops for this book!

  15. I am a gutless wonder…and not ashamed to admit it. I don’t do heights. At all. While I love the upper peninsula (Michigan), I HATE going across the Mackinaw Bridge and, in fact, WON’T drive across at all. My kids make fun of me because of it, but I’m okay with that. Call me a chicken, I don’t care. My only response will be cluck, cluck. πŸ™‚

    • A Gutless Wonder. That is totally me nowadays. I’m not ashamed to admit it, either. In fact, I think I’ll have a t-shirt made! I love your response to your kid’s teasing. I’ll have to google the Mackinaw Bridge. I guess because I have such an affinity for water bridges don’t scare me, but driving along curvy mountain roads does. Especially when the road is right next to a sheer drop. Cluck cluck indeed!

      • I wound up on a mountain road like that in Virginia for a holiday road trip. My mom was following me in her standard shift car. We started out on a fairly flat road and then, in the distance, we could see this HORRIBLE bridge from one mountain to another…really high off the ground. The kids started laughing and said, do you want to drive on that, Mom? Yeah…not.

        But that stupid road started started winding up a mountain…the drop offs on both sides of that narrow, SHARPLY curving road. Mom didn’t have a/c so her windows were down and I could hear her yelling at me, “YOU CAN’T STOP AT EVERY CURVE!” AND “YOU CANT DRIVE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!” (wanna bet?)

        My hands were sweating and all I could do was to keep repeating, “OMG, OMG, OMG.” Definitely one of the most horrible experiences of my life. And I knew we were heading right for that bridge. Fortunately there was a stop sign and I turned the OTHER direction.

        The Mackinaw Bridge mostly has grates that you can see through. I mean like you can see the WATER below. Far down below. I hate it. I’d rather take a ferry. πŸ™‚

      • I know it’s terrible, but your story totally made me laugh! Probably because I see myself in it? You totally CAN drive in the center of the road. In fact, I highly recommend it! That way, you won’t go over the edge. Why don’t people understand that? πŸ™‚

  16. Wow! I am in awe. That was amazing, Tameri! I like adventure, but I don’t think you’ll catch me trying one that high any time soon. Sheesh! I couldn’t take my eyes off of how high up he was. CRAZY!

    • I know! I kept thinking, please don’t fall, please don’t fall. But then, if he fell it would’ve been a completely different video so a part of me knew he wouldn’t fall, but I was scared anyway. I think I got all my wildness out when I was a kid. I’m okay being not-so-crazy-fearless now. We have kids, that’s insanity enough for me.

  17. Just watching those climbers slacklining between two mountains freaks me out. I’ll have the one six inches above the ground, thank you very much.
    At least the trapeze comes with a harness and a safety net πŸ™‚
    Fun post, Tameri!

  18. That guy is crazy! Especially from about 3:12 – 3:20. My eyes looked like this: O.O

    Also, I’m in love with your quote “Don’t be afraid. Be amazing.” Excellent words to try to live by!

    • You are so funny! I can totally imagine your eyes popping like that! At that mark is totally where I think I about died. Jeez, just remembering it is making me all nervous again. πŸ˜‰

  19. Ahhhmazing!!! I’ve never tried this but think it’s sooo cool and I love your analogy about how to apply this “zest” to life! I think I need more slacklining adventures in my future. LOL!

  20. I’ve never heard of this Tameri. It’s scary but I could see myself attempting the lowball stuff and landing in a ball in the grass. LOL I like how they’re making this available to special needs kids. My nephew would enjoy this, one of the things I’ve learned from Corey is “Try!”

  21. Tonight, when my husband gets home, I’m telling him he has to go buy me one of those lines so that I can learn to do this! I’m terrified of heights and I’m always looking for another way to beat it. I’ve done ropes courses (that included zip lines), climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia, went scuba diving with sharks. I’ve been caving and rock wall climbing. I’ve repelled (though the face I repelled down wasn’t that high…maybe 60-70 feet). I’m not a risk-taker by any means, but I do love a good adventure πŸ™‚

    • Um, Marcy did you just read your comment? I did and I’m pretty sure I read ‘risk taker’ right there in every single word! I bow down to your awesomeness. I’ve done some crazy stuff in my life, but you’ve done amazing things! Sydney bridge? Ohmygosh! You’re a total badass rockstar!

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