Highlining in Smith Rock

I was set on leaving Bend Monday night for Washington, but some friends convinced me to stay and go explore Smith Rock with them Tuesday morning. We hiked to the top and Sylvan and Michelle got to work setting up the slackline on established bolts.

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Sylvan set up the line on the far side and trollied back to our side, taping the main line and the backup together every few feet. He then took his first steps out into space.

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Slacklining 3 feet off of the ground is hard enough. Throw in the mindf$%k of walking on a one-inch piece of webbing 400 feet above the ground, and inconsistencies like wind causing the line act in unpredictable ways, and I don’t know how they do it. It takes an incredible amount of skill, concentration, and core strength. I’ve had several opportunities to get out on highlines, but I’ve always politely declined the invitations. When Sylvan and Michelle said I couldn’t leave till I got out on the line, I finally gave in. I felt surprisingly comfortable just sitting on the line, but when I got set to stand up, I couldn’t make my body do it. One barrier at a time, I guess.

This was my first time to Smith Rock, and I was leaving disappointed that I hadn’t gotten to climb any routes because of weather and timing. But right as I was about to leave to start my 7 hour drive to Everett, WA, two other highliners top out from climbing the Red Wall and said they’d give me a catch on this fun looking 5.11d on Easy’s Playhouse. I knew it was going to be hard because 40 foot 11d’s are usually harder than a lot of 5.12a’s.  I was not wrong; stout but very fun overhanging climbing. I’d love to get back to Smith and get some solid climbing in.

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