Donnerstag, 20. September 2012

87m Highline on Traunstein

This autumn I managed to send my longest highline and one of my best. I rigged this 87m monster with Armin Holzer and Peter Auer. We called it "Conquest of paradise" because we felt like conquerors in a foreign wonderland, being the first to highline this popular rock needle, the "Burgstein" (which is subject of some local legend) on the famous "Traunstein" near Gmunden in Upper Austria.
I found a picture of this rock pillar (which is actually more like a shield if seen from the side) on the internet and was not sure if it was a high quality project. I could not believe the number my laser gave me. Only when the line was rigged, we realized how big it was and how beautiful at the same time.
It didn't look good at first. When we climbed the via ferrata in the morning and arrived at the spot, strong wind appeared out of nowhere. There was no way of rigging a slackline under these conditions and as the wind continued to blow we knew we were running out of time. At noon the wind suddenly stopped and we decided to start rigging. After a few hours of hard work the line was set and we started making attempts. I remember the feeling when I first crossed it with two falls. The feeling was absolutely amazing. I never felt so alone on a highline, up in the air in the middle of nowhere. Alone and scared and happy at the same time.
Armin was next and after a first crossing he kept trying until he the first ascent on the way back. Peter was blinded by the afternoon sun which was descending much too fast. I decided to use my sunglasses which turned out to be a good idea: I stepped on the line and walked it first go. I was so happy after the halfman that I couldnt find the tension for the way back. (Which happens to me quite often.) Armin later completed the fullman. Peter had some very strong attempts but fell close to the end.
We derigged at the latest possible moment (weather forecast was very bad for the next day) and arrived at our cars in the dark.
This line was a personal breakthrough for me. It is not just my longest highline but also a test for my new highline gear. I was never quite satisfied with double webbing setups. There are several good reasons to use a rope as a backup. I had these idea of what my perfect highline setup should look like and some time last winter I decided to buy everything I needed for it. I ended up with a Vectran webbing (Hi Jerry!!) and a 8mm 100% Dyneema rope. It took me some time to figure out the right knot and fixing and I did both computersimulations (virtual leashfalls) and practical testing until I was sure about my method.(Big thanks to Roland Entner!)  I am especially proud about the aesthetics of mixing Vectran and Dyneema in one setup: The line and the backup should be as different as possible to avoid any unexpected risks. And of course the line is very stable in the wind.