The History of Slacklining

By Pedro Silva

Slackline, although it can be still considered as a new sport, has a great potential that can be seen on the growing number of people coming into the sport.

But how as it started?

In the beginning of the 80s, resident climbers from the Yosemite valley in the USA started balancing on chains, ropes and handrails, to burn time during rest days or bad weather when climbing was not on. Eventually some of these guys started to look at this new hobby from a more serious point of view and started using nylon slings, commonly used in climbing, that where very interesting due to the elasticity, lightweight and foot positioning offered. Just like this a new sport was born that came to the attention of climbers due to the skills involved like balance and serious concentration. During a quite long period of time slackline was kept in the shadow and available only to a small group of people, despite some European climbers bringing it to Europe after being introduced to the sport in the Yosemite valley during their stays there to climb. It was only through a famous climber, Dean Potter, that from 2003 onwards the sport started to get real awareness, as the world watched his walks without any fall protection along lines set up at a height and his own invention the BASElining.

With new people coming into the sport at a very fast pace a new variant was introduced that became its main catalyst, the tricklining, that consists of developing a number of tricks and acrobatics on a small and highly tensioned line that provides great dynamic response to jumps allowing for great bounces. This is in fact the most famous variant of slackline on present days around the world gathering the biggest number of slackliners and is used on worldwide competitions that are now growing every year.