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“You’re going for a walk where no one else can walk”: Vancouver man describes experience of highwiring over Skaha Bluffs

Over a dozen people came out to Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park to slackline last weekend
A group of people visited Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park near Penticton to slackline over the weekend. (Brett Johnson photo)

Vancouver-based slackliner Keenan Masterson was just one of over a dozen people who came out to do the sport in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park near Penticton over the weekend.

“It’s not an easy thing to do and that what makes it challenging. It’s fun to try things that are hard. Even if it is not fun in the moment—because you sweat, scream and cry and swear in the moment—but later when you are telling other people what you did on the weekend, you say, ‘I had a lot of fun.’”

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Masterson, who moved from Toronto to Vancouver four years ago, started slacklining with a friend who was a pro. He said when slacklining at great heights, like what they did at Skaha Bluffs over the weekend, the sport is called high wire. It is considered to be the pinnacle of the sport.

“Once you’ve gotten used to it and overcome some of the fear, it’s incredibly gratifying and also beautiful because you are in a place that very few people go. You’re going for a walk where no one else can walk. It’s a fun way to spend a weekend.”

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On this cool overcast morning, before the weather turned sour and we got rained on, I took an hour or so and put in the world to cross this line. I love this pursuit. Thank you to everyone who's ever listened to my excuses and waited patiently for me to drop them, there are a lot of you. Your words rang in my head every step of the way. Never felt so alive and so dead at the same time. Photo by the inspiring @mianoblet Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park, Penticton, BC. Lion webbing provided by @slacklifebc (It's amazing how easy it is to walk on this stuff) #slacklife #midline #highline #breathe #balance #slackline #britishcolumbia #penticton #canada #getoutside #explore #play #mischiefmanaged #meanwhileincanada

A post shared by Keenan Masterson (@jkmasterline) on

Skaha Bluffs is an appealing spot to high wire because several years ago, before slacklining became popular, it was the longest spot to do it in the country, he said.

While the group that set up the line—which involves ensuring that solid, redundant and equalized anchors are used to secure the line into position—was from Vancouver, people from Alberta and B.C. came to try it on Saturday and Sunday.

To rig a high wire, they use a mainline of webbing, backup webbing and climbing rope, which is called a leash, Masterson said.

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One thing people doing the sport have trouble with is the fear of falling.

“The falling hurts and it is scary and it’s really difficult to get over those parts of it at first because it is so new.

“When you fall, you’re going to fall off the highwire to the leash and you’ll end up hanging about a metre below the line in a sitting position. You have to learn to move and climb your leash to get back up on the line.”

Some very skilled people attempt slacklining without a leash—but it is rare, he said.

For those who are interested in trying it out, Masterson said the best way is to practice.

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People can practice on a slackline that is a couple of feet off the ground and then progress to the highwire that was observed by several Okanagan residents over the weekend, he said.

“It’s a lot of fun. If people think it looks interesting, they should give it a shot.”

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Robin Grant
Reporter, Penticton Western News
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