Highline record on Kilimanjaro
“In terms of safety a 20- or 30-meter highline is comparable with climbing in the sixth or seventh grade,” Heinz Zak told me some time ago. The extreme climber, photographer and filmmaker from Austria is a slackline pioneer in Europe and a recognized expert in balancing at dizzying heights. Highlining is very popular in the climbing scene – the Swiss top climber Stephan Siegrist is also doing it from time to time. The 43-year-old has now set a new high-altitude world record in this discipline – most likely because there are not yet record lists. On Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, Stephen tensioned a 21-meter-long highline at an altitude of 5,700 meters between two rock towers above the “Arrow Glacier Camp” and balanced across the line in a height of about 150 meters above the ground. Until now the Hungarian Bence Kerekes was said to be the record holder, who had crossed a highline at about 5,300 meters in Indian Ladakh in 2015.
Difficult to find the right balance
Balancing in thin air is a particular challenge, says Siegrist, who had tensioned his highlines previously at Swiss mountains such as the Matterhorn (in 2012) or the Dufourspitze (in 2013): “In spite of acclimatization, it was difficult to find the balance. At this altitude everything slows down, apparently getting into balance too.” It was very tiring to get up with one leg in order to begin the crossing at all, said Stephan: “It was also interesting to see how the highline responded to the slightest tension. If I’m not fully relaxed, immediately the line is getting nervous.”
Date28. July 2016 | 12:35