The sun is shining through the trees behind Gaines Hall and the dappled light flickers softly on the students gathered beside a length of nylon stretched between two trees. A student walks across the line, suspended several feet above the ground. This popular activity is called slacklining, and many students at MSU can be seen partaking in it during the autumn months.
Slacklining is an outdoor activity similar to tightrope walking, where a person walks suspended in the air on a rope. However, where in tightrope walking the rope is pulled taught, in slacklining the nylon is more dynamic, flexing like a trampoline and adding creativity to the activity. Besides just walking across, experienced slackliners get creative with squats, jumps and 180 degree turns on the line.
Slacklining is very versatile in that it can be set up in a variety of environments. Slacklines can be seen setup on campus as well as at the multitude of parks located in and around Bozeman. As long as you have two anchor points, you can set it up almost anywhere. Freshman honors student Payson Partridge has slacklined for about three years, and says that the craziest place he’s slacklined was over a river. “It was a little scary, but super fun,” Partridge said. “Ever since I tried it at a friends house I’ve been hooked. I really enjoy the feeling.”
Junior Gerrit Egnew says he loves slacklining for the similarities to rock climbing and how it is easy to get in the zone. “It is very flow inducing,” Egnew said, “It also has a low opportunity cost, it is easy to set up and accomplish.” While many people go out and buy slacklines, one can be easily made with three carabiners and 50 feet of one inch tubular webbing.
While slacklining may seem intimidating to someone new to it, it is a great way to socialize and make friends as well as test your athletic ability. Junior Andy Meyer has been slacklining for five years and loves it. “I just saw people doing it in the park and it seemed pretty cool,” Meyer said, “It is a fun way to test yourself, and make some great friends in the process.”