Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Old Resolutions

At the beginning of the year, I set out a bunch of goals to reach by 2009. Some of these I achieved with flying colors, and others were forgotten. Here's a look at what I intended to accomplish vs. what I actually did:

  • Design and build a line of power kites
(I designed a couple kites, but I never got around to building any. I need a good sewing machine!)
  • Finish the 13 remaining Colorado 14ers on my list
(I finished all of the 14ers the day before my 21st birthday this year)
  • Climb 5 14ers in the remainder of the winter
(I managed to climb 3 or so during the winter. I guess I didn't have a lot of time for climbing this last winter)
  • Reach 100 skydives, or maybe even 200
(I have a total of 85 parachute jumps a this time. I got close, but the crazy Colorado weather sometimes keeps me grounded)
  • Walk the lost arrow spire highline in Yosemite
(I rigged and walked the spire highline in Yosemite this summer. I onsighted the line and walked it 36 times! I was incredibly surprised by this, but it was a good accomplishment)
  • Rig 5 new highlines in Colorado
(I walked 5 new highlines in Colorado: (1) Little Bird Rock Highline, (2) Terry's Backyard Highline, (3) Coors Gap Highline, (4) Golden Spire Line, (5) Royal Gorge Line.)
  • Begin writing a book
(I've begun writing a book about slacklining that I will try to publish sometime in the next year or two)
  • Get a job with an engineering company
(I've been working at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) since May)
  • Help Mary train to climb 5.12
(Some things didn't work out the way I wanted, but I'm happy for the experiences that I had)
  • Climb Castleton Tower
(Every time I made it out to Moab, I ended up leaving all the climbing gear in the car and just walking slacklines)
  • Rig and walk 3 highlines in Moab, UT
(We rigged 2 old highlines, the birthday gap and the doghole, and then established 6 new incredible highlines at the Fruit Bowl in Moab, which we had up simultaneously. That makes 8 new lines in Moab for me)
  • Teach myself to kite-ski
(Didn't end up doing the skiing part, but I did plenty of sliding around on the snow with my kite)
  • Get published
(I'm now publishing content on a regular basis on, and am working on a big project that will help me get published even more frequently during the next few years).

In all, I would say that I did pretty well. I had lots of dreams, and many of those dreams came true. Some of those dreams were put on the back burner a little bit, but they will certainly make an appearance during the awesome year of 2009.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Year of Slacklines

I put part of this post on the forum, but figured it would be fun to put it here as well. I was just looking back at all of the slacklines and highlines that I have walked this year, and what a great time it has been, having the ability to walk so many beautiful lines, in awesome places with wonderful people. Here are a few of the more memorable sessions I've had :

A tree highline somewhere over boulder creek:

Walking the Lower Bird Rock highline in Boulder:

Dylan getting down on the Fruit Bowl lines in Moab:

Walking a long line in Norlin Quad:

Walking the Coors Gap line in Golden:

Andy crushing the Birthday Gap in Moab:

Walking the Golden Spire a week before leaving for Yosemite:

Walking the Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite:

Walking a line across Boulder Creek:

Another trip to the Golden Spire:

My awesome sister walking her first highline: (Brother also walked this line on this trip)

Slacklining below Capitol Peak (one of my last 14ers):

Walking 988 feet over the Royal Gorge at the Go Fast Games:

Some friends killing the Fruit Bowl lines in Moab:

Doing some slacklining with the family:

It has been an incredible year, with lots of fun slacklining and highlining. The goals I set for myself were matched and exceeded, and I am inspired by the ability that we all have for success. Next year I hope to walk higher, better, cooler highlines, and more of them. But as long as I get to set up a nice peaceful line in a park from time to time, I'll be happy. Though if you see a photo in the news of someone walking a highline suspended by a hot air balloon, don't be suprised to hear that its me.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Nylon Flying Machines

A year and a half ago I never thought I would be able to fly. I never thought that I would be capable of the things that I am doing today. Through the inspiration of my friends and heroes, I have been able to pursue a sport that is unlike any other in the world. The sport of parachuting, with its many facets, is an amazing one. The ability to put on a parachute and go jump out of anything, anywhere, is so freeing, and is one of the best feelings that I have ever experienced. Being thousands of feet above the ground, with the only thing keeping you up being a bunch of nylon and strings, the feeling is undescribable.

I had the opportunity to do another balloon jump recently, and it was really fun. The balloon is an interesting flying machine. You can't steer it, you can't control it, the only thing that you can do is make it go up or down. When it is really cold outside, the ballon will gain altitude really quickly, and in less than 10 minutes, we had already gone from 5,000 feet above sea level to 10,000. Jumping out of a balloon 5,000 feet above the ground is fun as you can take 15-20 seconds of freefall before deploying your parachute. I jumped out with Jake, and we both did several backflips out of the basket before getting stable and then pulling our parachutes. It was a fun jump, and any time that I get to see the beautiful town of Boulder from the sky is a special experience.

(boulder from 10,000 feet)

Another fun flying machine that I have is my power kite. This is a 50 square foot nylon parachute with kite lines on it, and if there's enough wind it will pull really hard. Here's a video of me setting a new personal land speed record with the kite (with speed to rival any olympic runner).

Going Fast with my Kite

Friday, December 12, 2008

Maximum Speed not to Exceed Mach 0.3

I used to dream about flying. When I was little I would pray to god every night that he would give me wings so I could fly to school instead of take the bus. I woke up every morning slightly disappointed, but still quite happy. I wanted to see the world from the air and soar through the sky, and I was only 6. 15 years later, my prayer was answered. Now I just need to hollow out my bones and graft the nylon to my skin. Human flight is finally possible. I've spent so much of my life on a slackline, one inch away from flying, but now my dream has come true.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More Slackline Media

I was interviewed with some friends for a slackline article a few weeks ago. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was published in newspapers across the country, including several local ones. Here's the Denver Post article:

Slackline Craze Catching On

Unfortunately, I don't think it is catching on enough. When faced with the supremely difficult choice of classifying this article on the web page, the denver post web team decided to forgo reading the article and instead interpreted slackline to be a fishing related term. So if you need to find this article on your own, go ahead and look in the hunting and fishing section, should be the one after "Global warming threatens winter ice fishing industry: we cain't go fishin on that there lake if there ain't any ice to fish on"

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another Moab Highlining Adventure

For fall break I had been planning on going out to Moab, probably since the beginning of the summer. Well as things panned out, more and more people showed interest in the trip. It was bound to be killer. Along with the ever growing Colorado crew, Andy, Jenna, Scott, Sean, Maria, Libby, Clay and a few others showed up from California, Tia and Becca came in from Wisconsin, Bernhard from Switzerland showed up, and everyone was ready to crush the highlines. The trip began with an eventful start.We spent the first Saturday night at Terry's house, rocking the lowlines and walking the highlines. Everyone was going nuts on the plethora of nylon and within the first half hour I was already injured. In an attempt to show everyone exactly what a horizontal surf looks like, I managed to separate my shoulder and crater my hip into the cold hard ground outside Terry's place. It still hurts, x-rays are pending.

The following morning we all got up and prepared to head out to the fruit bowl in Moab, where our highlining adventure awaited us. About 10 miles down I-70, my oil filter dislodged, and my oil emptied from my engine in a threatening cloud of smoke that ruined all visibility. With no oil in my engine, I was hesitant to start it up again, so we waited about 2 hours for a tow truck to pick us up and tow my jeep the rest of the way to Moab. By the time we got to the fruit bowl, the sun had set, but I walked a few lines anyway.

The next day I spent in Moab getting my car fixed up and it turns out the oil filter seal was put on incorrectly during my oil change the week prior. It was a quick fix, but it ruined another beautiful day of potential highlining. By the time I got back to the fruit bowl, a world record or two had already been broken, and the 130' line had already been sent several times.

The next two days, tuesday and wednesday, had good weather and we got a lot of walking in. Andy managed to walk over a mile on the highlines in one day, while I onsighted the 63' line, the 92' line and the 102' line. It was a great and successful trip for everyone. Many people got their first sends on the appropriately named Cherry Line (22') and Libby walked the 130' highline, the longest highline ever sent by a female, as far as we know. Pretty damn impressive.

Thursday was an interesting day, as we gave thanks for the rain, it kept pouring down on us. We decided to split and head for Terry's place for the next few days because the forecast had nothing but rain until Saturday. However, the rain was so intense that the roads we were trying to get out on were covered in mud and several people got stuck or almost ran off the road. To add to that there was a small river slowly building up through our camping area as the desert sand was quickly saturated. Needless to say, we all made it to Terry's unharmed.

Turkey dinner was fun, we had leftovers, pizza, pasta, and other various edible items we could round up on Thursday night. The next day we slacklined and highlined in Terry's yard and fooled around in Fruita. Terry has this beastly 3/8" chain that covers a 100' span in his yard. The darn thing is almost unwalkable. It takes incredible strength and stamina to walk that chain because it itself weighs more than I do, meaning any reverberations in the chain are incredibly difficult to subdue. I walked about halfway 3 or 4 times, but couldn't get further than that. Mike walked the whole thing, it was pretty rad.

On Saturday we all had a good session in the morning on Terry's lines, and then headed back to Boulder. Unfortunately, the storm that gave us trouble on Thanksgiving day was back again to haunt us. I-70 was closed through several parts, and we had to wait either at various towns along the way, or just in the middle of the road until traffic started moving again. Vail pass was a blizzard and there was about 8 inches of snow at the tunnel, meaning people were driving either very slowly or not at all. We made it back to Boulder after a 10 hour drive and passed out.

Sunday we rigged some long lines in the snow, which was fun. A 180 foot single line and a 220 foot threaded line went up, and were both quite challenging. As they accumulated more moisture, they became looser and therefore more difficult. It was a fun session, and afterward I took my friends back to the airport. I'd say it was a fun 10 days, and despite all the mishaps, misadventures and misfortunes, I still came out with a smile. I'm looking forward to another highline trip in the future with my most excellent highline friends, and the best thing is, the highline community keeps getting bigger and bigger. I think at this time last year, there were probably only 6 or 7 people in Colorado who had walked a highline. I think that number has increased 6 fold by now, and it shows no signs of stopping.