October 19, 2017

We made the 509-mile journey north, to Squamish British Columbia; home of The Chief. He’s a 2,300′ tall piece of granite, shaped like Apu’s hat. Ya know, the monkey from Aladin. Its the most accurate description I can find. The trail to the lines, which we hiked daily, is less than 2 miles long, and you climb over 2,000′. Panting asians are common. By the time I had arrived on scene, 4 lines were rigged across the North Gully; a giant granite canyon. Carved by ancient glaciers and over 400′ deep, it seemed hungry for warm bodies. It’s void had a gravitational pull of its own. The session began with Spencer and I putting the first few sends on the a brand new line. He named it “Nunder Gully”, for it being the under-side of the North Gully. After that, I tied into Dean’s Line (105′) while Spencer got on The Original, (105′) and Martin slid out on Nunder Gully. (66′) Martin is a stout and charismatic French Canadian nomad who, at the time, had never walked across a highline. He started slacklining one year ago, nearly to the day of this photo. Spencer and I crossed first, stopping in the middle to exposure turn towards one another and enjoy a quick rock-paper-scissors battle. Once we were on the other side, we looked on and encouraged Martin on his first send attempts. He stood up a few times, rising wobbly then falling down onto the line to catch. “Force that first step!” Spencer shouts to Martin, “Calm down.”

Martin rose again, this time with a smooth exhalation. The line was calm as he took his first steps. The onlookers behind him were quiet. Spencer and I would give encouragement when his face told us he needed it. He stepped off onto the far anchor and let out a war cry that rumbled down the North Gully. We joined loudly in his celebration. No one in Canada is as alive as we are.

The three of us then took a casual stroll together, walking the sky back towards our supportive friends. The aura took away any fear, leaving the three of us to enjoy the moment and perspective.

I want to thank Spencer and Brent of Slacklife BC for putting together and executing such an awesome event. Many people challenged themselves and everyone enjoyed themselves. I hope the Smith Rock Highline Fest brings us a vibe like its Canadian counterpart.

This photo was taken by a local freelance photog named Drew Copeland. See the rest of his event gallery here.

Ari is a professional athlete, author and filmmaker living in Bend Oregon. He and his wife organize adventure travel trips around the globe.

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