Some UA students to attempt highlining at Mount Lemmon
Ryan Revock / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Stephanie Johnson (left) a psychology senior and Katie Ferron an ecology and evolutionary biology senior walk across the “slack line.” Moments later both fell from the line.
A group of extreme sports athletes have been practicing for several months on the UA campus for a “high-lining” task. The “Campus Slackers” will finally put its practice to the test when it will walk across straps suspended in the air over Old Man’s gap on Mount Lemmon, which is more than 100 feet in the air.
One of the UA students attempting the gap is Stephanie Johnson, a psychology senior, who is no stranger to activities that lean more to the extreme side. Her favorite extreme activity is off-roading but she said she also enjoys rock climbing, skydiving and, of course, slacklining.
“Most things like this [highlining across a gap on Mt. Lemmon] is like using your brain and body so you have to focus on what you are doing,” Johnson said. “You have to use your mobility so you can stand on it [the line], know how to set up the rigs and basically everything I enjoy.”
The difference between slacklining and highlining is the height. Slacklining becomes highlining when the line is suspended in the air at a height that is too high for a person to be able to jump off of, according to Anthony Smith, a University of Michigan graduate who is one of the organizers of campus slackers. Highlining and slacklining are very similar to tightrope walking.
Smith is another individual who is no stranger to extreme activities. He said he enjoys skydiving, base-jumping, rock climbing, canyoneering, motorcycle riding and cliff diving.
Smith said he got the inspiration to highline across the gap on Mt. Lemmon from a YouTube video.
“That was a video I saw and I said ‘I am doing that,’” Smith said.
Johnson hopes to complete a “one knee dip” out on the middle of the line, if she makes it out there, she said.
The group is anticipating four to 10 people to attempt the gap, with others attending just to watch, according to Smith. The group is planning on starting at approximately 1:30 p.m.
It will be wearing climbing rated harnesses that are attached to a safety line while attempting the gap, Smith said. There will also be a UA medical student onsite with medical supplies, as well as Smith who received medical training in the Marine Corps.
Alex McIntyre, a molecular and cellular biology freshman, is a member of Campus Slackers and has attempted the gap before. He said attempting the gap is “pretty crazy.”
“It is just a matter of overcoming your head if you are up there. It is not really any different safety wise than here,” McIntyre said. “You just have to just kind of walk it out and do it.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article was headlined with a misspelling. The correct spelling is Mount Lemmon. The headline has been corrected.