SALT LAKE CITY – A group of extreme sports enthusiasts are taking in Utah’s sights…from above. The Happy Valley Highliners walk barefoot on a tightrope across 100-foot canyons.
Highliners say it takes a lot of balance, both physically and emotionally, to participate in the extreme sport.
“Most of the time its pretty stressful but there are these moments where just for a second it’s this beautiful feeling,” said Ryan Robinson.
Creighton Baird says one of the trickiest parts of highlining is dealing with the rope.
“The line moves, the line says, the line acts like it has a life of its own. It moves up, down, sideways. Just like that you have to be very, very adaptable,” Baird said.
While the highliners are determined to get a walk in after spending an hour setting up their rig, they say they’re not willing to take unnecessary risks.
“There’s a lot of media attention with the accidents in Moab and stuff like that. That’s why we take a lot of time just to be super super cautious. Triple, quadruple check everything,” Robinson said. “The exposure is unbelievable when you are out there. Before any of that happens, behind the scene everything we do is to be calculated, safe and composed and careful. I think that’s the part a lot of people don’t see when they look at these videos online. They just see people hucking themselves off 400-foot drops onto rope swings.”
Baird knows about those viral videos first-hand. He was the first to run off the Corona Arch swing in a popular YouTube video. But he says highlining is by far the most terrifying of all his outdoor activities.
And the highliners say that their actions speak so loudly, sometimes people can’t hear the obvious warning of the dangers involved.
“People are realizing they can buy some rope, some carabiners, and go out. But it’s not like that. You definitely have to do your homework, for a couple years. I’ve been doing this for three years and I still feel like an amateur,” said Joel Adams.
Highlining is dangerous, but not illegal in Utah’s canyons. The experts recommend people start on slacklines and always go out with an experienced canyoneer.