Walking a fine line: Slackline Club

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, the University of York’s new Slackline Club might be just the thing for you.

Slacklining is the art of balancing on one-inch wide flexible webbing, similar to tightroping, and the slacklines are raised off the ground to challenge participants further.

Students Ben Gingold and David Thexton started the club this year and it boasts 50 members already, who set up slacklines in Derwent squash courts to practise on.

©University of York Slackline Club

Slackline Club chair Gingold said: “These slacklines are about half a metre to a metre off the ground with mats underneath. Most people slackline at this height, it’s not supposed to be scary just fun. There’s only a handful of us that like to push ourselves further and try it up high!

©Ben Gingold

“The aim is just to stay on the line in any way you can. There are no real rules or competition, it’s purely a self-challenge. Some people like to learn tricks, using really bouncy lines to perform trampoline style tricks; others like to try and walk lines as long as they can, sometimes hundreds of metres in length.

“I enjoy slacklining because the concentrated state is quite meditative and the achievement you feel when make it to the other side or perform a new trick or even just take a step further than before is amazing! And it’s very addictive.”

Speaking about the new club Gingold said: “It’s been much more popular than we had thought and everyone is picking it up really quickly. We even had a few people come along to try a highline recently and they did really well!”

©Ben Gingold

The club enters competitions to get its members involved in slacklining around the country and it entered its first National Championships earlier this year, judged on the best tricks, but Gingold added: “They are all for fun and just an excuse for everyone to get together.”

Gingold, who has been slacklining for two years and travels the country walking slacklines, said: “I never would have thought this would be something that I would get into, but after trying one in the park I was hooked. I love a good challenge and the sense of achievement, but there’s something very relaxing about slacklining too.

“After about a year I began walking highlines, which provided an even bigger challenge than I could have ever imagined! As a regular skydiver I’m used to adrenaline, but highlining is far, far worse! You have to step away from solid ground onto a one-inch wide piece of wobbly material when every cell in your body is screaming at you to stop.

©Ben Gingold

“You are attached to the line so falling is not dangerous, but for some reason this lends little comfort. Trying to walk is a constant battle of self-control and overcoming thousands of years of evolution telling you this is a bad idea! Suddenly all the skills you’ve learnt are out the window and it’s a struggle to even get your body to move.

“But if you do make it to the other side, or do a new trick, the feeling is incomparable. It’s the biggest sense of achievement I’ve ever felt and you feel totally free having beaten your previous limitations. I’m getting more used to highlining the more I do it, but I don’t think it will ever stop being terrifying!"

©Ben Gingold

To find out more, email slackline@yusu.org or visit their Facebook page.

Ben Gingold and David Thexton competing at the Slackline UK Championships earlier this year:

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