slacklining

Getting the Shot: Highlining in the Linville Gorge

Slacklining has became increasingly popular in recent years. And while the act of balancing on lines is in no way novel to our generation, it was only in the past few decades that athletes began to experiment with webbing material at various tensions to create a more dynamic line in which bouncing and tricks can be performed on. 

So naturally, as any outdoor adventure loving photographer must, I decided it was a rite of passage to undertake my own project of capturing slacklining in the Southeast. Luckily for me, the Linville Gorge was right at my backdoor at the time and was becoming a premier spot for highlining in the region. Also, fortunately for me, the Linville Gorge is probably one of the most beautiful wilderness areas we have in the Southeast, and an area that I'm relatively familiar with. 

The Linville River sits about 1,400 feet below the ridge, allowing for some dramatic views from the cliffs above.

The Linville River sits about 1,400 feet below the ridge, allowing for some dramatic views from the cliffs above.

A local group called the South East Slackliners were having a gathering in the gorge last October. They were all nice enough to let me hang out with them and snap some images over the course of the week as they set up their rigs throughout the gorge.

A local group called the South East Slackliners were having a gathering in the gorge last October. They were all nice enough to let me hang out with them and snap some images over the course of the week as they set up their rigs throughout the gorge.

Damon Hill sets up a sunrise line on the eastern side of the gorge.

Damon Hill sets up a sunrise line on the eastern side of the gorge.


As you might imagine, setting up these lines can be difficult and time consuming. Depending on the size and location of the rig, setting them up can take patience, communication, and teamwork, and  often times it takes trial and error to set up their tension correctly. With such an experimental sport as high lining is, falling off the lines frequently is to be expected and is part of the learning process. Needless to say, I captured more images of people falling than I did actually walking across the lines. It actually made for some pretty neat images. Of course, they were all securely tied to the main webbing.

On the last day of the event, just as the sun was setting I was finally able to capture "the shot" I had been seeking all week. After taking some pretty huge falls, slackliner and all around badass Dave Humphrey was able to stand up and take a short walk just as the sun disappeared behind the cliffs. I was told the name of this line in this particular location is called, "Linville Gorgeous" and its easy to see why. 

Dave Humphrey walking across Linville Gorgeous high above the valley floor.

Dave Humphrey walking across Linville Gorgeous high above the valley floor.