Sunday, 18 August 2013

Free-Soloing Lost Arrow Spire - "The Doubts and Ecstasies of a Highline Free Solo"

During our last trip to US Jordan and Jan accomplished their goal to free-solo "Lost Arrow Spire" Highline. It was a long-time goal for both of them. For Jan it took another 6 years after his first ascent of L.A.S. back in 2007 to go back and feel ready for this challenge. It was even more meaningful because this time it was a 2-team friends mission. It was quite a process to get to this point when free-soloing Spire seemed like a good idea and it took some sweat and pain to get there. The topic of free-soloing is quite controversial and we would like to say we don't want to encourage anyone to do it (although we do really like it and it means a lot to us). We do want to inspire people and even if one day someone takes their first leashless steps on the highline because of us we are sure it is because of their own will and need. Another thing is we never heard of someone who would just go free-solo something without any preparation. Even with a lot of preparation and right mindset it is hard to let go and commit. Lately Jordan and Jan put up a story which was published on the Outdoor Research website. The photos used in the article are snapshots from footage taken by a friend Grant Thompson. We want to say thanks to everyone who inspired us and believes in what we do. We would also like to mention that the same day Jordan and Jan free-soloed the Spire, the line saw another beautiful free walk from the friend of ours Braden Mayfield.

'The Doubts and Ecstasies of a Highline Free Solo'

"In May, Outdoor Research and Somewhereelseland Team members Jan Galek and Jordan Tybon became the first two-man team to free solo the Lost Arrow Spire highline in Yosemite. Here’s Jordan’s breathless play-by-play of their feat, with additional notes from Jan.

We had just two days to complete what was, in hindsight, a somewhat ambitious adventure: to rig, walk, and free solo the Lost Arrow Spire highline. It was early May and hot—really hot. Jan and I were in Yosemite and spring had finally arrived, the Valley alive with excitement.

We had rigged the spire some weeks before—it had been an excuse to see some friends who were in the valley and a quick distraction from the stress of an AFF skydiving course in Lodi. It was good to get on the line again before the free solo mission to remind ourselves of the rigging details. We noted exactly how much equipment we needed, and it would be tough to carry off with only a two-man team. As a highliner, I have a pretty intimate familiarity with heavy backpacks. But the packs for the spire weighed in at about 135-140 pounds, considerably more than I’ve had the pleasure of carrying for any project in the past.

Yosemite Falls Trail is steep, slippery and full of rocks and lovely endless switchbacks. We made it in about two hours and managed to set up our tent just before rain came crashing down. On any other day, I would have suggested we wait until the next day to rig, but I knew that we were pressed for time, so out we went as soon as it stopped raining, leaving just before dark to rig a complicated highline.

The spire is about a 20-minute walk from the campsite. After fixing our first abseil, we descended to the flake and began to build the anchor, placing the four blue cams, equalizing with an industrial sling and attaching the line to the anchor. We used very dynamic webbing with high stretch and a thin 8.5 mm twin rope as backup. Everything is redundant in highline systems, and when rigged properly, highlining is quite safe. The lines were attached to my harness and I trailed them behind me, taping them together at large intervals to reduce the chance of a line getting caught as we climbed the backside of the spire."

To continue reading click HERE

Peace & SlackOn!

Monday, 20 May 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 9; Yosemite Epic RAGE - Part 1

After short rest day in Davis caused by sustained rage-time in Castle Crags, Jordan and I were off to Yosemite Valley. The destination which consists most of our goals for the trip. It was really awesome to get back to the Valley after 3 years since our last visit. I was even more psyched because this time I was going to touch Yosemite granite and do some climbing. I mean, don't get me wrong, highlining is really cool and we had and still do have lots of crazy plans on a high slackline but climbing in the Valley was always my dream.

Rainy welcome to the Valley (photo by Jordan Tybon)
On the 'almost tensioned' longline at one of the Yosemite Meadows (photo by Jordan Tybon)

We arrived late in a night and luckily at the time when Camp 4 still had some space available. Next morning the weather looked pretty good but we knew there was a storm coming. Our friends Preston, Jared, Max and Braden were up at the Yosemite Falls. Knowing that the Yosemite Falls Highline is up and ready to go we decided to pay them a visit and do some training for our "24 hour highline marathon" project. We started kind of early at the morning. I was feeling really fit after all of that hiking we did in Castle Crags and finished running up Yosemite Falls Trail in one hour. That felt really good and I knew I am ready to do the trail in 1,5 hour with the 10kg backpack I will have for the 24 hour run. I got to the Falls and surprisingly none of my friends were there. I assumed that they must be on the Spire rigging their slope highline project. I took some time to eat and drink lots of water and then got on the line and sent it on the first try both ways. That felt really good although the rigging was really unusual. Nothing like anything I walked before. It felt amazing to cross this line. I've helped bolting ad rigging it for the first time back in 2007 together with Damian Cooksey and Jon Ritson but even I tried lots of time I could only sent 3/4 of the line.

Right after my send Jordan and Faith finished their approach. The weather was changing and you could see the storm was coming fast. Jordan sent a line after few caches and Faith crushed OS-FM. As soon as she step off the line it started to rain and hail. We packed our stuff and went back to the woods where we thought our friends set up their camp.

Epic stormy weather (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Wet but happy (photo by Jordan Tybon)

We waited for a while but they weren't there. Later this week we learned they had some epic scary moments during the storm while sitting on top of the Lost Arrow Spire. We hiked down as fast as we could. After getting back to Camp 4 it rained even more. We decided to go sesh Taft Point highlines next day.

To read the full post click HERE

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 8; Castle Crags - Round 1

During our short visit in Ashland were we stayed together with Scott Balcom for couple days we made a plan to go explore and establish new highlines in Castle Crags. He recommended to us using words like; epic, beautiful, unexplored, forgotten or remote. Just two of these coming out of Scott's mouth was enough to get our immediate attention. Even though the schedule of our trip was already pretty tight we were stoked to re-organize our schedule for this exciting adventure. I was a bit afraid it might be a bit too ambitious because as we learn establishing new stuff is always way more work then repeating existing spots but it is also way more exciting, rewarding and besides we are pretty experienced and good in it already. It was decided then, we were going to storm the Castle!

Our second day in Castle Crags. In search of new possible lines. Psyched in front of the Castle Dome!! (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Jordan and I went to Castle Crags after our visit in Humboldt. We had lots of problems finding bolts and bolting equipment. It seemed like there is no store in Northern California which carried them at the time. We were getting really frustrated but then finished ordering glue-in bolts from Fixe online and buying 8 expansion bolts from a really nice guy we met at the "Humboldt Highline/Longline Festival". We thought the problem is solved until ... ;)

We finished leaving on Monday (29th of April) and after stoping to get even more supplies we arrived on the campsite which happened to be really expensive ($25 per day!). We spent there one night and at the morning drove to Vista Point from were we thought we could start our hike to the Crags. Unfortunately the info we had was wrong and you can not leave there your car overnight. Damn it! This part of our trip started to be more and more 'cowboy style'. We drove to Mt. Shasta to the local outdoor store planning on getting more info about good spot to park and start hiking and buying a climbing guidebook. The owner of the shop happened to be really nice guy and provided us with some info although the climbing guidebook is out of print (new one is in preparation process right now). We finished with little info about the whole area which was pretty much just a confusing hand-sketch of the trail system and few black & white photocopies of the biggest walls in the area.

Pretty much whole info we had for our trip to Castle Crags

Well, the good place to park and start your hike is Soda Creek exit of the I-5 highway and that was where we finished. After eating breakfast and packing most of the stuff (not including highlining gear) we were able to realize how heavy our backpacks were and that was just the first load. I definitely didn't feel excited about that hike.

The gear we carried up and down way to much for almost a week (that doesn't include food and water) (photo by Jordan Tybon)

We finished hiking up in 2 hours finding our selfs confused and dodging around in order to find a right path. Jordan found an awesome and well hidden spot five minutes away from our water source (Indian Creek) which turned out to be amazing, first-class bivy. We also worked on it during next days so now it has a nice fire-pit, 4 seats, 'gear-tree' and nice flat tent spot. After quick snack and setting up our camp we went up with just drilling equipment and few cams and a rope for a scouting mission. We checked pretty much whole lower ridge where we found and bolted our first spot. It turned out to be really cool and we scrambled, hiked and climb 4-5th class terrain for the whole day. The ascent on the far sight of the potential highline spot turned out to be pretty scatchy. It doesn't look like but climbing slabby and mossy terrain in hiking shoes with 100m drop on one side was kind of challenging experience. We placed 5 bolts in total (3 on tensioning side, 2 on the spire side + 2 existing climbing bolts for back-up) and started our hike down to the campsite.

It's nice to hike with a light backpack (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Almost at our first highline spot (photo by Jordan Tybon)

We couldn't stop staring at the Mt. Hubris aka The Ogre Summit and the wall next to it. The notch between this too was calling for the most obvious and epic highline in the whole area. We decided to climb up to the top of The Ogre next day following region's classic 'Cosmic Wall' (8 pitches, 5.6R).

Fixing to leave after bolting first highline in Castle Crags ever! Feels good ... The target for our next day is just in a background (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Route-scheme (
Chilling next to our "rager-fire" (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Next day at the morning we went up to our climb. We definitely didn't find the path and did some EPIC bushwhacking. I was lucky enough to have long pant on but Jordan's legs were fucked when we got to the place were out route starts. The climb was really fun but the day was brutally windy. It was windy to the point when it's hard to enjoy yourself but we did anyways ;) ... We couldn't hear each other on the belays and I was cursing my self for not bringing my new walkie-talkies. We finished the route in about two hours, linking it by climbing in total 5 pitches. The view from the top was definitely rewarding. Behind our spot way in the outback is even more spots. On one ridge there is probably around 8-10 rock spires alone. This place is just amazing! We were out of words. Another good news was the spot between the peak we just climbed and another wall was definitely 'highlineable' and way epic. After grueling rappel in a wind which kept the ropes horizontal making them get stuck on every each rock tooth and descend to the campsite we could rest for couple hours.

To read the full post click HERE

Monday, 6 May 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 7; Humboldt Madness

Last weekend Jordan, Jerry and I had a pleasure to visit Arcada during first 'Humboldt Highline/Longline Festival'. Humboldt is mainly known from the THC (trickline competition originally started by Andy Lewis, which is on now for quite few years). It must be said even though the highlines rigged during the festival are tree-highlines they are really epic and some of them pretty exposed. Red Woods is quite magical place. Massive sequoias covered with moss, green dells coated in ferns makes it really cool experience and perfect highline spot. I had no idea that sequoias have common root system so they are one of the biggest if not the biggest living organism on our planet (!)

Jerry rigging (photo by Jordan Tybon)
More of Jerry rigging (photo by Jordan Tybon)

I drove from Davis together with my friend Jerry and Jordan joined us few hours later after few last skydives in Lodi at the morning. The way to Arcada was truly beautiful and we definitely saw more then few 'highlineable' spots on the way. We arrived late afternoon and went to the forest to check some highlines and rig some more. Unfortunately the organizer of the event couldn't be there with us because of some important business so our three finished rigging 4 highlines, finishing the festival with six lines in total (not bad at all) ...

Rigging on the "Over The River" (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Jerry clipping second pulley system to the back-up webbing (photo by Jordan Tybon)

When we showed up on the spot one short line was rigged ("Stumpy" Highline) and few people were hanging out. I met some of them during our short trip to Yosemite but most of them I had a pleasure to meet for the first time. I don't think I need to say it again but ... highliners are awesome people!

Jerry sending the "Over The River" Highline (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Jerry on the 41m line (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Together with Jerry we rigged another fun highline (41m length on double Type-18 MKII) and cruised it after rigging. I got a nice relaxing freesoloco on the "Stumpy" and Jordan send it pretty much at night in a beltloop-swami (that was pretty scary to watch). After that we went to eat and crush to rage next day.

On of many free-solo sends on the "Stumpy" (photo by Jordan Tybon)

We spent most of the Saturday rigging next free-lines. We got 65m "Over The River", 23m "Through The Woods" and 50m "To The Grandfathers House We Go". Both 65m and 50m were rigged on double Type-18 MKII. BTW I love my new highline set-up which is green and dark blue Type-18 MKII taped together. It looks just beautiful.

To read a full post click HERE

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 6; Bay Area Chillout Part 1; 'Hole Rock' Highline

We had a lazy start after the day before when we rigged and seshed 'Unicorn Graveyard' Highline. It took us long time to wake up, eat breakfast and so on and when we showed up at the Bridges Rock Gym it was almost 2pm. Damian was ready to gave up on us, but we spoke for a short moment and decided to go on a REALLY fast run.

We were getting ready for the 'Hole Rock' Highline (23m L/21m H/1219m of exposure). The line with which I had unfinished business since my first trip to USA in 2007. After our Yosemite trip Damian Cooksey, Jon Ritson and I went to bolt and rig this line on Mount Saint Helena. It was a really hot day, the hike is not so short and the last part of it is brutal scramble through sharp and spiny chaparral. The time in Yosemite had us in the mindset that we didn't need to carry water. Unfortunately on Mount Saint Helena there is no springs and we had 1/2 liter of water in between three of us. We finished finding and scoping the line but we had no power and time to bolt, rig and walk. Jon and I were so dehydrated we almost passed out.

Soon after that Damian went back to finish the line together with Pierre Carrillo, Andy Lewis, Jenna and others. I always wished I could be there and during that trip I could finally get a second chance.

From the left; The Hole Rock and The Hailstone Rock
Damian Cooksey putting up FA of the 'Hole Rock' Highline (Jan 19, 2008)

More info about the line:
- link 1,
- link 2 (go to the 7th page).

This time after chaotic but really fast gear preparation DamianAlex, Jared, Jordan and I were off for a late afternoon adventure. We were unaware it's not such a fast drive and approach but we knew we can do it if we are fast. The way there was really funny. Swearing at bad traffic, talking stupid stuff and joking all the way to our destination. The talking was over as soon as we started hiking. Deadly pace killed all conversation and everyone was focused on just going fast and catching a breath. The bushwhacking and loose rock sliding at the end was kind of funny experience but I wish I had my long pants on for that. We were under Hailstone Rock exactly after one hour - not bad!

Alex almost at our spot (photo Jordan Tybon)
Rock-Skiing ... (photo by Jordan Tybon)
Re-packing next to the Hailstone Rock (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Immediately we started setting up the line. I forgot how beautiful this place was and about red ants too ;) ... Damian went to not tensioning side and Jordan and I accompanied by or small monkey Alex, finished the rest of rigging.

To read the full post click HERE

Sunday, 21 April 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 5; Bay Area Chillout Part 1; 'Unicorn Graveyard' Highline

As soon as we got back to Lodi from our 2-day quickie in Yosemite Valley the weather decided to get windy again (sigh!) ... Faced with non skydiving conditions we were forced to continue the rage ;) Faith unexpectedly had to leave to Austin because of the important personal reason so we couldn't enjoy this time together. Short conversation with Jordan made everything clear and after a quick call to my old friend Damian Cooksey we were on out way to San Francisco. Sitting in a car I was excited about meeting him again after almost 3 years. Damian has been an mentor and inspiration to me for a really long time, we shared some amazing times during our trip in 2007 and other places. Actually he never stops inspiring, lately establishing and sending long 'Yosemite Falls' Highline which is double length of original line ...

While sitting in a car I was wondering how he is now and going through the old memories. We arrived in Berkley at the Bridges Rock Gym late afternoon, met up with Damian and Alex and spoke for quite a long time. I was glad to see Damian being happy and full of energy. We made some plans for next visit in Yosemite and I am truly glad Damian will be there with us. Next we went quickly to pick up Max and Jared from Oakland and rode back to the Gym to slackline and boulder for the rest of the day. Bridges Rock Gym is such a fun place to play. We climbed bunch of problems from V1-V7, tricklined, slacklined and even set up small and fun rodeoline.

Rodeo surfing
Getting close to the wall ...
Max on the fun V4 arete
V3 ...
... fun dyno
Jordan crimipin' on a hard V7

Damian and his fiancee Gail invited us for dinner. We enjoyed amazing home made pizza, had a good conversations, played with two adorable dogs and made plans for the next couple days.

After I've seen video of Faith and other peeps sending 'Unicorn Graveyard' Highline I immediately put it on my 'to do' list. Now we had a chance to repeat that amazing line laying next to the Pacific Ocean with the overview at Golden Gate Bridge.

We started next day repeating the session at the Bridges Rock Gym and then together with Max and Jared went to set up this gorgeous line. Both sides offer natural anchors. You just have to sling some boulders and it is ready. The line it self is 41m long and around 20m high. We rigged the line with Type-18 MKII and dynamic rope back-up (8.5mm diameter). It turned out to be perfect set up and the tension we got was just right.

The way down ... (photo by Jordan Tybon)
To read the full post click HERE

Saturday, 20 April 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 4; Two-Day Quickie with Yosemite Valley

It has been already a week since Faith, Jordan, Andrew and I went together to Yosemite for a two day adventure. The plan was to send 'Yosemite Falls Classic' Highline and set-up and get some practice walks on 'Lost Arrow Spire Classic' Highline. We decided for that quick weekend action because of the super-windy weather in Lodi/CA which made it impossible to jump and land safely at the dropzone.

Our car 'Karl' ready for the Yosemite adventure photo by Jordan Tybon)

I have unfinished business with 'Yosemite Falls Classic' Highline since 2007 when Damian Cooksey, Jon Ritson and I bolted and established this line. During this trip I've sent the 'L.A.S. Classic' becoming 1st Pole to walk it and 4th person sending it OS-FM. Although, even I tried really hard, and got 3/4 of the line I couldn't send the Falls line. At that time my longest highline was 20 meters long. Heavy 'Yosemite Falls' Highline rigging (threaded tubular + tubular + 11mm diameter dynamic rope back-up) and massive exposure stopped me. The only people to send at the time where Damian Cooksey (FA, OS-OW&FM) and Corbin Usinger (OW).

Sending the 'L.A.S. Classic' Highline back in 2007

Compilation of Damian Cooksey sending the 'L.A.S. Classic' in 2007

We arrived in Yosemite pretty late and missed closing hour of Wilderness Center by just like 10 or 15 minutes. We registered that day but couldn't get the bear-containers without which we couldn't start hiking up the Yosemite Falls trail. Having no choice we decided to camp one night at legendary Camp 4. It was nice feeling to be back again together there after three years. After setting up tents we cooked amazing dinner to get the power needed for the next day battle.

Organizing and packing gear at the morning (photo by Jordan Tybon)

I woke up at 7am, ate quick small breakfast and started organizing and packing the gear. Our common friend Dave Meyers arrived in a middle of the night together with his girlfriend and few other friends. The plan was to get the bear-boxes at 9am when the office opens but of course we finally it took us way longer and eventually started hiking up the trail at 11.30am.

Faith hiking the last brutal part of Yosemite Falls trail (photo by Jordan Tybon)

I always forget that Yosemite Falls trail is no joke with a heavy haulbag. On the way back met bunch of other slackers I never seen before. The last part of the Yosemite Falls is brutal switch-back in a full sun and on a shitty annoying trail. I was slowly moving forward and finally reached the top after 1 hour an 50 minutes. Not bad considering that was my first hiking in a long time. I went down to Yosemite Falls line to say hello to everyone and see how is the line and the conditions.

To read a full post click HERE

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 3; Davis Slacklin'; fun with Jedi Jerry M.

Jordan and I spent last couple days in Davis hanging out with Jerry Miszewski (founder of Balance Community, world record holder and great friend) and his wife Susan. It was really fun times and I'm looking forward to repeat it pretty soon!

First day after we arrived we had a pleasure to visit BC warehouse and were just amazed by amount of the slackline gear we were faced with ... Slackline Porn to the maximum in a best quality available!! Of course we touched every piece on a display, had endless conversations about slackline rigging methods and did other interesting things slackline nerds like us do.

We went together to do some abrasion tests on the new Mantra MK II and Type-18 webbings and it turned out to be lots of fun. After setting up slanted line I had a pleasure to zip-line on it hanging on the haulbag filled with 50kG of shackle. Adding to it my weight (which is around 65-68kG) and small ring on which all of that weight was sliding on the webbings should be destroyed. Both Mantra MK II and Type-18 took this beating really well presenting only small abrasion, leading to important conclusion - the webbings are beefy and definitely suitable for highlining purposes. We decided to test both webbings further more next day in real life. After enough testing action we set up nice rodeo line and surfed as hard as we could.

trying to pull 50kG haulbag up on the slanted slackline ain't easy ... ;)

hardcore zip-lining/line testing ;D

After nice skateboard sessions (BTW Jerry's dad was pro-skater - that kind of explain Jerry's phenomena - must be the genes :P) we went to Jerry's and Susan's house were we had a nice pizza party and lots of good conversations - good times!

Next day we went to Nimbus Dam Recreation Area (close to Sacramento) where we set-up 73m long and 10m high 'The Next Step' Tree-Highline. The line hangs above really nice grassy creek. The spot is perfect offering nice corridor with no obstacles in a beautiful surrounding.

To read full blogpost click HERE

Peace & SlackOn!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 1; AFF in Lodi; 'things ain't always as easy'

I have spent last few days together with Jordan and Faith at the world famous dropzone in Lodi, CA. I have to say all the jumpers and the crew have been really nice to us sharing lots of knowledge and helping us to understand as much as we can in such a short period of time. The weather was mostly good, sometimes a bit rainy and windy. I did my tandem jump and 4 of my 7 AFF jumps, although I stopped at the 3rd level which I had to repeat.

My friends already finished their AFF and Jordan has another 7-8 solo jumps after today. For me the situation is a bit more complicated. I have to admit; skydiving is way more difficult then I thought. I definitely have some problems to relax while falling but I wasn't doing bad. Still deployed my chute on time, performed my tasks and landed at the dropzone. My last fourth jump during first day of AFF wasn't ideal, after my second turn I had a spinner and got stressed and de-arched a bit my body position but managed to pull on 5500 feet and landed safely. Even though my instructor would pass me after repeating the jump, Bill, the owner of the dropzone, wasn't quite happy with me. I heard he is quite character but now I had a chance to experience it on my own and it wasn't quite nice.

To read full post click HERE

Peace & SlackOn!

Sunday, 31 March 2013

US Trip 2013 - Take 1; Tacoma & Ashland

We are here in US for few days already and so far the trip was really nice even though Jordan and I didn't make it yet to one of our main targets, which Lodi/CA. After arriving in Tacoma/WA we had a few chill days. Jordan got a bit sick so it wasn't as active as we planned (meaning no bouldering or climbing) but we managed to organize few important things for our trip, pack and we even went for a short slacklining session. It was kind of weird to slackline after almost 2 months brake but it helped me to realize how much work I have to do. It is time to get back on it!

Together with Jordan we went to Chambers Bay Park to set up a line on this amazing structure. I think Jordan was thinking about setting this line for quite a while but apparently someone already did it before us and he was in EU for really long time too. It was really nice to do this line together at his home spot. I wish the park had some big trees - it would be such an amazing longline location. We had only few hours to sesh the line but Jordan was able to take some nice pictures. We also used my fresh green Type-18 webbing from Balance Community for the first time and I must say it's a great line. You can check few pictures from or session ...

We left Tacoma on Friday stuffed with delicious food cooked by Jordan's parents and drove straight to Ashland/Oregon to meet up with slackline protagonist Scott Balcom. I would believe every slackliner knows or should know who he is. If you do not know, he is the first guy to walk a highline (Lost Arrow Spire), publish a slackline book and he pretty much 'invented' our sport and bunch of slacklining gear.

To read whole post click HERE