“Slacklines haven’t been officially used as a means to get from Point A to Point B,” 19-year-old Alex Mason told GrindTV. “So it’s the first ever natural slack ladder, well that I know of anyway.”
Slacklining is the walking or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing or strap that is tensioned between two anchors. Competitions take place involving advanced tricks, with Alex as one of the world’s elite competitors.
His backflips and 360s on the two-inch-wide strap have gained him numerous world titles, a gig at the Superbowl halftime show (alongside Madonna) and appearance on TV with Conan O’Brien.
This latest project though was a world away from the competitive scene (where the rope is placed only a few feet off the ground).
“Fear plays its part, and when you are 20 feet up doing tricks over rocks it’s a mental rather than physical game,” Mason says.“I can do much harder tricks on a line in training, but this wasn’t a gym, this was in the middle of a jungle in Hawaii 20 feet up,” he says.
Alex had come up with the concept a year ago and after months of scouting discovered that the Akaka Falls was the perfect location for the world’s first slack-ladder.
“It had the perfect series of waterfalls, and perfectly placed set of anchors,” says Mason. “That meant we be would able to radiate the tricklines and ascend these waterfalls.”However the distance between an idea and reality in a project this size can be huge. That’s why “Sketchy” Andy Lewis was pulled in to make it happen.
“Andy is the Godfather of the sport,” says Alex. “He created many aspects of slacklining, including the tricks and different disciplines. For this project, he brought thousands of dollars worth of gear, and then rigged all the lines. He had to be incredibly creative, and I can’t emphasis enough the key role he played.”A 20-strong production crew then filmed as Alex tricklined his way up the falls. It was a creative project with both Mason and Lewis combining to ensure that each trick was framed in the best possible light. Mason then simply had to keep his nerve — and his balance.
“We did our best to make sure it was safe as possible,” Mason says. “In the end, no one got hurt. I always say the best fall protection is not falling and I didn’t fall.”
Mason is now looking at other potential projects to top this one, and is currently competing in Europe and performing demos spreading the joys of slacklining before he starts college this year.
“I’m just back from doing a demo in Egypt as a part of the Ramadan celebrations,” he says. “No one there had seen slacklining before and the response was amazing. The people were captivated and if I can help show the fun involved, be it over waterfalls in Hawaii or in a square in Egypt, than I’m happy.”
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