Senja Project: a Highline World Record

Senja Project: a Highline World Record

In August 2018, six slackline professionals came together with a common dream: setting a new world record! This particular world record attempt wasn’t to happen just anywhere, but rather on the breathtakingly-beautiful island of Senja in Norway. As one of the sponsors, we were allowed to accompany the athletes on their adventure and watch this dream come true. In the mountains of Senja, the team set up two highlines with lengths of 2,800 meters and 1,000 meters. The goal was to walk the entire distance on the slackline, which was only a few centimetres wide, by balancing and without falling. Of course, the athletes were well-secured so they would not be put in any danger from the unpredictable winds.

At these dizzying heights, six athletes attempted to conquer this hugely-ambitious challenge - Lukas Irmler (GER), Friedrich "Friedi" Kühne (GER), Samuel Volery (SUI), Mia Noblet (CAN), Quirin Herterich (GER) and David Sjöström (SWE). Several of them managed to master the slacklines and in the end Quirin and Mia were able to achieve new highlining world records. Quirin covered 2,500 metres without a fall, therefore smashing the previous men’s record of 1,662 metres. Mia set a new women’s world record in highlining with a 1,000 metre run (the previous record was 614 meters). We at Addnature are proud to have been a part of this unique and breathtaking project and are completely overwhelmed by the extraordinary achievements of the entire Senja team.

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Organising the project was Swedish slackliner David Sjöström, who also coordinated the 25-person team. We asked him about how he got started on the highline and how the idea for the Senja project came about. The athlete also talks about how the team went about setting up the highline in the wilds of Senja and what he’ll remember forever about this adventure.

Addnature: When and how did you get into highlining? David: About 3 years ago I saw a short highline clip from Switzerland (it was Sam actually) and I was like, I need to try to walk a slackline in the mountains. I worked on the essential skills to prepare myself and then went along to the nearest highline meetup thinking “it won’t be that hard.” With great excitement I got on my first highline (perhaps 16m long and 6m high) at a Gothenburg highline meetup. As soon as I was tied to the line, I started to experience a great deal of fear and froze solid on the highline, not able to move an inch. I was very happy indeed to get off the highline that time, but from that moment on, I became deeply fascinated and stoked by the idea of challenging my fears and balancing on a 1-inch piece of webbing suspended in thin air.

Addnature: Where did you get the idea to get the Senja Project going? David: Me, Sam and a bunch of people from the Swedish highline community were talking about big highline projects around a campfire on a beautiful summer’s evening in 2017, and I remember Sam said something like "if I do a big project again, I wanna do 3K (3000 metres). Why do 2K? (Y2K later became the name of the specially-made webbing for the project). Let’s try to double the current record straight away!". For me and everyone else who was there that night the idea seemed totally crazy, but at the same time I knew I had to go for it. Everything is possible. And it was. Addnature: How long did it take you to rig up the highlines between the mountains? What was the biggest challenge? David: It took us almost a week in total and I have to admit it took all our strength and experience as a team of 25 skilled riggers and highliners. The biggest challenge was that this kind of project had never been done before, so we had to improvise a lot during the rigging process. The weather also wasn’t on our side most of the time, making it even more difficult and forcing us to rethink multiple times.

"Senja is like a jewel and a garden of peaks"

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Addnature: How did you like Norway? What was special about the Island of Senja? David: I love spending time in Norway and especially in the north because it’s so wild and magical. The vastness and remoteness really speak to me. Senja is like a jewel and a garden of peaks that almost seems unreal. Wherever you look there is ocean or mountains. The roads are narrow, empty and long. The winds of the North Sea are not to be underestimated.

Addnature: What was the best experience for you during your time on Senja? What did you like most? David: The single most amazing thing was that, against all odds, we managed to rig up and walk the 2800m, 1000m and 500m highlines and while doing so, really connect and have a joyful time as a team. We spent two weeks of early mornings, long days and late nights together and whatever challenges surfaced, we managed to find the motivation and skill to conquer them. Needless to say, the last-day party was a great one! Addnature: Have you already planned a new project for 2019? David: Yeah, for sure. Without saying too much, there will probably be a new world record attempt in South America, an epic expedition in the jungles of Venezuela and a very exciting community highline project in India. Life is good right now!

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