Last week, the CSM Slackline Club along with other Mines students spent their spring break in Moab, Utah. While the treeless landscape of Moab might seem like an unlikely destination for a group of slackliners, Moab is a well-known destination among the slacklining community.
About half an hour outside the city of Moab along meandering dirt roads lies one of the best kept slacklining locations in the world, a location famously known as the “Fruit Bowl.”
Despite the seemingly nonchalant name, the Fruit Bowl is hardly a walk in the park. The Fruit Bowl is the one of the many beginnings to the canyons of Moab. It begins with sheer sandstone walls no more than 15 feet across and empties into the rest of the canyon at a distance of about 300 feet across. Over this cliff edge, CSM’s own slackers set up their slacklines at distances exceeding 350 feet above the canyon floor. In this situation, the slackline set up is a little differently than usual.
To ensure the equipment will not fail, slackliners make sure that everything has a backup. They use bolts previously drilled into the rock as anchor points. Often as many as four bolts are used for anchors though only one bolt is sufficient. Two lines are used, with one taped to the bottom of the other as a backup line. The backup line has minimal tension. Slackliners wear a harness with a leash attached to a steel ring that slides along the slack line.
Marcus Nelson a CSM Junior and a Gibbon sponsored athlete described the trip. “We left Saturday morning, Vinny Delaney, Alex Bray and I. We trained for a day at Terry’s (Terence O’Neill is another gibbon athlete) house. He has got some really good long lines and cables and chains to walk on so that was really good. And then we went to Moab that night and woke up early morning to rig the ‘cherry’ (a 22 foot line over the canyon), a trainer line that was just over the dirt like for slackers to train who didn’t want to high line and then we drove back to Moab to pick up the rest of the crew and came back to rig the Chiquita line (a 45 foot line over the canyon).”
When asked how many people from Mines attended the trip Nelson said, “The whole Mines crew including the climbers, hikers, and backpackers there was probably 40 people.” Not everyone came to slackline. “There were a lot people from Mines that were just camping out in the area that weren’t high lining, they were rock climbing, hiking, and stuff like that. They would go out to Arches for a day or go out to cannon lands for a day, but everyone camped out at the fruit bowl, so that was pretty cool,” Nelson said.
Rowland Chen, a CSM freshman described the week as eventful not only for the students at the Fruit Bowl, but also for the slacklining community. “A lot of people tried highlining for the first time,” he said. Even if they did not actually know how to slackline, many people “rolled in,” traversing the highline via a roller attached from the line to the harness.
Seven CSM students walked their first highlines and many more broke personal records for highline distance walked including a 194-foot highline known as “Big Melons.” The highlight of the trip was when Mickey Wilson, pro slackliner, former CSM student, and founder of the CSM Slackers became the second person ever to land the “Luke Skywalker.” This trick involves hurtling oneself off the highline and then using the leash to rotate in full circle around the highline before landing back on the highline.
Nelson said in conclusion, “You know, it was a lot of fun. We had a big group of people, big fires and stuff. Moab, Utah is the place to be, plenty of strong bolts and sheer rock faces. I can’t wait to do it again next year.”