Yes, that’s no computer-generated background you see before you. That is indeed a highline stretching out across the horizon. Swiss alpinist Stephan Siegrist has just set a new record for the highest highline walk by an individual when just last week he completed his stunt on Kilimanjaro at the height of 5700 meters (18.700ft).
This surpasses the previous record held by Hungarian Bence Kerekes, who completed a walk at a height of 5,322 metres in India.
Siegriest is no stranger to these heights as the Mammut Pro athlete has already conquered highlines on the Matterhorn and Dufourspitze ranges. This time the 43 year old had to endure a gusting winds and Mother Nature. She must have recognized the occasion as there was a forecast of snow on Kilimanjaro, a rarity this time of the year.
The Swiss set up the 21-meter line between points on the Arrow Glacier Camp at a height of 150 meters off the ground. This is approximately half the length of the infamous Phillipe Petit’s Twin Tower’s “coup” walk, but took probably twice as long to complete as the altitude played a significant part in the crossing.
“At this altitude, everything is slower – and that goes for balance too,” said Siegrist. “The low oxygen content of the air not only makes breathing difficult, but it also means that you feel dizzy more quickly. Placing one foot on the highline to begin the crossing was particularly difficult. “It was interesting to see how the highline responded to the slightest tension… When I wasn’t completely relaxed, the webbing immediately trembled a bit.”
Highlining is becoming more and more popular in high altitudes with the objective being a higher rigging each time. It’s just a matter of time before a high profile TV network starts an entire channel dedicated to these wire daredevils.
Image attribution: visualimpact.ch / Thomas Senf