Gabe, Dan, Dakota, and I trekked up Madonna at 6 in the morning to make it to the top for the 7am sunrise. From the top, we hiked East, more or less through a bunch of poison oak, to the Madonna Highlining spot. At this location, there are climbing bolts in place for 50 and 80 foot lines roughly 40 and 50 feet above the foliage below. We set up the 50 foot line and went at it.
All of us had walked 50+ foot lines before, but this line was a whole other story. Even though the dynamics of the line itself are no different than any other 50 foot line, the mental game is what gets you. You cannot simply step off the line onto solid ground whenever you please; instead, you will fall off the line completely. You have the option of grabbing the line as you fall, jumping into the fall and going into a swing, or flailing through space until the harness catches you. Every option is scary and every option leaves you with the strenuous task of getting back up on the line from below.
I managed to get comfortable and calm my shaking legs down enough to attempt standing up a few times. On my last try, I stood up, gained my balance for 5-10 seconds, and attempted to take a step. I lifted my rear foot off the line, moved it forward, but then lost some balance and decided to bring my foot back to the rear again and place it back on the line. However, the metal ring attaching my harness to the line had shimmied its way up behind me and instead of placing my foot back on the line, I stepped on the ring, which slipped out quickly and caused me to fall off.
Because the fall was so unexpected, I did some sort of twist or flip in the air and ended up hanging by the harness completely upside down, looking at the poison oak and boulders below. AYY! I also managed to cut my hand a little on the line on my way down and decided that would be my last try for the day. I definitely want to go back again soon and try again with the confidence and experience gained from this first time.
|San Luis from Madonna – pre-dawn.|
|The first glimpse of the sun rising over the eastern hills.|
|Setting up the line with the sun rising, lighting up Bishop Peak in the background|
|Dan, the expert slackliner, doing a jump on the line!|
|Dakota taking her first steps|
|Gabe, preparing to stand up for the first time.|
|Gabe’s first time standing on a highline!|
|Didn’t last too long…|
|Gabe, jumping into the fall.|
|Preparing to stand for the first time…|
|Look at that!|
|Look at the ring!!! Sneaking up on me! AHHH|