Exposure

Why Slackline in a Gym When You Could Slackline Over a Waterfall in Hawaii?

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Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull

At just 19 years old, Alex Mason is one of the youngest phenoms in slacklining. He’s traversed the globe to compete, winning the Teva World Cup and the Slackline World Championships, all before he graduated high school. For his biggest project yet, he teamed up with his mentor, “Sketchy” Andy Lewis, and a Redbull film crew to trickline his way through the world’s first “slackladder” — a term coined by Redbull. In June, their crew of about 25 people headed for Hawaii’s Big Island to spend four days constructing the ladder, a series of 12 slacklines and other obstacles strung together to ascend a waterfall.

A far cry from the loud slackline competitions Mason is used to, the jungle of Hilo provided a serene backdrop for one of the coolest slackline videos we’ve ever seen. Outside caught up with Mason and Lewis to learn more about their motivation for the project, and find out what’s next for the sport of slacklining.

Photo: Mason mentally prepares to take on the slackladder. It has 12 interconnected lines, for a total length of more than 2 miles.

Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull
Alex Mason tricklines through Onomea Falls. He makes it look easy, but one misstep could mean a rough landing on the rocks.
Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull
Mason tests out a handmade Space Net. The muddy, slippery terrain in Hilo makes it difficult to set the slacklines. Even worse: Mason and Lewis say there are swarms of fire ants.
Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull
Mason tricklines through Hilo’s Botanical Gardens. Tricklines are the most difficult to rig, because they have to act like trampolines, but still be taught enough to walk like tightropes. “You’re dealing with a lot more force,” Lewis says.
Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull
Performing for a camera is completely different than the crowds Mason is used to, but he says he harnessed the solitude of the Hawaiian jungle. “I was much more focused than if I was in front of 1,000 people.”
Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull
Mason belongs to a new breed of professional slackliners. He says his mission is to raise the level of slacklining, and spread the sport as much as possible.
Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull
Mason throws a backflip to feet. To help other kids learn his tricks, he frequently posts “how-to” videos on his Facebook page.
Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull
Mason sees the project finally come to fruition after a year and a half of planning.
Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull
Mason rigs the course with Gibbon Slacklines. After the project was complete, he gave his slacklines to two local kids. “He just said, ‘You probably need these more than I do,’” recounts Lewis, his mentor.
Photo: Andy Mann/Red Bull
Lewis and Mason pose together after conquering the slackladder. Lewis says that by mentoring Mason, he has achieved his biggest goal in slacklining. “I wanted to see someone make it as a professional slackliner, because when I was starting out, that wasn’t even a possibility.”

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