Three Record-Setting Highliners Cross the World's Longest Line

After walking an unprecedented 1662-metre long highline over the Navacelles Valley, three French athletes become world-record holders.

Highlining is not a sport for the faint of heart. Each step forward takes serious concentration, a strong core, and enough willpower to put one foot in front of the other while balancing high above the ground.

Members of the French slacklining team Sangle Dessus-Dessous clearly have those traits covered. On June 9-10, 2017, four members of the team attempted the longest highline ever, and three of them completed the walk.

Nathan Paulin balances on the line before completing the journey. Paulin says he reaches a "meditative state" when he traverses a slackline.

Much like tightrope walkers, slackliners walk across flat webbing—a woven fabric used in place of rope—that’s been suspended in the air. But while tightropes are run with immense tension, slacklines are looser and allow for some stretch and movement. Highlining takes the sport even further by bringing slacklines to greater heights and more dangerous routes. But the sport is worth the risk for highliners like Nathan Paulin, who says, "When you are on a highline, all [your] feelings are stronger: freedom, happiness, fear, love. Even nature's beauty is more visible."

To help alleviate some of the danger, the French team wore harnesses, attached a backup line for safety, and worked with Highline Rescue Experience to develop a recovery plan for any possible falls or failures.

Paulin walks the record-setting highline over the Cirque de Navacelles. The region, which rests within the Massif Central mountain range, is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Slackliner Guillaume Barrande organised the event for the team—coordinating the establishment of the 5,453-foot (1,662-meter) line. It was placed 1,115 feet (340 meters) above the Cirque de Navacelles, a valley within a UNESCO World Heritage site in France’s Massif Central mountain range. The athletes were plagued by serious winds and a complication with the backup line during the first few days of preparation, but eventually, four team members were able to attempt the route.

Pablo Signoret walked the line first, followed by Paulin—who held the previous record for the longest highline completed. The next day, Lucas Milliard and Antony Newton attempted the journey. Milliard crossed the fastest of the group at one hour and six minutes, while Newton fell just 499 feet (152 meters) from the end of the line.

To build the highline, members of the French slacklining team Sangle Dessus-Dessous pull a rope through anchors they've drilled into the rocky cliff. They'll use this rope to stretch the final webbing along the same route.

Having completed the lengthy highline over the Navacelles valley, Signoret, Paulin, and Milliard now share the current world record.

Lucas Milliard balances on the line during his attempt over the valley. Prior to sharing in this record for the longest highline ever crossed, Milliard earned the title of the fastest highliner to complete a 328-foot (100-meter) line.

The unprecedented highline was set 1,115 feet (340 meters) above the valley floor in southern France.

Header Image: Pablo Signoret crosses a highline over Cirque de Navacelles, France. The route—the longest ever completed—stretched 5,453 feet (1,662 meters) high above the valley floor. PHOTOGRAPH BY SAM BIÉ

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