“Don’t ever let go, don’t ever let go
We’re at the end of a burning tightrope”- Billy Talent
Human beings are capable of incredible feats and abilities when they’re motivated. Now, if you take fear out of the equation, then the things humans can do become limitless. Fear keeps people grounded, in comfort zones, and most ironically, fear keeps us alive. Watching people who are able to control, contain, or even ignore that fear to do things they enjoy is a wonder. Especially if something they enjoy happens to be walking along a one-inch rope thinner than a belt between two cliffs 500 ft above ground. If you’re wondering who the fuck enjoys doing that, lemme introduce you to the world of highliners being featured in Discovery’s latest series Pushing the Line.
Everything’s on the line – literally
This is going to sound like a plot to an anime but just like there’s an anime for everything there’s literally a community for everything. Pushing the Line centers around a group of highliners that meet up annually for thirty days to travel the world setting up slacklines at different locations. They’ll be walking these slacklines in attempts to break world records, doing tricks on the line, and more each week. Let me just reiterate that these folks are choosing to walk along thin ass ropes hundreds of feet in the air. Sure, they’re hooked to a rope but it’s the same rope that they’re walking across. This means if that slackline is not secured properly, that highliner is falling to their death. That’s it.
There’s also a shit load of other things that can occur, which may require another highliner going out on the slackline to retrieve someone. Fam, this shit on Pushing the Line is not for the faint at heart. I… I do not think I am about that life in the least bit. Sorry, I don’t have to think about it, I know I am not about that life but I’ll introduce you to some folks who are.
Meet the Pushing the Line community and its stars
Let’s start with the OG of highlining that godfathered this shit into a sport, Andy Lewis. Then we got former world record holder Spencer Seabrooke, who got the baton pass from Andy Lewis to take the sport to new heights. Then we got the big bad highliner jumping out the Bentley Bentega, Mia Noblet, who holds the world record for the longest walk (for women and men).
Don’t think it stops with these three elites either, the whole squad on Pushing the Line are heavy hitters in highlining as Spencer continuously points out. That’s how I knew that these folks were truly a community, Spencer points out who everyone is and why they are not to be slept on. The folks in this squad are honestly comparable to the Straw Hat crew from the anime One Piece. Ari Delashmutt cooks for everyone (like Sanji) but is pointed out as a highliner that’s nice as fuck with the skills but gets slept on. Ari was the first dude to test the slackline when the conditions were not optimal and the wind was being big rude. Dude, still walked across the slackline damn near 500 ft up in like 6 minutes. That’s monster shit.
There’s Aaron Bray the pro trickliner from Columbus, Ohio who’s trying highlining for the first time. Ryan Jenks a rigging nerd that’s setting up the slacklines folks are walking on. I knew there was more to highlining than just walking on a slackline but Ryan is the one that really shows the ins and outs of what goes into setting this all up. You can tell by his frustrations when a slackline isn’t set properly just how seriously he takes this shit because folk’s lives are on the line. Andy described it best with how uptight Ryan can be about setting up the rigs and specifications. Ryan gets agitated and demeaning when voicing his displeasure with rig mistakes. This is understandable as lives are literally on the line.
Keeping things in perspective…
However, as uptight as he gets, there’s no one else you want or trust more to secure a rig than Ryan fucking Jenks. Let me also note as antsy as Ryan gets with the rigs, we then see him being very supportive as Mia literally crawls using only her arms, straight G.I. Jane style along the slack rope to fix it and make it more stable. Mia made that shit look like a light workout. I guess you could say Pushing the Line really shows these folks (I know you don’t want me to say it but I’m gonna)… pushing the line.
The dynamics with all these personalities within this community are obviously spread out and different. They are really out here like the air nomads from Avatar traveling around with one another. Things get tense when lives are on the (slack)line, man. However, it’s nice to see that when the arguments and frustrations do come up. Deep down they are coming from a place of not wanting to see anyone get hurt or die. Setting up the rigs seems to be the most tenuous part…I mean, aside from walking across a very thin rope hundreds of feet in the air where anything can go wrong.
… and pushing the line ’til the end
Death is a prevalent thing in the sport of highlining. How each highliner views death, on this show, for the most part, is with acceptance. They’d rather die doing this sport they love than at a desk job going over spreadsheets and filing a TPS report. There’s something beautiful in that as well as scary af. You can check out Pushing the Line streaming right now on Discovery+.