“The unexpected is everywhere, but more so if you go to the effort of looking for it.”
Valentin Rapp is a highliner, always searching for the next, most challenging place to rig up and begin his balancing act. But for him, it’s not just the act of highlining that gives him a rush, it’s the adventure that encompasses finding the perfect spot that he relishes in.
His most recent trip led him to Tasmania, highlining along the rugged coastline. Elinor Abraham caught up with Valentin to find out more about his exploration of the famous sea cliffs and how he prepares for a trip of that scale.
How did the expedition come about? What was it about Tasmania that appealed to you?
We are always looking for unique spots to rig our highlines and heard about the famous sea cliffs in Tasmania. After seeing some photos of them we knew we had to go there. My friend Lukas and I got in contact with two guys from the US – Max and Preston – who Lukas has highlined with on previous adventures. They were really keen as well, so planning for the trip began!
How do you mentally and physically prepare for an expedition like that? Is there anything you would have done differently?
You never know what exactly to expect so it is very difficult to prepare mentally. I would say hope for the best and expect the worst. We knew that there would be long hikes to get to the spots so we prepared ourselves for long days of walking. But what we didn’t expect was how hard bush bashing through the Tasmanian jungle would be.
Tell us a little about rigging. How long does a rig set up take? How do you go about identifying rigging opportunities?
The rigging totally depends on the spot where you want to set it up. The main three questions coming up while planning are:
- How to get there
- How to establish a connection between the two points
- How to anchor the line in a safe way
Setting it up can sometimes be done in a couple of hours but can also take a whole day or two when the situation is very complicated, so planning is key. In Tasmania for example we contacted local climbers in the area and studied pictures of the rock formations which can give you important hints about how to set up the connection and the anchors. You have to be creative – when it is not possible to rappel on both sides and make a knot in the middle you have to find another way to get the line across, for example a bow and arrow, slingshot or a drone. When the connection is established we always try to find natural anchors – rock formations or trees we can sling and rig the slackline on so we leave no traces behind. If there is only plain rock and no other possibility we use a couple of climbing bolts on each side to anchor the line.
To get to the cliffs, you had to trek 18km through the Tasmanian undergrowth. Can you tell us a little more about that journey, the challenges involved and how it shaped your experience as a whole?
In Tasmania you never know what to expect from a trail by looking on the map. It is very hard to judge how long it will take you from point a to b when you only have the thin line on the paper. We did not expect the jungle to be as dense as it was and how hard it will be to haul our big heavy backpacks through it. But I guess this was again a big part of the ‘enjoyable suffering’ that made the whole trip an adventure that will be kept in our minds!
Read the full article on Page 42 of Edition 55 Outer Edge Magazine.
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To read more about Valentin’s story, click here.