Extreme sport of slacklining gains a foothold in Iran

Jun 4, 2015, 12:18 AM
In this picture taken Friday, May 22, 2015, Iranian Hamed Heidari walks across a slackline anchored...
In this picture taken Friday, May 22, 2015, Iranian Hamed Heidari walks across a slackline anchored between two rocks during practice in the mountains overlooking Tehran, Iran. Heidari is one of a growing number of Iranians embracing the extreme sport of slacklining -- a high-wire walk on a flat line of webbing strung between rocks or trees up to 60 meters above the ground. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
(AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Kiavash Sharifi can hardly describe the feeling of tip-toeing across an abyss on a thin ribbon of webbing that bends ever so slightly downward.

The 22-year-old is one of a growing number of Iranians embracing the extreme sport of slacklining — a high-wire walk on a flat line of webbing strung between rocks or trees up to 60 meters (yards) above the ground. The webbing provides slightly more stability than a round cord, but is also bouncier.

“It is very exciting. I’m short on words when I want to describe how it feels when you are on the webbing, and how it feels when you manage to walk the whole line and reach the other end,” Sharifi said. “When you are on the webbing you don’t notice anything else.”

He’s part of “Iran Slackline,” a group of friends who have had to find their own footing in a country with no formal institutions for the sport. They must make much of their equipment by hand or acquire it abroad — including safety devices.

On a recent day the friends gathered in the mountains outside Tehran, with the capital skyline serving as a backdrop. They strung a 10-meter strip of webbing between two rocks 30 meters above ground.

At this point they are largely unfazed by the danger, and laughed and joked as they took turns inching across. One of them placed his hands on the line and lifted himself up with just his arms. Then he leaned back on the line as if using it as a hammock.

“When I’m walking on the highline I have a very good feeling. I feel free. I’m free from all preoccupations and it is very enjoyable,” said Mohammad Reza Abaee, at 23 the most experienced of the group. High-altitude slacklining is known as highlining.

“My biggest dream is to do a BASE jump from the highline,” he said, referring to another extreme sport in which one jumps from a high-altitude stationary object and glides to the ground with a parachute or a wingsuit.

Abaee, who was previously a rock climber, said he stumbled upon the sport of slacklining on the Internet. He and some friends then went into the countryside and strung a rope between two trees. By his second attempt, he had made it across.

At a rock climbing festival in Iran in 2012, Abaee met a group of European slackliners who gave him advice and equipment. Now he has enough confidence to walk across a 15-meter line without even a safety harness.

It’s a journey 24-year-old Masoud Chenaghloo is just beginning. Another former rock climber, he only took up slacklining a few months ago.

“When I’m on the webbing… my self-confidence is very high,” he said. “I’m looking down on everything from the top. I feel I have a separate world for myself and the rest of humanity is living in another world.”

It’s not just experienced rock climbers attempting the fledgling sport.

Samaneh Hassanzadeh has only been slacklining for a few weeks, learning on a line that is just a foot (30 centimeters) above the ground. Her twin sister Samira is also exploring the sport.

“It helps one achieve great concentration,” Samaneh said. “It is both exciting and helps you concentrate. It’s perfect, when you are on the line you don’t want to step down.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

World News

(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
3 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
4 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago
This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
4 months ago
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Extreme sport of slacklining gains a foothold in Iran