A new slackline world record

Mich Kemeter doesn't walk on water – he walks over it.
Halfway across leaves a long way to go. © MirjaGeh.com Photography
By Josh Sampiero

The 25-year-old Austrian broke his own world record with a slackline traverse that spanned 250m across across a high alpine lake. Sound easy? Hardly. Despite Kemeter's impressive resume of slackline stunts, it took him 35 tries over 20 days to achieve the feet.

"Walking over water is incredibly difficult," says Kemeter. “You have poor depth perception and frame of reference.”

© MirjaGeh.com Photography

And while yes, he did fall into water, it was hardly pleasant – Austria's Green Lake is formed from snowmelt, and offered up bone-chilling temperature of 7 degrees.

What would knock him off? Well, almost anything. “As soon as you're a little bit off to the side, the line is going to throw you off,” says Kemeter. In the mountainous region, strong winds would kick up suddenly, exacerbating the challenge. Once, Kemeter fell just 6m short of the far end of the line – a true test of patience.

Mich Kemeter prepares for a distance slacklining attempt
In distance slacklining, concentration is key © MirjaGeh.com Photography
The finish line is within sight. © MirjaGeh.com Photography

The walk, which took him about 20 minutes, required him to keep his arms extended from his sides for the duration.

But the most important part? Breathing – “It's how you relax.” Kemeter honed his concentration and breathing techniques as a champion pistol shooter prior to his career walking across incredibly skinny pieces of fabric.

Mich Kemeter is reflected while slacklining oer a lake
Walking on glass © MirjaGeh.com Photography

Of immense curiosity is the custom-built slackline developed specifically for such a feat. “It's made of Dyneema fibre. It's so light, that it just floats on top of the water as we pull it across the lake.”

While it's under incredible pressure – 1.6 tons – it's unlikely to break. "It's rated up to 4 tons," says Mich. “But if it did break, it would travel back towards me at 300 meters per second – I'd definitely get hurt.”

The line is under 1.6 tonnes of pressure. © MirjaGeh.com Photography

So far, 2013 has been a good year for the adventurer, who also is a dedicated free-climber and BASE jumper. “I did a killer free-solo ascent with a BASE descent in Italy, and climbed then jumped off a giant building in China,” says Kemeter. “That was fun – it made every newspaper in China!”

Learn more about Mich Kemeter at his website.

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