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Slacklining

Watch Jaan Roose slackline across the 'fangs' of Kazakhstan's ancient ocean

The sport of slacklining will take you to some incredible places, but this one in a remote corner of the planet is going to leave you breathless.
Written by Josh Sampiero
3 min readPublished on
If there was one thing you didn’t know you were going to see today, this is it: a 500m-long slackline between two mountains, over the floor of what was once an ancient ocean. This is Bozzhyra, in Kazakhstan – and while the name Bozzhyra means 'grey land', it's clear from the photos that this place is anything but dull.
For Estonian slackliner Jaan Roose, this adventure truly takes him someplace new – the Western border of Kazakhstan, just 160km from the Caspian Sea. That's where you'll find the ‘fangs’ where Roose stretched his slackline, marking the entrance to the Mangystau province.
Jaan Roose seen during Red Bull Highline Mangistau in Aktau, Kazakhstan, 2022.
Now that's a serious slackline!
Slacklining – a sport that's truly come into its own in the last decade – combines all kinds of challenges: organisation, planning, vision and effort. Half of the sport might just be getting the slackline set up and in a place like this you can't just go throwing a rope up anywhere you want. You've got to consider an adventurer's primary rule: leave no trace.
"We chose the most eco-friendly approach, so as not to disturb Bozzhyra's unique beauty," mountain climber and safety expert Kirill Belotserkovskiy noted. "We fixed the line on one side on the pedestrian rock, put down nets stuffed with rocks and attached ourselves to them. We wrapped a rope around the top of the other 'fang' and attached ourselves to it. We made sure the construction was simple and eco-friendly. None of the rocks suffered during the project."
Once the line is up, it’s about patience, methodology, balance and focus. Moving step-by-step for half a kilometre, 200m over the desert floor, isn't easy. But for a place like this, it's worth it.
"I was blown away by the unearthly beauty of the place. The fact there used to be an ocean here really fuels the imagination," says Roose. "Bozzhyra is a challenge and it is one of the most difficult, but beautiful projects I've ever undertaken."
Jaan Roose seen during Red Bull Highline Mangistau in Aktau, Kazakhstan, 2022.
Roose threads his way between the 'fangs'
In terms of sporting achievement, it's far from the longest slackline ever hung, but there's a unique set of challenges that makes this really stand out. Since it’s in the middle of a barren desert, the beating sun had temperatures around 50ºC – baking hot. "I got my year’s worth of vitamin D in the last five days,” Jaan laughs. But while the sun was brutal, it wasn’t the biggest problem. That was the wind blasting across the endless Mangistau steppe. It kept them waiting five days, but eventually, it went.
Jaan Roose seen during Red Bull Highline Mangistau in Aktau, Kazakhstan, 2022.
A pale grey land
"It was windy, so we were worried whether Jaan would be able to cross his slackline. However, one morning we got lucky and the wind died down," director and cameraman Sardar Baimoldin said. "Jaan climbed up onto the 'fang' and made it across. This is the first time I've worked with an athlete of his class and I enjoyed it. He knows how to move, where to look and when to look at the camera. The end result was worth all of the effort, drama and emotion."
Jaan Roose seen during Red Bull Highline Mangistau in Aktau, Kazakhstan, 2022.
Success!
For Roose, the experience was also unforgettable: "It's just a fantastic place and great that it's hidden away so far from civilisation. I'm glad I visited and saw such a unique location with my own eyes, and was also able to combine physical ability with the beauty of nature."

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Jaan Roose

Known for possessing nerves of steel, Estonian slackliner Jaan Roose is a three-time world champion and the holder of numerous world records.

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