This year’s annual Rhythms of Rimba festival was hosted in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, where a gathering of conservation focused scientists, artists, musicians and activists came together to share ideas and passions about the changing planet. Environmental awareness and education was at the forefront of this event’s theme, where the public got to participate in all sorts of interactive outdoor experiences (such as the space net and slacklines) while also learning about important environmental issues and our human impact on the Earth’s biosphere.
We live in a complex world together and our future hinges on the ability to cultivate better balance with our surroundings and create more harmonious relationships with the diverse wildlife sharing this living space. The slackline is a great metaphor for this challenge, providing an opportunity to play outside, find our center, breath deeper and tread a little lighter. Fun is fun, and when people of all ages, religious backgrounds and different nationalities come together to smile, laugh, balance and enjoy the outdoors, a new language is communicated and something transcendent happens.
The space net similarly provided an experience for everyone to sit back, slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of a sunset with strangers. Ultimately our human net-worth is only as strong as our capacity to net-work with one another.
Thanks so much to Anton Ngui and Linn Yong for pouring so much blood, sweat and tears into this event year after year, it was an honor to be a part of your vision. A big bow of appreciation goes out to my main rigging and adventure partner Scott Rogers for joining in the epic adventure, it was surely one we’ll never forget. To Tree Net Willy for coming through with some desperately needed paracord and nets at the last minute. And finally to all the other participants, local bad asses, speakers, bus drivers, DJs, hotel staff, etc. who helped out in the process, you are greatly appreciated. This kind of collaboration doesn’t happen without a community who supports it.
Back in 2010, while highlining above the expansive red rock desert of Utah, a new and innovative rope swing concept was born and put into practice. At this time in my life I had been traveling across the country for several months with an international group of adventure athletes, establishing new highlines in space and breaking world records along the way. We had made a few stops to Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree, San Francisco, among many other iconic American destinations, eventually showing up to the majestic desert of Moab, Utah in late November. During our traveling marathon of crossing lines we attended the second annual GGBY (Gobble Gobble Bitches Yeah) highline gathering, where some of the best slackliners from around the world were attending a week long under the radar desert celebration. Dozens of lines were rigged and walked, more world records were broken (including the longest free-solo walk of its time at 100′) and people were sharing rigging knowledge openly. Between the creative minds of Jan Galek, Faith Dickey, Jordan Tybon and myself, it seemed a natural evolution of ideas to eventually use one of our highlines for the application of a new rope swing system. We had been collectively playing with this concept at the festival using a similar concept to what legendary rock climber Dan Osman had pioneered many years before us. While honing our walking balance atop these one-inch wide pieces of fabric we were inspired to construct a 70 foot long pendulum rope swing above a sandstone cave. The jumps were successful and the rigging was solid. Everyone felt the sudden rush of excitement in creating something new while experiencing the unforgettable beauty of falling with gravity. We laughed and rejoiced as a group about the accomplishment and then swiftly moved onto our next highlining destination.
This new desert location presented a much greater potential for free fall, through a narrow slot canyon, about 400′ deep and 130′ wide at it’s largest point. Anticipating the rush of excitement ahead our hearts began to race and our nerves were instantly activated. After finishing the rigging process over many hours and double checking our thorough work, we anxiously stared into the abyss below and imagined ourselves plummeting through the air in the biggest pendulum swing we had ever seen or considered possible. Since it was my birthday that day, I was offered the first human test jump on the system (note that we first used a weighted haul bag as our initial test swing before human trials). To say the least, I was both anxious and excited for the opportunity. I strapped on my climbing harness, tied into the rope swing, pulled myself out into the middle of the canyon (on a tyrollean traverse we had made) and dropped into the slot canyon with a giant grin on my face. After the adrenaline subsided and nervous faces of onlooking friends transitioned into relieved expressions. The proof of concept had been solidified and suddenly everyone couldn’t wait for their terrifying turn on the new vertical ride we had devised.
Flash forward to 2013, after hundreds of highlines had been rigged all over the world and my experience pioneering rope swings developed further, I was approached by Scott Rogers to facilitate the first commercial film project of our enormous canyon rope swing. The video montage I published from the first rope swing experience surprisingly caught the attention of over 400,000 YouTube viewers in a short time and was featured on several international television shows and shown on CNN news. Read more
Roughly 400 rag-tag dirt bags and silent heroes from across the globe gather in the sandstone cliffs outside of Moab during Thanksgiving 2015 for Gobble Gobble Bitches Yea and Turkey Boogie; two festivals that are dedicated to supporting each spark that engulfs the imagination and pushes the limits of human possibility. Within 10 days, 17 highlines were strung, two space nets suspended and one Russian BASE swing constructed in the middle of the desert by dreamers, inventors, and influential creators coming together to create an unstoppable community. “It’s a cool environment to do groundbreaking things with talented people. It always has been and will continue to be that way.” says Scott Rogers, Director of the upcoming Wingate Motion film “Sky Tribe”. This group creates an atmosphere only portrayed in the Hollywood blockbusters, like finding the magical wardrobe or taking the red pill; you feel like you’ve made it to Neverland.
The tight, red canyon walls drop more than 350 feet below leaving you standing at a precipice of possibilities. Everywhere you look you are surrounded by the world’s best of the best in extreme sports, and each one of them is here to collaborate with your inspiration. That is where Scott Rogers and Cody Tuttle, Co-Directors of Wingate Motion, come into play. Documenting such incredible feats was a no-brainer for these two alongside the help of Brian Mosbaugh, Corey McCarthy, and Sarah Taz. Scott and Brian are two of the original Moab Monkeys and have been a part of the festival since it started many years ago. “At the beginning, we were setting world records every year. At the very first GGBY we rigged a 135 foot highline with Terry Acomb called ‘A Walk In The Sun’ and that was a world record. Several years later, Andy Lewis walked a 330 foot line which was the first highline longer than 100 meters,” Scott remarked. While records never have been a priority at the festival, they tend to happen thanks to the creative, open, and energetic people who gather there year after year.
Photo: Cody Tuttle
It was only a matter of time before the world would find out about GGBY and the Turkey Boogie events held in Moab. In eight years, the GGBY event grew from a mere 15 people on a camping trip to 400 people choosing “the outlaws over their in-laws” as Scott describes. With the growing community, 2015 was the biggest event yet, with GGBY and the Turkey Boogie mashed together for the second year in a row. The Wingate Motion production team hung off cliff faces, climbed tall boulders, and bounced across 4WD desert roads to work with the most talented Wingsuiters, BASE jumpers, and Highliners in the world. Over the week we captured the first two-way wingsuit flight off of Castleton Tower, the longest human anchored highline, the rope swing to BASE and Russian swing to BASE, just to name a few. “The cool thing about the event is that it’s a collection of so many awesome people that are so creative and so open to expressing their creativity uninhibited, because it is such an open and welcoming environment that it’s conducive for doing new and cool things,” says Scott. And that’s exactly what Wingate was able to capture.
Photo: Cody Tuttle
Wingate’s “Sky Tribe” lives somewhere between the documentation of the rare extreme sports we all know and love, and the embrace of the friends and outlaws we love as family. This community is built upon striving for more as a whole, thus empowering the individual; making each world record event a group achievement, which can’t be explained better than witnessing the human anchored highline. “That’s why we are making this film, to not only document this amazing event, but to inspire other people and other communities to continue doing things that they are passionate about; to grow, to create, to inspire others who continue to increase the collective amount of good things that we still have as humans in this world and try to offset the bad.” Scott describes the passion behind the film project we all share at Wingate. This film will unveil a totally new world for anyone who has not experienced the BASE or Highlining community, creating the feeling of a world hidden in another reality. This is our family, our Sky Tribe, and we encourage you to share, join in the fun, and to hopefully be inspired to go out with your own tribe and discover the realm of human possibility.
Check out how the 9th annual Turkey Boogie/GGBY gathering has grown in yet another Red Bull featured video below. A tribute to the slacklove that Terry Acomb has so graciously offered to the world of extreme sport athletes exploring the red rock wilderness of Moab, Utah.
A new evolution of space net rigging finds its way into the mainstream media as a worlds first music gig high in the sky above Queenstown, New Zealand. Sponsored by Jägermeister and featuring the UK sensation band Modestep, this was truly a project of epic proportions. The space net has now found another use outside of its extreme platform for sports such as BASE jumping, rope swings and highlining around the world, having been converted into a globe trotting suspended musical stage. Who would have thought, right? What a pleasure it was working with the wonderful staff at Jägermeister this past September in the beautifully scenic countryside of New Zealand, especially while getting to know the witty and talented musical duo of Modestep. Pat Lundy and Josh Friend, you two are legends!
There’s so much that takes place behind the scenes to make a project like this become a reality so I wanted to officially recognize the hard work and efforts of Secret Compass, who helped coordinate this event with me for 15 months leading up to the live gig itself. Tom McShane, Tom Bodkin and Dave Lucas you guys are amazing individuals who really worked your butts off to get this ball rolling and on time. To all the invaluable local New Zealand mountain guides: Hugh Barnard, Davie Robinson, Bruce Dowrick, Tarn Pilkington and Tony McCutheon, without you all we would have been lost in the cold wilderness for a long time. To AJ Sutherland, Donna Allen, Tim Reid and Tim Pierce your audio and visual expertise allowed us to have real sound in real nature. Tony Young, thanks for creating all the stunning aerial drone shots that made for a beautiful cinematic touch. Geoff Ellis, you persevered in working around the clock to create the necessary perspex platforms for all the instruments and band. Heli Glenorchy, your piloting skills in the backcountry are top notch and nothing short of perfection. Sherwood Queenstown thanks for looking after us and providing ample flat whites for our caffeine needs every morning. Last but not least, my main rigging hand and long time adventure partner, Scott Rogers, you’re such an incredibly talented professional to have at my side when undertaking these big commercial stunts. Your thoroughness and diligence in all these impressive endeavors with the Moab Monkeys never goes unnoticed. The same can be said of Cody Tuttle, of Wingate Motion, who was one of the principal shooters for the main feature and ‘behind the scenes’ video seen below. Your artistic eye and fierce courage to get the shot in the toughest of circumstances is truly inspiring. A lot more could be elaborated about the trials and tribulations of this crazy project but I’ll simply let the videos speak for themselves. Thanks everyone for all the hard work and enthusiasm on this breathtaking worlds first live music gig high in the sky. Cheers!
In my youth, I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would eventually be paid to build large commercial rope swings, jump out of hot air balloons with a parachute and regularly work on television productions as part of my adult career. Immediately after finishing a formal education and graduating from college, I boldly set out on an unconventional life path living out of my car, climbing mountains, walking highlines and BASE jumping all over the world. Possessed by a passion for global travel and a proclivity for immersing myself in outdoor adventure sports, I’ve pursued life the only way I know how, with total commitment and dedication to that which makes me happy and serves other people’s happiness. Working as a professional athlete, photographer/videographer, stuntman and high-angle ropes rigger over the years has provided me a unique skill set in confronting fear safely and carving out my own professional niche in the commercial industries. In the past 10 years, I’ve successfully grown a working resume doing various jobs across the hot deserts of Namibia, deep in the humid jungles of Brazil, Borneo and Thailand, above the urban madness of Bangkok and Rio de Janeiro and atop the high mountains of Nepal, Switzerland and New Zealand, among many other extreme environments. My confidence and proficiency in high risk locations has essentially become a key asset to this trade of rigging expertise, which constantly requires timely perfection, mental clarity and absolute thoroughness with clients. I’m not sure if Las Vegas, Nevada, exactly fits my definition of a pristine wilderness where I prefer to work, but the surrounding desert undeniably has its own serenity and peace far from the distracting bells and whistles of the obnoxious casino strip.
After completing a unique and challenging rigging job down in Namibia earlier this year (CLICK HERE FOR THE BIGGER STORY), working on an adventure reality television series called Global Gladiators, Scott Rogers and I received an unexpected phone call from our previous employers. They inquired if we were available during the summer to provide our unique rigging skills constructing a large human rope swing between flying hot air balloons. Having built, designed and operated many complex rope swing systems over the past decade, we got some basic details of the envisioned stunt and enthusiastically said yes. Contracted as the key riggers for yet another German program, entitled Joko vs. Klaas – Duel Around the World (or Joko gegen Klaas-Das Duell um die Welt in German), we began excitedly preparing ourselves for a hot desert job site somewhere outside Las Vegas.
The show Joko vs. Klaas, which is hugely popular in Europe, is a travel game/reality television program (running since 2012) which showcases celebrity hosts, Joachim ‘Joko’ Winterscheidt and Klaas Heufer-Umlauf, as they challenge one another to endure a slew of outrageous and mentally challenging obstacles all over the globe. Imagine a Jack Ass meets Fear Factor competition amongst daring friends with a big budget. Examples of their creative madness include them literally being duct taped to the side of a skyscraper (hundred of feet above the city of Bangkok) while singing karaoke, being placed in the middle of a room (wearing bomb squad grade protection equipment) as its literally blown up with explosives, collecting hallucinogenic honey in Nepal (from active bee hives on the sides of exposed cliffs) dangling from hemp made ladders, etc. Our project involved a slightly different interaction with fear, mostly dealing with intimidating heights, requiring Klaas to jump out of a hot air balloon into a gut dropping 250 foot long rope swing thousands of feet above the ground. This style of pendulum rope swing is a rigging design that both Scott and I have perfected for many commercial productions, but the changing variable for this stunt was that the fulcrum point of the swing would be secured to a separate hot air balloon flying parallel in the sky.
Two years ago I embarked on a journey into the Himalayan mountains of Nepal that would profoundly shake my personal beliefs and be the beginning of a beautiful cross-culture family relationship. Accompanied by a small group of filmmakers, close friends and Nepali mountain guides, we spent a month in the country interviewing, documenting and setting the foundation for the film you see below. Over the past couple years, many trips have been made back to Nepal by parts of our original expedition crew of Scott Rogers, Cody Tuttle, Cherise Tuttle, David Porter, Suresh Nepali, Tenjing Sherpa, Phuri Sherpa and myself to make this film a reality.
Nyima is a modern day story of a low-caste Dalit family struggling to survive in the isolated Himalayan village of Samagaun. It examines the shifting cultural dynamics of a developing young girl, Nyima, who lives in a raw and unforgiving mountain environment. Pushed to the outskirts of her remote village, this intimate narrative is told through the curious mind of a young protagonist searching for answers about her identity as a human and Untouchable outcast member of society. The viewer will go on a beautiful cinematic journey examining the responsibilities and struggles of daily life for this unique Untouchable family, which lives in stark contrast to the first world experience. This film offers breathtaking scenery with a rich cultural lens focused on the greater social problems of the caste system in Nepal.
While every Dalit person is born into the social caste system with limited choice or chance toward radical self improvement, there exist a growing number of developing Nepalese communities whom are breaking free from the confines of their social oppression. As a younger generation gains better access toward greater social equality and more educational resources, many outdated cultural taboos and oppressive ideas of identity are shifting. The implications of these progressive younger communities are becoming the catalyst for a new Nepal shifting toward a brighter and more educated future.
As a group of adventure filmmakers, we want to continue our exploration of Nepal’s beautifully diverse culture and continue to produce impactful media on the subject. By studying the different ethnic groups affected by the institutionalized caste system we hope to draw greater global awareness to it and be a catalyst for social change. From the pristine mountains of the Himalayas, to the busy street life of Kathmandu, caste discrimination is an obvious part of the country’s rigid social hierarchy. Through access to better education for Untouchables and giving the silently oppressed populace a platform to speak, our media and fundraising efforts provoke powerful cultural reflection alongside real human support. We are personally invested in helping the wonderfully generous and authentic people who so kindly have shared their intimate stories, lives and strife with us.
Human rights; to see the change that is teetering on the edge of society come into fruition. We want to see each child, no matter their social standing have the opportunity to receive education so they can become influential and an integral part of their society.
I've committed my life to the pursuit of world exploration and pushing the boundaries of human limits. I have a strong passion for climbing technical rock routes, BASE jumping in the mountains and walking lines of 1-inch webbing at varying heights. In this shared space I hope to convey the stories of inspiring outdoor communities and individuals who interact with nature adventurously.
Slackline Media is a shared platform where all forms of slackline and other adventure sport related news, blogs, projects, photos and films can be openly viewed and appreciated. It showcase the evolving lifestyle of actively balanced individuals who are continually pushing the boundaries of human achievement.