‘It’s extremely satisfying’: Slackliners conquer ‘terrifying’ heights above Southern Ocean

Australia World

The towering cliffs of West Cape Howe near Albany on West Australia’s rugged south coast have been conquered by a band of daredevil slackliners.

Slacklining involves balancing across a narrow piece of webbing that is 2.5 centimetres wide and suspended between two anchor points.

Standing at a dizzying 60 metres above the swirling Southern Ocean, West Cape Howe could be regarded as the Holy Grail for slackliners like Alex Clapin.

“You do it 100 times in the park and it’s easy, but you get out on the line and look down and feel that exposure and it’s just terrifying.”

Two men walk along slacklines above the sea at West Cape HoweTwo men walk along slacklines above the sea at West Cape Howe
Alex Clapin (foreground) and Jack Gooch (background) tackle the slacklines last weekend.(Supplied: Alex Clapin)

Perth Midliners help balance sport grow

Mr Clapin is a member of a close-knit collective of WA slackliners called the Perth Midliners, which is slowly but surely growing the fringe sport in the state.

A man walks along a slackline at West Cape Howe.A man walks along a slackline at West Cape Howe.
Slackliner Joey Curry concentrates as he attempts to walk along the slackline at West Cape Howe.(Supplied: Alex Clapin)

The group usually meets in Perth parks to practise their craft, but lately, they have been venturing further afield in search of more demanding slacklines.

Two slacklines — one measuring 60m in length and another outer line measuring 115m — were rigged across a cavernous gap at West Cape Howe.

Mr Clapin said the group made sure they used the correct safety gear.

“You’ve got a standard climbing harness and that is attached by a strong leash and ring set that is hooked around the line,” he said.

Group vows to return to windswept cliffs

Due to being battered by relentless coastal winds, Jack Gooch was the only member of the crew who made it across the 60m slackline without falling.

Two slacklines at West Cape Howe on WA's south coast.Two slacklines at West Cape Howe on WA's south coast.
The outer line measures 115m in length and so far remains unconquered by the slackliners.(Supplied: Alex Clapin)

As a result, he was rewarded with naming rights on the line and chose the ironic title of Calm Corner to describe the windswept location.

For now, the 150m line remains unconquered, but Mr Clapin says the group will return for another attempt soon.

A group of people in front of cliffs.A group of people in front of cliffs.
Left to right: Sergio Oropeza, Carmen Ator, Jack Gooch, Bronte Atkins, Joey Curry, Nick Pontin and Alex Clapin (centre, front).(Supplied: Alex Clapin)

“I think it’s just facing that fear and overcoming it,” he said.

“For me, it terrifies me, and I believe that’s the same experience for the other guys who are walking and doing really well now.