Imagine looking up to see someone walking “effortlessly” across the African sky. Swiss professional alpinist Stephan Siegrist pretty much did just that in the summit region of Kilimanjaro late last month. The Mammut Pro Team athlete set a world record by walking a highline* at 5,700 meters above sea level.
The mountaineer has already crossed highlines on Alpine mountains such as the Matterhorn and
No one has ever walked a highline at such a height. (The previous world record was set in 2015 by Bence Kerekes of Hungary with a highline at 5,322 m above sea level in Ladakh, India.)
“At this altitude, everything is slower – and that goes for balance too,” says Siegrist. The low oxygen content of the air not only makes breathing difficult, but it also means that you feel dizzy more quickly. Placing one foot on the highline to begin the crossing was particularly difficult. “It was interesting to see how the highline responded to the slightest tension… When I wasn’t completely relaxed, the webbing immediately trembled a bit.”
*In contrast to the highwire, which is made from wire and is so taut that it can barely move, a highline/slackline stretches and requires constant balancing.