Slacklining differs to tightrope walking in that the line is not held rigidly taut. Instead it can stretch and bounce and act rather like a long and narrow trampoline. Those who take part in slacklining are often called slackers. The falls, a UNESCO world heritage site, can carry more than 500 million cubic meters of water during the rainy season. The drop from the slack line to the canyon below is around a hundred meters. What makes the stunt all the more surprising then, is that for these daredevils this is just an extreme hobby. Irmler is an Economic Science student and his companion spends most of his time as a journalist and writer. Forty years ago, in 1974, New York awoke to find Philippe Petit walking on a high wire suspended between the 110-story Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. Petit left a crowd of thousands breathless but was arrested by the police when he finally stepped off the wire. But as the realisation of what he had managed began to sink in, there was also an understanding that there was no way he could be punished. All charges were dismissed in exchange for a performance in Central Park for children. The ‘artistic crime of the century’, as Petit described it, was the subject of the outstanding 2008 documentary Man on Wire, directed by James Marsh.
It’s not surprising that this kind of crossing, took two years to prepare for. Two high wire artists have successfully made it across the Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border after two years spent in training. Student Lukas Irmler, 26, from Germany, and 34-year-old journalist Reinhard Kleindl from Austria, used a wobbling slackline slung across the face of the spectacular falls, known locally as ”the smoke that thunders”. They made the 100 meter long crossing on a slackline with only a safety line for support. They are the first people ever to cross the gorge walking upright.
Answer the following questions to make sure you understood the article – 1. How long did it take for Lukas and Reinhard to prepare for crossing Victoria Falls? 2. How did Lukas and Reinhard make the 100 meter long crossing of the gorge? 3. Has anyone ever crossed the gorge walking upright? 4. How does slacklining differ to tightrope walking? 5. How high is the drop from the slack line to the canyon below? 6. What makes the stunt even more surprising? 7. How did Philippe Petit walk from one twin tower of the World Trade Center to the other? 8. What happened after he stepped off the wire? 9. Was he put in prison? 10. Write your answer in a comment below – why do you think he did it?