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We at Choose Mountains believe that sharing your story is important. We love that social media allows us to connect with so many inspiring people all over the world through some easy clicks of a button. Since we started our company, Miss Heather Larsen has been a huge inspiration and it amazes us to see her perched on lines this high in the air in the most beautiful places! Here is our interview with this beautiful badass:
Hey Heather! Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and where are you living now?
Hey there! I'm Heather Larsen - professional slackliner. I have lived many places throughout my life. I've lived everywhere from Minnesota to Tennessee to Nevada and even Texas!! I currently live in Golden, CO. I love it here - so much access to the mountains I love to play in!
What were some of your hobbies growing up?
I've always loved being outside. I remember growing up and just running around outside and climbing trees and running through corn fields. I didn't really have just one hobby when I was younger...I come from a very musical family, so I was either singing, listening to music or going to festivals and shows to hear my sister play violin. Music never fully caught on for me - you could usually find me being distracted by nature-scapes and things to climb.
When did you get introduced to slacklining?
I was introduced to slacklining over 5 years ago through some friends that I was on a climbing trip with. They showed me slacklining and highlining. I was so inspired by what they were doing, I knew I had to check it out for myself!
Was it difficult to start?
Slacklining wasn't too difficult to start. If you can start on a small line, close to the ground, it is easier to pick up some of the good techniques that help on longer, bigger lines.
Tell us about your first highline:
I didn't walk my first highline. Unlike many other highliners, I was basically exposed to highlining before I learned to even walk a line in the park. My climbing friends and I decided to take a day off of climbing and set up a highline. This is where I got hooked. The energy that day was so fun and positive and encouraging - I was outrageously inspired by what my friends could do on the line. My first interaction with a highline was actually just rolling out and playing on the line by dangling from my harness. I stood on the line with assistance from my friend, Quinn. That's when I decided I wanted to be able to walk some day!
Tell us the mental state you put yourself in before each walk on the line:
I try to stay calm and breathe and remind myself that I am safe. Sometimes it is difficult for me to really embrace walking the line when I am scared, but I try to find elements of walking that are really fun and exciting and focus on those things as much as possible.
Have you ever had any close calls?
Close calls - as far as injury or death? Not really. Highlining is essentially one of the safest activities you can do, as long as you know how to rig the line properly. Highline rigging requires knowledge of anchor building and redundancy. Basically if any one part of the system failed, there isn't chance of total failure in the system. Knowing that - and knowing how to rig and trusting the team I rig with....that keeps me safe.
Do you have any advice for someone reading this who may want to try slacklining?
My biggest advise is to just have fun with it. Enjoy that it is a process, that falling is a massive part of progress. The more fun you have with it, the easier it will come to you!
What is your favorite type of line and why?
I honestly enjoy all types of lines - they all are so different and have great things you can take away.
In your opinion, what help one become better at slacklining?
Slacklining is one of those things that if you want to be really rood at it, you just have to do it a lot. Practice the things that are difficult for you.
You've definitely made slacklining a huge part of your life, how do you think it has changed you as a person?
I don't necessarily think slacklining has changed me as a person, but it has connected me with people who have an effect on me. I've met my best friends and most influential people in my life through the sport. For me, it's the community that changes you - the people you let in your life - the people who cheer you on and encourage you when you're struggling - the lessons you learn from watching how someone else approaches the line - the way that seeing someone else accomplish something great inspires you to try harder.
Do you have other hobbies or sports that you're involved in besides slacklining?
My 3 favorite things to do are slacklining, climbing and yoga. There are periods in my life where one activity takes the lead over the other 2 or I put one of them on pause to focus on something else more in depth, but these 3 are my biggest passions.
Since you have started, what has been your greatest achievement in the sport?
My greatest achievement in the sport would have to be connecting with communities all over the world. I love helping to grow a sport and a community that has such positive impacts in my life.
Lastly, what makes you #choosemountains?
I #choosemountains because nature makes me free! It helps me connect with myself and others in a much more meaningful way by appreciating life and all it has to offer!
On Saturday, October 29th, we had a meetup at Lake Valhalla by Stevens Pass in Washington. Everyone knew the weather was supposed to be straight awful. Downpours for days. But 22 people showed up anyway. ☺
We all awkwardly stood at the trail head as the rain drizzled down on to our colorful rain gear; anxiously awaiting the group photo before the hike (this time with a sweet new sign!).
I don't believe many, if any, had ever done this hike before. So, off we went into the woods. Per usual, the group breaks up due to the difference in pace. I personally tend to "run" (not literally) up the mountain, so you can always find me in the front of the pack. CJ and Luke lead the pack with me.
Once we began to climb, the rain turned into snow. Large, fluffy, snowflakes started floating down and we could not help ourselves from trying to catch them on our tongue and in our hands. It was a dreadful rainy day turned winter wonderland! As we climbed, the snow began to stick on the ground and on the trees, it 'twas magnificent.
After multiple switchbacks and winding through the forest, the lake appeared before our eyes to the left. It was a beautiful hue of blue thanks to all the minerals. There was a fog over the trees and part of the lake, so you could not see it all. And snowflakes were still falling. All we wanted to do was run down the rest of the trail so we could get there already! Which, we did so.
On our decent we ran in to a couple of ladies—Sara & Gunjan, who were rocking Choose Mountains gear and were hoping to run in to us on the trail (they just wanted to get an earlier start than us). Great meeting you, ladies!
We arrived at the lake and saw this:
But, it was still beautiful. Also, it was freezing. The big, fluffy, snowflakes turned into teeny tiny snow balls. Eventually the fog lifted and the lake emerged from the abyss. We all wandered around for a bit doing our own thing, eating our snacks, hanging our hammocks, and taking our epic mountain photos. Then, a horse appeared out of nowhere…
It was a Halloween hike after all. Also, it was Chrissie’s birthday; happy birthday to you, girl! Definitely a fun group of people!
I could not take the cold anymore so I trucked ahead with two other ladies as the rest of the group attempted (but did not succeed) to summit Mount McCausland.
On the trek back to the trail head, the snow was still coming down. The trees were blanketed with white and the trail was covered in snow; trackless. Until I came along… ☺
As we began to descend from the snow zone, the snow eventually stopped and all that was left were clouds. I began to run down the switchbacks (because that is just what I do) and I nearly missed the turn for the trail back to the trail head. **CAUTION on this part of the trail!** Thanks to this sign:
I made it back safely to the parking lot, where the skies began to peek a magnificent blue as I waited for the rest of the group to come down.
Once everyone was accounted for, minus two girls who we believe missed the turn and ended up on the PCT (later we found out they made it back safely), we hung out in the parking lot for a while, stuffing our faces and joking around. We all said goodbye, see you next time, and headed back over the pass to home. This is when the sun came shining through the clouds and left us with a beautiful sunset. I think you could call that a perfect day.
Caity is a Choose Mountains Ambassador based in Washington
Follow her: instagram.com/caitskis