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Hevyfest attracts slackers

Seventh annual slacklining festival a success, despite weather
Drew Copeland
Darrell Houle looks on as his stepson Tucker, 10, slacklines during Hevyfest on Saturday (July 19) at Nexen Beach.

People showed up, slacked, hula-hooped, hung out and generally had fun. Despite sporadic showers and a date overlapping with the Squamish Mountain Festival, this year’s Hevyfest was a success. A mixture of diehard slackers, tourists and locals turned out at Nexen Beach on Saturday (July 19) and stayed into the evening.

Slacklining was first practiced by climbers when they weren’t out on the rocks, but it has evolved into an activity unto itself.

Hevyfest organizer Allan Stevens, who was in Yosemite Valley in the 1980s when slackling was in its infancy, said of this year’s Hevyfest, “The real joy for me is seeing the kids having a good time. Look over there,” says an enthusiastic Stevens, pointing to the kids’ zone, where some kids are monkeying around on closer-to-the-ground slacklines.

He’s excited for what will become of slacklining when this generation, who have been introduced at such a young age, get older.

Gabriola Piper of Portland, Ore., usually splits her free time between slacklining and rock climbing. 

“This is the time of year when it gets too hot to be functional at Smith Rocks [Oregon, where she usually recreates] and so there tends to be a bit of migration,” she said.

Piper and a group of her like-minded friends have come up to Squamish in search of better conditions in which to pursue their passions. She was pleased to discover the festival and the culture of slacklining in Squamish.

The sport has progressed to the point where there are now subdisciplines.

Tricklining is done on shorter, more elastic lines and participants attempt technically difficult maneuvers like spins and flips.

Piper is an longlining aficionado. The challenge is keeping one’s composure and focus while delicately walking a lengthier slackline, she said.

“Longlining is probably my favourite form of meditation because when I manage the send, the sense of accomplishment I get is by far more than anything I’ve ever felt. Highlining (lines rigged at elevation between tall trees or rock peaks) scares me and I do it to try to overcome that; honestly it’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

The festival’s water line out over the Howe Sound was a hit among participants and spectators. Andrew Stewart of Toronto said of the festival and water line, “It seems pretty cool. They’ve got a lot of lines and a line over the water that they’re setting up now—I’ve never done one before, but it looks like fun.”

Stevens has been the impetus behind Hevyfest for seven years. He would like to see an officially recognized slackline park in Squamish and thinks that the lot on Loggers Lane between Pavilion Park and the Mamquam Blind Channel is an ideal place. He said he has proposed the idea to the District of Squamish.

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