Astonishing moment man attempts to walk on 262-feet-highline in western India
As highlining is garnering the attention among the extreme sports lovers, a 34-year-old man from western India’s Maharashtra, became the first Indian who attempted to Highline a 2460-feet-long rope.
The event took place at Duke’s Nose in Kurvande on January 13, 2020.
Rohit Vartak, born and brought up in Lonavla near Mumbai, never thought someday he would Highline a rope hung between two cliffs, at least 262 feet above sea level.
“Growing up I was extremely scared of snakes,” Vartak told Newslions Media.
“One day, I found a snake catcher near my house. I asked him to teach me how to catch a snake, following this, I was addicted to it. People in my neighborhood used to call me to rescue snakes stranded in their locality,” he added.
This marked the beginning of Vartak’s adventurous career, where he set off to rescue wildlife across India.
“One day I was introduced to a group of trekkers, and I thought of trying my hand at it,” he said.
At 18-years-old, Vartak tried rock climbing, however, failed miserably at it.
He took one year to practice and finally mastered the art of climbing treacherous trails.
“Following this, at some point I was introduced to highlining, it took my breath away,” he said.
Since its inception in the ’80s, in California, the activity involves balancing precariously along nylon webbing, rigged customarily between two cliffs.
Highliners mount the contraption wearing a safety harness tethered to it.
“I was particularly inspired by Dean Potter, I learned most tricks of the trade through YouTube videos. In Pune, I met a group of slackliners with whom I practiced slacklining for about a year,” he adds.
In October 2014, he tried his first highlining in Sandhan Valley.
“I could not even take on a single step on the rope. I was nervous. It was difficult for us to manage all the safety equipment to Highline in the first place. We somehow managed to acquire them,” Vartak stated.
The climber, who has scaled the Duke’s Nose in Lonavala in a record time of 30 minutes, froze the moment he mounted that Highline.
Finally, in December 2014, Vartak managed to walk across a 20-foot long Highline for the first time after nearly six attempts.
“It was the most beautiful moment of my life. I had finally achieved what I wanted. I set my dreams high from then onwards,” he said.
In January 2020, in Duke’s Nose, he managed to become the first Indian to attempt walking on the longest Highline ever rigged in the country before at an event called “The great Indian Highline gathering”.
Rohit Vartak also became the first person to introduce the extreme sport of highlining in the country.
Currently, he works as a training manager for Industrial Safety Training Institute where he teaches industrial workers how to stay safe at heights while working.
Vartak is also a part of an NGO called Shivdurga Mitra, a Lonavla based organization, where they offer free climbing and highlining lessons to school students.
“India has only 50 or fewer highliners, there are no premium institutes that teach highlining. We want more youths to join us and grow with this sport. At Shivdurga Mitra we have a massive artificial climbing wall where we teach rock climbing, we also have a setup for highlining, all free of cost,” Vartak said.
Speaking about future projects, Vartak intends to break the Asia World Record for highlining which is currently 1 km (half-a-mile).
“Highlining is a safe sport given we have the required safety harness. I want every Indian youth who wants to venture into this sport, to learn and practice for years before they give it a try. I strongly believe in a phrase, ‘Life is all about balancing’, you can only walk on that rigged rope if you have balanced your body and mind together,” he concludes.