Thursday, July 10, 2014

"Można Inaczej" - FINALS

I would like to ask for your support once again. I have a chance to win but not without your support. You can vote by liking the video on YouTube. The voting deadline is by tomorrow (11th of July) and finishes at 16:30 (+1h UTC). Please, if you have a minute vote on my video and share it as much as you can. I can promise you ENG version after this weekend.

Peace & SlackOn!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Casting "Można Inaczej" for a new Vlog on YT

I would like to ask for your support. I am taking part in a casting "Można Inaczej" for a new Vlogger on YT. I got through first two stages already. Right now to get to the finals I need to be in the lucky four which will have the most likes under their youtube videos presenting the person and the idea behind. My concept is to present different extreme sports and get normal people, celebrities and other extreme athletes involved in that project to show everyone what extreme sports are about, how they can change your life and basically spread the passion to others and try to change their lives for better.
To help me to get to the finals please click on the video below and click 'LIKE'. I am hoping I'll make it and soon you'll see a sample episode which will be published in a few days.

Thanks for your help and hopefully despite the result I will find time and resources to continue with that idea. Sorry the video is not in English but when I'll start with project you can definitely expect at least subtitles.

Peace & SlackOn!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Todra - NEW highline TOPO

So I've been working on this for a while. Here you go - new highline guidebook. This time it is "Gorges du Todra" - beautiful highline area opened in Morocco by Somewhereelseland Team Members back in 2012. I can recommend these lines to anyone who likes highlining. This place is amazing and offers interesting culture, food, beautiful rocks, exciting climbing and more. Besides, it is really affordable. I will be also preparing late report from that trip soon, so stay updated. Enjoy the new guidebook and few cool shots from Jordan Tybon as well as the "High Over Todra" movie trailer. Take a look on a sidebar to find more highline guidebooks. There will be more to come including Meteora in Greece, Ostrov in Czech Republic, Sokoliki and Hejszowina in Poland and more ... :)

Hiking through the Gorge 
Kwjet on the first highline in Morocco - "Berber Gold" 
Local taste ...
Faith Dickey on the "Too Much Couscous in the Head" high above the Gorge

Peace & SlackOn!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Co-operation with SZTUKA ŻYWIENIA

I've always liked cooking and eating. In my mind these are such a obviousness it is almost weird to state that. I don't think that everyone likes cooking but we can probably agree that everyone likes to consume foods. I remember when I was a kid I used to eat any amounts of whatever and definitely didn't pay attention to my diet. Later in my life I decided to study biology because in high school that was one of my favorite subjects. After one and a half semester I realized I am not really interested in botanic, mycology, life cycle of tapeworm and such ... Due to my long interest in sports as well as my both passions - climbing and slacklining, I decided it might be better to focus on topics connected with it.

Back in a days (photo-credit Michał 'MihÓ' Jędrzejewski)
The trip which started it all ;) ...

I did study at the Sport and Physical Education University but then my life took unexpected turn. I got a chance to do a big sponsored slackline trip with friends and I took it. Since that moment I spent 4 years traveling, highlining, slacklining and living life of professional athlete, which in the sport of slacklining is almost equal to being a dirtbag.

E.g. 1: My best bud Jordan and professional haircut - total dirtbag ...
E.g. 2: Dirtbag kitchen/diet ;)

I was obsessed with slacklining and didn't spend as much time climbing and doing other things, as I would like to. I tried to expend my knowledge of human physiology, anatomy as well as training and nutrition methods and apply them to my life. I never had enough time to focus on training and put these ideas in real use.

Back in 2008 when I climbed and slacklined more equally. Here climbing my first 7c "Madre Salvaje" in Desplomilandia (Spain) (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Nowadays, my philosophy on life as well as slacklife changed quite a bit. I would like to connect my two passions and use them for challenging alpine projects, progress and get stronger in both disciplines and maybe even find some time for some other things I always wanted to try.

This by itself is quite a challenge with which I struggled during last few years. It is really demanding dream, which requires some quite strict tactics to stay positive and successful. I made up my mind and decide it will be better to focus on training and when I live for a trip I should have a certain goal, schedule and be totally ready in my body and my mind to use my power and time most efficiently. When I am back home that's time to work, progress on different grounds a train some more.

I used word 'train' in last sentences quite a lot but that's what it comes to both with slacklining and climbing. If you connect this two it can be and most likely will be harsh on your body. That is why I started looking ever more into training methods, came up with some ideas to train for my highline goals and decided I need some help with my nutrition. I believe nutrition and proper training are the keystones for my further progress.

Because of my daily responsibilities, training and lack of time I felt like I wouldn't be able to come up with well-balanced training-nutrition program. Then I found out about "SZTUKA ŻYWIENIA". This team is formed by a friendly couple of professional trainers and nutritionists. They climb by them self and are more then qualified in a field of sports, coaching and nutrition. I reached out to founder of the company Marcin Bończa-Tomaszewski and after a few months of co-operation became a sponsored athlete which I am really proud of.

SZTUKA ŻYWIENIA promotes healthy way of living and program which is adapted to your needs. I was shocked by the effects on my life. My habits changed completely as well as the way of thinking about it as a diet. It doesn't feel like a restriction. I chose to eat certain way to improve my performance, supercompensation, regeneration and frame of mind. Marcin put up with all of the challenges I created for him. As you know already I had a serious accident and I am still struggling with my recovery. As soon as I could barely walk and got a green light from a doctor I wanted to train as much as I could. By adequate training program, well balanced nutrition and well selected supplements I was able to achieve that.

I like the the co-operation methods. I work one on one with Marcin. I can ask all of my questions and I get the guidelines and files to learn how to properly put together my training and meals. I introduce one new habit every two weeks which helps me to master it without compromising others already in use. I found that really effective. I always wanted everything right away. I believe that is one of the main mistakes people do. It is much better to improve the same way as you do on a line; step by step.

I will try to share more knowledge from that field in the next posts. I am also really happy that Marcin supported and helped me with stopping eating meat. When I was younger I did stop eating meat completely for a few year but didn't realize how to replace it, what are the risks and that is a huge challenge. I achieved this goal gradually over last couple months and it has been smooth shift. I am happy to be vegetarian. It was a personal decision dictated by ethical reasons.

The supplementation and eating habits makes me feel good, my body regenerates really well and I can't wait to be done with my post accident recovery. Trying to stay humble and patient which is much easier with a help from SZTUKA ŻYWIENIA as well as my mental-coach Dominika Zapotoczna (check Dominika's project Extreme Mind Game).

My life is different and definitely better. Even when I am down I am happier then I was before. I don't want to get into details now but as a sneak peek here is what's new:

- I am keeping habits and training logbook which helps me to monitor my progress and health (that includes measurements and pictures),
- Have to do some bigger tests from time to time (like a big physical test, complex blood tests to monitor my health),
- In every meal I am eating a portion of fats, double serving of source of protein and veggies,
- I eat most of my carbohydrates during training days,
- I take my supplements everyday,
- Everyday I am trying new recipe or variation of some meal I already know,
- Every single day drinking at least 2 liters of water,
- I keep up with my training and rehabilitation.

I am hoping that was somehow interesting. I will try to share more practical info about training, recipes, nutrition knowledge useful for slacklining and climbing purposes as well as some ideas for slackline training I've been developing. Can't wait to put them to use.

Big thanks to SZTUKA ŻYWIENIA and all of my friends and followers for a great support!

Peace & SlackOn!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Faith Dickey - take on free soloing

Last but not least I have a fist female in my blog-series about free-soloing. It will be hard to introduce Faith Dickey because she did so much, doesn't stop to continue pushing the limits and pretty much is an icon in the sport. She is holding the female records for longest waterline, highline, highline free-solo and longline since few years already. Faith is also really experienced highliner and one of the most persistent highline free-soloist on the world. There is also no other girl which is nearly experienced as she is in walking highlines leashless (or just highlining in general). The great thing is that she shares that experience and tries to push and motivate female slackliners for example by organizing first "Girls Only Highline Meetings" (taking place in beautiful Ostrov in Czech Republic). She is a strong character and badass chick. I am proud I could help her a bit on her slackline-path. Well, I feel like there is not enough words to introduce her, I had a pleasure to get to know here quite well and she's always been a great friend to me. Now enjoy some words of wisdom about 'no-safety art of walking' from Faith her self.

Faith Dickey (25 years old)

"I thought free soloing was stupid when I began highlining. It was so beyond my understanding, and I gleaned so much transformation and fear confrontation with a harness on, I could not imagine why anyone would take the leash off. It seemed reckless, attention grabbing and irresponsible. At that time I had barely skimmed the surface of climbing, and while I was vaguely aware that free solo climbing existed and was traditionally rooted in the sport, I did not make the connection. Somehow scaling a rock wall without a rope seemed more logical than traversing a thin piece of webbing between cliff edges without a leash. The old saying 'Never say never' has proved true, as I have become one of the few soloists in the sport of highlining.

Faith bouldering in Joshua Tree in 2009 (photo by Jordan Tybon)

My highline beginnings were slightly more condensed than the average slackliner-turned-highliner. I was fortunate enough to take my slackline skills up high with Jan Galek, who was a great climber and knowledgeable highline rigger, not to mention an accomplished walker. Jordan Tybon, the other stooge in our trio was a great climber and therefore understood the concepts of rigging far more than I. Knots, gear, equalization, redundancy and heights were all knew to this Texan. I experienced longlining, highlining and climbing all for the first time in the middle of a German summer 4 years ago, while my face was still round and my body a bit plump from four months of drinking in London. My decent slackline skills were put to the test on my first highlines and I threw myself at them full force. Finally my stubborn nature was paying off; I ignored the map of the world imprinted upon my thighs in bruises, the utter exhaustion of learning to climb up the leash after many falls, and the uncertainty of my knot tying abilities, all in order to take some steps on a highline. It's doubtful that any witnesses to my highline beginnings would have thought I would make it this far.

After 4 or 5 highlines I finally managed to cross one; and all of a sudden the world was a much different place. I was officially a highliner. The following months were jam packed with walking. I learned that to save energy, time and prolong the life of the equipment, I should grab the highline when I fell rather than whipping into the leash and dangling six feet below. Climbing up a six-foot rope repeatedly did give me some nice guns but it wasn't worth the extra power I lost in doing so. Soon, I was catching the line almost every fall. A highline expedition to the US solidified my abilities; not only did I break my own personal records in distance highlining but I established a new female world record in the sport as well. This was a surprise for me since I had never intended to do so; however within three months I had broken my own records twice more. By the end of our trip, I was a proficient highliner and was starting to understand rigging.

The idea to walk without a leash was not premeditated. I had watched my teammate, Jan Galek, walk free solo a few times and if anything it caused me to realize that solo could be safe. His stability and mental strength was a testament to this. I had recently graduated from a climbing harness to a swami belt; which is virtually a harness with no leg loops. A fall would be life preserving but painful as the thick band would constrict around my waist. Catching is ever more important when a highliner dons a swami, and it serves as a great mental training tool. Thanks to the swami-belt, I was very sure of my ability to catch the line and have to this day never fallen off a highline in anything less than a climbing harness. At this point, catching the line is second nature and I have taken no more than two unintentional whipper's in the last four years.

My first solo was hardly spectacular. A favorite of beginners, the 25ft long highline in Joshua Tree, California lacks any exposure (sense of height), you might even survive if you fell and hit the ground. I had cruised it in a swami easily, and suddenly I desired to push my comfort zone a little more. I untied the leash and walked both directions, and was overcome by a very similar feeling to walking my very first highline. This wonderful euphoria left me beaming. My teammate Janek had very solid advice for me then, to control that happiness and excitement like I control my fear; in other words, not to get trigger happy with soloing because that’s when it can get dangerous. I still follow this advice.

Faith free-soloing her first highline - "Chongo Gap" in Joshua Tree back in 2009 (photo by Jordan Tybon)

Explaining why I free solo (a common question) is very similar to explaining why I highline at all. The general public often considers obscure or unusual activities that involve adrenaline “daredevil, adrenaline junkie” sports. These labels have the same effect most labels do; they put highliners in a box, one that is often synonymous with "crazy." When given the opportunity, I enjoy giving some insight as to why I highline including soloing, and why some people find value in walking thin pieces of webbing high off the ground. We can all agree that facing our fears is a healthy exercise, combine this with an incredible community, traveling, and adrenaline, and you have an exceptionally self-transformative sport. The first highlines I walked taught me more about myself than anything I had encountered prior. I was able to compartmentalize my mind and see just how complex it really is. There are a number of chemical processes in our brains when we walk highlines, however the mental and spiritual side of the sport is often overlooked.

I believe we all have different comfort zones and while pushing them is how we expand our consciousness, not everyone will push those limits at the same pace or in the same way. This is exactly why I would never encourage someone to solo. Though I swore I would never walk without safety, eventually I came to a point where I felt I needed to push my limits to that point in order to see myself more clearly. I've realized that fear is very multi-faceted, and it is not always an obstacle even if it is ever present when I am high off the ground. On a highline, I almost have tinges of schizophrenia where my mind splits into these different dialogues, often battling each other to be the strongest. What I've come to understand as ego are those voices that tell me I will fail, that I am no good; that I am too tired to succeed. By the same token, ego tells me I am great, that I am the best in the world, that everyone watching me is thinking about how good I am. Then there is the voice telling all the others to shut up, the one that reminds me why I highline, it tells me to focus on the beauty and the moment. All of this dialogue goes on for minutes at a time, sometimes the duration of the walk. Being naked to myself signifies seeing all that is inside of me, good and bad. A meditative mindset is one I constantly strive for; no thought stream, just pure focus. Moments like these remind me that the dialogue in my head does not necessarily represent who I am, and that I don't need mental words streaming in order to experience something amazing, achieve what I set out to do and be fully aware during the experience. Those moments where I achieve that clarity, be it solo or with a harness and leash, are ultimately what pushes me to keep highlining. Fear and intuition are difficult to decipher, but soloing brings me closer to understanding the difference.

Faith perfectly balanced on the line above Ostrov (CZ)

Highlining is a sport, an art, a lifestyle and a spiritual experience all wrapped in one bundle. I found that walking highlines without safety took me to my outermost limits and forced me to stare my fear, my flaws and the clutter of my mind right in the face. There might be a scientific, chemical process that explains what and why it feels the way it does; however the benefit of the experience is far beyond any brain patterns. Highlining is how I collect myself; center my ego, my intuition and my body. Walking solo is the concentrated form of what I seek.

Ego can be like a friend that grabs your hand and takes you on a fun but destructive adventure. Though I truly feel I started soloing for the right reasons, I am not immune to cameras or praise. Since I entered the world of professional slacklining, I have to be ever more in tune with my mind, body and intuition in order to make choices based on my own reasons and not for attention or fame. Free solo seems so crazy and ethereal to the general population that it easily becomes a focal point of highline media coverage. It is entwined with what I am passionate about and I will not hide it from the public, but I aim to express it truthfully and not to mislead people as to why I do it. I jump at the chance to explain the diligent mental and physical training that goes into being a soloist, as well as the ethics I believe in, rather than accepting media's false labeling. I am no daredevil.

Free solo has it's own energy. When I've been raging in a group of people who were all soloing, I almost lost myself in the power of it and was unable to adequately estimate my own ability. I pushed my limits at a faster pace than I might have normally. Being in a group like that can be far more dangerous than publicity, in my opinion. While I do believe it is mostly all in my head, soloing is dicey and the risk is not broken bones, it is death. The risk is part of the motivation, and accepting that is part of pushing my limits.

To write about soloing I feel lost in a sea of words and thoughts and it is difficult not to end up on novel-length tangents. How funny to describe an experience high in the air as something so very grounding. I am no junkie, but highlining is a healing medicine and to spend a few minutes in that magical dimension of focus has addictive qualities. It has to be in moderation, like anything else. There are no free solo competitions and for good reason; it is a very personal endeavor, not something to be done for anyone else.

Learning who I am, who I want to be and how to improve myself is quite an endeavor. I could work on it on the ground, but frankly it is way more fun a few thousand feet in the air. I often say "One man's sane is another man's crazy," and to some (like my mother) I might never be able to truly explain the why of soloing. As I continue trying to peel the layers of the onion down till I can see my soul, I hope to also keep a pace at which I can live a long and happy life."

Well, I'm hoping you enjoyed that read as well as I did. There will be couple or few more in that series and if you liked that article you might be interested in other insides from (click on the name to go to the article):

- Andy Lewis,
- Jordan Tybon,
- Spencer Seabrooke,

... and myself.

Peace & SlackOn!