Most of you have probably seen images of the Monte Piana hammock project already. An epic event, loads of fun and a great story to tell. You can follow me here on an in depth journey behind the scenes of this project (from a photographers point of view).
Let’s start from the beginning. It all took place at the annual „Monte Piana Highline Meeting“ in the Italian Dolomites in September 2014. This festival is one of the biggest festivals dedicated to highlining only in the world. It’s situated around 2400 m.a.s.l. right on the top of the Monte Piana opposite of the Tre Cime de Lavaredo. An adventures place by its own and even more when some hundreds of people are gathering there for one week to rig dozens of highlines in all possible lengths together.
The idea of hanging out on a hammock on a highline and eventually spend the night in there occurred naturaly and long before as for the athletes it is not a big thing to spend time on these lines and enjoy the incredible views. Overall, comfort is just a relative concept and more a state of mind than a given thing. A hammock is just predestinated for having a break up there and since you can just lean back and relax. Those of you who have spent some time hanging in a climbing harness with their full body weight know already that this can get a bit annoying when you start loosing the feeling in your limbs. And yeah, why not celebrate this idea together on a festival where all people are dedicated to balancing over the abyss anyway?
But behind the fun part of dangling 50 meters above the ground is a lot of knowledge, physics and planing involved. With that amount of people on the line nothing is left to chance and safety goes always first. So the first thing in the planning process was to eliminate all eventualities and design a safe set up. That means not only to calculate the physical abilities of the materials in use but also parameters as rock quality or strategies to attach people and hammocks in a coordinated way on the line. The final set up were actually two highlines combined together with a very high breaking strength where normally one would be enough to carry the whole weight – fixed to a load of bolted anchors on each side. In addition there was a second back up in form of two static ropes fixed on different anchors. The volunteering people were attached to the line-system with „leashes“ (peace of rope where highliners normally fall into) and tied into a climbing harness. During the whole time force measurement was monitored live with a dynamometer. The set up had a pre tension of 1.000 kg and reached a peak work load of 2.350 kg with all the people in the hammocks. The action concept was done by Igor Scotland from „Ticket to The Moon hammocks“. The action itself involved 22 people in 16 hammocks on the main line. For sure some kind of a record but basically a whole lot of fun. People took their instruments, started to make music and just celebrated this unusual come together in style. The whole action lasted around 90 minutes.
For me as a photographer I have to admit that I got some sweaty hands in the beginning when I saw the line filling up. Even though I knew that the set up was safe it was still under tension and hoping that everything was working out as expected.We had invested many hours in scouting the spot, choosing the right time of the day and looking for the right perspectives. Finally everything turned out perfectly and even the unpredictable wether was on our side.
After I put some of the images on my blog the whole story went completely viral overnight with millions of people liking, sharing and commenting on an uncountable amount of different blogs, social media- and websites. However, most of the information provided were some basics about the festival itself and the (wrong) fact that the people spent the night up there. While it’s true that some people spend the nights up on the lines on the festival in hammocks this had nothing to do with this organized session. Quite interesting and also a bit funny for us was the fact that the for sure most discussed topic in the comment sections all over the web (and that means many many many thousands) was how these people go to toilett. Well, since the gathering did not last too long there was in fact no need for it. However, in general there are some answers and strategies to this question too but we don’t want to spoil your imagination at this point ;)
I hope this article could give some insights in the project. Now enjoy the view and get inspired for your next adventure.
Image ©: Sebastian Wahlhuetter Photography | @Swahlhuetter | www.wahlhuetter.net
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