Mich Kemeter doesn’t walk on water – he walks over it

35 tries over 20 days to achieve the feet

250m across a high alpine lake
The 25-year-old Austrian broke his own world record with a slackline traverse that spanned 250m across a high alpine lake. Sound easy? Hardly. Despite Kemeter’s impressive resume of slackline stunts, it took him 35 tries over 20 days to achieve the feet.

“Walking over water is incredibly difficult,” says Kemeter. “You have poor depth perception and frame of reference.”

And while yes, he did fall into water, it was hardly pleasant – Austria’s Green Lake is formed from snowmelt, and offered up bone-chilling temperature of 7 degrees.

What would knock him off? Well, almost anything. “As soon as you’re a little bit off to the side, the line is going to throw you off,” says Kemeter. In the mountainous region, strong winds would kick up suddenly, exacerbating the challenge. Once, Kemeter fell just 6m short of the far end of the line – a true test of patience.

In distance slacklining, concentration is key.

The finish line is within sight.

The walk, which took him about 20 minutes, required him to keep his arms extended from his sides for the duration.

But the most important part? Breathing – “It’s how you relax.” Kemeter honed his concentration and breathing techniques as a champion pistol shooter prior to his career walking across incredibly skinny pieces of fabric.

The glassy lake indicates perfectly still air.

Of immense curiosity is the custom-built slackline developed specifically for such a feat. “It’s made of Dyneema fibre. It’s so light, that it just floats on top of the water as we pull it across the lake.”

While it’s under incredible pressure – 1.6 tons – it’s unlikely to break. “It’s rated up to 4 tons,” says Mich. “But if it did break, it would travel back towards me at 300 meters per second – I’d definitely get hurt.”

The line is under 1.6 tonnes of pressure.

So far, 2013 has been a good year for the adventurer, who also is a dedicated free-climber and BASE jumper. “I did a killer free-solo ascent with a BASE descent in Italy, and climbed then jumped off a giant building in China,” says Kemeter. “That was fun – it made every newspaper in China!”


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