City Weekend

Video of Hong Kong slackliners’ Lion Rock stunt a hit online but some still question safety

Some Internet users suggest they are foolish for risking their lives but enthusiasts say sport is safe

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 May, 2017, 2:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 June, 2017, 11:49am

A Hong Kong slacklining group’s weekend-long stunt on the Lion Rock mountain last December has proved hugely popular on Facebook, receiving thousands of likes.

In a video, Slacklining Hong Kong members and highliners Vladimir Renaudin and Ricardo Iriarte can be seen attempting the daunting walk, which is 42 metres in distance, anchor to anchor, and about 495 metres above sea level. In the background, viewers can see the misty skyline of Hong Kong.

The stunt, also photographed by Hamish Lawson, prompted mixed reactions from online commenters, with some expressing deep admiration for the group’s skills, and others suggesting they were foolish for risking their lives.

Slacklining on Hong Kong’s iconic Lion Rock

Internet user Chan Chung Yin wrote: “I can tell you this is so dangerous. It would take a while for the fire or police [officers] to arrive – a waste of public money.”

Another user, Wu Cheuk Fung, simply described it as “brave”.

But the group’s use of proper safety equipment during the stunt was demonstrated in another video. In the clip, a group member is seen dangling from the tightrope, held by a safety rope after a fall.

Slacklining Hong Kong member Jonathan Ma said that slacklining was “easy to pick up”, but admitted that highlining was more of a “personal challenge”.

“I find it even more difficult than rock climbing,” he said. “I think you become more conscious of the idea of falling. You are reacting to the line. You have to empty everything from your mind and focus on the physical.”

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has told the group that its activities are legal, but the slackliners still fear that officials are destroying their anchors, which happened after its Lion Rock stunt.

Iriarte insists their sport is safe, because all participants use safety ropes and have had significant training. He adds that it is not harmful to the environment.

“There is a misunderstanding about what we are doing,” he said. “The more we are featured on the news, [the more] negative the reaction. People think that if we have an accident, it will harm other people. They also think we should not do it because they think it will risk our lives.

“But that really pisses me off. The authorities will follow that reaction. People believe it is so dangerous and so unusual that it should not be done.”