Last Summer, Spencer Seabrooke walked into fame when he treaded the 64-metre highline across the North Gully of the Stawamus Chief without a safety backup. The slackline community took notice, so did Canada at large. His crossing catalyzed a few changes in his life.
The Slackhouse in East Vancouver, where Seabrooke lives, is a busy place, with a motley crew of residents and visitors. Seated on the shaded back deck, Seabrooke explains how after the solo-record, he began to receive proposals from businesses, charitable organizations and municipalities. They wanted him for speaking engagements, to shoot commercials and to build spaces to slackline.
“Slacklining is becoming more popular; people want videos of it and people want content for advertising. Around here, I guess I’m the one to call for that,” he says.
Proposals for these types of slackline-oriented engagements began stacking up and by May of this year, Seabrooke was able move on from his job as a concrete finisher. This spring he was in Texas shooting a commercial and then in China at a highline festival—both paid engagements. He has a full slate of slackline engagements for the foreseeable future, including a public speaking gig for Sunlife Financial’s sales people.
He laughs when he considers how improbable such an engagement seemed a few years ago, before the word got out on this obscure activity.
“Basically, I’m going to reflect the message, if you want to do something, just go out and do it. You know, you are going to fail, but it’s all part of success,” he says, noting the numerous unsuccessful attempts with his early attempts to rig and walk highlines.
Seabrooke started slacklining four years ago, and quickly ascended to the upper reaches of the sport. Previously he was living in Calgary and running his own concrete business. “I kind of felt stressed out. I wasn’t where I needed to be in my life at that point.”
A few of his childhood friends were living on the coast at the time and starting to get into climbing and mountaineering. After he visited, Seabrooke realized it was time for a change. “I just kind of gave up everything that was there and moved here [to the coast].”
Slacklife BC started with Seabrooke and a few friends as an impetus to grow the slackline community. It is the focal point for much of the progression of slacklining in and around Squamish. The group has recently brought their own slackline webbing to the market. In conjunction with a textile manufacturer in Alberta, they’ve developed two types of webbing: Lion Line Hightech and Tantalus Nylon.
Because the boundaries of the activity are rapidly growing and slackline equipment is being used in different ways, there is room to improve on the technology.
“We’re learning that with the longer lengths, it’s all about the weight of the webbing, so we’ve tried to minimize the weight while still keeping the strength,” says Seabrooke. “The high-tech line is a super lightweight webbing with very little stretch. It’s so light that it can’t carry a wave through it.”
Business is flourishing. Lines are selling as the sport grows and new participants get involved. Slacklife BC is even sponsoring a few younger athletes now. This summer, Seabrooke’s work revolves around slacklining and he’s pretty busy trying to fit everything in. However, he’s also making sure to leave enough time in the schedule to pursue his own projects, like walking a new 190-metre line on the Chief, and for just chilling out.
“We still keep it pretty slack though, always trying to keep it slack.”