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No need to pave the way

It’s been pretty long since I first heard about this big bridge project which was being discussed in Fribourg. As soon as I saw the first computer generated images of it, more than the fact that it was an important project for my hometown, my imagination told me it would have some great action potential for in combination with my passion for climbing and highlining.
I just didn’t exactly know how. Well, I think my first big pull for this bridge came from its two big pillars, holding the whole work. That’s all it needs to highline, two massive anchors, and air. Lots of air. But when I finally found the official plans on the internet, it confirmed my intuition that it was way too much air. Not in height, that was just what I was looking for, and it was “only” 40m above the road, well 110m above the river. But it would be 196m long… definitely too long for me, at least for highlining.
That’s how the idea kind of got out of my head for some times, though I was still looking closely at the construction progress to see if I didn’t miss any opportunity to rig or climb something nice. Yes, nice, I was looking for something nice. I could have rigged tons of lines between cranes or stuff like that, but I was looking for something special, with kind of a signification. Well, it stayed on the side of my brain, until one of these alcoholic nights you spend with your old friends, where I saw that it was close to the best moment to rig a line on the bridge. 

pave-road-02They were progressing approximately simultaneously on both sides, which means that there was now a nice gap right in the middle of the bridge. As soon as I could use my brain again on the next morning, I jumped in front of my computer to check the plans on the internet. Well, the troubled memories from that night didn’t allow me to have details, and I had to go back to see how many shrouds were already in place on each side. 7 on one side, and 3 on the other side. It has to have 7 on each side, and the anchors always are 12m apart, which means we had now a 60m gap. I found it too long for a project where I would have to be really fast, and maybe even walk at night. Furthermore, there was actually a second gap on one side which would mean lots of complications for the access. 

I then started planning, finding a team, which I wanted to be out of the (really small) local community, and waiting for the good time to go, checking on the official webcam everyday if the side-gap was done, and how long the middle one was. 

And one week before leaving in the alps for a month, the time had come. The south-east side is now accessible, and the middle gap, after on-place control, is 36m long. Perfect for the whole team!
It’s never easy finding dates, even for 4 people, but for such projects everyone’s ready for compromises. Sadly, Samuel, one of the group I imagined is already gone to Africa, but Kilian, Hugo and Tobie are motivated and ready. 
On Saturday evening, as Hugo is training and testing his bow and arrow, I’m taping the Core to the backup rope, preparing all the gear, dividing it for both sides. We’ll have to be ready to rig it fast by night, then have some time with the first lights to walk it and then leave. Last minute bad news, Kilian is sick, not able to move, he won’t come with us. Well, 3 efficient riggers is still one of the best configurations you can have. 
4h30, we drop Hugo on the southeast side of the bridge, and as he is fighting his way, blind, on a shitty steel beam, we drive to the other side and just walk on a brand new tar road to the gap. Thanks to the big shroud anchors already in place, it takes us around 5 minutes to have ours ready, and now we just wait for Hugo shooting the connecting arrow. Done, I barely see the tiny chord attached to it. Now we pull a bigger chord, then the line and backup rope already taped together. Pulleys already have the good length, everything’s already on the bomber rigging plate connected directly to the only 2T sling, and it takes us less than 30 minutes from the first walkie-talkie contact to have our line ready.

We’ve even been a bit too fast; the light is still a bit weak to see a good fix point on the other side. But no way I can wait, I tie in and sit on the line, looking at the roadmen already starting to work 70m below, and stand up. Although the line feels good, I have to catch before my first step because of the light. I apparently need more concentration. I stand up again, take the first steps, and am on. I love this setup! Enjoying the moment, I cruise the line, until the last 5 meters, when the line is starting to touch the padded fence. It gives a really strange and irregular movement to the line, which makes me fight to get to the end. Yeah! We don’t want to scream to loud, but Hugo stands 2 meters in front of me and the moment we share is “epic”. My way back is even more comfortable, and now I just cannot wait for Hugo to highslide towards us and take his turn. He does a really solid walk, also fighting against this fence, and comes back to us to share our happiness. Unfortunately, the light, height and stressing conditions don’t allow Tobie to overcome his highline mind block. But still, the group succeeded, the project is done, the moment was great! After trying to change angles for the pictures, which is pretty complicated being stuck on this bridge and not having a drone or some similar toy to take pictures from the side, we derig as efficiently as we rigged it.
Hugo and I exchanged sides, so that we can walk our way to the end of the bridge and complete the two first crossings of it. “No need to pave the way” has been a really nice project, ephemeral line, which will actually be crossed by thousands of people in some months, on a line that’s a little brighter.

Big thanks to the team, Hugo and Tobie, to my friends who gave me the “state of mind” to see that this project finally was doable, to Damian from Landcruising for the nice piece of Core we used, and to the personalities who are behind this big bridge project, even though I don’t see a better purpose to this bridge than rigging highlines on it.

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