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Why watch the circus when you can be the main act? Krista Van Parys stealing the show. 

Image: Zach Mahone

Krista Van Parys bought a slackline from a vendor at the GoPro Mountain Games last year, slung it a few feet off the ground between two trees in a local park, and, as she describes it, fell in love.

Three weeks later, there she was, arms outstretched like a little kid playing airplane, balancing 100 feet above Booth Creek in East Vail in the middle of a 65-foot-long nylon line friends had rigged across the vertiginous canyon just above the lip of the waterfall, her introduction to a peculiar new sport known as highlining.

“I didn’t know the first thing about highlining,” says Van Parys, a 40-year-old Vail Resorts ski and snowboard school manager who spends her summers living out of a converted Dodge van, recalling the moment pictured here of her first attempt at crossing, just before she lost her balance. “It’s crazy. Your mind is racing a thousand miles an hour, and your singular focus is feeling the line under your feet and staying upright.”

Until, inevitably, gravity does its thing. And there you are, dangling like a yo-yo from a leash tethered to a safety harness. Then you try, try again. After several attempts, Van Parys made it only three-quarters of the way across that first day. But she triumphed the following weekend, in her head, reciting a mantra, “Anybody can do anything. . .”

“It’s the most amazing feeling,” she says. “Nothing describes that sense of accomplishment. Having that goal and making it happen, it’s like winning the state championships.”

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