Feature image by Marcus Boyd, letters by Daryl Jones.
Chris Wallace does amazingly cool shit. He’s barely even an adult human being, but I bet ya that in the last two weeks he’s done more scary activities than you or I have done in the last 2 decades. Whether it be extreme downhill unicycling, rock climbing, or pants-shittingly-high slacklining, Chris is out getting amongst it on the regular. DSM got to catch up with the boy this week to see what keeps this crazy lil adventurer adventuring…
Photo taken by a 9yr old kid, on "Hours of Operation"
DSM: Who the heck even are ya Chris Wallace?
CW: I’m Chris, and I’m from Sydney. I’m 18 years old and currently studying civil engineering at the University of Wollongong.
DSM: Your passions and chosen pastimes seem a little… unorthodox. What draws you to doing the random shit you love to do?
CW: Basically I really enjoy pushing myself into new experiences and achieving something I would never have thought I was capable of.
I do a lot of rock climbing as well as the slacklining/highlining and there is a very similar personal drive for both.
“The idea of believing you aren’t capable, then challenging yourself and ultimately succeeding is something that I try to bring to everything I do, even to average everyday interactions where I might be nervous.”
Chris on a solo trip up Mt Tapuaenuku (2885m) in NZ
It is always extremely rewarding when you push past that mental barrier, and it’s something that I believe everyone should practice more often.
DSM: How’d you get into slacklining and what keeps driving you to push yourself on the line?
CW: At the age of about 13 I decided to start getting really into a lot of circus skills; mostly unicycling, juggling and slacklining. After I had gained the basic skills in each I began to spend more time really getting into them on a deeper more complex level. It just naturally followed on into things like fire and knife juggling, and eventually led to things like mountain unicycling, along with street and trials riding too. The slackline took a bit of a back seat until I started hanging out with the Slackline Sydney group every week. This, combined with the rope work from climbing, got me involved in highlining and from there it’s just taken over my life.
“If you really love something, you keep doing it and progression just naturally follows. This is the reason I continue to progress.”
DSM: I’ve tried some high lines and literally couldn’t get more than a step on them, even though I can walk it fine close to the ground. It was like some ancient part of my brain wouldn’t let me do it. Do you ever get that; do you feel fear any more?
CW: I absolutely still feel fear. I think it can become boring if you don’t have something you need to fight through. I understand completely how you feel about shutting down on highlines. It took me about 18 months and 30+ highlines until I finally walked one the full way.
‘It was 100% mental; I could walk 90m lines in the park before I could walk 15m at height.’
DSM: What’s going through your mind when you’re mid-highline?
CW: Most of the time I start thinking a lot more, however it is always analysing everything that is happening in the present, never any thoughts for unrelated topics, like assignments!
Picture by Ben Compton on the super-epic"First World Problems"
“Sometimes though I can get into a “flow” state of mind and a walk becomes far easier and every movement is very relaxed and fluid. It’s on these walks that hardly any thoughts go though my mind. Sometimes in this state I have sudden realisations of exactly where I am in space, like I’m looking at myself from above.”
As I become more comfortable with a line the “flow” state is harder to reach and I need to continue to push myself on a harder line, as it forces me to progress.
DSM: What advice would you give to people who are letting their fears stop them from pursuing the things they love?
“Pushing through your fears and achieving what you thought was impossible is one of the most satisfying things you can do.”
It is the main reason I love any element of risk, because fear is always guaranteed and therefore there is always something to challenge you.
If you’re interested in getting involved in slacklining in the Sydney area head here!
To see more epic shots by Marcus Boyd (feature image) head here!
Or to find out more about unicycling, circus, or climbing, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll hook you up with the goods!