Wanderer in the Clouds

14 November 2022

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and “The sky is not the limit”: these are the phrases with which Friedrich Kühne introduces himself. Young, ambitious and really passionate, he has been slacklining for over 10 years and has also won several Guinness World Records.


How did your passion come about and how did it become your profession?

I was introduced to slacklining by some friends I knew from rock climbing. During our climbing vacation in Val di Mello, we tried a little slackline at the campground. It was frustrating at first, but once I was able to take the first steps, I became addicted to this feeling of floating above the ground. I wanted to do it all the time. In the years afterwards, I naturally progressed through slackline festivals, competitions, gatherings, film, TV appearances and live shows to ultimately even world records and public speaking.

What does Free solo highlining consist of and what is the most difficult thing about this discipline?

Free Solo Highlining means walking a highline without any kind of safety tether. If you lose your balance and don’t catch yourself on the line, that’s it, you’re gone. It’s the highest consequence, the ultimate responsibility and thus also the ultimate freedom. It’s a huge mental challenge. For me, it’s the purest form of slacklining.


Which of the many experiences has remained closest to your heart and why?

My first Free Solo Highline World Record. I walked a 72m long, 400m tall Highline, next to a huge roaring waterfall in the middle of the Wild in British Columbia, Canada. I’ve never felt so alive and primal before. The video is available at this link.

Do you ever feel afraid while balancing suspended in thin air? If so, how do you deal with it?

The most afraid I’ve ever felt on a slackline was on my very first highline. When everything was still new for me, my body was screaming and rebelling. It felt wrong to be up there in the air on nothing but a thin strap. But now after years of training, it feels like a walk in the park. I don't get afraid anymore, but sometimes I get nervous when a big goal is within reach, for example, a new world record.

You also organise some courses. Can someone who has never slackline come along? How do you start to practise it?

To participate in my highline course you have to be able to walk a 15m long slackline above the ground. It’s logical like a baby has to learn to crawl before they can learn to walk, but it’s simple. You just need a slackline, two trees and a few hours of practice. With enough patience, ANYONE can learn it.

How do you go from walking on a wire a few metres up to 300m?

I was helped by those who are more experienced. Highlining is taught from one generation of athletes to the next, kind of like climbing back in the early days. If you don't have the luck of finding other slackliners in your area, booking one of my highline courses is the way to go :)

For us what you do is really amazing, congratulations! How do people react when they come to see your shows?

They usually drop their jaws to the floor and take out their phones and start filming Ahah! Seriously, I always get the feeling that it inspires people. Moving through the air, and being above everything else is deeply connected with the idea of freedom. Being free from fear and earthly constraints. So when you see someone balancing high above you in real life, not only on youtube, it conveys the feeling that nothing is impossible. In this way, I hope that my Highline shows can have a very positive and motivating impact on other people’s life, even if they don’t slackline themselves.

We saw that you participated in TV programmes and films, what did they consist of? Was it an experience you enjoyed?

For me, TV Shows and films are an opportunity to reach even more people than during my live shows. It might not be as authentic as in real life, but it can still inspire and also help to spread this sport that I love. So yes, I usually enjoy TV Shows and Film appearances. My biggest one was in “WETTEN, DASS…” a famous German talent show.

How many World Records have you achieved and what was the most important one for you?

In all honesty, I am not even 100% how many world records I have broken. It’s something like 13 or 14, maybe even 15. The most important one will always be the FREE SOLO world record, which I talked about earlier. But also others are very meaningful in the world of slacklining, for example, the longest Highline ever (with a safety leash) of 2130m, or the longest blindfolded Highline (1000m). These among others also made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

What new projects are you working on?

During this period, I’m also practising other sports in the air: Skydiving and Base Jumping. I started this exciting journey because it is my dream to combine the Highline with a parachute. I’ve already done a Highline Basejump once, from the world record Highline we did last year in Sweden, and it was an incredible experience. If you want to know more about this sport, you can see this video. Moreover, I’m currently planning a new stunt: a Highline walk between two hot air balloons, where I’m not secured with a tether either, but walking with a parachute on. Combining these two extreme sports is seriously new terrain, where so much is still possible and hasn’t even been thought of. I’m glad I got Kayland shoes for safe approaches to any kind of cliff and soft landings in any landscape.

Which Kayland footwear have you tried? How did you find it?

Right now, I wear the Alpha Knit GTX in almost any situation. It’s a light approach shoe with very good grip thanks to Vibram rubber soles and it’s also very comfortable. It’s so leight and has such a good feeling through the soles that I can even walk some short slacklines and highlines in it. I also wear it in the city or when I'm driving, the comfort is unbeatable. The quick zip-tie technology also makes them super convenient for everyday situations. I also have a pair of Stellar GTX mountaineering boots. I’ve tried them on some mountains in Bavaria last Spring, with a great feeling, and now I'm waiting for Winter to prove them in some serious snow and ice. I’m looking very forward to more high altitude highline projects in the future, where the Kayland shoes are a great supporting factor!