Davis Hermes is the youngest slackline/highline competitor at GoPro Mountain Games | VailDaily.com
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Davis Hermes is the youngest slackline/highline competitor at GoPro Mountain Games

Davis Hermes gets inverted while practicing for the GoPro Mountain Games slackline competition at Solaris Plaza on Friday.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

VAIL — Davis Hermes is 15 years old and does all the regular teenage kid stuff.

Except for this.

He loves walking on small straps suspended above rivers and cliffs.

It’s called highlining — part of the slacklining world — and his mom, Amy, says she’s fine with it.

“Instead of a soccer mom, I’m a slacklining mom,” she said.

She was saying this as her beloved offspring was walking over a highline, with Gore Creek raging below him, as kayakers did all sorts of drowning-inducing tricks under the International Bridge.

Davis is the youngest slacklining competitor during this weekend’s GoPro Mountain Games in Vail.

He does both slacklining and highlining, which not that many people do.

“I’m so proud of him,” Amy said.

Slacklining isn’t slack

A couple definitions are in order.

In slacklining, competitors walk along a narrow strip of trampoline material that bounces up and down. It’s a lot like the kinds of things you used to do in the backyard, occasionally breaking your collarbone — when your mom wasn’t watching. This means you had a great childhood.

Anyway, slackliners do all kinds of tricks as they bounce up and down.

Highliners don’t bounce quite as much, but they still do all kinds of death-defying stuff. The highlines are suspended well above terra firma. However, in the case of this weekend’s GoPro Games, the highlines are suspended above Gore Creek and the terra isn’t all that firm.

OH YEAH! THAT!

Young Davis was introduced to this world when he was 12 or 13.

Some of the professional highliners (yes, there are professionals. We’ll get to that later) were headed to Moab, Utah. One of them asked Davis if he wanted to come along.

He did what most kids do, answering something like, “Oh yeah! Wait, I gotta ask my mom.”

So he did. Amy said — and we’re certain she gets a front row seat in heaven for this — “Sure.”

Like the slacklining/soccer mom she is, she loaded up the kid and hit the road for Moab. He loves it, and it loves him.

And that, more or less, is how Davis Hermes, a Vail Christian High School student, came to be the youngest competitor in this weekend’s world-class field.

A quick history

The whole thing started in the 1970s, when climbers found themselves with a little time on their hands between ascents. They strung some ropes between two big things, and started strolling.

Climbing ropes can have a certain elasticity, which means they were soon jumping for joy — both literally and metaphorically.

One thing led to another, as things often do, and they started competing.

The sport has evolved and you can now make a living at it. Davis counts The Kind among his sponsors.

“Some of these competitors make a lot of money,” said young Davis Hermes.

It may or may not be his chosen vocation, but it’s fun, and that’s plenty for now.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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