SENECA ROCKS, W.Va. – After more than a year of frustration, a collaboration of photographers and slackliners recently achieved an ambitious goal at one of West Virginia’s best-known landmarks.
As reported in Highland Outdoors magazine, photographers were taking photos of Seneca Rocks in August 2020, when they noticed what they thought were tightrope walkers crossing the expanse between the two peaks of the rocks.
Photographers later learned that the tightrope walkers were in fact slackliners and were part of a Pittsburgh-area organization called the Steel City Slackers. The photographers and slackliners then teamed up in an effort to obtain photographic evidence of the highliners crossing the void as a full or near full moon formed a backdrop.
Below is a YouTube video of the Steel City Slackers at Seneca Rocks in August 2021:
As photographer David Johnston described on his Facebook page, the conditions had to be perfect for the idea to work and these conditions only come together a few times a year: “In order for this to work, the moon had to rise all or nearly all, at an hour close to sunset so that there was always light on rocks and highliners, visible from an open location on public land or private property with permission. It turns out that this is only possible a few times a year, and because we couldn’t see the moon before it rose, we had to be in exactly the right position at the right time. Not only that, but the moon’s path would get it through and out of the notch in a matter of minutes, so everything had to be timed and ready for a small window of opportunity.
The crew was ready to go on several occasions, but were thwarted by the weather conditions, Johnston continued.
Here’s more information on one of 2020’s failed attempts, along with a great description of everything it took to make it work in the future:
By December 15, however, all systems were in operation. “Two years of planning and many attempts later…”, says photographer Jesse Thornton in the YouTube description of his video:
Slackliners Wade Desai and Hai Thai walked the walk, while Johnston, Thornton and fellow photographer Perry Bennett captured it all in photos and video.
“The dream has come true,” Thai posted on Instagram, while Bennett described it as a “once in a lifetime” event.
It is not known what the group has planned for their next act.