Mich’s career as a professional athlete began – and this may come as a surprise for those who know this Austrian as a successful (free solo) climber, base jumper and slackliner – in 2003 at the Austrian pistol shooting championships. After this, as Mich calls it, “chaotic world championship”, which featured a faulty weapon and made him realise he did not yet have sufficient mental strength, Mich decided to try his hand in a relatively new field, where mental strength and focus also play a key role – solo climbing and slacklining.
Focussed on the moment
These two sports fascinated him, as they demand not only an above-average amount of physical strength, coordination and balance, but also extreme levels of concentration and mental strength. He didn’t try slacklining until three years after his formative debut as a professional athlete in pistol shooting, but made such extraordinary progress in his first year that he soon wanted more: longer, higher and more exposed lines.
In 2009, he achieved his first major slackline success, which also brought him international recognition. He set his first world record by completing an on-sight crossing of a 217-metre longline. In the same year, he achieved a free solo highline in Tragöß (Styria), the longest highline in Styria and one of the first highlines in the world to measure 60 metres near Graz, not to mention an attempt to cross an 85-metre long highline (which would have been a world record) at Peilstein in Lower Austria.
Natural Games 86m Highline World Record. Another world record followed in 2011 – Mich strung a 105-metre waterline over Green Lake in Styria, and – despite the added difficulty, unlike slacklining on land, there is no focal point – crossed it with flying colours. But even this substantial length was not enough to satisfy Mich and so in the following years, he kept raising the bar in terms of mental challenge and physical condition. He completed a 135-metre, a 160-metre, a 222-metre and a 250-metre waterline in 2014 – naturally another world record! But perhaps his greatest achievement was him crossing a 160-metre long waterline on Green Lake, which he managed to do within 24 hours (perhaps the fact that the temperature of the lake was just 6° Celsius drove him to complete the crossing so fast and so well), and he celebrated this achievement with the free solo completion of an 8a sport climbing route.
Professional climber, slackliner and base jumper Mich Kemeter
Mich does not just perform over land and water, but also in the air. He initiated and successfully completed the highest highline in Austria – on the Großglockner mountain, of course – was able to complete the first free solo on-sight crossing of the world’s first highline on Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite National Park with a length of 18 metres and a height of 400 metres, and conquered the 31-metre highline on Taft Point (also in Yosemite) as the first European to do so free solo. But Mich does not just balance on a swaying line only 2.5 cm wide, slung between two fixed anchor points; he does the same between two moving objects. Not only was he the first European to manage a full crossing of a slackline between two hot air balloons with just a parachute for safety, but also the first person to dare to attempt a 27-metre slackline set 22 metres high between two Ocean Race sailing boats in Abu Dhabi.
As you can imagine, following his triumph on the 160-metre long waterline on Green Lake, Mich is also supremely fit on the rocks. Among the greatest achievements of this passionate free solo climber are four free solo climbs in the sub-10. difficulty category (8a): “Mandala”, “Soulfly”, “Bruchheinzi” and “0815”; free solo climbs of multi-pitch tours of easier grades and several big wall climbs on El Capitan. However, Mich Kemeter does not just do free solo climbing, he is also involved in solo base climbing and is currently producing a documentary about this style of climbing.