Risk taker Mich Kemeter took sightseeing to new heights when he crossed a steep gully in California’s Yosemite National Park on a one-inch tightrope, 3,000 feet above the ground, without a safety harness.
The 23-year-old Austrian made the death-defying trip across 25 meters of wire not once but four times this October, partaking in a trend known as high-lining, or tightrope walking at dangerous locations around the world.
Kemeter walked the length of the gully three times with a rope, the recommended safety equipment for his maneuver, tied to his ankle. He then made a last-minute decision to try his luck again for a fourth time, without the safety rope.
French photographer Alexandre Buisse caught Kemeter’s stunt on camera, and witnessed his friend’s hesitation when it came to deciding whether to remove the rope.
“The decision to do it was in the balance until the very last moment,” Buisse told the UK’s Daily Mail. “Even with the safety leash, a fall would probably mean breaking an ankle, knee or hip, so even with it the stakes are very high.”
The photographer told the paper he was worried for Kemeter’s safety, but didn’t feel it was his place to jump in and stop his friend.
“I was worried for Mich’s safety, but I also knew that he has lots of experience with this sort of thing,” Buisse said.
“As an adventure photographer, it’s not my job to judge what level of risk the athletes I shoot are willing to take,” he added. “The only exception is if they are pushing themselves because of the presence of the camera but I didn’t feel it was the case with Mich.”
While Kemeter’s tightrope stunt was jaw-dropping and death-defying, it was not record breaking.
“It has been done before,” Kari Cobb, a spokesperson for Yosemite National Park told ABC News of Kemeter’s tightrope walk, an activity the park neither regulates nor require permits to complete.
“There are very few people who can actually do something like that,” Cobb said. “But if a climber comes and they have the equipment and are fit enough to do it, they can go do it.”