Hayley Ashburn balances on a slackline at the University of Colorado Boulder campus in October. Ashburn, an experienced slackliner, will be showing her skills at The Spot on Saturday.

If there’s anything The Spot does well other than bouldering, it’s entertainment.

For Saturday’s highball competition at The Spot , they’ll once again have excellent entertainment — a highline slacklining competition.

At last year’s highline comp, Andy Lewis stuck a backflip on the line strung between The Spot’s free-standing boulders. I’m not a slackliner, but it was thrilling to watch nonetheless.

Lewis isn’t in this year’s competition, but another slackliner I’m a fan of is: Hayley Ashburn.

Ashburn e-mailed us earlier this fall to let us know she’s one of the most accomplished female slackliners around, and that we might want to write a story about her. I had to admire that kind of moxie.

Once I saw her in action, I was truly impressed. Not only is she a steezy slackliner, she also gives back by teaching other women to simply balance on the line or bust out the tougher tricks she does in comps.

She’s a believer in empowerment through slacklining.

Ashburn’s the only woman in the comp lineup right now. No offense to the guys, but I’d love to see moxie leave you in the chalky dust at The Spot.


Rad randonnée

Ski mountaineering seems to me like the pinnacle of outdoorsy athleticism. You have to be super fit to skin uphill. You have to be super skilled to race downhill.

You have to be super badass.

I think it’s going to be the next big thing around here. Like motopacing. Or kombucha.

If you want to learn more about competitive ski mountaineering — and what the difference between randonnée racing and ski mountaineering is — national ski mountaineering champion Monique Merrill will be giving a talk on randonnée racing Monday at 7 p.m. at the Boulder REI store.

Merrill plans to talk about her rando adventures in Europe and what you need to know to get racing yourself. Gear is still tough to find here in the U.S., but as the sport gains popularity, more appears here.

Merrill said she loves randonnée because light and fast is fun. But she dashed my theory about the sport being for the super skilled.

In fact, she said she wasn’t much of a skier when she started and “I was sure I was going to die at every race.”

“Now, five years later, I’m finally at a comfortable level,” Merrill said. “But I didn’t have much of a skiing background. If you have a skiing background, you’ll be at that comfortable level in a few days.”


World Cup, boyeee

The only men’s alpine skiing World Cup event in the U.S. this year starts Friday at Beaver Creek.

The Birds of Prey course has a 757-meter vertical drop and a 45-degree gradient, at mid-course and again in the final third of the course. Which sounds as precipitous as Bode Miller’s mood swings.

Miller will be there, along with Olympian Ted Ligety and a bunch of really fast dudes from around the world.

If you want to watch: Downhill Friday, Super G Saturday, Giant Slalom Sunday.

Or get your own — the Colorado Powder Forecast is calling for a few new inches in northern Colorado overnight Friday into Saturday.


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