Walking along the razors edge with Preston Alden

Words: Preston Alden  Photos: Cody Tuttle

If I’m not in the mountains slacklining, climbing, or doing research on montane red fox I’m thinking about the mountains, singing songs about mountains, and generally questioning why I’m not currently in the mountains. I haven’t always been a mountain man though. I grew up in Pennsylvania yet the origins of my passion for mountains comes from my parents who still live in Pennsylvania despite there being any “real” mountains. In fact, their love story began on a backpacking trip in Wyoming and as a child instead of spending our family vacations staying at hotels in mild tropical tourist destinations we went backpacking. 

Preston Bruce Alden rigged and walked the first known highline in the Sawtooth's located outside of Bridgeport, CA.  Preston looked at these peaks everyday for 2 years while working as a wildlife biologist in Bridgeport.  You might say that daydreaming of this line is what started his obsession with rigging alpine high lines in the Eastern Sierra. 

My favorite family memories are on a few of these trips out to the Shoshone National Forest in northwest Wyoming. On these extended backpacks we would have our supplies dropped off by horseback into the wilderness and there we would setup a basecamp. For the next two weeks we would summit and explore some of the surrounding peaks, some without names. It was always a grand adventure in the true sense of what an adventure really is. Objectives were never as important as just being present in those beautiful spaces, resetting your biological clock to the same pace as nature, and connective with the special people around you through a shared activity.

Nothing will quench the fire of one who seeks adventure... Preston Alden finds himself amongst the giants during a single day escape form the snow  in Alabama Hills with Braden Mayfield. 

When I first moved to the Eastern Sierra three years ago to take a job researching montane red fox I was instantly overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscape. Although I had lived in the Rocky Mountains and had spent some time in the Cascades, the Sierra Nevada struck me as something special. I could try to pinpoint it on the spectacular white granite, the drastic drop of the eastern escarpment, or the magnitude of the peaks along the crest, but it’s much more than that. It was here that I started taking slacklining into the alpine and ever since I’ve been inspired to connect my friends with these magical places. Naturally the memories of the grand ol’ Alden family vacation style trip merged with slacklining became “the dream”. That is, to hike into a remote Sierra Nevada location with good friends and have supplies dropped off to enjoy the area for days. The possibilities seem dreamlike.

Jared Alden finding a new sense of meditation while walking The Sierra Angle 130+ft highline located in Mammoth Lakes, CA.   This was the first line rigged by Preston and his brother Jared in the eastern Sierra 2012.

After a chance meeting with adventure photographer Krystal Wright and coordination with my good friend and cinematographer Cody Tuttle I am pleased to announce that “the dream” is coming true. We have a great team of six highliners from all over the country including me, Ben Plotkin-Swing, Ryan Robbinson, Maxwell Sterling Silver, Wilson Cutbirth, and my brother Jared Alden, all with their unique skillsets and positive personalities. Regardless of what the objectives might be, that being first ascent highlines in stunning alpine landscapes, it’s hard to imagine we won’t achieve success by simply being in the mountains and taking in all they have to offer. 

David Porter explores the Palisades Glacier 13,000ft on a recent trip to summit Mt. Sill.  The possibilities are endless. 

The journey begins August 30th after a brief meet up in Yosemite and for the next nine days we will make stories together. Big preemptive thanks to the mules dropping off the gear ☺. I am really looking forward to being able to share the pictures and videos from our projects and in a way take you with us to such inspiring places. Checkout this short video of some similar types of projects I’ve done in the Eastern Sierra in the past few years to get a taste.

Wish us a safe and prosperous time!

Preston Bruce Alden 

“The mountains are calling” – John Muir