What started out as a group of friends participating in their typical weekend activities eventually turned into a Youtube sensation with more than 10 million views of The World’s Largest Rope Swing.
Brock Howell, 25, from Sandy studying bio chem at UVU, had the initial idea one day when climbing and repelling the arch last August. The anchors were already set to repel and he wondered what would happen if he just jumped. Everyone told him he was crazy — but that didn’t stop him.
The swing was built on Corona Arch in Moab, Utah. In a mere two hours, the crew used 150 feet of rope and five anchors to create a giant pendulum. The freefall itself was 130 feet. The rider would then shoot up another 100 feet.
“I was scared senseless,” said Dallin Smith, 26, an Idaho Falls, Idaho native studying industrial design. “My heart was thumping, my legs were shaking as I looked over the edge at solid rock 150 feet below. All I could do was hope the knots were tied right and pray that the rope did its job. The fun part was at the top of the pendulum. For a split second you felt absolutely weightless.”
In order to test the ride, the group used a bag of rocks as a dummy.
“I was nervous because everyone else’s lives depended on my rope-tying abilities,” Smith said.
David Graham, a film graduate from BYU, filmed the experience, a process that took two days. The first day of filming proved to be bad weather for lighting, but he was able to get a feel for the stunt and figured out which angles he wanted to capture. The second day made up for it with perfect weather and clear blue skies that gave Graham some opportunities to shoot film and photographs that captured the riders’ emotions perfectly, with the help of cameras mounted on the riders’ helmets.
Graham has produced similar videos that have captured other adventures and they are available on his channel devinsupertramp.
But what compelled these thrill-seekers to participate in such a stunt? Despite the obvious danger, they still took the jump.
“It took everyone a week to prepare for the jump since we knew death was a potential consequence,” Smith said.
Instead of a thrill-seeker, Smith coined the term “adventure purists” as a more accurate representation.
“I believe the term describes people who are doers; people that are always out there in the world embracing what it has to offer. I want to go to the places no one else goes to,” Smith stated.
With all of the amazing canyons, waterfalls and arches Utah has to offer, people want to fully experience the magnitude of these natural wonders. It wasn’t about the thrill, it was about the experience.
“There are so many things the world has to offer,” Smith said. “It’s another thing to experience them.”