Europe's best highlining: Drill & Chill Festival in Tijesno Canyon

Ljiljana Krejic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

If you are an experienced highliner in the quest for new ridges, you must join the like-minded enthusiasts who participate in the Drill & Chill Festival in Tijesno Canyon. This unique climbing and highlining event of Southeastern Europe, once a year gathers around a hundred passionate extreme athletes in the heart of the most adventurous region of Bosnia and Herzegovina – the canyon of Vrbas River. During ten days of bolting, climbing, highlining, the spirit of vertical pioneering is celebrated in the proximity of Banja Luka, a city famous for its attractive high-trill seeking offer. Climbers and highliners from all over the world come to explore Bosnia’s uncharted limestone. So, if you like to climb off the beaten track, Europe’s best highlining expects you in the wilderness of Tijesno Canyon.

What is highlining?

Picture © credits to Istockphoto/mbolina

Highlining belongs to extreme sports. It is a type of thrilling sport in which an athlete walks on a narrow rope suspended high above the ground or water. Basically, it is slacklining but at a much higher elevation and with more risk involved. It is therefore considered the pinnacle of this sport. Actually, it is advised to start with slacklining before switching to highlining. However, even experienced slackliners need to stick to safety precautions when it comes to highlining by wearing climbing harnesses and ensuring that their rigging is bomber before they start. 

About the Drill & Chill Festival

The initial idea behind this festival was to clean and bolt the climbing routes in the craggy gorge of Vrbas River called Tijesno Canyon, some 15 km south of Banja Luka. The festival was created to attract all types of climbers as this canyon offers bolted routes for all difficulty levels. In the beginning, highlining was not planned, but it was developed naturally due to features of the canyon. Five years after the festival’s creation, this rare beauty lends itself to Europe’s best highlining hotspot that offers vast opportunities for climbers and highliners celebrating the art of crag-developing.

History of the Drill & Chill Festival

Drill and Chill Festival was established in 2015, by the Climbing Club “Extreme” from Banja Luka, to connect the climbers and outdoor enthusiasts from Europe and Bosnia & Herzegovina and to set up the bolting routes in Tijesno Canyon. Being an ideal off-the-beaten-path location to bolt new climbing routes in unspoiled nature, Drill & Chill Festival turned out to be a huge success as from the first year of existence. Already in the first year, 82 new routes were bolted (from 5a to 7b grades), as well as some 200-meter-high multi-pitch routes.

Good to know before joining

Picture © credits to Drill & Chill Climbing and Highlining Festival

First of all, this is not just another adventurous event. This is an ultimate alpine festival for experienced athletes. For those less experienced, who still want to joint, the organizers will advise on less demanding climbs, such as Stone Bridge, Bosnia’s best crag. Also, some bolting courses will be organized, but the number of participants is limited. When it comes to bolting material, the organizers invite the participants to their own equipment.

Every year at the beginning of September, more than a hundred of passionate climbers and highliners gather in the village Rekavice, in the proximity of Banja Luka. All you need to do is to take the main road from Banja Luka to Jajce, and after some 15 km you will notice the sign “Drill & Chill Festival”. Just follow it, and you will find the campsite on a plateau above the canyon. 

Worldwide glory and achievements

Even though a relatively young event, the Drill & Chill Festival has got some great achievements. Each year, the number of participants is increasing as well as their activities. Nevertheless, they all come to enjoy climbing, highlining, slacklining during the day, and movies watching by the bonfire in the evenings. The most recent highlight of Europe’s best highlining is hammocking on an 80-meter-long zipline some 200 meters above Tijesno Canyon. The participants say that the chilling is just unforgettable, so is the National Geographic Adventure video about the festival. 

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