Captured

The tiny Russian village where everyone's a tightrope walker

The tradition began more than a century ago as a way to impress the ladies, according to legend

Tucked away in Russia's southern mountains, there is a village called Tsovkra-1. In many ways, the little hamlet is like so many others scattered across the remote region. The villagers face harsh winters, tough days of working the unforgiving land, and young people leaving the mountains for the promise of big-city adventures.

Those who remain in Tsovkra-1, though, do have one unique claim to fame. Nearly every single able-bodied villager can walk the tightrope.

While no one in Tsovkra-1 knows exactly how the tradition began, the most popular story is that more than 100 years ago, the village's young men tired of trekking across the valleys that separated them from their female love interests in a neighboring community.

So the men strung up a rope between the mountains and, after first pulling themselves across, eventually began to walk the rope, displaying their prowess for their waiting admirers.

A woman watches her husband walk the tightrope. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Ramazan Gadzhiyev, who runs the village's tightrope-walking school, rolls his eyes at the story. He thinks a more likely explanation is that bad weather forced the villagers to come up with a quick fix for unrepaired footbridges.

However the practice began, it remains a constant in the village today. While Tsovkra-1's population has fallen from around 3,000 in the 1980s to below 400 today, all of those who remain are able to walk the wire.

Take a closer look at Tsovkra-1's stunning vistas and talented residents:

A girl runs down a hill outside the remote village. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

A woman unloads hay by her donkey. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Men pause for a glass of vodka. | (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

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