Banff Mountain Film Festival, Sketchy Andy Lewis and slacklining

Great turn out at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Stockport last night. Organisers said that nearly 900 attended, which is a record for the UK tour. Some great films, particularly the final one on an extraordinary character called ‘Sketchy Andy’.

Andy Lewis is a professional slackliner – and if performing at the megabucks Superbowl with Madonna gyrating in your general direction, while 110 million people look on, is anything to go by, he’s certainly carving out a good career for himself.

Slacklining has an interesting history, starting out as something climbers used to do in their downtime to practice their balance. In the DVD Don Whillans Myth and Legend, Whillans can be seen slacklining while waiting for the weather to clear on some foreign expedition. Indeed, Lewis was a sport climber himself until he dislocated his shoulder.

But Lewis has taken the pursuit to a whole new level, not only soloing dizzyingly high slacklines with multiple-hundred metres drop below (yes, that’s without a harness, relying on his hands to catch himself if he falls), but developing all manner of increasingly dangerous tricks and stunts, such as base jumping from the line, and rigging up huge canyons swings to add interest to the dismount. But then, before he found slacklining, he was into extreme off-road unicycling, so arguably he’s moved to safer pastures.

His latest challenge is to perform – and land – a backflip while on a highwire. So far, it hasn’t happened but you wouldn’t bet against it. You can read more about Sketchy here.

If you missed the show at Stockport, the UK leg of the Banff Mountain Film Festival moves on to Birmingham on 17 Feb. You can also catch the ‘Sketchy Andy’ film at the Hope Valley Adventure Film Festival in Derbyshire on 25 Feb.

If you fancy giving it a go, slacklining looks a lot of fun and is the sort of thing you can rig up in your back garden. Gibbon lines, coming in 15m and 25m varieties, can be bought relatively inexpensively.

With Sketcy’s help, I can see it becoming extremely popular about six cans into a summer barbecue, or even after a red-wine fuelled dinner with friends during the winter months, the snow serving to soften the inevitable crash landing.

And if you’re a climber, it can only help with improving your balance – with or without the aid of six cans of Speckled Hen. Now I just have to think how I can explain **another** Amazon delivery to the wife.

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About Wadsterboy

30-something Yorkshireman, living in Manchester, close to the Peak District. Love the outdoors, love her indoors, not so keen on the film Sliding Doors.
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