Andy Lewis (performer)
Lewis at The Gibbon World Cup 2010
October 7, 1986 |
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.
|Known for||Slacklining, BASE jumping, Super Bowl Halftime 2012|
Andy Lewis (born October 7, 1986 in Santa Rosa, California), who goes by the stage name Sketchy Andy (Lewis,) is the most well known Slackliner on the planet for his accomplishments as a highliner and trickliner, but also is a BASE jumper and rock climber. He is noted for his slackline creativity and style along with being credited for many innovations in the world of tricklining.
Originally from Marin, California, he graduated valedictorian of his class of 2008 from Humboldt State University. He learned to slackline in 2004, and since 2008 has been winning or placing on the podium at all of the biggest slackline competitions in the world (2008-2012), helping to establish modern day competitive tricklining. His tricklining accomplishments include OverALL World Championship titles of 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and a world cup win in 2012. He also holds multiple world records within the sport including highest highline walked as well as the more prestigious record of Longest Highline walked without a form of safety protection; otherwise referred to in the sport as "Free Solo." Lewis created a title for the mindset referred to as FreeSoLoco; writing about it in his music online @ Soundcloud.com/Slacklife.
Slackline accomplishments and exploits
Andy Lewis played a major role in developing the sport of competitive tricklining, becoming the first ever slackline world champion in 2008 in Fort William, Scotland. He repeated the feat in 2009, and won the Gibbon World Cup Series the following two years. (The First Annual Gibbon World Cup Series was the most successful slackline contest in the history of slackline to date; 16 of the best slackline competitors came from all over the world.) Andy is also known for his many "first across" (F/A's) on highlines, and having set several distance records on highlines. He was the first to successfully rig and walk a 55m+ highline (2008, California – “Ruin’s Highline”), the first to walk a 60m+ highline (2009, France – “King Line”), and rigged and walked the world’s first 100m+ highline ever (2010, Moab – “Afrodisiac”). Andy is also renowned for his "free solo" exploits, having walked more than 100 different highlines without a safety leash. He holds the current record for longest free solo highline, with a 55m crossing at 60m high.
Andy was included in Peter Mortimer's Reel Rock 2011 film, featured on MTV, and on other international TV networks. He is credited with taking slacklining from an obscure hobby of a small portion of rock-climbers to the world media forefront on Sunday, February 5, 2012 when he performed on a trickline while Madonna sang behind him during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl. Saturday Night Live and Conan O'Brien's Late Night TV show parodied Andy's halftime performance in the week following the Super Bowl.
Pre-Slackline: Andy was a wild child, always on the roof, hiding from his teachers, and causing ruckus continuously. He habitually participated in school and after school sports including soccer, baseball, skateboarding, roller blading, rock climbing, pole vaulting, and many more. He literally ripped his face off crashing a mountain board in December 2003. 2 sprained ankles, multiple down to the bone lacerations, totaling about a 25% skin loss... he lost a lot of blood, but they found most of it. He was released from the hospital that day after 7 hours of testing for concussions that amazingly never happened and of course stitching his eyebrow back on. After this accident Andy says that he realized that he almost had thrown his life away for nothing. This accident opened Andy's eyes to the insignificance of life in general and inspired him to live life to its fullest, with no shame, no regrets, and no insecurities. This was the beginning of his slacklife philosophy, except he didn't slackline yet.
2004 (Summer) – Andy went on a 30 day road trip from SF → Canada → and back again. 30 days of freedom, rock climbing, and adventure. After the trip was actually when Andy was introduced to slacklining by his friend, George Upton. The next day he went to REI and bought his first carabiner and 65 ft of 1" tubular nylon webbing. This is when ANdy started rigging slacklines everyday, everywhere he went. It became an addiction. This is when his mother started saying "you're living a slacker's life," which soon embodied Andy's exact philosophy, slacklife.
2005 – This is when Andy started to learn tricks on the line, and he started calling it "trickline." He had a “pocket line” that he brought everywhere, 50 ft of 9/16's tubular nylon webbing. He would slackline everywhere he went. Andy started doing jumps and spins, as well as rigging higher lines. He started training more than ever. Though he says he did not train intentionally, he was always just wanting to have fun. Soon his focus turned to landing the first ever backflip on a slackline.
2006 - Andy was working at Reed Elementary school and Angel Island day camp trying to make enough money to just be able to slackline. The first slackline backflip was landed in August and uploaded to YouTube. The video was featured on "slackline.com," but has since been deleted by YouTube. George Upton, re-uploaded the video just recently. Andy was also introduced to longlines in 2006 by Damian Cooksey. A 265' line shut him down, but he loved it and kept pushing. He started to work on more rigging techniques. This was when Andy first started to Longline and Highline frequently. His first highline was walked free solo, simply because he didn't think he needed a leash on the 20 ft high line.
2007 - The Squirrel Backflip video got over 1,000,000 clicks all over the internet. Andy formed Catalystic productions with Shaun Cordes and started filming and editing movies. Their involvement together launched a stylistic change to the trickline world, creating a large community of "slackers" at their local University (HSU). These videos also popularized the internet as a community meeting point for learning how to slackline. By 2008, they had already released multiple shorts online; even backed with some of Andy's personal songs he'd written about slackline. This was his first year to the Lost Arrow Spire Highline, also the first time he saw Yosemite. Slackers Club at school started but was not introduced. Started writing slackline songs such as "Slacklife" and "Slack On".
2008 - Andy became the first world champion at UK Slack Masters; at Fort Williams Scotland. He made another national TV appearance on BBC. This was the first year he saw Moab, UT; road tripping with friend Scott Rogers. He started highlining a lot in 2008, with upwards of 40 highlines throughout the year, including "Ruin's Highline" (55m). He was shown in a Nike Commercial during the Olympics. Shaun and Andy used Catalystic Productions as a foundation for beginning the First year of The Humboldt Classic (THC). Also first year of Moab highline festivals. Shaun Cordes and Andy Lewis released their film "slacklife," after their road trip to Joshua tree, and it brought record breaking attention to the sport; becoming a milestone video for many slackers of the time.
2009- Andy started becoming obsessed with longer highlines, but more accurately; highlines in general. Andy placed 1st at Vibram Natural Games, 1st at Gibbon Outdoor, hosted the 2nd annual THC, and was the first to send the "King Line", the first ever 60m highline. He walked a total of 52 highlines in 2009, 22 were free solo, including a free solo full man of the Lost Arrow Spire highline. Andy started to practice BASE in November and by 2012 had nearly 50 jumps.
2010- Andy became the 1st Gibbon World Cup Winner ever, winning 2/3 of the world cups, and placing 2nd in the last round. In Sept, he rigged and walked the first 100m+ highline: Afrodisiac Highline (103.5m). THis highline is special because it was the first ever 100m highline, and it was also higher than it was long. ANdy and Shaun Hosted the 3rd annual THC. Andy Repeated his free solo of Lost Arrow Spire, but this year he did it naked. He had walked 74 highlines this year and he did his first BASEline exits and sent the world record 40m Free solo.
2011- Andy Lewis walked 100 different highlines within the calendar year of 2011. 64 of these lines he walked with out a safety! The average length of his lines were 80 ft, and the average height was 125 ft. In November he broke his own previous record of a 40m long highline Freesolo, by successfully walking the Great Bongzilla highline free solo... measuring in at 180 ft long, and 200 ft high. Andy also won the Slackline World Cup Series for his second time winning 1/3 and placing 2nd in 2/3. For his 25th birthday Andy successfully BASE jumped the Titan; America's tallest free standing tower. This year was also the first year that Andy missed THC! Unfortunately, the last round of the World Cup conflicted with The Humboldt Classic's scheduled dates. Andy also had his first parachuting cliff strike, filmed for his first festival touring movie, and even found time to rehearse with Madonna for the Super Bowl Half Time show.
2012- Madonna invited Andy on stage during the Super Bowl Half Time Show that became the highest viewed live show in the history of American Television. Slacklining as a sport was thrown into the mainstream. He was offered a high paid position on Madonna's World Tour, but turned it down for the "Slacklife." He appeared in News around the world, was parodied on Saturday Night Live, Conan, Bill Maher, and Slacklining even popped up on shows like the Doctors, Americas Got Talent, and even cameoed on The Office. Three weeks after the super bowl Andy disappeared for over a month finding salvation in the southern islands off the coast of Thailand; where he spent his time climbing, slacklining, and BASE jumping. Returning to the US in April 2012, Andy and a group of 3 friends (Hayley Ashburn, Scott Rogers, and Ryan Matson) rigged the highest free standing tower highlines in the world, 800 feet in the air between Echo and Cottontail towers in the Fisher Towers. Andy was the first one to walk the 225 ft, and 280 ft long lines nicknamed "The Sucubus (225)" and "Leviathan (280)". These lines we covered in his article titled "Balancing Act," in Rock and Ice Magazine(DEC 2012). These walks, as well as his BASE jumps off Echo and Cottontail towers, made Andy the first person to successfully Slackline, Climb, and BASE jump from all five of the main Fisher Towers: Ancient Art, The Titan, The King Fisher, Echo, and Cottontail. In June 2012 Andy won a world Cup for the 5th year in a row (2008–2012), but as injured himself for the first time in his career mid July; IN competition, still winning his round. With a severely distorted ankle, he still competed in the next round of the world cup 50 days later; coming in 5th. In August, Andy and his crew (Hayley and Scott) established a couple of BASElines in training for Andy and Scott's trip to Malaysia. (Video Documenting of the Trip can be seen on youtube.com/Mr.Slackline) On their trip, Andy and Scott established the first bridge BASE line, and Andy even managed to figure out the first Human powered slackline to BASE jump, the first / highest building BASEline, and the world's highest rope swing building BASE jump. In the 9 days that Andy had to jump, he completed 141 successful BASE jumps. 140 packed, and 1 roll over (unpacked). In October, Andy was rumored to have celebrated his 26th Birthday by BASE jumping off El Capitan and Half Dome; though no proof in either direction has emerged. At the end of 2012 Andy invested in Slackline.com and SlacklineBrothers.com to help develop the slackline community further. He now owns both websites as long as being the manufacturer and only retailer of the Slackline Brothers Pulley System. It is a popular progress capturing pulley system for slacklines 20–200 ft long with a large grassroots following. December 24, 2012 Andy proposed and became engaged to the love of his life, Hayley Ann Ashburn/
2013- In January 2013 Andy Lewis and his fiancé Hayley worked hard to get Slackline Brothers back off the ground; www.slacklinebrothers.com. By February the company was back on track to start selling pulleys again and it was time for another trip! The crew set off to Brazil sponsored by Gibbon Slacklines, Goal Zero, GoPro, and Five Ten, under the title the Moab Monkeys. Andy Lewis, Hayley Ashburn, Scott Rogers, and Brian Mosbaugh made up the team and filmed, edited, and produced an online series being viewed by thousands, and the footage ended even ended up getting coverage on Good Morning America~ The team had rigged Brazil's longest highline (which Andy Onsighted), Brazil's longest highest urban line (which andy onsighted), and also cause a bit of a stir BASE jumping in the heart of Rio. By the time Andy and his monkeys got back, they were already ready to establish more towers around moab! Both "Breakfast at Guano's," and "Weigh Wyrd," were established in April after Brazil.
2013- JUNE-DEC In July Andy Lewis and 11 friends built their own 'midair campsite' in Moab, Utah. Lewis even slept in the tent overnight with his fiancee Hayley Ashburn. The slacklines were 55m, 60m and 70m long and weighed 300 lbs. The system was connected on the ground and hauled into air in 24hrs. The crew took turns highlining, base-jumping and falling on a rope swing. Just after this Andy helped film a TV show with Taig Kris (xgames gold medalist), then helped film a commercial with GoPro and then was off to burning man! At burning man Andy built a slackline park for everyone to try. Shortly after that Lewis headed a slackline event at Mandalay bay hotel in Vegas. He was allowed to the rooftop to rig 4 highlines; 2 of which would be the world record urban highline (longest.) Andy walked the 85m line breaking the record in practice and then walked the 105m long line, 63 floors above vegas, LIVE, breaking the world, but better yet, his own personal record. He also snuck a BASE jump off the top of Mandalay Bay in complete secrecy. Shortly after that Andy flew to California to help HOST what was the 6th annual THC festival in Arcata, CA. The Humboldt classic is a continuously growing group of talented slackers who meet up in northern California to share stories, ideas, gear, and fun! Andy then continued to establish multiple tower highlines and was BASE jumping a lot. It was about at this time that Andy's BASE jumping started to show him the darker side of the sport. Luke Chappel, one of Andy's closest jumping friends perished in an accident just a few hours outside of Moab, on one of the safest cliffs. Lukes parachute got caught on his camera, and he impacted with nothing out June 20, 2013. Shortly after that, Mario Richard, who was in the sport for 22 years, and was one of Andy's closer jumping buddy's, idol and roll model, died wing suiting with Steph Davis in Italy, August 18, 2013; both Moab Locals. Then Beau, a new friend of Andy's broke both his heels in a landing accident, and unfortunately, or fortunately, for Ammon McKneely, Andy was on scene of Ammon's horrific BASE jumping accident, breaking off the lower part of his left leg. Andy, accompanied by a handful of his friends headed Ammons rescue; Including Daniel Moore, Scott Rogers, and Brent Cain. After 5 hours, Ammon was in the hospital and ended up saving his terribly broken leg. Just after that, Andy's best friend, apprentice, partner in crime, baseline buddy, and all around unbelievable human, Daniel Moore, late pitched off of Moab's closest cliff, and died November 23, 2013... 15 years exactly... to the day... of Dan Osman's Death. After this string of death and destruction Andy was forced to face mixed emotions, fear, and the gruesome truth of mortality. Nothing weighed more on Andy than Daniels death, and it fortunately or unfortunately changed his psyche... Andy still is struggling to cope with the loss of many of his closest friends within the last 6 months... and he hopes he will be able to return to normal, though that seems quite a ways down the road. Understandable... Andy returned home for the holidays to visit his mom, dad, and sister back in Marin county and found refuge with his old friends and family who helped remind Andy who he was, why he lived, and what he was on this planet to do. Andy wanted to start 2014 right, and he did, by BASE jumping into the new year thinking of Mario, Daniel, and Luke... and how lucky he was to be alive.
2014- Andy started out 2014 with a lot of tree netting. He spent the first 2 days of 2014 at his friend George Uptons house weaving a massive net in his tree. Shortly after, Andy and Hayley drove back to Moab together from California to film with 60 minutes in Moab. It was a short and amazing shoot. What they came to film was the BASEline at Meri's Gash that was still rigged since DAniels Death. Daniel had been practicing BASElining to go around the world with Andy, and for Andy's 1st jump back in moab in 2014 after the year of carnage... Andy summoned up the strength to get out on the line daniel had rigged, walked it without a leash, and BASE jump off the 450' high line. It was Andy's best baseline ever, and it brought him to tears in the landing area. Andy missed Daniel, but was finally coming to acceptance of Daniels parting. After 60 minutes was done shooting, Andy was back to netting, and started constructing more nets around Moab. Weaving was an old meditation Andy found incredibly useful for reflection and by the end of January Andy was climbing, highlining, and BASE jumping again. Argon Tower, Castleton, and a handful of other towers were all on Andy's radar before he was to leave for Europe for Trade show season.
Andy spelled out his approach to life – dubbed "slacklife" – in a November 2010 interview with Brenden Gebhart. Slacklife is:
“A concept adopted by slackliners who live a life consistently and continually inspired by slacklining. Slacklining is not considered a sport by society. There is no slackline magazine. There are no set rules. No set definitions. No standardized equipment. No statistics. Most importantly, there are no true professionals. In fact there is pretty much no reason to slackline except for the sake of slacklining itself. That is the slacklife. Rules and regulations involved in the habitual and ridiculous effort to remove RISK entirely from society has made living the slacklife inside of society damn near impossible. Liability and insurance are the two words crippling the sport of slacklining today. “Slackers,” living the “slacklife,” instead; travel the globe in search of the most inspiring places to practice slacklining. Tricklining, longlining, highlining, and free solo are all separate facets of slacklining. Training all of these facets is an incredibly positive way to stay physically and mentally fit. This training is becoming a pseudo-religion amongst the community of slackliners; otherwise called the “slacklife.” Living in the moment, being immersed in the wilderness, challenging your body, developing your mind, confronting, controlling, and conquering one’s fear of death, and pursuing the pure, true, and honest unbridled feeling of freedom to do what you want is the foundation supporting the Slacklife.”
Notable highline feats
- Airwareness Highline: 105m long / 140m high—October 16, 2013 (vegas, NV) (largest urban highline)
- Leviathan Highline: 85m long / 250m high—Quite possibly the most exposed highline in the world. (fisher towers, UT)
- Afrodisiac Highline : 103.5m long / 110m high — September 10, 2010 in Moab, UT (rigging help by Ryan Matson) (2)
- King Line : 60m long / 25m high — June 28, 2009 in Millau, France (Rigging by Michi Acshaber)
- Ruin’s Highline : 55m long / 35m high (middle) — July 18, 2008 in Marin Headlands, CA (Rigging help by Scott Antipa)
Free solo (without safety leash)
Rigged most of, and walked 100 lines in 2011, 62 he walked free solo.
- Great Bongzilla Highline : 55m long / 60m high- Highlands Bowl, Moab, UT
- Shakes McCoy Highline : 40m long / 32m high — November 27, 2010 in Moab, UT
- Max Power Banana Bomb Highline 32m long / 25m high - November 1, 2010 in Germany.
- Lost Arrow Spire Highline : 17m long / 900m high — June 2009/ June 2010 (naked) in Yosemite National Park, CA
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Andy Lewis.|
- Marikar, Sheila (Febriary 6, 2012). "Andy Lewis, Madonna’s Slack Line Dancer, on ‘Scary, Spectacular’ Super Bowl Show". ABC News. Check date values in:
- Jason, Will (November 25, 2010). "In 'slacklining,' Redwood High grad finds his passion". Marin Independent Journal.
- Afrodisiac Highline Footage. YouTube.com.
- Longman, Jeré (February 6, 2012). "That Guy in the Toga? Call Him a Slackliner". The New York Times.
- "Andy Lewis". Five Ten.
- "Andy Lewis". Gibbon Slacklines.
- Squirrel Backflip Footage
- Catalystic productions
- Nike Commercial featuring Andy Lewis
- Gibbon World Cup 2010