“I logged onto World of Warcraft more than a whole year of my life. 370 days, to be exact. That’s 24 hours, multiplied by 370. 370 days on World of Warcraft; on a video-game! I used to make money playing video games! I’d go hunt pigs, and witches, and get gold. And then I’d sell that gold online. That’s basically how I paid my way through school, and college.”
As an origin story for a slacklining pioneer, BASE jumping legend, and all-round daredevil it’s not exactly textbook stuff. But then the Californian “Sketchy” Andy Lewis, as he’s commonly known to those on the scene, is anything but textbook. In fact, he’s so far removed from the textbook that you’d need a pair of binoculars just to see the library building within which the textbook was situated.
“I was the only person in high school without armpit hair. I was like, for sure, a loser.”
We’ve come to South Tyrol, as part of the International Mountain Summit, and are crowded into a cafe at the halfway point of a hike with one of the event’s main sponsors GORE-TEX. Andy Lewis, beer in hand, has the room hanging on his every word. It’s a testament to the crazy life he’s led, and the insane adventures he’s had along the way, that a room full of thirsty adults are much more interested in what Lewis has to say than they are in getting a beer for themselves.
I think back to the beginning of the day’s hike, when Lewis first rocked up at the meeting point, and crack another smile at the effervescent nature of this man’s character. Lewis, you see, is woefully unprepared for the hiking aspect of the day. He’s wearing colourful skate trainers, and light-up bunny ears that flop down ludicrously either side of his head.