Remember the guy on the slackline who nearly stole the spotlight from Madonna during her Super Bowl Halftime Show? That was Andy Lewis, a.k.a. Sketchy Andy. Professional slackliner, base jumper, highliner and all-around crazy desert monkey, Sketchy Andy is a study of the fine line between pioneering athlete and fearless maniac. He took the activity of slacklining — long the mellow pastime of climbers hanging out at camp — and morphed it into a trick-studded, danger-laden, full-fledged sport. Be it throwing backflips on the line, pulling in the record for longest highline or going free solo — sans clothes — he constantly pushes the sport to new extremes. But sometimes, he edges a little too close to danger.
Erik Boomer, featured as a presenter in the 2012 festival for his circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island with Jon Turk, is the star of this short film by Forge Motion Pictures. Why does he wander? What is he seeking? Traveling by foot, skis and kayak, Boomer moves through the world and his life in a way few others do. This film is the first episode of a five-part series titled Of Souls and Water.
Photo: Mike Leeds Photography
You’d think that if you were going to hike, ski and kayak an arduous 1,500 miles with someone, you’d want to know them fairly well first. That certainly wasn’t the case with Jon Turk and Erik Boomer, who had barely met when they started their epic circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island in May 2011.
It was an odd pairing from the start. Boomer is a 26-year-old professional paddler, while Turk is a 65-year-old writer, but the four-decade gap didn’t prevent the duo from completing the trip, which earned them a nomination for Adventurer of the Year from National Geographic.
Ellesmere Island, near Greenland, is the northernmost isle in the Canadian Arctic and has a population of 146, so Boomer and Turk had little company aside from each other, polar bears and arctic wolves. The trip took 104 days to complete and left Turk so exhausted at the end that his kidneys started to fail, and he spent six days in the hospital recovering.
Turk, now fully recovered (or “95 percent and improving,” he says), is a grandfather of six. He spoke at Mountainfilm in 2005 about his book In the Wake of Jomon. This is Boomer’s first trip to the festival, but given his proclivity for adventure, we bet it’s not likely to be his last.