This weekend's Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival showcases the lengths – and depths – some people go to in search of excitement

THEY are prepared to break limbs as well as laws in their search for the ultimate high.

Thrill-seekers who regard Scotland as an adventure playground spend their weekends searching for cliffs, bridges and even mobile phone masts to jump off, not caring that they may be trespassing or that they are not insured.

This weekend's Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival (EMFF) showcases 22 films celebrating mountain culture and extreme sports around the world.

Now in its sixth year, the three-day event has a cult following thanks to screenings of films such as Gravity Chasers, being shown tonight. It won the People's Choice Award at last year's EMFF.

The film features a group of men, kitted only in helmets, shorts and wetsuits, "tombstoning" – jumping off high rocks or structures – into the Falls of Bruar, from the 80ft sea cliffs at Arbroath and from road bridges into lochs.

Robb Wallace, a spokesman for the film's producers, Flying Fatman Productions, is a media student from Irvine who works for Splash White Water Rafting in Aberfeldy.

He said: "We are all trained (as] white water and/or swift water rescue technicians, we all work in the outdoors and water-based leisure and tourist industries. Most of us have outdoor-specific first aid and many have high-level rope and rescue skills.

"We are not a bunch of crazy people hoping our legs don't break. In our spare time we just need a bit of a better kick."

So far the group has escaped serious injury – but not the long arm of the law.

Mr Wallace said: "At the A9 bridge at Loch Faskally two of our guys got arrested because passers-by thought they were suicide jumpers and they got done for wasting police time.

"It's very dangerous but it's exciting, and unpredictable.

"(Standing on the edge] your mind tells you no, but if you believe you can pull it off then you will. Just jump.

"For three seconds you feel nothingness, you are in a Zen-like state."

It is this intoxicating sense of freedom that attracts people to extreme sports, says Stirling-based Kris Yule, who organises the Go Fast Games in Colorado, in the United States.

He is practised in the art of Base jumping, an extreme sport where participants jump from fixed objects – building, antenna, span or earth, hence Base – equipped with just a parachute.

Another highlight of this year's EMFF is a film documenting the experiences of renowned Base jumper Karina Hollekim, called 20 Seconds of Joy. Last year, she shattered both legs when her parachute failed during a skydive in Switzerland.

Mr Yule said: "Base jumping is the extreme form of sky-diving. Where you are jumping out of a plane, there are a lot of rules and regulations. Base jumping is much freer: you go and find an object and jump off it. There may be an element of trespassing, but the sense no-one can stop you."

EMFF organiser Stevie Christie said he felt no obligation to censor the films.

He said: "(Most people] recognise the most extreme films tend to be made by people at the top of their game, pushing their limits. The film festival is more likely to inspire people to go out sea kayaking or cycling. I do not imagine it will make anyone jump off a cliff."


MORE than 2,500 people are expected to attend the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival at Edinburgh University this weekend.

On the screening list is Three, which features bridge-swinging. This controversial film was obtained by the BBC last year and shows young men using climbing gear to swing from bridges and viaducts in Midlothian.

As well as celebrating adventure films that focus less on cinematography than capturing daredevil actions, the programme also features one of the world's top climbers Dave MacLeod in Echo Wall – an attempt to make the first ascent of this cliff face on Ben Nevis, now graded as the hardest rock climb in the UK.

There is also a keynote lecture by mountaineering legend Sir Chris Bonington, whose career has included four expeditions to Mount Everest and the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna.

Mark Beaumont, the Scot who shot to fame earlier this year by cycling around the world in a record-breaking 194 days, is also a guest speaker.