Kendal Mountain Festival ’14

Last weekend was the Kendal Mountain Festival, the biggest event of its type in the world! Laetitia and I often work as volunteers at the festival, however, this year I asked my boss for the weekend – Andy Perkins – to only give me a small number (1) of presenting jobs as we had our friends, Rebecca and Mathias, visiting. Rebecca and Mathias had finally succumbed to my endless enthusiasm for Kendal and had made the journey all the way from Germany to sample the madness that is the world’s most attended festival of all things mountain…

Open-air opening ceremony of the Kendal Mountain Festival
Andy Perkins presenting the open-air opening ceremony of the Kendal Mountain Festival on Kendal’s main shopping street – Strickland Gate

I always think the KMF Trailer is one of the best bits of film at the festival, it captures the mood, excitement, and of course some of the best moments from a select few of the films…

We had a full house for the festival as we also had Mark Vallance and Anna and Ian staying with us. So this year it was an especially busy and entertaining long weekend for us! 😀

On Thursday Rebecca, Mathias, and I went up to Tarn Hows for a look around and a short walk to appreciate the views across to Langdale and the Coniston fells. It was pretty moody weather as you can see below. Then on Friday the weather was still dry so Mathias and I enjoyed more of the Lakeland landscape by squeezing in a quick scramble up Jack’s Rake on Pavey Ark before nipping over to Harrison Stickle and on down for lunch at the Stickle Barn.

Rebecca and Mathias at Tarn Hows
Rebecca and Mathias enjoying a wine-gum (or two) at Tarn Hows looking towards Wetherlam

Of course the main event is really the craziness of the festival’s main day, Saturday. With over a hundred films in the competition I can only imagine how hard (and at times fatiguing) the judge’s job is to select the winners. But for me the main attraction is the massive gathering of fellow outdoor enthusiasts, the networking opportunities, and the fringe events like the BMC’s lunchtime presentation and Glenfiddich’s whisky tasting…

Scott Titt talks BMC
Scott Titt talks “BMC” with Mina Leslie-Wujastyk, Dave Turnbull, and John Ellison waiting their turn to speak…
Dozens of glasses of Glenfiddich Whisky
Dozens of glasses of Glenfiddich Whisky ready to be tasted… :yum: :yum:

Climbers’ Club AGM & Party Weekend

In my humble opinion last year’s CC AGM was a fantastic success. For me there are a lot of boxes to “tick” when deciding where to have the AGM. A location that offers: outdoor activities for all weathers and all pursuits; a quality indoor climbing wall that will join in the fun; an AGM and dinner venue that is big and comfortable enough and is able to provide good food; all that, and it needs to be relatively near to where a large enough number of CC members live. This isn’t an easy combination of attributes to put together. And unfortunately realistically there aren’t that many major climbing areas that can provide all of these ingredients. So this year the CC AGM machine made a repeat visit to Kendal. However, there’s likely at least two other venues that can also fit the requirements: Bristol and Sheffield. Watch out for where the AGM will go to next year…

Friday night, Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley – The President’s Quiz

Friday night saw the start of the opportunities to have fun with a light hearted quiz, with our President Richard as the quiz-master, at Hawkshead Brewery in Staveley. Amazingly Pete put in his best ever performance in any type of quiz; a winning score of 21 out of 25! Ye ha, a couple of spangly new colourful carabiners as prizes!

The President's quiz at Hawkshead Brewery in Staveley
The President’s quiz at Hawkshead Brewery in Staveley
Paul, Keith, and Pete debate the difficulties of Richard's quiz questions
Paul, Keith, and Pete debate the difficulties of Richard’s quiz questions

Saturday morning, Mountain Biking around Kentmere

Saturday’s weather forecast was quite pleasant. That is, pleasant in a particularly damp winter in a particularly damp part of the country, the Lakes. So rather than going to the indoor climbing wall in Kendal we opted for the mass mountain biking adventure around Kentmere, led by one of our Vice Presidents, Steve. I’m sure the wall would have been great – there were coaching sessions and climbing challenges with big prizes. However, the lure of the great outdoors was stronger for us…

The Mountain Biking team at the end of the metalled road about to set off on one of Kentmere's best circular trails
The Mountain Biking team at the end of the metalled road about to set off on one of Kentmere’s best circular trails
Single-track mountain biking in Kentmere
Single-track mountain biking in Kentmere
Richard, Steve, and Pete take a break before the final big descent back to Staveley
Richard, Steve, and Pete take a break before the final big descent back to Staveley

Saturday afternoon, The Climbers’ Club Annual General Meeting

Saturday afternoon was time for the AGM itself. There were some big issues to cover at this year’s AGM: a big rise in annual subscription charges to cover the rapidly escalating costs of running eight club huts; and Pete’s election to Vice President! 😯

The Treasurer, Becky Moore, outlines the running costs of the club
The Treasurer, Becky Moore, outlines the running costs of the club

Saturday evening, the AGM Dinner

The dinner at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal on Saturday evening, organised by Alison Athroll and Steve Crossley, was of course another amazing party. The word must be getting around that CC AGMs aren’t as stuffy as they might once have been perceived to be – numbers were up significantly on last year.


Duncan Bourne’s artwork for the dinner cards were to his usual incredibly high standard! However, I was a bit shocked when people started asking Pete to sign it thinking it was supposed to be him! 😯 Of course it isn’t. But Duncan hardly helped when he started laughing and encouraging the notion! 🙄

The President, Richard Wheeldon, laying down the rules!
The President, Richard Wheeldon, laying down the rules!
The dynamic AGM Party organising duo, Steve Crossley and Alison Athroll
The dynamic AGM Party organising duo, Steve Crossley and Alison Athroll

Kendal Mountain Festival ’13

KMFIt has been another brilliant year for the Kendal Mountain Festival

However, personally I find most climbing films to be fairly boring! Why? Well here are my examples: another super steep bit of limestone (substitue any rock type); some more super small holds; more grunts and power screams; another “hardest” or “most beautiful line ever”; the outcome is never really in doubt, etc. Basically they are all the same. Sometimes of course you get special ones that stand out, perhaps with amazing scenery etc. Places you’d wish to travel to and experience yourself. But mostly climbing films are all the same.

Anyhow, the Kendal Mountain Festival is unique and showcases a spectacular array of films in so many different disciplines that my bias is irrelevant – there’s always something to see and marvel at. That said, for me the most compelling parts of the festival are not the films:

  • The festival is an incredible gathering of outdoorsy people that completely take over Kendal town centre! For me this social event is so much more important than anything else. It is also perhaps the most significant of its type in the world. From my point-of-view you need a hefty excuse not to be in Kendal on KMF weekend. It’s almost impossible to catch up with everyone – it seems like every three steps you take there’s another smiling face waiting to share the past twelve months of adventure…
  • An opportunity to see any number of fascinating lectures and events. It’s for this reason that I express (to Andy Perkins, my boss for the weekend and chief presenter for the festival) a preference to present lectures. This year I was lucky enough to present two superb lectures: Andy Cave (with support from Naill Grimes) and Kenton Cool. Kenton’s lecture in particular was pretty special: it was in the Leisure Centre so I had nearly 600 people to welcome, and Kenton’s emotional talk was breathtaking. While Andy’s story – coal miner to climber – seems to always stimulate endless questions.

So what of the main event, the winning films?

  • Best Climbing Film – The Sensei
    Yep, it’s another climbing film – in my view, basically the same as the rest!
  • Best Mountain Adventure Film – The Road from Karakol
  • Best Mountaineering Film – High Tension
  • Best Mountain Culture Film – Valhalla
  • Best Mountain Environment Film – Defaid a Dringo
    Hooray, a climbing film that isn’t a climbing film – it’s about hill-farming. I’d have preferred it to have not been made in Welsh with English subtitles though. Although, I think the film was produced for Welsh TV, so maybe that’s OK. 😉
  • Best Adrenaline Film – Petit Bus Rouge
    I really wanted to see this one – the excerpts I did see looked amazing, and funny! However, I didn’t get a chance as it was only being shown when I was elsewhere presenting other items. Perhaps it is one to catch at the various Best of Kendal events around the country?
  • Best Short Film – Cascada
  • Judges’ Special Prize – Rockin’ Cuba
    Hmm, not sure I agree with this prize. Sure the film was almost all great, and the soundtrack was brilliant. However, the singular issue of ethics, for me, means this film can not be held up as “good”. Is it really OK to visit a wild location, and in the pursuit of something as selfish as bolting yet another super steep piece of limestone, to reach for the insecticide and kill a naturally located wasp nest?
  • Judges’ Award for Filmcraft – The Last Great Climb
    Isn’t this really just another big budget Berghaus advert? For me this comment I saw elsewhere sums it up: “… The Last Great Climb was a cold and dry version of Autana. I knew who was going to be in it, what they would say and what would happen … it’s clearly a formula that works”.
  • KMF Short Film Competition supported by Channel 4 – Cave Unicycling
    I’ve done a lot of caving and potholing in my time, and just carrying rope, a SRT kit, and a Mars bar through a system can be impossibly tough. Can you imagine the craziness of these guys carrying – and using – a unicycle underground!
  • The People’s Choice – Distilled
    Another film that makes me wonder how tough those film makers are. Scottish winter conditions are harsh, can you imagine filming as well?
  • Grand Prize – The Crash Reel
    It’s hard to argue with this choice, simply oozing emotion! (Oh, and it isn’t a climbing film. :alien: )

KMF is great – an amazing gathering for an amazing weekend! Already I’m looking forward to next year’s festival … it’s always the 3rd week of November so in 2014 the main weekend of festing will be 21st/22nd.