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! πŸ˜€

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:

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. πŸ˜‰
  • 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.

Kendal Mountain Festival

This year’s Kendal Mountain Festival was another roaring success! This year, in a departure from the previous years of closed private, VIP only, opening ceremonies, the kick off was a grand public opening on Kendal’s main street, Stricklandgate.

The highlights of my presenting duties this year were:

  • Introducing Tim Emmett at the Town Hall on Saturday morning. Tim has a reputation for being a bit of a live-wire and up for just about any adventure. So the talk was typically entertaining!
  • Presenting, and of course watching, the winning film in the Climbing category – Wide Boyz.
  • Meeting Karen Darke and getting to see – and hold – a London 2012 Paralympic medal.
Karen and her silver Paralympic hand-cycling medal

Kendal Mountain Festival 2012 – Anticipation…

The anticipation is growing for what is perhaps one of the world’s best yearly events celebrating outdoor-fuelled adventure – the Kendal Mountain Festival. Here’s the official trailer, great stuff to get the excitement levels up – it should be a brilliant weekend (as usual). I’ve heard that tickets for some of the lectures are already gone – don’t waste any time, get yours soon…

Kendal Mountain Festival 09

Despite the amazingly bad weather, the Kendal Mountain Festival went ahead and was as massive, amazing and entertaining as usual. Not only for the films, books, pictures, art, etc., but for the mega (“tribal”) gathering of climbers and all outdoorsy people it is famous for – it’s certainly the biggest festival of it’s type in the world, and arguably the best too! The Banff festival tries to take the latter claim – but how can that be true when Kendal has more films and people watching them?

As is usual when we are at home in the Lakes (i.e. not in Australia rock climbing as last year) we got roped in to helping out as volunteers.

This year I’d landed a role as one of the Presenters. 😯 Thanks to Richard and Andy Perkins. πŸ˜€ This involves introducing the films and is extremely stressful! Not for the public speaking part which is something I’m quite comfortable with from my work, but for the incredibly tricky task of remembering all of the many many items one has to say – names of the films (up to 10 in one session) that have to be introduced, facts about each to be shared with the eager audience before each film is shown, names of sponsors, logistics for other parts of the festival, how to vote in the Peoples Choice Award, introducing film makers, etc., etc! Crikey it was hard! I think I got better at it as the weekend went on, but I’m not sure the effort is worth the pay – err, nothing? :sarcy:

Of course the best part (aside from seeing lots of great movies πŸ˜‰ ) is meeting up with lots of friends. Here are just a few… Sorry to all the others who I forgot ( 😳 ) to photograph, I was far too stressed remembering my presenting duties.

Michele and Laetitia having a well earned rest from managing the doors!
Michele and Laetitia having a well earned rest from managing the doors!
Helen and Richard are all smiles!
Helen and Richard are all smiles!
Keith looking happy, but I missed Fiona - sorry!
Keith looking happy, but I missed a picture of Fiona - sorry!
Wow - a <i>Chris Sharma</i> autograph!
Wow - a Chris Sharma autograph!

The awards were:

  • PEOPLE’S CHOICE: The Asgard Project by Alistair Lee and Leo Houlding.
  • BEST MOUNTAINEERING FILM: Mount Saint Elias by Gerald Salmina
  • BEST MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE FILM: Samsara by Renan Ozturk
  • BEST MOUNTAIN CULTURE FILM: One Crazy Ride by Guarav Jani
  • BEST MOUNTAIN ENVIRONMENT FILM: Wild Balkans by Michael Schlanberger
  • BEST SHORT FILM: Afghanistan by David James
  • GRAND PRIZE (& BEST CLIMBING FILM): First Ascent – Alone On The Wall by Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen
  • ADVENTURE FILM ACADEMY WINNER: Plas Bottley Hikes Again by Andy Rees and Robbie Meade

We stayed late after the awards ceremony to watch the winning mountaineering film, Mount Saint Elias. It was fantastic, but maybe a little too long for me. Then we saw the Grand Prize winner, Alone on the Wall. It was a superb film, a very worthy winner. Watch it! But, if you’ve ever been rock climbing, be prepared for very very sweaty palms when you see it! πŸ˜›