Having had a kind offer of a bunk from Kendal Hostel, I couldn’t resist the temptation of making my first trip to the Kendal Mountain Festival. The hostel is perfectly situated beside the Brewery Arts Centre and the main marquees.
Having secured myself a festival programme, there was nothing for it but to plan what to do and see, which was a much more difficult job than I had anticipated.
In the end I chose a talk by the talented film maker Sebastien Montaz Rosset, whose Petit Bus Rouge won the best adrenaline film at the festival. This was an engaging and technically fascinating look at the techniques and equipment he uses for some of his work.
Following this I went to talks by Kenton Cool and Lucy Creamer which were both full of insight, knowledge and wisdom about the highs and some of the lows of the mountains. During his circuit of the three Himalayan summits known as the Everest triple crown, Cool described how he tried unsuccessfully to revive a fellow climber who had run out of oxygen.
Lucy Creamer described her slow and painful rehabilitation from a serious shoulder lesion. Having suffered an injury myself, I could relate to her description of the recovery process. However invincible we may feel at times, these stories reminded me that we are not.
On Sunday I saw Epic of Everest, the lovingly restored film footage of the 1924 expedition to reach the summit of Everest. I found the shots of the mountain, and of their journey very moving, particularly the telescopic lens shot of Irvine and Mallory disappearing into the cloud, which was to be the last shot of them alive.
Finally I had a quick dash back to the Brewery Arts Centre to find out who the winners of the film festival were.
As part of the final Best of Kendal screenings, I saw a packed performance of the grand prize winner The Crash Reel about the tragic accident which left snowboarder Kevin Pearce brain injured. With the recent tendency towards extreme sports this film is a moving and valuable reminder of the dangers inherent in some of these sports.
I should also finally say that I had the chance to meet two of my hiking heroes, Chris Townsend and Colin Ibbotson at the festival, which was really inspiring. Hiking is often under-represented at outdoor festivals where we don’t quite fit into any of the traditional mountain categories. Hiking isn’t all about summits, although they make a wonderful addition to many long distance trails.
The Kendal Mountain Festival attracts people of all ages and backgrounds and is a very friendly affair. It gives you the opportunity to put faces to many Cumbrian, national and international names and companies. At the end of my first trip, although I only scratched the surface of the events on offer, I would say that if you get the chance to go next year, seize it with both hands.