The Kendal Mountain Festival – backflips, books, slacklines and grand prizes…

Well it was that time of year again.  Time to head to Kendal for the Mountain Festival and volunteer as a presenter.  Volunteer you say???  Well, I may be a professional speaker, but there are times when the outdoor community comes together and works together.  We all give our time for free for the good of the community, and work harder than any professionally paid staff.  Working in engineering, I hear a great deal that ‘Money is the greatest motivator’.  If only these people knew how wrong they were.  Passion drives people, love drives people, people drive people.  And it’s the people I meet at the festival who drive me…

I drove northwards with Andy Parkin, climber, painter, sculpture, artist and creator of the KMF trophies.  We’re both creative people who love the outdoors, but I found that we had one defining love in common – we write letters.  This world of e-mail and social networking is ok, but there’s nothing quite like receiving a hand written message sculptured in real ink, by hand…

I often catch up with my old friend Robin Taggart at the festival.  His energy is infectious and we feed off each other, the same as we do when we ski together.  We met in Austria whilst skiing with the Army Winter Sports Association and have remained great friends.  Robin is new to presenting and asks my advice regularly, but I’m more than happy to coach him whenever I can.

This was my first year as a core presenter at the festival.  We hold more responsibility and make sure that venues are working, presenters are in place and that everything runs to time.  I’ve always taken roles like this very seriously and was a bit like a mother hen for the evening!  Perhaps I need to calm down a bit, but all went well and I ended the evening with Alan Hinkes and Leo Holding enjoying a drink in the bar.  Work is important, drive in important, but so is relaxing.  Well, that was thursday done…

Raleigh International has played a huge part in my life.  Working and traveling in Chile started my expedition career and gave me friends for life.  The last time I saw Diane was in Japan during 2004. We climbed Mt Fuji together, and though we’ve always stayed in touch, our calendars just never seems to meet.  On Friday they did.  True friends come rarely in life, and I’m incredibly lucky to have met her.  We’ve supported each other through thick and thin and it was wonderful to be together again.  The problem with life is having the time to do everything, but we make times for the people, and things we love.

I opened a number of films on the friday afternoon and evening, and enjoyed the buzz that surrounded Kendal.  Thousands of people come here for the festival weekend, bringing life and investment into the town.  Some people might like it and some not, but festivals play a vital part to many towns these days.

Saturday was a full on day.  I opened for Josh Dueck and Mike Douglas at Kendal Dojo.  Josh was an aspiring skier until 2004 when a severe accident severed his spinal cord.  Though he would never walk again, Josh began to use a sit ski and returned to the slopes, but wanted to go further and went into the back country again.  Mike is an old friend of Josh’s and filmed his progress in Canada.  Josh’s dream was to perform a 360 flip in his sit ski, but don’t let me steal Josh’s steam.  Take a look at this…

What impressed me about Josh and Mike’s presentation was their relaxed and intimate style, speaking as if they were with friends at home.  They are a true pleasure to listen to and I highly recommend that you see them, if you have the chance.

Josh and Mike appeared on Channel 4 news on Sunday 25th November.  Here’s the piece…

I spent the afternoon reviewing films for the evening sessions and was amazed by the huge amounts of people piling into the theatre.  It felt as if the world had turned up and I many were turned away due to lack of seating.  I never like seeing people disappointed, but there was little that could be done.  I have never seen such popularity at Kendal!  By the end, the skin grafts on my feet were aching and it was time for bed.  That was Saturday done…

On sunday morning I watched Kenton Cool and Keith Partridge speak about their Mt Everest climb to fulfil the Olympic Pledge.  Kenton in the UK’s most successful and prolific Everest submitter, whilst Keith is a world renowned adventure cameraman.  Their presentation had a few early hiccups, but the stunning images and videos really brought to life their experiences on Everest.  Factually it was extremely informative, but it ended weakly (in my view).  Now, don’t think that I’m taking anything away from these two monsters of the mountains, but it could have been done so much better.  Am I being picky?  Well, the audience applauded loudly, but I’m a bit particular about these things (as I’ve talked about in a previous blog)

Not having toes makes balancing different.  I always try new experiences and so I had a go at Slacklining.  You’re better going barefoot on the line and a few people stared at my toeless feet, but I didn’t care. I struggled to balance, and felt strange nerve feelings running through the soles of my feet.  They’re still a bit of a mess inside and they tingle,sting and ache repeatedly, but Alan Hinkes game me a hand at balancing and I loved every minute on the line (so much so that I’ve purchased one!)

The Mountain Heritage Trust had an excellent stand this year with all kinds of historic kit and publications on show.  What really too my eye was a Abrahams Viewer which gives the effect of 3D images.  The early 1900’s climbing shots looked fantastic..!

I met up with Julie Summers and Bernadette McDonald during the afternoon, before receiving the Grand Prize for best film on behalf of Cas & Jonesy.  These two mad Australians won a couple of years ago with their film ‘Crossing the Ditch‘ and took the prize again with ‘Across the Ice‘.  It’s a beautifully and simply made film about their unsupported trip to the South Pole and back.  I thought I was crazy..!

My weekend ended by educating most of the team in whisky drinking (as a member of the SMWS, I feel it’s my duty) and finally collapsing into bed for a well earned rest.  Talking of which a big thanks to Kendal Hostel for putting up with hoards of staff, surfing, sleeping, and generally recovering from long days at the festival.

Did it end there..?  Of course not…

Bernadette was appearing at Outside in Hathersage on the Tuesday evening and asked me to listen to her as a speaker.  I sped from work, crossed the Peak District and listened to her wonderful presentation on ‘Freedom Climbers‘.  She has nothing to fear before an audience with her delightful voice and beautiful story telling skills.  I recommend you see her if you get the chance…

Right time for zzzzzzzzzz…

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Kendal Mountain Festival – backflips, books, slacklines and grand prizes…”

  1. Hi nice thoughts particularly with reference to friendships a bit different to this friend – the extract is from Ogwen MRT website inceident report
    “A party of 2 male walkers took different routes down ‘Capel Curig mountain’. The first one down rang the Police to report his friend as missing. Poor phone signal prevented the Team Leader from contacting this informant so another Team Leader was tasked to look for him at the carpark. At the carpark the ‘missing’ person was found just returning to his car, safe and well …… but now the informant was missing. He was contacted by phone and announced he was at Bangor train station going home as he couldn’t find his friend!!! “

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