I have never made a secret of how much I enjoy the Kendal Mountain Festival. It's hosted in a great town, at a great venue - the Brewery Arts Centre, the line up is always interesting and it is held over several days. It can be hectic but if you plan ahead you can usually see who you want to - including bumping into a lot of old mates and catching up.
If like me you are pressed for time, going to climbing events that don't include climbing is usually a non-starter, but I always have time for Kendal.
For me it's The One; woven into our climbing cultural fabric, not to be missed. A beacon lighting up the early winter darkness with a glowing light of climbing spirit and camaraderie. It is also a major international event alongside Banf and Trento, providing a showcase of global climbing talent; the latest films, books and a chance to witness first hand some of our greatest climbers and mountaineers. I've been going, if I'm in the country, since it started. You can read me reminiscing about the first Kendal in 1980 here (UKC article) and last years UKC article: Kendal Mountain Festival Report 2008
This years Kendal, held 19-22 November, has one of the best line up of speakers I've ever seen. Here's my hot picks!
Tom Hornbein is now 79 and has had a successful career as a Professor of Anesthesiology, and the author of several books, including Everest: The West Ridge published in 1998.
Thoughts While High - Everest and the Albatross - Tom Hornbein
TIME & DATE: Thursday 19 Nov: 20:00 - 21:30
TICKET: £12.00. Click to Buy
In contrast to Tom, or perhaps complementing him our two of the world's greatest alpinists, Steve House and Ueli Steck. They travel lightweight and fast over the most extreme alpine terrain, both are recipients of the Piolet d'Or: House for his and Vince Anderson's six-day alpine-style ascent of what is widely regarded as the largest alpine wall in the world the 4000m) Central Pillar of the Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat in 2005; and Steck, for his and Simon Anthamatten's ascent of Tengkampoche Northface (6500m), Khumbu Valley, Nepal.
Dubbed by Reinhold Messner, "The best high-altitude climber in the world today," Steve House has a book published next month, Beyond the Mountain.
Steck is also known for his speed ascents in the Alps: the Colton-Macintyre route on the Northface of the Grandes Jorasses in 2 hours and 21 minutes; the Eiger North Face, climbing the Heckmair Route in a staggering 2 hours, 47 minutes and 33 seconds and the technically demanding Bonatti route on the Matterhorn in 25 hours. Steck also nearly onsighted (/news/item.php?id=47580) El Cap's Golden Gate (5.13b, 41 pitches) in May.
You can watch a video of Steck at UKClimbing.com: VIDEO: Ueli Steck Speed Solo - Grandes Jorasses
Both these climbers have a lot to show and tell.
Beyond the Mountain - Steve House
TIME & DATE: Friday 20 Nov: 20:30 - 22:00
TICKET: £8.50. Click to Buy
High Performance through Perfection: Speed Records on the Big 3 Alpine North Faces - Ueli Steck
TIME & DATE: Sunday 22 Nov: 10:30 - 12:00
TICKET: £8.50. Click to Buy
There's only one real global rock climbing superstar at the moment and that is 27 year old Chris Sharma and yes the Santa Cruz native, now based in Spain, will be at Kendal.
If you are familiar with the names: Realization, Es Pontas, Jumbo Love, The Mandala , Dreamcatcher, Papichulo, Golpe de Estado, Witness the Fitness and Demencia Senil; and even if you are not but want to hear the story behind them, and witness Chris describe his nomadic climbing life, it will be worth booking early. He's one of the few who are actually paid to climb, quiet spoken and lacking arrogance, you'll get an insight what it takes to be one of the best climbers in the world.
Life at the Top - Chris Sharma
TIME & DATE: Saturday 21 Nov: 20:30 - 22:00
TICKET: £12.00. Click to Buy
Considering doctors said he would never climb again after taking two big ground falls when he started climbing, 46 year old Frenchman Alain Robert has done well to make a career out of climbing the world's tallest buildings - 85 of them at the last count: including the Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, the Sears Tower, Taipei 101, Cheung Kong Centre, the National Bank of Abu Dhabi...
Usually wearing a spider man outfit he climbs these buildings for fun, often for causes like global warming and sometimes for commercial reasons advertising websites, film premieres and the opening of some of the buildings he climbs. He's been arrested, jailed, expelled from China and once nearly fell from the top of the 60-story Four Seasons Place in Hong Kong when a woman on the other side of the glass screamed and almost fainted.
Because of his global publicity and exposure he's probably one of the only guest speakers at Kendal who is known outside of the climbing/mountaineering community.
Spiderman - Alain Robert
TIME & DATE: Saturday 21 Nov: 17:30 - 19:00
TICKET: £12.00. Click to Buy
Then there is Glen Denny: an early pioneer in Yosemite and photographer: Colin Mortlock, philosophical educational adventurer, inventor of the climbing wall, author of Adventure Alternative; Doug Scott, James McHaffie, Jon Bracey, Matt Helliker, Stefan Glowacz, Cameron McNeish, Simon Yates, Stephan Siegrist, Dave Pickford, Andy Parkin Andy Kirkpatrick, Ian Parnell, Maj Phil Packer, Eric Robson, Jerry Moffatt, ski mountaineer Suzy Madge and mountain biker Kate Rawles, plus Henry Worsley walks in the footsteps of Shackleton. We'll have more potted biographies of some of these speakers at a later time.
As reported last week at UKC (Leo's Asgard Project Begins) : Leo Houlding, Sean Leary (USA), Carlos Suarez (Spain) Alastair Lee, Jason Pickles, and Ian Burton are now on Baffin Island to attempt a free route up the North-West face Mount Asgard, once at the top they jump off wearing wingsuits. This expedition is being filmed by Alastair Lee of Posing Productions and has been christened, The Asgard Project and it is a major premiere at Kendal.
Another film to watch out for is 1959 All Womens International Expedition to Cho Oyu the first ever female attempt on an 8000m peak. Filmed by Eileen Heely, who is now 88. The film documents this international expedition, members included two of Tenzing Norgay's daughters and his niece, plus members of the Ladies Alpine Club and the Pinnacle Club.
At the heart of Kendal's programme is the mountain film competition, attracting film premieres from around the world. Over 80 films will be screened (from 300+ entries) and details of all these films will be published later as they are selected.
1959 All Womens International Expedition to Cho Oyu
TIME & DATE: Friday 20 Nov: 11:00 - 12:30
TICKET: £5.00. Click to Buy
The Asgard Project
TIME & DATE: Friday 20 November: Two screens: 19.00 and 19.30
TICKET: £7.50. Click to Buy
Exhibiting are painters Vivienne Pooley, Tom Pollard and Derek Elland; and photographers Jon Wyatt and Glen Denny. More details at www.mountainfest.co.uk
The Boardman-Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature will be awarded at Kendal. The short-listed authors will read from their work and be discussed followed by the prize-giving. Details at www.boardmantasker.com. There will be a full literature programme this year organised by author Niall Grimes. Each event will feature a talk, slide show and readings by the author, followed by an on-stage interview with the author, looking at what they were trying to achieve with their book, their motivations and inspirations and the process of writing a book.
Easily accessible from the M6 and by train and there are plenty of accommodation options in and around the town but you need to be on your toes as they fill up very quickly over the Mountain Festival weekend.
For all your questions, accomodation and travel needs go to www.golakes.co.uk here you will find all the information you should need for your visit to Cumbria, alternatively call the accommodation booking line on 0845 450 1199.
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