Kendal Mountain Festival 2017: Report

by Natalie Berry - UKC 21/Nov/2017
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Kendal Mountain Festival is wrapped up for another year and the 2017 edition was the biggest and arguably the best yet. The festival proved once again to be a busy and inspiring four days of films, photos, music, art and literature with plenty of beer, food and social activity on the side. A notable addition to the programme was the long-awaited dedicated Literature Festival, with over 20 events featuring respected authors and writers. Special sessions in a wide range of outdoor activities gave the event an even broader appeal to adventure enthusiasts.

The Brewery Arts Centre, Lowe Alpine Yurt and the Basecamp Village were the festival hub., 174 kb
The Brewery Arts Centre, Lowe Alpine Yurt and the Basecamp Village were the festival hub.
© Kevin Moran

Climbing highlights included lectures by Adam Ondra - fresh from completing the world's first 9c - and Mr Dawn Wall, Tommy Caldwell, whose book The Push was shortlisted for the 2017 Boardman Tasker Award. Both climbers analysed their background in the sport and some friendly repartee was enjoyed as Tommy listened to Adam's lecture and asked 'Why did you make it look so easy?' to kick off the Q&A session, referring to Adam's repeat of the Dawn Wall.

Tommy Caldwell speaks at the Boardman Tasker Award event., 158 kb
Tommy Caldwell speaks at the Boardman Tasker Award event.
© Kevin Moran

As part of the Literature Festival, US music photographer Jim Herrington launched his portrait book The Climbers (UKC Digital Feature), featuring climbers and mountaineers from the Golden Age in the Malt Room, giving a humble yet insightful talk on his career and those of his aged subjects. Judging by the interest from the audience in the Q&A session that followed and in the signing session, the event was a highlight for many as Jim told tales of musical and climbing celebrities, from Dolly Parton to Gwen Moffat.

Canadian author Bernadette McDonald scooped the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature on the Friday afternoon with Art of Freedom: The Life and Climbs of Voytek Kurtyka (UKC interview) after much deliberation by the judging panel, chaired this year by acclaimed poet and author Helen Mort. Helen described the judges' impression of the book as follows:

'A profound and subtle profile of one of the international climbing world's most complex mountaineers. We felt the writing was meticulously crafted and that the book makes extreme mountaineering accessible to the lay reader.'

Helen Mort: Chair of the judging panel at the Boardman Tasker Award event., 100 kb
Helen Mort: Chair of the judging panel at the Boardman Tasker Award event.
© Henry Iddon Photography

Other fringe events such as the the Filmmaking Summit, live music shows, art exhibitions and the 10km Trail Race added to the multifarious nature of the festival. The Basecamp Village proved popular with talks and workshops adding an energetic vibe to the exhibitor stalls and the Vat Bar was yet again the social hub of the festival. UKC/UKH and Rockfax were also present throughout the weekend on the stand in the Basecamp Village, where festival-goers enjoyed bargain guidebooks, our new hippy dippy t-shirts and chats with the team.

UKC and Rockfax on the stand., 142 kb
UKC and Rockfax on the stand.
© Natalie Berry

Smock the difference: UKC's Rob Greenwood and a very energetic Calum Muskett, 219 kb
Smock the difference: UKC's Rob Greenwood and a very energetic Calum Muskett
© Dan Bailey

Director of KMF, Clive Allen, told UKC:

'"Bigger and better than ever" is a bit of a cliché, but it's true. Feedback from audiences, sponsors, even local businesses has been fantastic; we reckon on being roughly 20% up on tickets, so that's a lot of happy people in Kendal. We were certainly successful in opening up the event to new audiences, especially young adventurers, and the re-launch of our Literature Festival proved to be a roaring success.'

Sir Chris Bonington entertains the Basecamp Festival crowd., 160 kb
Sir Chris Bonington entertains the Basecamp Festival crowd.
© Kevin Moran

International Film Competition - Winners 2017

Grand Prize: Blood Road

Judges Special Prize: The Hanging

Best Short Film: Imagination

Best Environment Film: The Curve of Time

Best Mountaineering Film: Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey

Best Adventure & Exploration Film: Into Twin Galaxies

Best Climbing Film: Stumped

Best Culture: Becoming who I was

Best Adventure Sport: Weightless

Best Sound: Song for the Nomad

Best Visual: The Last Honey Hunter

Peoples Choice Film Prize: Ario Dream

This week we'll be posting our favourite climbing films (those that are available to watch online, anyway) from the festival as part of our 'Kendal Rekindled' concept. Keep an eye out...

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