Kendal Mountain Festival 2019 - Report

Another edition of the Kendal Mountain Festival has been and gone. 2019 proved to be a vintage year, judging by the opinions of various visitors, industry professionals and volunteers we spoke to over the weekend. An expanded Kendal Mountain Literature Festival programme and diverse events revolving around this year's theme of 'openness' resulted in a wide-ranging and welcoming festival with something for everyone.

Kendal Mountain Festival 2019.  © Kevin Moran
Kendal Mountain Festival 2019.
© Kevin Moran

Climbing and mountaineering-related highlights included three climbing film events and premieres by British filmmakers: Al Lee's Climbing Blind, documenting Jesse Dufton's first blind ascent of the Old Man of Hoy, won the Grand Prize, while The Big Bang, the film following Emma Twyford's journey to climbing 9a by David Petts and supported by BMCtv won Best Climbing Film. The Friday night premiere of Dark Sky Media's Undiscovered featuring Dave MacLeod and exploring his passion for new routes around Scotland sold out.

The stand before the buyers arrived.  © Alan James
The stand before the buyers arrived.
© Alan James

The Mountain Equipment Alpinism Session in partnership with The Alpine Club on the topic 'Alpinism: Alive and Well?' offered an interesting debate by a knowledgeable and entertaining panel including Tom Livingstone, Nick Bullock, Katie Ives and Chris Bonington. Issues surrounding athlete sponsorship for extreme expeditions, social media's influence on activities and alpinism's environmental footprint were discussed and addressed, followed by a presentation by Tom on his recent expedition to Pakistan.

John Porter opens the Mountain Equipment Alpinism session.  © Natalie Berry
John Porter opens the Mountain Equipment Alpinism session.
© Natalie Berry

The Kendal Mountain Literature Festival excelled in both its scale and depth this year, with more sessions than ever before and thoughtfully assembled panels and diverse speakers. The eagerly anticipated 'Open Mountain: Inclusion and Connection' session featured five readings of prose and poetry written and performed by under-represented artists in the outdoors, with a short panel discussion following the readings.

Jessica J. Lee, Jay G. Ying and Amanda Thomson discuss diversity in nature writing.  © Henry Iddon
Jessica J. Lee, Jay G. Ying and Amanda Thomson discuss diversity in nature writing.
© Henry Iddon

Pete Whittaker's launch event for his new book The Definitive Guide to Crack Climbing proved popular and all advance copies of the book were signed and sold. Kate Harris received the Boardman-Tasker Award for Mountain Literature for her book Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road.

Mountaineering legends during the Changabang film session.   © Kevin Moran
Mountaineering legends during the Changabang film session.
© Kevin Moran

UKC/UKH and Rockfax had a fantastic three days at the Kendal Mountain Festival. Rob Greenwood introduced the 'Ben Tibbetts - Alpenglow' session on Friday night, 'David Smart - Paul Preuss, Lord of the Abyss' on Saturday, and 'Gary Gibson - Blood, Sweat and Smears' on Sunday morning. Natalie Berry participated in an insightful panel discussion on the future of mountain writing in the Basecamp Tent on Saturday afternoon (1:35pm) and introduced Peter Fiennes in his Footnotes talk on Sunday. Meanwhile, Nick Brown filmed interviews with key festival attendees, which will be released on UKC this week - watch this space.

Natalie Berry on a panel discussing the future of mountain writing.  © UKC
Natalie Berry on a panel discussing the future of mountain writing.
© UKC

The Rockfax stand in the far corner of the Basecamp Marquee was busy throughout and plenty of people seemed to be delighted to get their hands on the brand new Lake District Climbs guide.

Dan Bailey relaxes after a long day of sales.  © Alan James.
Dan Bailey relaxes after a long day of sales.
© Alan James.

As ever, the event provided us with a wonderful chance to chat with Rockfax users and get their feedback and opinions. Most interesting was the popularity of the app, which we had displayed on a big screen. It was nice to be able to reveal the detail to people who had previously only taken a cursory glance at it.

A happy group of UKC/UKH fans with their t-shirt purchases.  © Alan James
A happy group of UKC/UKH fans with their t-shirt purchases.
© Alan James

Thanks to everyone who came to the stand, particularly the very enthusiastic T-shirt group in the photo!

2019 Kendal Mountain Festival Film Awards


Grand Prize Climbing Blind, Dir. Alastair Lee

Judges Special Prize Hurdle, Dir. Michael Rowley

Best Short Film Fear of the Unknown, Dir. Daniel Brereton

Best Environment Film Scenes From A Dry City, Dir. Francois Verster & Simon Wood

Best Mountain Film The Last Mountain, Dir. Dariusz Załuski

Best Adventure and Exploration Home, Dir Jen Randall

Changemaker Award Forest Floor, Dir Julie Cleves & Robbie Synge

Community and Culture Award Little Miss Sumo, Dir. Matt Kay

Best Climbing The Big Bang, Dir. David Petts

Best Creative One Breath Around the World, Dir Guillaume Néry

Best Action Sport Dream Job, Dir. Katie Burrell, Colleen Gentemann

Honourable Mentions Counter Mapping, Dir Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, Adam Loften and Nowt But A Fleeting Thing Dir Dom Bush

People's Choice Award The Home for Broken Toys Dir. Holly Butcher


This post has been read 4,789 times

Return to Latest News



20 Nov

Do you know if the film about Emma will be available anywhere?

20 Nov

I always enjoy the festival, but Otter's in the Kent has to be the highlight. Hopefully there'll be more fringe events like this next year. Thanks to the sharp eyed Neil Henson for spotting.

20 Nov

What was that? I missed it!

It was good to see kiosk food locally sourced again but there were too few venues in the Brewery area for food and drink (especially for coffee in the film breaks ... since you had to queue, buy and drink it before re-entering) as the Brewery doesn't seem to want to have much competition. Please bring back Rins and everyone wins!

https://rinscoffee.com

The main bar shut again at 12 midnight on Friday. This is a major international festival with well behaved clientelle, so surely a slightly longer extension is possible on one of the two main evenings when people are staying. Meeting presenters, volunteers and other visitors is one of the big positives of the festival.

I really enjoyed the free talks but as basecamp was really crazy rammed at times over the weekend and people were sitting for a rest and chat, rather than interest in the talk, it was sometimes hard to concentrate. It was easier to listen to the Columbia talks as they were off to the side. It was so busy at times I'd shudder to think what would have happened if a fire started in basecamp.

Talks and literature events seem to be the usual high quality. The film lineup was excellent but I heard loads of people grumbling about booking film tickets. The old day pass worked well on the Friday but was a clear problem on Saturday and Sunday, so I understand that something had to change. The new system meant many people were signing up to 90 minute sessions without knowing what films they contained, until they got hold of the paper festival guide (unless they were a labyrinth genius and managed to navigate things on the website). Having an allocated seat was a major bonus to many I spoke to. If this booking process continues for films, some better advanced info is required or a return to topic titles like snow sport, environment etc.

Hi Jez,

Just had word back from Dave Petts:

"the festival will be going on tour now to 18 venues, but it will also be at SHAFF and I’m working some international festivals - after that it'll be on BMC TV'.

Hope that's of help.

20 Nov
More Comments