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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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