Kendal Mountain Festival Director, Clive Allen, previews the speakers set to appear at this year's Kendal Mountain Festival.
If it's October, then it must be almost time for Europe's biggest event of its kind, Kendal Mountain Festival 2012 over the weekend of 17-20 November. And as usual, it's looking good with tickets already on sale and going fast. What's on? Here's festival director Clive Allen with the inside track on this year's speaker programme, with the film preview to follow soon - enjoy!
So there’s about five weeks to go before this year’s Kendal Mountain Festival and we’re doing our usual ‘serene on the surface/paddling madly underneath’ impression. For all the studied exterior calm, behind the scenes there are still feverish preparations going on.
More Speakers Than Planned...
The programme is now tied down, and tickets have been on sale for a couple of weeks. We have around 40 speakers involved; once again, way more than we intended! The problem is, we do it to ourselves. Every year we say let’s take it easy, reduce the number of speakers, simplify the event. But then the programme just builds up, we get great offers from sponsors and filmmakers and suddenly it’s almost impossible to fit everybody in.
OK let’s talk about the speaker programme, then in the next update I can give some details about films.
Paddle And Straddle!
Highlights this year start on Friday night. First up is the KEEN Wild Water Session, an exclusive mix of the best paddlesport action, from wild river running to remote sea kayak expeditions, this year featuring top new films plus KEEN athlete Adrian Durrant. From Lucan, Co Dublin, Adrian is one of Ireland’s top paddlers.
Then there’s the world film premiere of Wide Boyz, the story of Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker’s trip to the States, searching out the hardest wide crack climbs the planet has to offer. The London Metro said, “Jammed in a Crevice”. The Daily Mail said, “They’ve Cracked It” and The Star stated “It’s Tough at the Top”.
As Tom Randall says, “What made the popular media interested in this obscure niche of climbing, I really don’t know. Within just a few hours I was asked to do an interview with BBC Radio Sheffield and one for BBC News 24 – crikey, I thought – do they actually know what an offwidth crack is?” Tom, Pete and filmmakers Paul Diffley and Chris Alstrin will be there to give a special insight, hence the speaker angle.
Next up is Marmot Night, a successful fixture once again presided over by John Horscroft and featuring top alpinist Robert Jasper. A climber who redefines the phrase ‘all-rounder’, Jasper has notched up some of the hardest sports climbs, plus soloed the three great North Faces of the Alps in record time, pioneered new routes in both Tierra del Fuego and Baffin Island and climbed Denali by two different routes in four days. Phew.
Headlining Friday night’s adidas Endurance Session will be Olympic triathletes Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee. Fresh from their success at London 2012, the brothers will give us insights into what makes them the dominant force in world triathlon. We also venture into the world of adventure racing with the top two British AR teams recently returned from an arduous World Championships in France. Plus Ultra-marathon expert Andy Mouncey lifts the lid on what makes the difference between a DNF and finishing with pride.
Last year’s inaugural Pub Quiz was a night to remember for many reasons. Kendal at its best; funny, anarchic and slightly out of control. Once again this year Andy Kirkpatrick is at the helm so you can always expect the unexpected. We’ll be ensuring that topics range far and wide, including some rounds that will have nothing whatsoever to do with climbing. So make sure your team includes plenty of talent! Teams of six, with just 22 tables available – book early to avoid disappointment!
A Saturday Night Cast Of Thousands...
Saturday brings an exciting array of speakers with ski mountaineer Jim Blyth, alpinist and author Andy Cave, hyper-enthusiastic climber and BASE exponent Tim Emmett, top Canadian adventurer Will Gadd plus two of the world’s foremost women climbers – Ines Papert and Liv Sansoz.
Canadian winter Paralympian Josh Dueck tells us how he turned adversity to triumph, becoming one of the world’s top freestyle sit-skiers, and then Berghaus takes over an entire venue for the evening with two big attractions.
Darke And Houlding
First up, Karen Darke describes her journey as an outdoor enthusiast paralysed from the chest down after a climbing accident, finding new ways to access the outdoors then being selected as part of the British Handcycling Team for the London 2012 Paralympics; and winning a silver medal!
Then top adventure climber (and Kendal patron) Leo Houlding describes making a first ascent on a Venezuelan tepui, approaching through thick jungle and climbing the wall ground-up in the best possible Heart Of Darkness style. There to record the epic was adventure filmmaker extraordinaire Alastair Lee – the duo will show their film Autana plus lots of behind-the-scenes stories and action.
A big friend of the Festival, BBC adventurer and presenter Paul Rose is one of the world's most experienced and respected science and adventure expedition leaders. Paul’s new BBC documentary, Frank Wild: Antarctica's Forgotten Hero aired this year on BBC 1 and his TV credits include Britain's Secret Seas, Oceans, Voyages of Discovery, Take One Museum, Meltdown, Wind and Scrapheap Challenge. For Kendal he’ll be talking about balancing a life of adventure with TV work, and might also mention sailing a traditional Yorkshire Coble in the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant!
All About The Bikes
The Santa Cruz Bike Session will be packed to the rafters. Mountain bike endurance rider Rob Dean teaches us the difference between the EWE and the Barebones 200, we are honoured to welcome filmmaking legend Alex Rankin with a can full of cinematic surprises, plus there’s an audience with master skill-smith Chris Akrigg - BMX, Trials, singletrack and downhill champ.
Finally for Saturday night there’s the legendary RAB Party. Kendal isn’t called “The main social event for outdoor enthusiasts in the UK” for nothing, over the last three decades it has developed a solid reputation for knowing how to have a good time and the Saturday night RAB party is at the very heart of the event. This year features a live band plus DJ, even more reason to corner your tickets early.
If you’re still standing by Sunday, we have yet more entertainment for you. Mountain legend Fred Beckey is still climbing at 89, every day if he can. The mountaineer and author is renowned as ‘one of America's most colourful and eccentric mountaineers’ and is unofficially recognised as the all-time world-record holder for the number of first ascents credited to one man.
His reputation is well known among climbers, captured in a T-shirt ‘Beware of Beckey: He will steal your woman, steal your route’. For Kendal, Fred will talk about his life and climbs with reminiscences from the Sierra Nevada to the Yukon and Alaska.
Prolific Everest-summiteer Kenton Cool managed to visit the top of the world for the 10th time earlier in 2012, a staggering achievement. In keeping with this year’s Olympic theme Kenton carried a medal from the 1924 Winter Olympics, fulfilling a pledge made by a member of the 1922 British Everest expedition. Not only that, accompanying Kenton to the summit was Kendal favourite and renowned filmmaker Keith Partridge, a fantastic effort. Kenton and Keith will be on stage talking about this year’s ‘Everest season’ and the realities of climbing on the mountain – is it really that crowded?
And Comedy Too
And now for something completely different. Ed Byrne, the Irish comedian (Live At The Apollo, Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You) is big hillwalker and general outdoor enthusiast and was keen to come to Kendal on the proviso that we found him a sensible, level-headed person to share the stage with. So we’ve teamed him up with Andy Kirkpatrick. What could possibly go wrong?
Together with over 70 films in competition, art, literature plus the Boardman Tasker literary prize, it promises to be another unmissable year!
Dates are 17-20 November, book tickets online or through 01539 725133 - news as it happens at www.mountainfest.co.uk.