Kendal Mountain Film Festival

Present: Dan (organiser), Beckie, Sarah, Alan, Claire, Bruce

“I seem to have misplaced Ambleside.”
“This hostel costs how much for a dorm place?”
“Call this a pub?”
“No sausages. Again.”
“How on earth did they complete that climb/ski that mountain/survive that fall?”

The above quotes pretty much encapsulate another visit to the Kendal Mountain Film Festival, that annual extravaganza of adventure films and lectures from well-known and less-well-known figures in the world of mountaineering. There were just six of us this year: Sarah set off from Newbury at the crack of dawn on Friday with the intention of getting a walk in, but her route up to Fairfield from Ambleside was curtailed by low cloud and rain – unable to see more than 20 metres in all directions, she came back down after three hours and took refuge in a gear shop or two instead. Everyone else set off later and got caught up in a variety of traffic problems. Again, we were staying at Kendal YH, but somehow the booking for a 6-bunk room made by Dan five months ago had mysteriously changed into three places in a men’s communal dorm, and three places in a women’s dorm… Dan, Beckie and Sarah went for a curry on arrival; the others managed to find a pub which apparently didn’t stock beer, white wine, grapefruit juice or water, a turn of events which just about made Alan’s evening.

On Saturday we were all up promptly for a full English breakfast (minus sausages), before the first of several walks to and from Kendal Leisure Centre. A number of talks were taken in that day, including the “big-screen premiere” (because it’s been on Channel 4 about three times recently) of “The Beckoning Silence”, a retrospective on Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker 25 years after they disappeared on Everest, and Ranulph Fiennes (twice, for Alan and Claire). We also adhered to a few NMC traditions while in Kendal: counting the down jackets on display, the annual visit to Bargain Booze, and playing pool into the early hours of the morning while letting latecomers into the hostel.

Sunday was predominantly the film-watching day – everyone was quite tired after two late nights and not much sleep in communal dorms (especially the men’s dorm, where Dan demonstrated a novel way to deal with a heavy snorer). Recommended films include “Psyche” and “King Lines”, both of which won awards at the festival. Claire and Alan then stayed in the Lakes for an extra day, to do a walk up to Helm Crag and Easedale Tarn from Grasmere, and a bit of gear shopping of their own.

During the weekend we did start wondering if NMC should make and submit a short film from one of our trip weekends for next year… anyone interested?!

Sarah Davies

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