Kendal Mountain Festival 2018 | Highlights - Outdoors Magic

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Kendal Mountain Festival 2018 | Highlights

Can I just live in Kendal and watch outdoor films for the rest of my life?

Kendal Mountain Festival really does seem to get better and better each year.

From its humble beginnings over 17 years ago, it’s now grown into something quite special, establishing itself as the unofficial gathering for the UK’s outdoor and adventure sports scene and earning the nickname ‘the Oscars of outdoor film making’.

Where else do you get to share a bar with mountaineering supremos like Chris Bonington and Kenton Cool? Also spotted at the KMF bar were microadventurer, Alastair Humphreys, jungle explorer Pip Stewart and Sean Conway – whose legs are probably still recovering from his record-breaking cycle across Europe (it took him just under 25 days).

Socialising aside, it was a brilliant line-up the festival organisers put on this year. The Berghaus Women in Adventure night drew a sell-out crowd, with long-distance runner and cyclist Anna McNuff hosting a talk with some inspiring athletes and explorers, including sport climber Molly Thompson-Smith and Anna Blackwell who took the audience through her paddle from England to the Black Sea.

I’m told Brendan Leonard, aka Semi Rad, put on a great show discussing his film, How to Run 100 miles. “I saw a few people laughing during it, so that’s good I guess” was his response when I asked him how it went (interview coming soon).

As for the films shown over the weekend at Kendal, a surprise hit was definitely The Longest Hole, a tale of two friends hitting a golf ball across the whole of Mongolia.

There was also Underdog, which follows Damian Hall on his quest to make Top 10 in the UTMB. That certainly seemed to generate a buzz – in fact it won the prestigious People’s Choice category this year.

Unsurprisingly, the hot ticket of the weekend was for the UK première of Free Solo, Jimmy Chin’s documentary following Alex Honnold undertaking what could arguably be the greatest athletic feat of all time.

Read our interview with Alex straight after he completed that epic climb.

“I can’t say enough to do justice to the intricate and beautiful process that the whole film takes you through,” said Outdoors Magic Staffer Mike Brindley, who managed to catch the screening. “The end comes with such a flurry of emotion as you might expect, even from the usually reserved protagonist.”

“That’s the beauty of this festival. It’s ideally located so that when the inspiration strikes you can nip out in the morning and get your own adventure fix”

There were blue skies over Kendal this year and plenty of people were making the most of it judging by the full backpacks, muddy boots and propped up mountain bikes in and around the festival basecamp. I managed my first trip up Helvellyn on the Saturday morning, and it was certainly worth the 5:30 start – even despite the slight Cumbrian Ale hangover.

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That’s the beauty of this festival. It’s ideally located so that when the inspiration strikes (and this will happen regularly) you can nip out in the morning and get your own adventure fix, then you can come back in the afternoon to watch some more films, see a few more talks and start the cycle all over again.

Roll on next year.


All the Winners From Kendal Mountain Festival

Grand Prize: Free Solo
Judges Special Prize: Wonderful Losers
Judges Special Prize: Chasing Monsters
Best Short Film: AMA
Best Environment Film: The Island and the Whales
Best Mountaineering Film: La Congenialità The Attitude of Gratitude
Best Adventure and Exploration: Zabadast
Best Climbing: Dawn Wall
Best Culture: Ascending Afghanistan
Best Adventure: Sport Divided
Best Sound: Parasol Peak
Best Visual: This Mountain Life

Getting to grips with a new item we're reviewing, the Casio ProTrek F30 GPS watch. Photo: Mike Brindley
Helvellyn never disappoints . Photo: Mike Brindley


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