Friday 26 November 2010

Winter Mountaineering Days in the Lake District and the Kendal Film Festival

Well, it's some considerable time since Iain at Kendal Mountaineering Services has updated the blog. The latter part of October was a quiet month and November has been similar, so, Iain & his partner Kirstin chose to get a few holidays in. More about the holidays in another post, but for now you can read about the events of the past week & a bit.

The first shot of this post shows two of Iains past clients - Adam Dawson & Chris Upton during a winter mountaineering day in the Lake District on Wednesday Nov 17th. Both Adam & Chris have been good clients of Kendal Mountaineering Services during the last 4 years. Both have attended our legendary Scottish Winter Skills courses in the Cairngorms as well as our winter climbing days. Both have also attended Iain's Skye weeks and have done our Cuillin Ridge Traverses as well as other scrambles in the Cuillins and they have also attended a beginners scrambling course here in the Lake District.

As a Mountaineering Instructor, there is now not a lot Iain can go on to teach the pair - although they are both looking forward to joining Iain in the New Year for a winter climbing skills training course in Scotland. Both have become firm friends of Iain's during the four years that they have worked with him; and the occasion of our being out in the hill last week was not one of work but what is becoming an annual social event that the three come together to enjoy.

Chris & Adam both descended on our household last year at around the same time with a view to attending the Kendal Mountain Festival - this annual event brings together top national & international performers from the outdoor scene and enthusiasts from all over the globe. It is an excellent opportunity to see lectures by famous names, network and socialise. In shot two Chris and Adam enjoy an evening meal with Kirstin and Iain after our day out (photo above) on Dove and Hart Crag in the Lake District.

The forecast for our first day out was poor - with a strong south westerly gusting up to 90mph on the summits, freezing level at about 2500 feet and heavy rain forecast all day. Having arrived back from the 25 degree average of Morocco the previous day, Iain was not overly enthusiastic about getting out in this maelstrom of foulness, but once we reached the level of Houndshope Cove the enthusiasm returned as we were now in a maelstrom of dry, cold and snow - Iain was even heard to say Morocco was good - but this is better! After a lunch stop in the famous Priests Hole, the trio ascended to to the summit of Dove expecting to be blown flat - but this never happened and as the wind didn't seem to be so bad, we followed with Hart Crag before descending to the juncture with Hartsop above How. The plan had been to descend this ridge to the car, but a 2 mile traverse exposed to the worsening weather seemed like a daft plan so we headed back to Dovedale and walked back to the car - making it back just in time for dark.

After the drenching below the snowline we were all ready for a hot shower and one of Iain's legendary Chilli's - cooked by Kirstin this time, funnily enough!

Chris & Adam were keen to get out the following day too. The wind was due to have moderated although the freezing level appeared to have risen. After a wet and cloudy ascent from Patterdale Hall to the summit of St Sunday Crag the decision was made to continue on to Fairfield where conditions improved in so much that the rain stopped, the wind eased off and it grew colder. This could have just been due to our being sheltered by Fairfield as we approached it from the lee side. Shot three was taken as we ascended to Fairfield summit from Cofa Pike and here there was a true winter feel to the day. Anyway, once we decended to Grisedale Tarn and back down the valley, the weather became as grotty as before and we were glad of a hot brew provided by Iain's friends at Patterdale Hall.

The evening saw us out in town for a curry followed by a long session in the Vats Bar at the Brewery Arts centre before finishing in the small hours at Dickie Doodles. This was to set the scene for the following two nights!

Starting on Friday we got stuck into some of the films and lectures on offer at the Kendal Mountain Festival programme. Our afternoon started with " The Pinnacle" - a film by Paul Diffley about Dave Macleod and Andy Turner's re-enactment of Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith's groundbreaking week in 1960 when they put up 7 new routes on Ben Nevis including such classics as Orion Face Direct, Point Five Gully and Smith's Route and we followed this with "The Slacker's Guide to Climbing" featuring BMC President Rab Carrington and Steve McClure. Afterwards, we retired to the Vats Bar til 2am.

Saturday saw us start with a lecture by Iker & Eneko Pou - Seven Walls - Seven Continents followed by The Summit is the Goal by the legendary Peter Habeler and then finish with the truly outrageous but incredibly funny Timmy O'Neill. Then followed the best evening of all, more Brewery & Dickie Doodle Action til 4am and a chance to socialise and drink beer with some of the best known names in the outdoor scene.

Sunday saw us feeling a bit battered but after a whopping "full english" brunch and a scout around the Festival Tent for "outdoor bargains" we were ready for our final lecture of the event - Guy Robertson's "Mixed emotions - Scottish Winter Warfare" - a fantastic lecture by a climber at the cutting edge of mixed climbing of the highest order. After that, Chris & Adam departed and it was all over.

In summary, it was a great five days - but thank god it only happens once a year! Iain reckons that all told he took on board enough calories to power an Airbus A380 for the first 150 miles of flight and now he has to shift them, but thanks to Adam & Chris and the Kendal Mountain Festival for making it a truly memorable experience.

We're going to do it again next year.

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