The Hard Rock Fest, now in it’s 2nd year is small, friendly and probably the best conceived climbing festival in the UK. It is the festival we want, it’s based somewhere we might not normally go to so it becomes a proper trip. It has a great combination of climbing comps, films, music and some of the local brew. Best of all you don’t feel that it’s there just to take money from you, the entry fee was just fifteen pounds and for that you get free camping, two bands and stack of great films to watch.
It got going about 6.00pm on the Friday when the films started and the bar opened. After the films and a couple of drinks The Leaders started up and didn’t hold back, a few of the tables near the front were a little shocked on quite how loud a band can sound.
After they finished the music continued with everyone happy to drink nice beer and enjoy good conversation. Ken and I ended up talking to Matt and Andy from Lundhags/Icebug trying to right the wrongs of the outdoor industry.
Saturday started under a cloud, quite a big one actually as it was the size of the south west. It didn’t seem to stop anything happening though, the comps still went ahead, the films still got shown and the guys from Gibbon still had the slackline up and running. One event that I thought was good and I hope the organisers can look to expand upon was Rich Mayfield’s bolting seminar. It was very informal and set in the uber cool tent tipi. Rich went through the basics of bolting including, types of drill, best practice placement, bolt options. This felt really down to earth, and I would of thought that everyone that wanted to contribute felt they could. If things like this get too big it’s tricky to ask what you think might be a stupid question. With just 20 people round a table it’s easier to ask about the relevant merits of the TE-6A vs 11536VSR. A few more of these throughout the day would be great.
There were some great films on show ‘The Oil’ and ‘Water Project’, deservedly won Best Film, and ‘Bamboo Climber’ saw it’s world premier just hours after its completion. It then went on to win the peoples film choice. I actually missed that showing but did catch ‘Underdeveloped’, this is a film which if it doesn’t inspire you to climb in Ireland hopefully will inspire you to get your camera out. For what is basically a collection of home movies they made a really good job of showing what climbing with your mates is like.
Alpkit sponsored the party on Saturday night, and it started with the band Scaramoose. What can I say.. brilliant. Not sure who booked them but I don’t think they could have chosen any better. They fitted the mood perfectly. During their break on came Simon Anning a Plymouth based singer songwriter, and again he was great. When the bands finally had to end, a few ipods came out and kept things moving. It was only a matter of time until the fun and games started: arm wrestling, climb the table and walk the bottle. I think everyone was quite surprised how late it was, when we finally packed things up at 4.00am. Much respect to Keith and the team who were up at 7.00am clearing up ready for the next day.
Sunday, a brighter start made the morning a little easier, as did the bbq cooking bacon and sausages. If only there had been eggs as well then it would have been a perfect start for the veggies amongst us. The films rolled out through out the morning and few of the comps finished up. There was also a dry-tooling contest which was won by someone who had never touched a set of tools before. Just after lunch Rich Mayfield was up again with his vivid account of his decent into Lows Gully. It’s story we’ve all heard about but in my ignorance didn’t appreciate that Rich was one of those involved in the infamous incident in 1994. Throughout the weekend Rich and Sam from the Orange house had been selling tickets for the raffle, when the time came to draw these a bun fight ensued. Basically first come first serve. There were a load of prizes from Dmm, Evolv, Metolius, Prana, Petzl, Orange House, Alpkit and Metolius. Each ticket was called out and then the winner then headed to the prize table. I messed things up a little arriving late with the prizes we were giving away. Some people had just picked up a prize when in I walk with a boulder mat and load of other stuff, opps.
If you want to come and spend time with like minded people and have a good time, if you want to watch a few movies, watch a few comps (or even enter) and listen to a few bands, then I highly recommend you turn up next year.
Hats off to Keith, Jon, Chris, Sam and Rich, for coming up with a great event and raising money for Mountain Rescue.
Next Years Rock Fest is on the 13th -16th August 2009,