A Weekend of Wonders

By Talyn Williams

I awoke as usual on Thursday morning, blurry eyed and slightly delusional, until I remembered what would be unfolding that weekend… Kendal Mountain Festival. This was one morning that didn’t require a large pot of coffee to get me going, the excitement soon had me up and out.

On the bucket list of any outdoor enthusiast, Kendal Mountain Festival plays host to some of the world’s greatest mountaineers, climbers, bikers, cavers, swimmers and all round adventure maniacs. There would be film premiers, award ceremonies, awe-inspiring talks and (of course) plenty of beer to spread the cheer. It would surely be a weekend to remember.

After an easy drive up from HQ (with a quick stop off at Hathersage to pick up store hero Andy) we arrived in Kendal to begin setting up the Alpkit bothy, ready for Friday morning’s big Basecamp opening. Basecamp village is the beating heart of Kendal Mountain Festival, it gives festival goers a place to socialise, check out the latest gear and grab a drink or two as well as try out all the competitions and games scattered around the tent. A central stage is the prominent feature where yet more inspirational people show their faces to tell the crowd about all their daring deeds. With so much going on, we’ve picked out our favourites from the weekend that we've been so lucky to be involved with.

Friday: Aleks Kashefi

Aleks Kashefi took to the Basecamp stage on Friday evening to talk us through his transition from couch potato to continent conqueror, a 5 year physical and emotional journey that led him to leave a stable life behind in order to seek out adventure and a life that’s not so ordinary. Like a real life Forrest Gump, one day in 2012 Aleks decided to start running. A short run turned into a long run and a long run turned into a cross country run (Lands End to John O’Groats), until Aleks decided to run across several countries, from the tip of Norway to the South of Spain! A truly inspirational man that conquers fear and pushes both his mental and physical abilities to the limit.

Saturday: The Ario Dream - World Premier

When I see films of pioneering mountaineers on first ascents or bikers hurtling down near vertical knife edges on rocks and mud, I think to myself “that looks crazy… I want in”, but after watching these cavers descend over 1,500m down into the pitch dark, tackling tight squeezes and abseiling hundreds of metres surrounded by nothing but blackness, all with gear in tow, I’m not so sure I’d join in quite so willingly. Renowned film maker Paul Diffley presented his new film The Ario Dream, a project that Alpkit were really excited to be supporting, following Steph Dwyer and the incredible Ario caving team as they attempt to make connections between various caving systems deep in the mountains of the Picos de Europa. Spending up to five days underground at a time, this awe-inspiring film highlights the skill and risk taking required to explore the unknown underground.

Photo: Duncan Simey

Sunday: The Outdoor Swimming Session

We love wild swimming. It’s pure, peaceful and brings you closer to nature. The Outdoor Swimming Session on Sunday morning celebrated all of that and more, showing films like from Scree to Sea which follows Malcolm and Anne’s journey down the river Kent from source to sea. A short but beautiful film that really shows the essence of what you can really gain from a quick dip in a local river or lake.

Kendal Mountain Festival 2017 really has been a weekend full of wonders, full of inspiration and full of all kinds of people going nice places and doing good things. All I know now is that I can’t wait for next year. See you there!

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