Stars Shining at Kendal

Posted on November 23, 2011 05:53 PM

As a kid, in fact even as an adult, I looked up to the stars of the climbing world. Then slowly, as you meet them you realise they are actually normal people. It’s almost a surprise! Ben Moon is Human!
But some stars remain up there, and even when you get to know them well, there is still just something about them that sets them apart. I can be having a totally normal conversation about something totally normal, but there is something else, a depth of history surrounding us like a mist. Unseen but felt.
Normally Kendal doesn’t excite me that much, but this year there were a few people that I really wanted to see, all doing talks, and all good friends. It’s strange to think I’d want to see them talk, when I could just sit with them in a pub for a few hours, but hearing their story from amongst a crowd is different, another side. It puts them back up there from a good mate to a star.
A triple hit, I fluked tickets to them all. Andy Kirkpatrick, Lynn Hill, Johnny Dawes. No introductions necessary.
Andy is mountain hero. And talk expert! I wanted to see his show as I’ve just read his book. The only problem is it makes me realise my talks are totally dull, as his are really funny and fly along at a blistering pace. He covers his book, ‘Cold Wars’. Great, though his talk is ALL funny. There is a lot in the book that is pretty deep, the strong bond between his kids and himself and the struggle to justify the risk. I thought he’d go into this, but maybe some things and best just on paper!
Lynn had the house packed out. Her story is just so vast! She picked out the important bits but barely got started. A history lesson on why Lynn is just such an Icon. We know it, but when you see how much she’s done….. And at 50 she’s still cranking, 8b+ and font 8a!
Johnny was the big one for me. Undoubtedly THE legend in British Climbing, and recognised on the world stage. His talk is pure genius. No plan, a rough idea of what to cover, but the genius is in the way he can wander. Details that should take ages to describe he paints with incredible detail in just a single sentence. Occasionally he read from his book and it added an extra sparkle to the words; when I read them again they seemed to tell a whole new story. Watching Johnny was like when you see a true performer in action, maybe a singer, where the talent shines so brightly it’s clear that there is something entirely special. Johnny isn’t just a climber that did some hard stuff!

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