Mountain Heritage Trust hosts the Old Man, Destivelle and McArthur at Keswick Festival

As one of the most iconic mountaineers of the 1970s, the Mountain Heritage Trust was delighted to finally bring Pete Boardman’s almost 10,000 strong slide collection under one roof. Working with the Boardman family and the Chris Bonington Picture Library, the extensive slide collection was donated to the Trust in 2017, with Pete’s papers and personal material following in 2018. All this is now stored in our archive at the Blencathra Field Studies Centre.

Two of our volunteers, Sue and Sheila, began cataloguing the slides in February 2018 and discovered just how extensive the collection is. Beginning in 1965 until Pete’s death on Everest in 1982, the slides document many of his high profile expeditions to the greater ranges; Hindu Kush in 1972, the South West Face of Everest in 1975, Changabang in 1976, K2 in 1978, Kangchenjunga in 1979, Kongur in 1981 and Everest in 1982. The slides are a unique insight in to one of the most significant periods in British mountaineering history, at a time when new lightweight approaches to the Greater Ranges were being pioneered. Yet as well as these international expeditions, the images are a unique snapshot of 1970s climbing life, with UK crags such as the Wye Valley and Alpine trips in 1974 and 1977; as well as the Caucaus, Tatras, Corsica and Australia all pictured. Access to the collection can be requested by getting in touch through the website.

The Mountain Heritage Trust would like to extend their sincere thanks to both the Boardman family and our volunteers for ensuring that this valuable archive is preserved for the years ahead. With the slides organised, work is now beginning on re-boxing the slides in specialist archive boxes and our thanks go to the Boardman Tasker Charitable Trust who have paid for these.

Keswick Mountain Festival was blessed with good weather to accompany a packed schedule of events that included tales from the Montane Spine Race and Bob Graham Round as well as Alan Hinkes who was fresh from his talk at the Blencathra Field Studies Centre the previous week.

Outside the main events was the BMC Montane Skills Camp where a host of talks provided speakers with snapshots of wild adventures alongside practical advice on navigation and emergency management from Mountain Training. Mountain Heritage Trust were also front and centre in the tent on Friday exploring the history of the iconic Old Man of Hoy, first climbed in 1966. Through films and annecdotes we discovered the stack's rich and varied history as a TV celebrity and remote location that has captured the imagination of climbers ever since Sir Chris Bonington, Tom Patey and Rusty Baillie. Through TV features and unqiue formation it gradually developed a reputation, demanding commitment and planning for a successful ascent to be realised. This culminated in a pioneering ascent by Catherine Destivelle who climbed the original route solo in 1998, a climb which came in the same decade as her successful solo on the North Face of the Eiger and routes on the Matterhorn, Grandes Jorasses and the Dru.

We were lucky enough to also be joined by Gilly McArthur who provided a modern day take on climbing the stack having made an ascent back in 2011. Her experiences of the living heritage of the route provided an insight of what the route is like to climb today, not least the ever growing amounts of tat which back-up the abseil station to the base of the route. In many ways it has become jaded in recent years, with old ropes swinging in the breeze as a hallmark to bygone eras and the countless film productions and attempts that have been made to reach its top.

Beyond the festival ground it was particularly special to see the history of the Bob Graham Round explored through a panel of Billy Bland, Jasmin Paris, Steve Birkinshaw, Martin Stone and Steve Chilton. Given the 36 year old record was broken last year by Kilian Jornet it was a fantastic opportunity to hear from the previous record holder as well as other well-known fell-runners who've attempted the route in recent years.

The weekend was part of our on-going summer events programme which includes two up-coming talks at the Blencathra Field Studies Centre in conjunction with the RGS-IBG. Find out more here.

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