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Nevis Range

Public Information Feature

The full programme for the 2013 Fort William Mountain Festival, presented by the Outdoor Capital of the UK, has been announced. It has an impressive and diverse line up of inspirational speakers made up of top climbers, mountaineers and extreme sports men and women, together with adventure film screenings and mountain workshops. This year’s festival will be staged in and around the bustling Highland town of Fort William, in the heart of Lochaber, The Outdoor Capital of the UK, from Thursday 21 to Sunday 24 February 2013.

Mike Pescod, Chairman of the Highland Mountain Culture Association, organisers of the Festival, said: “The 2013 Fort William Mountain Festival is one of the most popular events in Scotland’s outdoor adventure calendar and everyone attending will be inspired, energized and entertained.

“This year’s programme celebrates mountain culture in all its forms and promotes the mountains as an attractive, accessible and above all enjoyable place to be. It includes a superb line up of top climbers and explorers, mountain films, inspirational speakers and skills workshops. It caters for a wide spectrum of enthusiasts from armchair adventurers to climbers and mountaineers to mountain bikers and budding wildlife photographers.”

The Fort William Mountain Festival programme includes:

Festival Launch Night – Wednesday 20/02/13 – The festival kicks off in action packed style at Nevis Range Mountain Experience, near Fort William. The evening will begin with a torchlight descent spectacular as a range of local outdoor athletes on skis, bike and foot weave their way down Aonach Mhor. This will be followed by a locally sourced and inspired four course meal, a preview screening of the festival competition films and live musical entertainment.

Bike Night – Thursday 21/02/13 – Kicking off the festival in style will be a full-on evening of mountain bike film action in the company of Chipps Chippendale (Singletrack Magazine), Rob Warner (Former pro dowhhill rider and mountain bike commentator) and Stu Thomson (Former pro downhill rider and mountain bike film maker – MTBCut); with compere Nigel Page (Former BMX and pro downhill rider, race team manager and commentator). They will present their favourite bike films throughout the night and conduct an interactive and light hearted Q & A session.

British Mountain Guides Night – Thursday 21/02/13 – Three members of British Mountain Guides, the most qualified and experienced professionals to lead people in the mountains, will share their passion for climbing and mountaineering. Andy Nelson lives in Glencoe where he has climbed extensively, putting up new routes at the highest standard. He will recount his experiences of Scottish winter climbing. Tim Neill, who has climbed widely in the UK, Ireland and throughout the world, will entertain the audience with his alpine climbing adventures. Stu McAleese is one of the best alpinists currently operating from the UK, a true all-rounder. He will focus his talk on some of the major expedition climbs he has been involved in including the ascent of Arctic Monkeys VI A4 V+ on Baffin Island that involved 18 consecutive nights on portaledges.

Antarctic Adventures Night with Karen Darke – ’From the Paralympics to the Pole…’ and Felicity Aston – ‘Call of the White’ – Friday 22/02/13. Karen Darke, a silver medallist in the hand-cycling Time Trial at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, has hand-cycled all over the world including Central Asia and the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the length of the Japanese archipelago. She has co-organised sea kayaking expeditions along the coastlines of British Columbia and Alaska, a sit-skiing trip across the Greenland Icecap, climbing El Capitan and kayaking through the fjords of Patagonia. Karen will entertain the audience with stories of her adventures and the challenges of wheels in them before finishing with her plans for her next expedition to the South Pole. In 2009 Felicity Aston lead a group of seven women from six different countries, representing six religions and seven languages, on a 900km trek from the south coast of Antarctica to the Geographic South Pole, in just 38 days. The team, many of them complete novices, had met only eight months before they set off. Felicity will bring their incredible journey to life, not just the physical aspects but also what it took to transform these individuals into such a successful team.

Climbing Night with Andy Cave – Saturday 23/02/13. Ben Nevis has been central in the history of Scottish winter mountaineering – the site of legendary new routes, incredible characters, unfailing passion and tragedy. As a teenager Andy Cave, one of the greatest mountaineers of his generation who explores new routes in remote mountain ranges all over the world, had his first taste of mountaineering on the Ben. In 2013 he returns with friends to examine the importance of Scottish Winter climbing and its impact on mountaineering throughout the world. Packed with both humour and drama this entertaining lecture is a celebration of winter climbing through the prism of Ben Nevis; together with some freshly shot video of The Ben by award winning film maker Paul Diffley. The 6th recipient of the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture will also be formally announced.

The Best of Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour Film Night – Sunday 24/02/13 – Always a sell-out, this is your chance to see the best in award winning mountain films from around the world – extreme expeditions and challenges, remote cultures and the world’s last great wild places. Don’t miss it!

Winter Skills Workshops – There will also be plenty of opportunity for both novices and experts to hone their mountain skills through a series of workshops in avalanche awareness, winter walking and winter climbing with Abacus Mountaineering. There is a one off Climbing Technique Master Class with local climber Dave MacLeod. There will be mountain photography workshops with Nevispix and a two day outdoor emergency first aid course at the Snowgoose Mountain Centre. Indoor climbing and ice climbing skills workshops will also be on offer at Kinlochleven’s Ice Factor Indoor Climbing Centre. There is even a gaelic language workshop aimed at climbers, mountaineers and hillwalkers at theWest Highland College, UHI, entitled ‘Understanding our mountains through the Gaelic language’.

Mike Pescod added: “This celebration of mountain culture, showcasing the huge range of outdoor activity opportunities available to visitors to Fort William and Lochaber, one of Scotland’s most stunning natural environments, is the vision of The Outdoor Capital of the UK, which is our presenting sponsor once again.”

To find out more about the Fort William Mountain Festival 2013 and to buy your festival tickets go to – www.mountainfestival.co.uk/

This week, the annual Mountain Festival comes to Lochaber. Now in its fifth year, the event is a mixture of workshops offering practical skills in mountain craft, films and lectures on a wide range of hill-related topics and a whole host of social activities. Timed to coincide with the school half-term holidays, it attracts people from all over the UK, making this one of the business parts of the winter season for Fort William and the surrounding area.

<em>Picture: Eric Kitchen</em>

Picture: Eric Kitchen

It’s one of the main events of the motorcycling year. This weekend, the 2011 SPEA FIM Trial World Championship arrives at Nevis Range, seven miles north-east of Fort William, for the sixth round of the series. Some of the best riders in the UK will be in the Highlands, all of them wanting to make their mark on sections that should favour the home runners.

Britain will be the best represented nation in the World Pro class, with five riders on the entry list. Amongst them is Dougie Lampkin of the Gas Gas team, 12 times Trial World Champion. This year, he’s in search of his 100th Grand Prix win and will certainly be motivated by massive home support.

Lampkin says he is fully committed to taking victory on British soil, especially after just missing his 100th win at last year’s event, when he finished second. So he is determined to realise his target and ride on to the top step of the podium once again.

“Without doubt Scotland is one of my favourite places to ride,” he said, “and I’m really looking forward to this year’s UK World Trial. Having a noisy home crowd behind me is a massive confidence boost and is one of the things which makes this event so unique. Over the years I have ridden in the Highlands several times, however still it remains special to me, so I cannot wait to return to Scotland.”

Lampkin has a home-grown challenge from the current British Trials champion, James Dabill of the Beta team. Currently sixth in the overall standings, Dabill also wants to use home advantage to record his best result of the season to date.

“The Nevis Range terrain is second to none,” he says, “and if this year’s sections are anything like last year’s the trial will be brilliant. I’ve ridden all around the world, but I still get the biggest buzz when performing in front of British fans on home soil – it’s amazing! I think the fact that there is something for everyone also helps.”

Then there is 21-year-old Jack Challoner who also rides for Beta. He too has high hopes when he arrives in Fort William. Despite this only being his first year in the World Pro class, Challoner has produced a series of determined performances and finds himself in eighth place, only five points behind the more experienced Loris Gubian, also of Gas Gas.

A third Gas Gas team member is Michael Brown, currently ninth in the general standings. He will arrive in Fort William riding on a wave of confidence after having recently taken his maiden win of the season at the latest round of the 2011 British Trials Championship.

“Obviously getting my first victory of the domestic championship was brilliant,” he said, “and it has certainly given me increased motivation heading to Fort William. Last year’s UK World Trial was fantastic and I am expecting it to be just as good this time around. With my team by my side and the crowd behind me I will be pushing for a good result.”

In the junior category, Jonathan Richardson of the Sherco team will continue his championship campaign. Others to look out for include wild-card entries George Morton and Jack Spencer of Beta and Harry Harvey of the Montesa team. As regular competitors in the British Trials Championship with previous experience of the formidable Scottish hazards, Morton and Spencer in particular could record surprise performances on the day.

<em>Picture: Eric Kitchen</em>

Picture: Eric Kitchen

The youth class is highly competitive. Leading the field of possible winners is young Jack Sheppard from the Beta stable. He has led the championship since the opening round of the series in Germany and currently holds a slender two-point lead over his nearest rival, despite struggling with a long-standing wrist injury.

“Riding at the World round in Scotland last year was a personal highlight for me,” Sheppard says. “Fort William has some of the best sections in the world and standing on the top step of the podium was brilliant – something I am determined to do again this year.”

The event starts on Saturday morning when riders put their bikes through technical control. Later in the day, there is what is possibly a grudge match between two former world champions in the finale of so-called Highland Challenge, where Dougie Lampkin and Takahisa Fujinami go head-to-head in order to settle the score once and for all.

Championship action proper will take place on Sunday as over 50 riders from all over the world will compete on the mountain course. Spectators will be able to keep up with the action from a group of seven key sections located close to the paddock. There are three man-made hazards actually at the start/finish area.

The Nevis Range gondola will also carry people up the mountain to enjoy four more hazards, set in a stunning location within a short walk of the top station, which boasts its own restaurant and play area. The organisers promise it will be a great weekend for all the family.

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