Pioneer Festival

There are certain words that resonate with the outdoor community. Words that conjure up images in our minds of ideals and concepts. Words that remind us why we like to be out there, doing stuff in the open, in nature, among all the trees and stuff. Words like mountain, sea, hillock, crag or gorge spring to mind . Pioneer is another one of them, a big one in fact. Probably the most important of them all.

The idea of being the first person to see or do something; an adventurer pushing beyond the limits of what’s been done before. Beyond the limits of any other human who’s ever lived is just as powerful as it has ever been. Trust us, we’ve met some of them, they’re an interesting sort.

Pioneer Festival is a three-day event at Hackney Picturehouse celebrating, well, pioneers, in their many shapes and forms. A weekend of films, talks, slideshows, music, poetry and storytelling all about the outdoors. Whether you’re a surfer, a climber, a hiker, a skateboarder, a festival goer or just someone who loves stories about exploration, there was a fair bit of stuff going on.

For us it was all about the climbing. We headed down to a morning of films and readings called Let’s Get High. The first film was Keeper of The Mountains, a 25 minute documentary about Elizabeth Hawley, a woman widely recognized as the world’s foremost chronicler of Himalayan mountaineering – although she’s never actually climbed a mountain. Not so much a climbing film, but more biopic of remarkable and somewhat surprising life.

This was followed by a presentation and reading by Susanna Jones, author of When The Nights Were Cold, a novel telling the story of a group of female mountaineers during the Edwardian age. Susanna, talked in detail about her reasons for writing the novel and the lengthy research needed to unearth the hurdles suffered by the world of female climbers. A world where it wasn’t uncommon to have to wear a dress whilst traversing.

The second film, The Conquest Of Everest, will be well-known to the climbers out there. An amazingly British film documenting the first ascent of Everest in 1953 by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. Yes it’s hilarious in places, with its received pronunciation, climbers struggling to breath at high altitudes but still smoking, and the inevitable mention of drinking tea solving any problem faced.

Other highlights of the festival included screenings of North of The Sun (2012), Dear And Yonder (2009), Into The Wild (2007), and Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001), talks by Roger Mansfield and Simon Costin, and closing parties featuring a selection of music from Glastonbury and the ultimate So-Cal playlist.

Head over to the website for more details on the event and hopefully, news of more happening in the future.