Winter walks on Ben Nevis will form part of the festivalSlacklining, mountain morality, the history of mountain rescue and the chance to win a grand: it’s festival time soon in Fort William, with nine days of mountain culture in the self-proclaimed outdoor capital of the UK.

Winter walks on Ben Nevis will form part of the festival

Publicity for next year’s event, from 15 to 23 February, kicked off this week with a demonstration of the daredevil art of slacklining – walking across precarious abysses on webbing strapping – as Jon Ritson, an accomplished exponent of the activity, performed various stunts and tricks above the Lower Falls in Glen Nevis.

The first ever UK Slacklining Masters’ competition will be staged on the last day of the festival. Budding film-makers, photographers and writers can put their work forward for judgement in the three categories of the event’s competition. Top prize for films is £1,000, and deadline for both movies and still photography is 31 December 2007. The John Muir writing competition deadline, for pieces up to 1,200 words, is 11 January, 2008. There’s a section for writing in Gaelic, as well as English.

The morality of Everest mountaineers has been a growing subject for scrutiny in recent years. Alpine specialist and Everest summiteer Kenton Cool will discuss the Modern Face of Everest, with writer and film-maker Matt Dickinson during an evening which will also see a rare showing of the Bonington film Everest, the Hard Way.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of civilian mountain rescue teams (MRTs), former RAF team member Dave ‘Heavy’ Whalley and local MRT member Alex Gillespie will present a retrospective of the bravery of the unpaid volunteers who head for the hills when there are stricken mountaineers in need of help.
Paddling and mountain biking also get a look in, along with sessions at the indoor Ice Factor, down the road in Kinlochleven. There are walks and winter skills sessions on offer and all the details are on the Fort William Mountain Festival website.