Mountain Festival Stories: Tabitha Warley
With Mountain Festival 2017 fast approaching, we reached out to past attendees to learn more about their unique experiences. Tabitha Warley, a London-based financial brand adviser and member of The Running Club LDN, tells us why the Mountain Festival invigorated her love for the great outdoors.
- Hi Tabby! How did you find out about the Mountain Festival and what inspired you to attend?
A fellow thrill seeker from my running club sent me a link from last year’s Mountain Festival. Within minutes the tickets were booked - I didn’t care who I’d be going with or how I’d get there, I just knew I had to go! I’d never seen anything as beautiful as the Lauterbrunnen Valley and Mount Eiger before and, being relatively new to hiking, an attempt at the summit and seeing the mountain for myself seemed like the perfect milestone.
- What are the best memories from your experience?
We stumbled across a serene lake boasting its own diving boards so we jumped straight in... would’ve been rude not to, right? It was also amazing to listen to and learn from the Mountain Festival experts - their depth of knowledge was second to none. But ultimately, the best part was being away from the mundane routine of everyday life. The final night where everyone just let loose and the party went off topped one of the best experiences of my life.
- What was the best activity and workshop you took part in?
During the last morning of the festival, a few of us braved it at canyoning with a company called Alpin Raft. I’d never done it before and I was honestly terrified! However, we had some amazing guides who had us rock jumping into freezing rapids in no time - I loved it!
- What challenges did you face?
I thought I was a strong hiker and in pretty good shape; until I signed up to the James Bond Hike. It pushed me to my absolute limit! We had to dig deep, battling steep elevations and torrential rainfall until we approached the halfway point. Conditions were getting worse, not better, so we made the difficult decision to start our descent early. I didn't make it to the top of Mount Eiger but I guarantee that I’ll be giving it another shot at this year’s Mountain Festival.
How did you prepare yourself for the weekend? Did you do any specific training and which essential items did you take along with you?
We were probably the least prepared people at the festival. Luckily the Testing Products tent allows you to borrow gear for the day, which was just as well given that my friend only brought boat shoes and jeans! My North Face Triclimate Jacket was absolutely essential. It was raining fairly constantly so a good quality waterproof jacket, hiking boots and plenty of socks were vital.
Having trained for a 30k road race in Budapest, I was fully prepared for everything except the more advanced James Bond Hike. Plus all of the guides were incredibly supportive throughout the festival - they get you through the toughest parts with advice and encouragement.
Describe memorable smells, tastes, touches and feelings from the weekend.
The persistent rain last year means my most memorable smells, touches and feelings would have to be the hot showers and hot dinners waiting for you at basecamp. When you're out in the elements for hours, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing you have that to come back to.
What advice would you give to someone interested in attending this year?
Don't think about it, just book it. It will inspire you and change the way you see yourself forever.
Will you be attending this year’s 2017 Mountain Festival?
Yes, I will be attending - I want to go bigger and harder this time around. I know what to expect and what training I need to put in to reach my goals. I plan to take advantage of what the pro’s and activity leaders have to share, such as technical skill and key advice. I want to reignite the buzz you get from sharing the experience with like-minded people who love what you're doing as much as you do. I also want to dance at the bottom of a mountain under the stars again!
Finally, describe your Mountain Festival experience in less than 5 words.
Best adventure of my life!