© Charlie Low PhotographyBack for another year of fun, Friday 18th August I set off with a fully laden car and group of friend to The Women’s Trad Festival in the Peak District. This wonderful event has been set up to encourage women climbers, whatever their level, to learn trad climbing skills. Together women build confidence by offering support and guidance to each other through an extremely generous coaching volunteer pack, and a kick ass motivational 'go get 'em' girl power vibe. (There were a handful of very helpful and motivational blokes there too, may I say).
"Through the festival, we wanted to encourage women, at all levels. Whether they'd never trad climbed before, or whether they were beginning their career as a climbing instructor, we wanted to help offer that support and guidance, to prompt the realisation... 'maybe I can take that next step too" - WTF organiser Ellie Fuller
Friday evening in a glorious 'sunny interval,' the camp site was filling up nicely with lots of excited and eager WTF attendees. We got settled and erected the 3RD ROCK gazebo, ready for our pop up shop and sample sale taking place on the Saturday evening. Once sorted, we headed down to the Robin Hood pub, ravenous and ready for a huge dinner. Once we stopped salivating over the menu and finally made it up to the bar to place our orders, and the unthinkable happened...''Sorry, we stopped serving 5 minutes ago.'' Nooooooo!!!! No chips, no nothing... apart from a bag of nuts.
With rumbling tummies, we headed straight back to camp and made our breakfast kit instead - delicious fried egg, cheese and baked been sandwiches, giggling over each others eating techniques and the 'eggy bean rain' on our plates.
That night the winds really picked up, in hind sight we should have taken the time to peg out our tents. I had dreams of the 3RD ROCK gazebo taking off and impaling a sheep in the next field, but to my surprise the next morning, it was still standing! I inspected the damage. One leg was a little wobbly but we sacrificed one hanging rail bar and reinforced it. Problem solved, or so we thought!
Ready for a day of climbing action, 2 of us were paired up with the very knowledgeable Jack Knight. But when we were about to leave the camp and head off to Burbage, suddenly I heard shouts telling me the gazebo has in fact started to fly and crumble! A group of 8 people kindly held on to it and helped dismantle the twisted poles and canvas. Thanks peeps! Hey ho, now it's no longer a danger to the sheep, lets go climbing.
© Charlie Low Photography
Happy with our new skills and wind beaten faces ,we headed for a cuppa and some cheesy chips in the Outside Cafe in Hathersage as a reward. Once thawed, we set out back to camp and set up the 3RD ROCK pop up shop inside the big sturdy main marquee and provided the ladies of the festival with some top notch 3RD ROCK bargains, while all enjoying a delicious BBQ and a very exciting raffle dripping with top notch goodies as prizes.
The next day with some fine weather on our side we packed up camp and headed out with a new group, via the best waffles in the world (Hathersage social club) and tackled some challenging climbs with plenty jamming involved. We went slightly 'off piste' on the approach but stumbled upon a mighty Owl and plenty of giggles.
© Charlie Low PhotographyThe things I learned and will take away from the WTF 2017:
- ☻Jamming skills that don't have to hurt! a revelation indeed. I now personally opt for a fist jams over lay-backing! amazing.
- ☻A growing confidence in station building
- ☻Really useful gear placement advice like placing the wider part of cams downwards when in a horizontal break will give more stability!
- ☻New friendships, climbing partners and funny stories.
- ☻The women's climbing community is a fantastic and inspirational thing to be involved in.
The things I learned and will take away from the WTF 2017: