2019 Women’s Trad Festival

Aug 13th; 2019

As previously reported the fourth Women’s Trad Festival was held in the Peak District in early August. Anticipation was higher than ever with tickets selling out in under a minute - a new record!

The Women's Trad Festival. Photo Jessie Leong

The Festival introduced several new ticket types in response to emerging needs within the climbing community. Joining the flagship 'Learner' ticket there were 'Parent and Child' tickets; 'Self-Rescue' tickets for a course run by Rock and Sun; a pre-festival 'Climbing For All' CPD accessibility training for the 'Leaders' and a Crack Climbing Masterclass by DMM athletes Libby Peter and Harriet Ridley added to the 'Climber' tickets. Sitting well alongside each other, the organisers felt this would help participants develop their skills and progress their climbing from year to year.

Tickets sold, bags packed and ropes coiled, on the 2nd August over 300 excited climbers of all ages, abilities, genders and backgrounds made their way to the festival on the outskirts of Sheffield. Travelling from all corners of the UK and even further afield, energy on site was high as participants gathered to enjoy a sunny weekend filled with climbing, conversations, and new friendships.

The Women's Trad Festival. Photo Jessie Leong

During the day the Peak District crags were awash with brightly coloured WTF2019 Rab supported t-shirts and smiling faces. The excitement and fun were tangible - you could almost feel it spreading from person to person along the gritstone edges. Psych remained high into the evening as climbers gathered around the campfire keen to share their experiences and talk about the day's events. From those on the rock for the first time to experienced MICs, conversation was united by a shared love of climbing and the outdoors.

Underpinning the festival were three core values: sustainability, mental wellbeing and accessibility. Aiming to minimise the impact of the festival, single-use plastic and paper flyers were strongly discouraged, and everyone was asked to bring their own mug, bowl and cutlery. On-site, lighting was solar-powered, and the toilet roll was 100% recycled. In addition to this, participants were encouraged to car-share or use public transport, and an extensive recycling system meant that only five bags of landfill waste were accumulated by 300 people over the duration of the festival.

The benefit the outdoors has on mental wellbeing has long been something the organisers passionately believe in, but the impetus to bring this to the festival came really from the participants. It has been an increasingly loud message that mental wellbeing is a matter close to our hearts. As a result, the festival is an invitation for people to be off-grid, away from the hustle of our busy, screen-focused daily life, in nature.

The third value of accessibility has long been highly significant in that Learners can attend the festival with no experience or climbing-specific equipment. Instead, they can learn to trad climb from an experienced leader, borrow shoes from Tenaya, a trad rack from DMM and come away with a whole range of skills and experienced to begin their trad climbing journey. Taking this accessibility focus further this year, the festival hosted a very successful 'Climbing For All' course that focused on disability and climbing, run with support from the BMC.

Weaving these key values into a highly enjoyable weekend of climbing, this year's Women's Trad Festival was bigger, slicker and more established than ever. Looking at the response and comments on social media, it's clear the event was a resounding success. Perhaps even the best one yet! As this festival fast becomes a landmark and highly sought-after date in the climbing diary, climbers are already preparing to snap up a ticket the moment the date for WTF2020 is released!

The Women's Trad Festival is organised by Charlie Low, Ellie Fuller, Hetty Key and Gilly Mcarthur.

The Women's Traf Festival was sponsored and supportered by the following: Rab, DMM, BMC, Tenaya, Outside, Mountain Training, Scavenger, Rock and Sun, and UKClimbing.

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