Picture the scene, it's an early sunrise on a Saturday morning and you unzip your tent. Outside, you are greeted with the familiar sight of a festival field and tents as far as the eye can see, as the smell of coffee brewed from an outdoor stand drifts through the air.
Instead of a music line up however, this particular festival has another attraction. A mountain valley surrounds your campsite, raising out of the ground with snowy peaks in one direction and a looming rock face to the other, with enormous waterfalls cascading all around. This is no Glastonbury, instead this festival is a playground for the people who get their kicks from the great outdoors.
The Mountain Festival from The North Face is a crazy mix of a music festival and an adventure sports training camp rolled into one. Three days of hiking, climbing, trail running and much more, days are spent adventuring with The North Face’s best athletes in the mountains and the nights are spent drinking beers with them around campfires and getting your dance under the Alpine moonlight.
This weekend is based around a simple premise, to bring together those who love being outdoors to spend a weekend together, playing in the outdoors, partying and learning new skills. Whether it be sunrise runs up mountain trails, glorious rock climbs on some of the planet's most famous routes or more extreme days jumping off cliffs on bungee ropes, paragliding over the valley or white water rafting, the joy of this festival is meeting hundreds of kindred spirits who love the adrenaline of playing in the mountains as much as you do.
At last year's festival we spent the first day on a beautiful waterfall hike that made our legs ache, before returning to a campsite dinner around crackling campfires.
The next morning we woke early to make our way to the top of the mountain for paragliding. The sky was blue and the wind was low, perfect conditions for flying above the valley, before landing back at a base camp that was revving up for a night of music and partying. Handed a beer, we entered the main tent to find the world's most famous adventure athletes cutting loose and showing off their best moves on the dancefloor.
"Smiling faces headed back to curl up in their sleeping bags, to get a few hours of sleep before their adventures in the morning"
As the sun went down, the booze flowed as freely as the crowds dance moves and by the early hours of the morning, tired smiling faces headed back to curl up in their sleeping bags, to get a few hours of sleep before their adventures in the morning.
Only a few hours later, the same faces reemerged, looking a little fragile, but ready for another day of learning new skills, from adventure photography to cooking up a wilderness feast, o or to embark on new adventures from bungee jumping from gondolas to white water rafting on the nearby rivers. Leaving this weekend, every single person gains a deep sense of community and belonging with like - minded explorers.
This year, the festival is having a shake up and up roots to the Dolomites, to find a new home at Val San Nicolò, a magnificent valley branching off the Val di Fassa in one of Italy’s most famous mountain regions.
Swapping chilly mornings in Switzerland for Italy's sunny July days, attendees will be making the most of nature’s playground by climbing, hiking, and running it's alpine trails. If you fancy joining them this month, tickets are available through The North Face website here.
See you in the mountains...