Remembering the time I bombed at Snowbombing Festival.

Music festivals aren’t for everyone, I know that. But for most British teenagers, going to your first festival is like a ‘coming of age’ ritual. It’s likely to be the first time you’re free from parents, rules, school and coursework. And with that freedom, perhaps it’s the first time you drink your body weight in alcohol, pop a load of pills and shag a complete stranger? Maybe.

As a teenager growing up in Reading, going to the world famous Reading “rock” Festival was a rite of passage. At school you were nobody unless you’d been to Fezzy and stayed for the whole three days of carnage. Though we lived only 15 minutes from the festival, we’d still pitch a tent and insist on camping. Sometimes we’d even pay a few quid more to arrive a couple of days early, just to secure a prime spot in Green camp (everyone knows Green camp is the best camp).

But come the morning, we’d be texting our mums on our Nokia 3310s, begging to be picked up so we could come home and have a hot shower. A few hours later, clean, fed and watered, we’d return to the festival and get straight back on it. Standard.

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Apparently, people who love music festivals are the happiest people on the planet. I certainly love festivals and they definitely make me happy; I love the atmosphere, the people, the camping, the food and drink, and of course, the music. I’ve seen some of my favourite bands and artists perform some of my favourite songs all over the UK – I’ve got memories I’ll keep forever.

I remember Eminem bringing Marilyn Manson onto the main stage during his performance of The Way I Am at Reading Festival 2001, and Damon Albarn falling from that same stage two years later. In 2004, I witnessed 50 Cent getting bottled and booed off the stage (it is – or was – a rock music festival, after all). And in 2008 I watched RATM controversially take to the stage dressed in orange Guantanemo Bay costumes – though I couldn’t hear them at all, as there was terrible wind and the sound didn’t carry. Then over in Essex in 2009, I met Sir Richard Branson backstage at V Festival, celebrating his birthday. And although not quite on par, the next day I met Pixie Lott in the toilets. But even better than all of that, a week later at Reading Festival 2009, I met TJ and Bambi – who 10 years later, are still two of my best friends.

Despite my love of festivals, however, I’d never been to one abroad. So in 2015, already well into my 12 countries in 12 months travel challenge, when I was offered the opportunity to attend a festival in Austria, all paid for by work, I immediately said “yes”.

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The company I was working for at the time was sponsoring Snowbombing Festival – Europe’s largest skiing and snowboarding festival, held in the Austrian ski resort of Mayrhofen. I knew nothing about the area or the festival, but that didn’t matter; whenever I mentioned to anyone “oh, I’m going to Snowbombing”, I was met with lots of approval and “you’re so lucky” comments.

Dubbed the Glastonbury of the slopes, Snowbombing is five days of snow sports and drinking during the day, then more drinking and music at night. But this wasn’t like Reading Festival or V Festival – this was underground grotto pool parties, igloo raves and enchanted forest mash-ups up a mountain in minus -10c temperatures. It looked amazing and sounded beyond cool, despite me having never heard of any of the DJs or artists on the line-up.

The music wasn’t the only thing I was clueless about, however: I’d never skied before, let alone been to a ski festival. For those who do like skiing and/or snowboarding, and are looking for a festival to attend, this handy Ski Festival Finder tool will help you choose the best one for you and your budget. My advice: do your research. I’m never one to pass up the chance to try something new or go somewhere new, but in this instance, I really wish I’d done more research about the festival. And I probably should have had a couple of skiing lessons before, because Snowbombing is definitely not for amateurs.

The plan was for me to meet, greet and host a couple of bloggers during the festival, do a bit of skiing and a bit of photography with them, encouraging them to use the new (at the time) Samsung Galaxy S6 and write about the phone on their blogs and social media. Easy, right? Wrong.

“I’ve never skied before either”, said blogger Kate Lavie, as we drove from Munich, across the border to Mayhofen. “But how hard can it be?”

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My first – and only – skiing experience.

The first time I skied was also the last time I skied, and will be the only time I ever ski.

Just like festivals aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, in the moment I tried to click my right boot into my ski and ended up on my arse instead, flailing like an upturned cartoon turtle, unable to right myself because the left foot had painfully twisted at a weird angle with its boot and ski still attached, I realised skiing isn’t for everyone either. And this was in the ski rental shop – I hadn’t even seen any snow yet.

My twisted ankle was painful and the skiing struggle was real; but I was hosting these bloggers, and had promised them the opportunity to ski. So, clad in rented ski gear that stank so badly of BO it made me want to throw up, with our VIP gondala passes in one hand and our rented skis in the other, we made our way to the bottom of the mountain. The sun was out and I was sweltering under layers of thermal tops, jogging bottoms, multiple pairs of socks and a very unflattering fleecy branded headband.

As the gondola ascended higher and higher, however, it was evident that we weren’t wearing nearly enough clothes…

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Stepping out of the gondola, the cold air hit me in the face with the force of a bulldozer smashing down a 20-storey derelict building. Everyone seemed to know what to do, so I followed the other skiers’ and boarders’ lead, took off my trainers and placed them in a shoe rack. I pushed my feet into those hateful ski boots then crabbed my way to the edge of yet another hill, wondering how much further I’d have to go until I could “ski”.

The boots were killing me, my knees were permanently bent forward in the manner of a geriatric with terminal hemorrhoids. People were gliding their way around me and sliding onto a conveyor belt thing. Like a sheep, I clicked my boots into their skis and followed blindly – literally, the cloud was so low I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me.

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I had been on the conveyor belt thing for less than 10 seconds before disaster struck. My blasted right boot clicked out of its toe cup, throwing me off balance. As I tried to steady myself with one ski pole, I ended up dropping the other. Twisting my neck around to see it lying on the snow, getting further and further away, I begun to panic about how the hell I was going to get it back – and if I couldn’t get it back, how much the rental shop would charge for losing it. I wasn’t concentrating and by this point, I couldn’t see my one remaining pole, the cloud was so thick.

I hadn’t realised that I’d reached the end of the conveyor belt. As I was launched off it at speed, my skis detached themselves again and ended up crisscrossing each other, causing me to trip over my own feet and land face first into the snow.

Kavita, one of my bloggers, came to my aid, pulling me up and helping dust me off. Back on my feet and a little more composed, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Someone had seen me drop my pole and grabbed it as they’d conveyor-belted passed. Handing it over, he smiled with a blithe smugness that can only be seen on the faces of those who enjoy slippery environments while strapped to long pieces of wood. “Be more careful”, he said.

This wasn’t how skiing was supposed to be…

When you see photos of people skiing, they’re always happy, laughing, smiling. They’ve got sparkly white teeth and a killer tan. They’re dressed in perfectly-fitting snow pants with matching snow jacket, and usually sporting mirrored Oakley ski goggles that reflect the amazing view from across the mountain. These people are making their way down the slopes gently, stopping occasionally for cheese fondue and a hot toddy. Sometimes they even have children in tow, all wrapped up in cute little snow suits – looking like miniature Michelin men but skiing like Bode Miller, before they’ve even learnt how to write their own name.

What you don’t see, is this:

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This is two 20-something aged women who have never skied before, absolutely petrified about going down the nursery baby slope. Standing there frozen (literally and metaphorically), they’re clenching their poles tightly as children that don’t even come as high as their waists (which isn’t high, as I’m only 5ft1) dart out in front of them. They’re unable to see more than a foot in front of their faces, and having already fallen over umpteen times, their woolen, non-ski appropriate gloves are soaking wet, causing their fingers to go numb.

But they’re committed. They will get down the slope, they will try skiing for the first time…

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Following Kavita’s lead (as she’d had a ski lesson before in Switzerland), Kate and I gingerly pushed ourselves further and further towards the edge of the slope. Kavita was already nearly at the bottom, having slid down gracefully and effortlessly. “You go first, I’ll come down after you,” said Kate. Swallowing a lump in my throat, trying not to show how scared I was, I forced my pole into the ground and pushed myself off.

“Mind out” I screamed, as I slalomed uncontrollably and involuntarily around the aforementioned kids. I was going so fast, too fast. People were diving out the way of me. I could see the end, the flat part at the bottom where Kavita was now stood, perfectly poised like the ski bunny she was – but I couldn’t slow down. I whooshed passed her, passed a queue of people waiting to board the conveyor belt thing, passed even more people who were stepping out of the gondola cabin and clicking their boots into their skis.

“Remember to snow plow!” yelled Kavita. But it was too late: the only plowing I did was to plow head-first straight into a massive snow drift.

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Everything was white; I wondered if I was dead. Or if I’d at least broken a few bones, which would be the perfect excuse to not have to attempt “skiing” again. But pulling my face out of the snow (which thankfully wasn’t yellow), it seemed everything was still intact. My ankle was a little twisted, and my boots had popped out of their toe cups again, but I was otherwise unscathed.

Kavita and Kate were both at my side, helping me up again. “Are you ok?” Do you want to go back down?” said a concerned Kate. “Yes please,” I replied feebly. My first – and only – attempt at skiing, and I had totally bombed it.

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All was not lost. The bloggers and I still had a fun few nights at the festival, despite not hitting the slopes anymore. I don’t think either of them really minded, either – Kate was coming down with tonsillitis so didn’t feel great, and Kavita was happy to just explore the resort. There was one aspect of skiing that we could get all on board with though: the après ski.

And it had to be Jägerbombs, of course.

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117 thoughts on “Remembering the time I bombed at Snowbombing Festival.

  1. I’m of two minds when it comes to music festivals. I love it but the amount of people at these festivals are simply overwhelming.

  2. I love music festivals. It’s so much fun to see the bands live. The only thing I have a problem with is the crowds. It just feels so claustrophobic.

  3. Oh my God, what an experience. Also, it is terrifying to think there’s a festival hosted somewhere where they ENCOURAGE you to ski! lmao, that’s petrifying! I love all the experiences you’ve had with festivals! That’s so awesome. You should do festival recaps! <3

  4. But what about the festival? 😉

    I hate downhill skiing; I think it’s called something else in Europe. Cross-country seemed more my bag, and I fell in love with it the first time I tried it. Okay, I was in a school group and it was mandatory for my Canadian youth, but still. More my pace, less “what happened to my pole,” and more, “can’t I go any faster than this?”

    Kudos to you for trying, though, and I hope the music and festival bits were way more enjoyable!

  5. What an experience! I guess that was a hard lesson to now go on your own on the slopes if you have never skied before. Definitely you should have taken a few lessons beforehand, at least to know how to break. 🙂

  6. I love festivals AND skiiing too!! Totally remember my good old Nokia. Battery would last a week and it was indestructible

  7. Aw Becca you were so young here, but still so pretty! I’ve never heard of this snowbombing festival, but it sounded like a lot of fun! It looks like you and your friends had an amazing time too!

  8. I used to go to music festivals in the summer with a group of friends, those are good memories I carry with me ; )
    the snowbombing festival sounds great, I’d be a little nervous though ; )

  9. I’ve never been skiing before, but I have been tubing. That’s as far as I’d go on the slopes. I have a feeling my skiing experience would be very much like yours. As least you have a good story to tell. lol

  10. Beautiful trip and photos! Looks like you guys had a lot of fun. The last time I went skiing I hurt my shoulder so bad I think I am scared for life.

  11. I have never been to a music festival. It does sound like it would be fun.

    I also have never been skiing. I definitely would fall down a lot! You looked like you had fun skiing!

  12. I have never been to a music festival and did the whole staying on the premises and watching tons of acts. It’s seems Very cool. The snowboarding festival seems so unique and fun!

  13. Looks like a great experience, I have never been to any festivals and don’t know if i ever will. They are usually so crowded I don’t think I would survive.

  14. Now that is most definitely a different kind of festival! I have never been skiing or snowboarding, something I wish I had done back when I could though.

    There’s nothing quite like a music festival though.

  15. It seems you had lots of fun during the festival! I still remember the times when I was a teenager myself … such events were just a part of our culture! Great photos! 🙂

  16. I don’t see myself skiing anytime soon. I can’t deal! Your experience is another reason I’ll gladly say no to skiing. I love music festivals though, it was the main thing back then. Sorry about your ski experience.

  17. OMG, what a fantastic experience and the joys of doing all this with your friends too. I am always afraid of the cold but seeing your photos has inspired me to try skiing at least once!

  18. You’ve done some awesome activities. I can imagine how fun it is in Reading festival. The bands are awesome!

  19. Aw, sorry to hear about your experience. But hey, some experience — good or bad — is better than none.

  20. I have never been to a music festival. I have actually only been to two concerts in whole 30 years of life on this planet.

  21. This sounds like an amazing event . I have never been to a festival before, it must be a wonderful experience.

  22. this looks like a spectacular experience, im not into music festival but every culture has something that going into adulthood is considered cool.

  23. You must be such a ski pro! I would freak out just by the word ‘skiing’ …probably because I’ve never done it. Anyway, you had such an experience: a festival and skiing? Way to go!

  24. In spite of living in Switzerland,I just skied one time in Monticello, NY. You make everything so easy! Have fun! Thanks for sharing!

  25. Well done for giving skiing a go! I’ve only done a little practice on what was the dry slopes in Hemel and that terrified me enough, haha! Sounds like a great event though.

  26. Wow you’ve had some great music experiences! I hate skiing so the ski festival isn’t my cup of tea but my brother would love it so I’ll show him

  27. Sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy your first experience of skiing, it certainly takes some getting used to. I love skiing but it has been a long time since I did it

  28. This festival looks pretty amazing. I’ve been to a few festivals outside of the UK including Rock im Park in Germany, Groezrock in Belgium and I’ve done Warped Tour in New York and it’s such a different vibe x

  29. It’s nice to see and honest and refreshing review and I think your right that every activity isn’t for everyone. Well done for stepping out of your comfort zone though. I hope the ankles aren’t as painful now.

  30. I’ve never been skiing but i’m not too sure it would be for me either. I’ve thought about trying those indoor ones in the UK just to see how i go xo

  31. I can’t believe you met HIM! What a great trip from music festivities to skiing. I used to board but haven’t done so in a few years, your pictures really took me back and I may just have to start again. Thanks for sharing your awesome trip!

  32. Wow sounds like a scary but wonderful experince! Ive never tried skking, im too scared to even think about it! Haha but kuddos to you for trying it 🙂

  33. This looks and sounds awesome. I’ve never been skiing or to a festival so maybe I should try doing both at once?

  34. Well done for stepping out of your comfort zone with the skiing! It’s not something I would look forward to! 🙂

  35. It will always be fun to attend a music festival, and there is no doubt that the there will always be large number of people as well

  36. now this looks like a festival that i can get on board with, mind you, not sure about the skiing, i’ve never been and i’m so accident prone, i’m not sure if i’d manage to stay on two feet for very long

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