Di Westaway's Top Hiking Tip Has Stood The Test Of Time
By Sophia Hatzis
When you think of a wild woman, there's one adventurous, kick-arse lady who should come to mind. That woman is our Chief Adventure Chick and Founder Di Westaway. She's bold, she's brave and she's built a company that's inspired thousands of women to lead adventurous lives they love by getting them into the wilderness with a pack on their back and a smile on their face. She's a bounding, bubbling burst of energy and she's the wildest woman we know.
But Di's world wasn't always a whirlwind of wild trips, treks and fun. When she suffered a mid-wife crisis in 2002, she knew her life had to change and that meant putting an end to prioritising everyone else's health and happiness before her own. She soon found that climbing mountains and taking on challenging treks with women fulfilled her, energised her and exhilarated her. She set out on a mission to show other women that hiking is the answer, no matter what the question is.
Fast-forward 17 years and plenty has changed. Di founded a world-renowned team trekking challenge, Coastrek (an event that's now being held across Australia and has raised over $30 million for charity), she's authored books, won awards, and pushed hundreds of women outside their comfort zones by leading them on some seriously life-changing adventures. She even holds the world record for the highest handstand (seriously)!
But what hasn't changed is her love for getting outdoors with a group of girlfriends.
Di has been on some epic trips around the world and her bucket list gets longer and longer as the years go by. This week, Di shares with us where she's flying to next, her best hiking advice and her favourite trek of all time. And it's given us some major FOMO!
Q: What do you love about being a Wild Women coach?
A: I love everything about it. The women, the wild, the workouts, and the whales. We’re super lucky to hike near some of the most beautiful bush, beaches, and bays in the world so we get to enjoy these incredible natural wonders all year round at sunrise and sunset.
As a coach, I get to lead a wild workout adventure for two to three hours at least twice a week and I love every workout. Whether it's rocky stairs, soft sand, hills, rock-hopping or endurance trekking. But most of all I love the girls. They’re fun, adventurous, and fabulous and we share stories, laugh and puff in the name of the getting fitter, stronger and healthier for our next epic adventure.
Q: What's the best hike you've ever done and what made it so epic?
A: Best ever would have to be the Kangshung Face of Everest in Tibet. This is the east face of Everest, a remotely stunning snow-drenched aspect that towers over the mountains and valleys. We arrived at our tiny camp in a white-out blizzard, cold and hungry, with zero visibility. We fell into our sleeping bags after an early dinner, oblivious to the magnificence of our location, perched on the side of a mountain.
The next thing I knew was the little tap-tap of our Sherpas delivering hot, sweet tea to our tent at first light and telling us they had a surprise for us. We unzipped our tents and crawled out to see Mount Everest towering above us, lit by the dusky pink glow of the pre-dawn sunlight. We danced around in awe as a photo shoot frenzy unfolded while the sun rose and the mountains awoke to the new day. Then we had an al fresco breakfast to celebrate the auspicious occasion. That for me was truly awesome.
Q: Which hiking destination is at the top of your bucket list and why?
A: My bucket list is endless and things bubble to the top of the list as I find others keen to join me. I choose my next adventure when I find the sweet spot between fun, friends and a fabulous destination. Sometimes these fall into my lap and sometimes I spend years on the lookout for this magical combination.
My next big adventure is to the hidden kingdom of Mustang, in Nepal. I’ll accompany 15 wonderful wild women on a hike into the remotest parts of the Himalaya to experience the vast landscapes and unique ancient culture of the Tibetan-influenced mountain folk. We’ll visit the inner sanctum of the King’s Palace for the Tiji festival before traversing the high passes and rugged scree slopes looking out over Annapurna.
Q: What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on a hike?
A: Funniest would be when a bunch of us were hiking in the Blue Mountains along an off-track part of the Cox’s River and we stopped for a swim. It took us half an hour to pluck up the courage for a quick skinny dip followed by a relaxing sunbake on the hot black rocks.
Suddenly, a male voice cut through the silent bush and we all dived across the river to grab our clothes before being offered warm, smoky bacon by a fully-clothed gentleman who told us he accidentally cooked too much bacon at breakfast.
Q: What's the best hiking advice you've ever been given?
A: Best hiking advice ever is “don’t forget the chocolate” and it’s stood me in good stead when I’ve left half the lunch behind and we’ve needed a pep up before a big hill home. Second best is to wear your boots in well because happy feet is a happy hike.