The 23 March will be the anniversary of the first lockdown and a time of reflection for all of us for many reasons. I feel that the club should be no different. Plus with pandemic matters moving into a new phase I feel it worth encouraging some consideration about our sport and our club. It has certainly been a challenging year for the club, many of us may have questioned its purpose, possibly even its future. Perhaps some have even wondered about the very nature of our sport and its impact or their participation in it.

I’ll start on a personal note. I have barely climbed over the 12 months. I could have made more effort on my finger board and I even made a small training wall of my own, building it in a leaky garage I rent. But despite feeling that I should have trained more, I didn’t, the pandemic brought home to me the essentials of why I personally climb, mountaineer and hill-walk. The almost ephemeral, physiological and psychological boost of fresh air, views, nature, endorphin kick, adrenalin injection that I get from being “on the hill”, touching rock. But there was something else. People. I haven’t worked from home. I haven’t lacked for work. I’m lucky. So the need to fill a gap in social interaction isn’t there. But doing pull ups in a damp garage on your own just isn’t as much fun or inspiring as failing on plastic in an indoor gym whilst being mocked or encouraged by friends. Interaction with others is, even in our quite individual orientated sport, missed and important. The benefits of club groups, of chatting through others experiences, sharing your own, gleaning ideas from each other over a badly made coffee and a flapjack in the café at the wall, is missed. From conversations here I have benefited, and I hope reciprocated, with “beta” varying from great camping spots to best guidebooks and even a local carpenter.

It could be argued that I, you, we, don’t need a club for that. I have a network of friends and contacts to climb and mountaineer with. But when that is examined, with a couple of very important exceptions, they all really sprang from the club. Not all of them remained with the club for various reasons, but that isn’t the point. Some are now firmly friends that I hope and expect will remain so for life. And within that, the club refreshes these contacts and friendships, and therefore related experiences and adventures as the membership churns and alters over time. Had I left the club at the point that I felt I had an established cadre of adventure buddies I would not have met others, some who now live overseas. It’s great having friends who run a hut in the Alps.
With friends from the club I have ice climbed in Norway and France, mountaineered all over Europe, expeditioned to Central Asia and Big walled in the USA. But I have also enjoyed many days and evenings cragging, munro bagging and fell walking all across the UK.

The pandemic has obviously affected the BMC and all of its affiliated clubs. The latest Summit magazine (another club benefit is reduced price individual BMC membership) has a super article about clubs and their support and strategy for them ( that is worth reading. I believe that our sport is a hugely important aspect of society. It brings health and well-being benefits, it supports employment and industry and builds awareness of our environment. But is has its challenges, the environmental impact is one, its inclusivity another. And it is challenged. The rights and freedoms we enjoy did not arrive without appropriate representation. There are others who see us as reckless, damaging, trespassers. Without a National guiding body we would lack that representation, access to training and similar important matters. And without local clubs the BMC might or could be a large homogenous, under-representative bureaucracy run by a small elite. That chimes with other things at the moment. I believe that there is an important place for local clubs post pandemic. Many people have discovered or re-discovered the outdoors whilst on lockdown. Many have been isolated from others. A supportive, social, space for them will be important.

As 2021 opens up, in terms of seasons and pandemic restrictions I would urge all the membership and prospective membership to similarly reflect. I hope that, like me, you will see the important benefits of Club membership and a need for local Clubs like ours to thrive. I look forward to seeing you all again soon at the crag, wall or hill.

Club nights at the crag
Under used but useful in learning how to build one
Munro bagging with mates
Alpine Adventures
Kyrgyzstan Expedition
Ecrin Ice
Its not all about climbing
Some of the best days...ever

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