The Guildford Mountaineering Club
If you're looking for people to climb with, then the Guildford Mountaineering Club could be for you.

By Chom Evans
To some Mousetrap is a beloved play (the longest running show of any kind in the world!), to others a beloved childhood game (that I never understood how to play) however to climbers it is one of THOSE routes whose situation, reputation and history simultaneously attract and repel suitors.

For me it was a route on the ‘to have done’ list, yet to convince myself I was prepared to put it on the ‘to do’ list especially with only 1 Gogarth experience under my harness. Anyway on the Thursday I was relaxing down the pub the York MC crew texting Jurgen about the upcoming weekend expecting to make a plan to do a HVS classic such as Dream of White Horses or Scavenger when Jurgen hit me with Mousetrap. I spat out my beer and spluttered f%&king hell. When asked what the problem was I muttered Mousetrap, some understood the reaction others were unaware of the route.

I spent Friday at work building the psyche, it’s not often I get to climb with someone of Jurgen’s calibre and get trumped in the route suggestion stakes so was willing to play ball and give it a crack. I had a nothing to complain about drive down Friday and pleasant night vanning it in the car park behind Joe Browns (though you do have to pay 20p to use the fancy new toilets). I met Jurgen in Llanberis for a quick gear faff and drink in Pete’s Eats hoping the climbing legend whiff would seep into us.

We were soon on the road driving through the rain into the perma sunshine of Anglesey. The omens were good as we managed to find a parking space I could get my van in even with my inept parking ability. We met another team with the same plan as us. Even though we set the abseil up we let them go down first as they reeked of climbing experience and we weren’t in a rush.

The guidebook says the abseil is 90m but 65m got us to steady ground being dwarfed by the cathedral of rock chaos that is Mousetrap zawn. It’s not so much as a cliff face as a surrealist interpretation of a cliff frozen in the process of falling down then randomly rotated.

It was good for the confidence watching the team ahead of us, showing us where to go and where to expect some protection (not a lot).

The Ground Up guide describes the first pitch as “An intimidating and audacious lead” and it looks it. Jurgen plays the ‘Its your lead card’ as on our last year he lead us out of the top and crux pitch of Gogarth on main cliff. I don’t grumble as the card was well played and the pitch doesn’t look too bad, I do grumble when presented with his pot luck system of racking wires (4 crabs with a random and monochrome selection of wires, does kinda work but prefer my logical and more colourful array).

The team ahead make steady process and soon enough I have to start grappling with the weirdness. The climbing starts steady enough up a groove way to left of the eventual goal of the crazy quartz chimney system. The reason it starts here is it enables you place a crucial bomber wire which is the only decent gear for a good while. It wouldn’t however stop you slamming into the slabby groove you then descend after the placement.

The rock is of variable quality with bands of crumbly sandy rubbish interspersed with more solid offerings. I find a small cam placement in a pocket that would probably explode but better than nothing. After down climbing the groove you then start questing up and rightwards towards the quartz veins.

There is some gear to be had from a reasonably strenuous position. The placements are all a bit blind, especially for those of a diminutive stature such as myself. The wire that felt good turns out to be comically bad but I get my trusty alien in lower down the crack and jam in another average cam placement before stepping back into onto the slab for a brief depump.

The team ahead found no more gear until established in the chimneys 15 odd feet above the gear with the slab 5 feet below and neither did I. The climbing is reasonably technical and just a little bit steep. The crux is stepping round right to the solidity of the quartz seam. I had numerous little looks trying the move the way the first team tried it with the lactic acid slowly building before finding my own way to the sanctuary of rest and bomber gear.

Another 30 foot of outrageous rock to go. Mostly straightforward climbing except for another exciting step right into the next chimney system which this time has decent large hex protection. There is a surprisingly decent and spacious belay ledge with solid gear. I have to wait for the first team to vacate but soon start bringing Jurgen up with demanding ropework due to the traversing and descending the pitch requires.

With a decent belay and a top rope on the next pitch I relax a little too much. Only a small portion of the 46m pitch can seen from the belay. Naturally Jurgen dispatches this with a minimum of fuss and gear. He especially seemed to cruise a very poky crux surmounting a bulge. That took me quite a bit of huffing and puffing combined with crazy egyptianing. I was glad of the rope above.

After the crux the climbing eases with more spectacular rock architecture as you ascend another quartz seamed groove. Again you need to be inventive and optimistic with the gear.

The next belay I didn’t pay too much attention too as it was a confusing mess of slings wrapped round fins of rock hopefully attached to the cliff. The 3rd and final pitch fell to me and other than a tiny thread soon after the belay it was a while before more trustworthy gear was found. The last pitch had sustained interest over its 35m but had more conventional rock and better gear than the previous 100m. It still had crumbly cracks I’d go to put gear before realising there was no point.

Despite some woeful ropework in the middle of the pitch when pumping out a bit and slightly confused about the way to go I made it to the top of the climb, found some solid things to attach myself to and shouted safe as you do. Safe a word we climbers use so often we blur the meaning. I shouted safe earlier in the day but I couldn’t walk to the car park and buy an ice cream like I could now as I was a 3rd of the way up a large adventurous semi tidal sea cliff. Now I really was safe, and had a comfy belay watching the sun shimmer on the sea whilst bringing up a swiftly climbing Jurgen. Since it had gone 5 we decided against abbing back down to do Death Trap Direct and had reasonably priced ice cream instead.

The overall experience had yet to sink in fully and the scariest thing about the day was how steady I found it all.
What next…

What happened next is that a South African made us salad for tea! Salad! Made by South African! No brai involved! He’s only been married a month! (Congrats by the way). At least he had to drink ale in the pub as they were out of cider.

The club always welcomes new members and joining the club is easy. Just follow the three steps below, and remember you are always welcome to come down on a Monday night to the clubhouse and say hello.
First off is to register as a guest on the website, all we need is your email address. This allows you access to the members part of the website where you can see the meets list and other events coming up in the future. Most importantly, you will receive regularly updates on what is going on and how to get involved.
When you see a meet on the list that is of interest and wish to take things further then we will need you to fill in an application form and part with £12 if joining between January and June, or £6 if joining between July and December. It would be better here if you came down to the clubhouse on a Monday night so that we can meet you in person and answer any other questions you may have..
Finally, after attending two meets, so that we know you are safe, you will invited by the committee to become a full member. You will then need to pay the outstanding balance of £34 minus the introductory fee. All membership levels run from 1st Jan to 31st December.
There’ll be someone at the clubhouse every Monday evening, from 8-10pm, except for Bank Holidays. You can arrange with the Membership Secretary to meet you down there, or just ask for a committee member on arrival.
Climbing in Scotland
If you’re looking for people to climb with, then the GMC could be for you. There are many benefits to joining, and here is a selection…
Get outside loads without ruining your bank balance

You can afford to get away more often because we share cars and petrol costs, and stay at cheap campsites or mountaineering huts, wherever possible.
Are you experienced?

If not then there’s no better way to get better. Although we can’t teach you the absolute basics, you’ll find plenty of people in the club willing to share their years of experience and offer help and advice. You’ll also get to climb in loads of different areas – places you might never have thought of as climbing venues. We’ll show you the good climbs, the good campsites, the good pubs.
You are experienced!

Great – you’ll find loads of like-minded people who like a challenge, as well as a bit of fun. There are people climbing at all levels (within reason!) so whether you lead E2 or Severe you’ll find someone to climb with.
Social and hut meets

As well as our regular weekend meets, we also have some annual social meets: such as at Christmas when we cook a big feast after a after a day on hill and have a party; and a barbecue meet when we hope the rain stays away long enough for us to get the BBQ fired up…
Our own clubhouse

Having the use of the clubhouse on a Monday night means we have our own bar and can hold things like slide shows. It also means prospective new members can come along and be assured of meeting club members – rather than having to go into a bar full of people and play at ‘spot the climbers’. We also have a small library of guidebooks in the clubhouse, which are for the use of members.
Cheaper gear

In addition to the 10-15% that most outdoor equipment shops will give you for BMC membership, a number of outlets give an extra discount to GMC members (e.g. 20% at Cicerone, et al!). Members also get a discount on entry to local climbing walls (i.e. Craggy Island and Surrey Sports Park).
Third party insurance

As a member of the club you will become an affiliated member of the British Mountaineering Council, which includes third party liability insurance.
Perfect winter conditions on Tryfan, Snowdonia

We are an active and welcoming club that consists of members who enjoy rock climbing and mountaineering . We have members, both female and male, with ages ranging from 20 to over 60 – i.e. we’re not all Chris Bonnington look-a-likes! We have fortnightly meets to locations all over the UK, from Cornwall to the Cairngorms, as well as trips abroad to areas such as Fontainebleau, Spain and the Alps (see the Gallery section for photos of recent trips).
Mountaineering involves many forms of climbing – from technical ‘cragging’ to front-pointing up a frozen waterfall – and at the GMC, we practise them all. Whether it’s a day of climbing single-pitch routes at a sunny crag or tackling snow and ice between alpine huts, GMC members are out there doing it.
Day out in the mountains
More locally, the club meets at the Waterside Centre in Guildford every Monday night, where, as well as enjoying a beer (the centre has a licensed bar), we finalise details for the forthcoming trip (i.e. accommodation, travel arrangements, etc.). Feel free to come down one evening to say hello. The dates and locations for meets are planned well in advance to enable people to decide which trips they can attend. Members usually share transport and we stay mostly on campsites in summer and in mountaineering club huts in the winter.
We are a British Mountaineering Club (BMC) affiliated club which means members automatically are part of the BMC. This gives you third party insurance, a copy of their Summit magazine and access to their superb travel insurance.
Our constitution sets out our objectives “to encourage the pursuit of Mountaineering in all its branches, and in particular to organise for the benefit of its members a) outdoor meets for the practice of mountaineering and b) lectures and discussions on mountaineering subjects”. In 2013 we celebrated our 40th year of doing this and look forward to continuing this for many more to come.
We welcome all climbers and mountaineers. If you’re new to climbing we can give you your first climbing experience and even have a small amount of equipment to lend you for your first few club meets. However, the club does not set out to train people to climb – very few of its members have any formal qualification in this and the club does not have the legal status and insurances to do it – and, so, if you haven’t climbed before, it is recommended that you attend a suitable course to give a good grounding in the basic skills. 
If this is the case, we can point you in the right direction. You might want a short course to learn the basics so you can climb at an indoor wall (both of Guildford’s climbing walls – Craggy Island and Surrey Sports Park – offer courses) or for those who wish to lead outdoors, a residential course at Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre in Snowdonia. Plas y Brenin, and Glenmore Lodge the Scottish counterpart, also offer winter walking and mountaineering courses for those who want to learn how to use crampons and ice axes and go out in the white stuff.
As soon as you know the basics (e.g. how to belay), the club provides the perfect environment to put your new skills to work while learning from those around you. There is a great tradition in the club of more experienced members helping newcomers to improve their climbing. However, it should be noted that the ethos of the club is that of a group of friends taking on shared responsibility, and so it is important that new members recognise the risks they are undertaking, and feel comfortable in assessing these for themselves.
Struggling up in less than ideal conditions!
Here are some answers to questions we are frequently asked…
Q. I’m a walker/hiker/rambler rather than climber, is this the club for me?
A. The primary focus of the club is climbing and mountaineering. However, many of the meet venues are in areas suitable for walking, and a significant minority of the club are interested in walking rather than climbing. Also, because of the vagaries of the British weather, when it is not suitable to climb, many members walk and scramble instead.
Q. What is a ‘meet’?

That’s just our name for a trip away for members! See our meets page for this year’s meets list.
Eyeing up some routes
Q. Do I need to buy any/all of the equipment?

A. The club does now have a very small equipment list for loan such as harnesses, helmets, abseil rope, walking axes and crampons. These are intended for a beginner’s first couple of meets, and so you will then need your own gear if you want to climb. At a minimum, this consists of helmet, rock boots, harness, nut extractor, belaying device and a couple of karabiners. For your first few meets, if you don’t already possess one, it should be possible to borrow a rope (or climb as a three, sharing a rope), but you should plan on buying a rope fairly soon enabling you to contribute one half of the rope needed – as most people in the club climb on twin ropes, this would normally be a 9mm x 50m rope. As your interest in climbing progresses, you will then probably want to buy protection equipment for leading. For walking, boots, hill clothing and waterproof gear are all that is required. For winter meets, crampons, ice axe and other equipment may be required – it will be assumed that you know how to use these. For camping, you will obviously need a tent and sleeping bag as a minimum!
Q. Would I need to come along on every meet?

A. No, just pick and choose the ones you like the look of. Some members come on most meets, others will just do a few meets each year because of family, work or other commitments.
Taking a break
Q. How much does it cost to join?

A. Introductory membership is £12 January to June, and £6 July to December, both lasting until the end of the year. After attending two meets the committee will invite you to join as a full member at a cost of £34 minus the introductory fee, and this allows you to take advantage of all the full member benefits. Full yearly membership runs from 1st January to 31st December. There is a discount for joining late in the year.
Q. How much does it cost per meet?

A. In the UK, any camping fees or Hut fees plus a share of the fuel costs. Abroad, all travel, accommodation, insurance, etc.
Climbing in Cornwall
Q. I’m already a BMC member, what is the benefit of joining?

A. Shared costs and driving, cheaper gear, discounts at local walls and 70 other fun people to climb with. You can reclaim any duplication of fees from the BMC so that you don’t pay twice.
Q. I don’t have a car, is that a problem?

A. No, but you may need to get to a train station near to the person driving.
One summer’s BBQ… just before heading to the pub!
Q. How many members do you have?

A. Membership hovers around the 70′s.
Q. What is the joining process?

A. See here the best thing to do is to drop by the clubhouse on a Monday evening after 8pm to get a briefing by a committee member, meet some members and ask any questions you have.
An experimental bivvy meet
Q. What if I have more questions?

A. Either send us an email via the web form or come along in person!

1st - 9th November
Moroc - Hot Rock Trip

29th - 30th November
Xmas Hut Meet
North Wales - Caseg Fraith

25th December
Greater Ranges - 2015
Greater ranges


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