In my Chair’s report, one year ago, I expressed hope and excitement that we as a Club would soon begin to return to the mountains, be with our tribe and behave like real mountaineers, unashamedly untethered from our mice, keyboards and devices. I optimistically promised that we would soon be returning to camping meets, and later, venturing back into the networks of huts, the club’s primary objective.
I need not dwell on what returned one year ago, nor would I feel it necessary to apologise for my optimism, but I would like to thank all the members for their continued support and for their loyalty in renewing their membership in these unprecedented times. When many clubs and societies reported significant reductions in membership due to in-activeness, our Club has grown over the last twelve months. I would like to warmly welcome our new members, some of whom I have already had the pleasure of meeting. I’m certain that when our activities do return to normal, you’ll thoroughly enjoy your time with us.
To summarise the highlights of this past year.
Our annual Burns Night Meet ‘n’ Meal in Jan 2021 saw all plans A, through to Y explored and abandoned, ending with plan Z for Zoom. Some were able to meet in pairs for local walks and cycles, but for all participants on this meet, we ate our haggis and drank our dram by the light of 4K monitors. It was reported after the fact that once most people had signed out for the night, one pair of members were forced to set up an emergency bivvy in their living room. The circumstances surrounding this remain a mystery, however the Chair suspects it had something to do with imminent parenthood, and nothing to do with excessive Scotch whisky.
Our next significant event occurred in May, when campsites were opening and bubbled accommodation permitted. Six adventurous members headed to Wales for some climbing, and the week after, 13 members met at Hardhurst Farm in the Peak District for the usual May Bank Holiday meet. Things were starting to look up, and people were … climbing up again.
As Britain started to regain some sense of normality when we headed into summer, interest in mass-club events was predictably limited. There was a bivvying meet in June, where the plan was to walk the Welsh 3’000s, however, this turned into just Gill meeting me on the top of the Glyders and Tryfan, after I spent the previous night and morning traversing the Glyders and Snowdon massifs.
July saw many head to the mountains on their own agendas, although a highlight for me was being able to meet up with 2 other committee members atop of Bowfell and conducting what possibly was our first mountain-top committee meeting. Unfortunately, no one had a pen to hand, so minutes were not recorded.
August was supposed to be our first return to hut meets, but as things turned out, this hut was in Wales, and Wales weren’t yet opening shared accommodation. The decision was made to turn this meet into a camping meet, and typical of a summery Wales, the gods almost turned it into a swimming meet, with rivers and streams in spate, threatening to wash away our tents. As hardy mountaineers, some headed into the mountains to escape this threat, while others chased the sun and headed to Holyhead for some grippy rock.
By far, the highlight of this year, for me at least, was the long-awaited return to hut life in October at the Caseg Fraith hut, Ogwen Valley. Personally, I had spent a significant amount of time in the mountains over the year, as members of our WhatsApp group would be aware, but this meet was made incredibly special by being a MKMC hut meet. I was able to introduce a very good friend not only to the joys of mountain running, but more importantly, to the wondrous spirit, hard-earned experience, the camaraderie and all-round niceness of the members of this wonderful Club.
Where does the Club go to from here
I can’t make promises beyond what I can control; I could hope for an amazing and sustained return to mountains by 2022, but can’t promise it. What we can do as a club however, is continue to adhere to the guidance of our governing body (BMC) and work within the restrictions / regulations applied by the local and national governments.
The Club will continue to make arrangements for hut or camping meets once a month. This continues to be our primary objective. As a BMC affiliated club, we have access to a wide range of huts at very reasonable prices, and when coupled with the ability to lift-share, and access facilities to cook and stay warm, our primary objective of getting to the hills is achieved at minimal cost and with less environmental impact.
We will continue our usual Thursday night sessions at the climbing gym. This is growing in popularity, and as restrictions have eased, and people are more comfortable, our climbing, coffee (or tea) and cake social event will continue.
We will continue to use our email, WhatsApp and Facebook platforms to communicate or arrange informal small group outings or simply chat / share information with members. The committee has spent several meetings discussing how these platforms could be improved or evolved to achieve a purposeful goal without being overbearing, intrusive or exclusive. I feel there is still room for improvement in this crucial function of the Club, and the committee would value your input and suggestions.
I would like to give a vote of thanks to the other committee members of this year.
Gillian has worked enthusiastically to arrange new members’ meet-ups, has been the back-bone in getting the Thursday climbing sessions up and running again, and has played the role of social secretary perfectly. Her eagerness to escape to the hills is infectious (in a good way).
Next, I would like to thank Peter, the man with many talents, interests and hobbies. Peter has managed to keep track of who made what payments to whom and when, and has been always on the ball to tell us when we haven’t paid. His experience and confidence in all terrain and conditions in the UK and abroad has made a significant difference to our Club.
Alan has always inspired me with his wisdom, and usually more sensible outlook. Alan’s calmness, humour and public servant qualities are what makes him a valued member of the Club, especially when policies need to be understood or websites need updating. He’s also a pretty good climber.
Louie deserves thanks for joining our motley crew at the start of this year. After being an active member for many years, and then volunteering to run a hut meet, he took the plunge to become fully immersed in the committee proper. We did have to bring forward our meeting times to accommodate his pre-sunset bedtime, but having Louie attend and contribute to our regular committee meetings, has certainly been valuable.
Without the work of the committee, making our primary objective work just wouldn’t happen. All committee members have shown utmost devotion to this unpaid, at times stressful, and time consuming endeavour. How have we juggled our complex lives to make it through another year? For this, I thank you; for not messing it all up.
Finally, I would like to give the most heartfelt thanks to the normal members, who make up the Club. Your contribution, ideas, support will always be appreciated and welcomed.
MKMC Chair 2020/21