The Glasgow University Mountaineering Club (GUM Club), which has just celebrated its 70th birthday, is made up of an eclectic mix of people, all with a shared passion for things mountainous, tea, cake and road trips to the far corners of Scotland. We meet every Tuesday, usually in the wrong attire, to share stories of mountain exploits, mountain fails and all the other fun we have been up to when we were supposed to be writing essays.
Every other fortnight, a busload or two of students set off from the University in pursuit of adventure, usually heading to the Highlands. Throughout the year, we try to cover as many parts of the country as we can, to ensure we get the opportunity to experience the variation Scotland, North England and North Wales have to offer, while also hoping to find the good weather. We sleep in village halls, which are cheap yet functional, and also provide good venues for weekend long parties (especially if the weather fails us) and plenty of floor space. What they lack in luxury, the halls make up for in atmosphere, and they enable us to all get to know each other better and more intimately than we could ever have wanted. When it’s really cold, everybody has to spoon.
Activities are, of course, dependent on the seasons: in the autumn, people get out rock climbing, scrambling, and hill walking and hope not to be rained on. By winter, when the conditions are good enough, it is time for winter climbing, snowy walks, hot aches and either fine views or forced whiteout navigation practice. Sometimes we all splash out and go skiing. When/if summer finally arrives, we all don our midge nets, dig out our tents and go to other more remote places, such as Skye, Reiff and the Alps for as long as we can. It’s rock-climbing season again, and so we go cragging, do long routes or go bouldering!
Skill level ranges from eager novices to the hard-core folk; whatever your level (of skill and/or psyche), the chances are you will find somebody to get out with. We encourage people to share their skills as much as possible, and have links with Glenmore Lodge, which offers us courses in safety, navigation and winter skills. There is plenty of wisdom in the many mountain minds in the club, so there’s always someone to give their opinion on routes, gear, cake recipes, tea shops and pretty much anything else.
As the club has been going for so many years, it has unsurprisingly accumulated its share of history, and has been responsible for at least a couple of marriages and babies. It certainly feels like a family, though we are of course always keen to adopt new members who will grow into valued participants to keep the club alive.