9-11 February 2018
So you’re thinking about joining Solihull Mountaineering Club?
Before you do, here are some things you can expect from the club:
*You will sign up to the club and inexplicably find yourself in the Lake District that same week. Don’t ask how you got so lucky, just go with it. Don’t drive? No worries, you’ll be offered a lift. You’ll be at the BMSC hut in an easy four hours just before nightfall. An impressive slow burn sunset full of pinks and bruised purples behind the Old Man will greet you. A trip to The Black Bull in Coniston, where you’ll debate tomorrow’s weather and routes over a pint of Bluebird (or two), is more than likely.
*Be warned: the club is not afraid of a bit of bad weather. Rain, snow, several inches of slush under (or rather over) foot are not a deterrent to SMC. Gear up and be ready. Whatever the weather, they will make the most of the day. You will find yourself sliding your way up Wetherlam and sliding your way back down. Watch out for the slippery long grass and boggy streams hidden under the snow. At the end of the day, enjoy the feeling that you’ve survived something and be acutely, achingly conscious that you are alive and young in a beautiful place. (Note to self: buy poles.)
*You will get very wet. This will result in the hut’s cozy common room being coated in more articles of clothing than a Cotswold shop (to which you now enjoy a 15% discount) and seemingly more boots than there are feet. This may or may not result in you covertly drying your bra in front of the common room fire while everyone is downstairs in the kitchen enjoying a fabulous meal. (Note to self: next time, bring more than one bra.)
*If you’re very lucky, Simon will still be on crutches and cook you a meal the likes of which no mountaineering hut this side of the Atlantic has seen before or since. Tonight’s menu features: Homemade chili, spicy pumpkin and black bean casserole, salsa, pink onions, guac, rice and more. Wine aplenty.
*The members of SMC are incredibly affable. They will go out of their way to make you feel welcome, to prepare you for the trip, to make sure you’re safe in the mountains, and to get your gear dried at the end of each day. You will be loaned ice axes, trekking poles, waterproofs, crampons, books- whatever necessary. You will wake up to find faeries have moved your damp clothing to optimum drying positions. You will be offered food, advice, whiskey and a warm spot in front of the fire. You will meet people who have done incredible things and hear amazing stories and be inspired to collect your own such tales. By the time you go to sleep each night, the hut will be warm in every way and you will sleep snug as a bug in your down sleeping bag.
*The club will push you to be and do your best, but also respect your limits. When you don’t have the right gear to make it up the Old Man of Coniston with the rest of the group (well done!) on Sunday you will be offered other lower altitude walks, around Tarn Hows and through Beatrix Potter country, more than doable in damp boots. You will get a bit lost, an essential improvement to any walk. If you’re lucky, you’ll be blessed by a few minutes of sun and see the Lake District at its glorious best: overwhelmingly blue sky, blindingly white snowy peaks, electric green hills, passive aggressive cows. (Note to self: definitely come back to the Lake District.)
*There’s no accounting for chance. On the way home you may very well get a flat tyre, find yourself stranded at Charnock Richard services station somewhere north of Manchester, get stuck on the closed M6 South behind a traffic collision and wake the dog up coming in at 1.30am Monday morning. No worries- you’ll laugh a lot, learn much in conversation on the way home and make it up to your housemate with a pint of Häagen-Dazs the next day.
(Note to self: Sign up for the next trip, immediately.)
Row Conway x