Climbers still scaling new heights as Wolverhampton club celebrates platinum year

“This club has lasted because of good people, friendship and the welcoming spirit it has for everyone.”

Andy Clarke and Dave Holland show off the skills they've developed over the years of being part of Wolverhampton Mountaineering Club
Andy Clarke and Dave Holland show off the skills they've developed over the years of being part of Wolverhampton Mountaineering Club

Liaison officer Dave Holland has been a member of Wolverhampton Mountaineering Club since 1970, joining as a 17-year-old.

The club started life as the YMCA Mountaineering Club in November 1951 following a meeting of more than 30 people at the YMCA on Stafford Street.

As a child, David, now 67, always liked going outdoors and doing different activities and was a member of the Scouts.

Andy Clark is one of more than 100 members of the club, which celebrates its 70th anniversary in November

He recalled: “What got me interested in joining the mountaineering club was doing outdoors activities from the Scouts, but they didn’t really have the facilities at the time.

“I wanted to be able to experience going outdoors, walking in the mountains, so it was just the right time to move onto the club.

“I also wanted to be able to get away from the West Midlands and go into the mountains.”

The early days saw the club operate as part of the YMCA, but it made the decision to break away after members felt the YMCA was unlikely to fund the mountaineering section, even as subscriptions continued to increase.

As a result, an extraordinary general meeting was held on December 7, 1953 and saw the club change its name to become Wolverhampton Mountaineering Club.

The mountaineering team pictured as they prepared for the next stage on K2

Subscriptions at the time were 10/- (50p) per year, 15/- for joint husband and wife membership and 7/6 for junior membership, with the club based at Walsall Street Schools.

As time went on, the club began to lose members, so made the decision to move meetings to the Giffard Arms on Victoria Street, beginning a tradition of city centre pubs for meeting places which continues today.

David said when he joined the club, it was meeting at a city centre pub in Wolverhampton.

He added: “The pub is long gone now, but I remember walking in and meeting everyone and finding they were the kind of people who shared the same interests and hobbies.

Ice climbing requires more specialist equipment

"We would meet every Tuesday, with usually between 20 and 40 people coming, and then going out at the weekend to go up a hill somewhere.”

It also rented its first cottage in Dinas Mawddwy in northwest Wales, Tyn-y-Ffordd, in 1955, another tradition it has kept to the present day, now owning Tal Y Braich in Deiniolen.

Over the years, the club has taken on some big climbs across the world, with the biggest being several members ascending the treacherous K2 in the Karakoram range, the second highest mountain on earth and also the deadliest.

Charles Shaw climbs in the late 1950s

The club is still going strong after nearly 70 years of running and, for David, the time spent has been some of the best of his life.

He said: “It’s started me off on the road to mountaineering and I’ve made a lot of friends over the years.

"The club has always been part of the community and is still going strong now if people want to get out and experience the mountains and comradeship.”

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