OUMC is open to everyone regardless of experience or membership of the University. For a more detailed reassurance that you will have no trouble fitting in, have a read of the relevant sections below:
If you have already made up your mind and would like to join right away then go straight to the joining instructions!
OUMC welcomes everyone, even if they are completely new to climbing. The majority of our members never climbed before coming to Oxford. At least half of what the club is about is introducing people to climbing. Plus, we welcome new members throughout the year, although the first few weeks of Michaelmas Term are an especially good time for those new to Oxford to join us, because it is then when we are particularly fresher focussed.
Climbing and Mountaineering are unlike any other sport or past-time; spanning the boundaries between both, they can become very much a way-of-life. For some, climbing is about excercise, training, and competing; for others it is a very personal art. It can be about the social life or the search for self-inflicted hardships and the rewards of exploring some of the World's most beautiful places.
Whatever your motivations (and you probably won't even know them yet) OUMC is an opportunity not to be missed. Countless people have joined the Club with no prior knowledge or expereience of outdoor life, let alone rock climbing, and for many of those people, their first visit to the Gardener's Arms on a Wednesday night was the start of the rest of their life.
In climbing there are no training sessions, no timetables, and no coaches—climbers are relaxed people who live life the way they want to and whilst this is different for each individual, we all share a passion and relish the unique opportunities that our sport presents. Whether it's just escaping Oxford at weekends to enjoy the Great British outdoors, sharing experiences around a campfire with like-minded people from all corners of the World, or conquering summits from the Alps to the Andes and beyond, OUMC will help you get there.
You don't need any special equipment or experience to enjoy climbing with OUMC—just a sense of adventure and desire to get out there and do something different. Whilst the Club is unable to offer formal instruction in climbing or mountaineering, our more experienced members are always willing to introduce you to the sport and help you find your way... It's the same way that most of us learnt!
For the first half of Michaelmas term we put on plenty of events aimed specifically at novice climbers and it's probably the easiest time to motivate yourself to actually do something! If you were able to sign up at the OUMC stall at Freshers' Fair, you will receive emails advertising all of our events for the first four weeks of term; come along to a few of them and meet our current members. There'll be loads of people in the same situation as yourself and it's a great way to make new friends and get some climbing done.
It is probably best to come along to an indoor Brookes session before an outdoor meet, just so we can make sure there is a harness that fits you and you can get the feel of moving in an unfamiliar direction (upwards, hopefully...)
We realise that the walk up to Brookes climbing wall or the Gardeners Arms pub can be a bit daunting on your own if you are new Oxford, so if you can persuade a few of your college mates to come along as well then do! Or failing that, just drop us an email and we'll make it as easy as possible for you.
As you might expect, climbing is a dangerous sport. Accidents do happen and participants need to be responsible for their own actions and involvement. OUMC does not teach people to climb or guarantee a safe environment. All our members operate under a Code of Practice that follows the guidelines of the sport's governing body and the Club has completed a risk assessment in accordance with current University policy. The Committee and members will do everything possible to highlight the specific dangers of the sport and minimise these dangers when climbing with novices in a controlled environment, but as soon as you leave the relative safety of the climbing wall, all we can do is advise you of the risks. Please be sensible.
Whatever your standard or prefered type of climbing, there are almost certainly others in the Club who share your ambitions, whether they be in bouldering, trad, sport, DWS, ice climbing, aid climbing or mountaineering. If you're starting to lead, pushing into mountain VSs, looking for that first Alpine season, or want a big wall partner, then you're in the right place!
As well as providing the easiest and cheapest way of getting out to the crags from Oxford at weekends, OUMC is a group of like-minded friends to hang out with, drink with, and plan trips with—so even if you have your own car and regular climbing partner we encourage you to get involved with the Club as much as possible... lots of us did and never looked back.
The majority of our meets during term go to crags where the climbing is the traditional style (leader placed protection). In almost all cases we try to match each leader to a second and avoid groups top-roping. We go to a mixture of places with long mountain routes and shorter crag climbing. There will also likely be bouldering if the venue is suitable. Whilst Oxford is not close to anywhere, it's not far from everywhere, so OUMC enjoys a greater variety of climbing than many other UK climbing clubs. Regular haunts include the Peak District, North Wales, the Pembroke sea cliffs, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and the Lake District. Out of term time the list gets even longer; every holiday there are likely to be members organizing outings, including mountaineering trips, sport climbing trips, big aid climbing expeditions, bouldering raids, you name it...
In terms of grades climbed, the spread is large. You will almost certainly be able to find someone of a similar standard to climb with you (unless you're desperate to go for E7 multipitches).
We recommend: the Gardener's Arms on a Wednesday evening. It's the best place to meet other climbers in Oxford and get to know the club. Please note that for the first half of Michaelmas Term the club will be somewhat focussed on freshers' events and taking novices up to Brookes. Whilst you are more than welcome to join us on Tuesday evenings at the wall (especially if you can help out!) it'll be very busy... it's generally best avoiding Brookes after work hours for the first half of Michaelmas Term (the Brookes climbing club will be getting their members up to speed as well). If you fancy a bit more of a challenge, then you might find that Iffley is just the place for you: come and join us on Monday evenings.
You can also check out our recent new routing and first ascent achievements.
OUMC is open to anyone, regardless of membership of the University. We have many older members, including both Oxford alumni and those who have never been University members, and whilst OUMC is still a 'student society' the older contingent sit happily alongside! Compared to most 'town' mountaineering clubs, OUMC compares very favourably, being significantly more active in both climbing and social scenes. All of the Club events, including weekend meets, vacation trips, slideshows and twice-yearly black tie dinners are open to all our members.