- Note: You can view a full gallery of images from this event here: UKC Gallery
It was the reporting equivalent of being sent to Coventry... UKClimbing.com asked if I would cover the British Mountaineering Council's AGM.
To paraphrase Ian Mcnaught-Davis, the former president of the UIAA, referring to competition climbing during the AGM, "it was a toss up between watching paint dry or wood warp!"
This year's AGM was based at Plas Y Brenin in Capel Curig, North Wales. It was like going to work for me as I instruct there regularly. The National Council meeting (where I represent BMC Wales) started at 8.30am. This is the business end of the BMC, where all the important decisions are made. No decision was made on the Olympics but there was a motion to pass a motion to clarify the ratified minutes in order to establish a timetable under which we may or may not stick to in order to put forward a possible decision by September. Anyway I left that meeting more confused than when I went in.
The next meeting was a special open forum for the clarification of where 'Coaching in Mountaineering' had got to. Having sat on the National Source Group, my job wasn't an observer here instead I sat at the front trying to field questions from the 16 attendees.
It was well past lunchtime when this meeting stopped, but we managed to escape to the PYB boulder after soup and sandwiches for a cheeky half hour of real climbing rather than just talking about it. The few who fled returned chalky handed and suitably late for the open forum. This has replaced the Q&A and debate that was normally saved up for the main AGM event. I guess having the debate set aside from the main meeting/voting meant that it seemed a bit surgical in the actual AGM, and even here the debate was tame.
With the current financial crisis the ability to fund the new Welsh Access Officer was brought up, and everyone was reliably informed that the BMC could dig deep into its pockets. It was also a chance for some of the actual roles and responsibilities to be explained, and it sounds like an interesting job.
The cost of competition climbing was brought up, and whether the cost was proportional.
(12% or £70000 goes towards competition climbing, or about £1 per BMC member. I feel this is a fair amount given that around 2000 or so people engage in competition each year, and that doesn't include family or friends who support that person. When Mike Raine reflected that there were more young people competing in the area finals of the Youth Climbing series than were at this Open Forum, it put it in perspective.)
Interestingly the question was asked by a member of a club, so moving on to clubs; the BMC has secured around £15000 to help clubs employ instructors or gain qualifications, as well as appointing a new 'clubs officer' the answer to the question 'what is the BMC doing for clubs?' seems to be being addressed, and everyone seemed happy with the outcome.
Another short presentation by the Mountain Heritage Trust followed and given that we the BMC now pay them £15000 a year for the next two years, it seemed appropriate to see what our money was achieving. They have made some advances to get climbing in the 2012 Olympics through the Sports Heritage Network, which aim to have a exhibition alongside the Olympics showing the heritage of non-olympic sporting endeavour. Apparently even the first Gold medal for Alpine endeavour presented back in 1924 will be on display, the latter day Piolet d' Or. There was overwhelming support for the trusts work in the room including the 3/4 million pound lottery grant to look at Chris Bonnington's garden shed/archive.
We then moved onto Perkin Slade, the insurance group behind the BMC, we apparently have a good claims record, its kind of like a no claims bonus really, we don't claim and the BMC gets a financial kick back from Perkin Slade. Best highlighted by the kind of humour that only an insurance salesman could come up with in that 'dying helps keep the costs down'. Although this year the claims may have gone up a bit, and due to a reduced interest rate and a 'hardening' market that kick back might not happen, meaning that in Jan 2010 the BMC insurance premiums may well increase.
The last topic was the BMC land purchase policy, and the CEO Dave Turnbull wanted to stress that the BMC doesn't usually buy property, but it has on occasion stepped in - to maintain the climbing resources, like at Tremadog, Horsehoe quarry, Wilton, Harrisons Rock and Craig Y Longridge. So they're not in the market for buying a crag, if you have one up for offer (wasn't half of Skye up for sale a few years back?) then tough.
The voting was a reasonably civilised affair, the few interesting points were Audrey Seguy's introduction to the world of the BMC, she did well, even when set upon by Ken Wilson and Ian McNaught-Davis. It is McNaught-Davis' rant that was very interesting, his main point being that by joining the Olympics we would be under the rules of WADA (world anti-doping police), and that Diamox is a banned substance for athletes as it helps you shed a few pounds, he missed the point that it also helps anaerobic performance. He also seemed to think that no mountaineer would be able to take the substance at altitude, which seemed ridiculous to me, I can't see WADA checking recreational climbers at Everest Base Camp, and there is no reason for a competition climber to be taking Diamox!
Anyway the very capable Audrey is now the new vice president of the BMC, it is good to see someone in that position with all their own hair. She is Managing director of the Castle in London, and has competed very successfully for England, despite growing up in the USA. She joins Pat Littlejohn and Rihan Sidiqui as Vice presidents.
The big vote was of course between Doug Scott and Rab Carrington. Doug and his proposer Bob Pettigrew had better places to be on vote day, both were absent. Ken Wilson jumped up just before the vote, and asked whether they had arranged a Filibuster, which I must have misheard, as what he meant was; he was about to fill time until Bob Pettigrew turned up and talked more about the great Doug Scott. Fortunately, the vote was cast, and reasonably quickly returned... and Rab Carrington won 639 votes to 289, the BMC lived another day, and I finally escaped that room!