According to BMC CEO Dave Turnbull the four major challenges facing the BMC in 2012 are:
1. Access: Dealing with the Peak Park Asset Review.
2. Liability: Re-assuring landowners about liability issues.
3. Communication: Getting our message out to climbers and walkers.
4. Making the case for climbing as an Olympic sport in 2020.
The BMC's Annual General Meeting was held 27-29th April at Malham Tarn Field Studies Centre above Malham Cove, North Yorkshire. It was attended by just over 100 climbers and hill walkers.
Rab Carrington retired as BMC President after his three year term. BMC Members elected Scott Titt as the new president with Mike Watson and Kate Phillips joining Ed Douglas as Vice-Presidents. (Find out more about them at the base of this news report.) Audrey Seguy retired as Vice-President. Rab Carrington praised the efforts of the legions of BMC volunteers and emphasised that the primary purpose of BMC is to make sure that climbers, mountaineers and hill walkers have access to pursue their sport and pastime.
Rab Carrington has been an active president the last three years, he was already well known and recognised, and embraces all types of climbing and climbers: trad climbing, sport climbing, hill walking, being in the pub of course and he has had many alpine adventures in the greater ranges. He was also founder of the outdoor company, RAB. He worked very closely with BMC staff and volunteers, and had regular meetings with Dave Turnbull, the BMC CEO.
I asked what he thought his achievements were the last three years:
'It is always difficult to put your finger on what one has "achieved". Nothing has been done in isolation; many joint decisions made which have been implemented by a host of other people. I guess that some of my influence has been in reaching out to the many different groups of people who are BMC members and trying to make them all welcome.
My interest in competition climbing helped to give them a better and more accepted role within the BMC. Negotiations with the Clubs led to the formation of a Club Committee which allows the Clubs a greater say in the workings of the BMC.
Getting involved in our satellite organisations like UIAA and Mountain Leader Training and trying to get decisions made at those organisations to reflect the views of the BMC. The BMC is a vast umbrella organisation and it needs to be careful that it doesn't neglect any of those within the group.'
Is that it for Rab as regards climbing politics and representation? Rab, as well as climbing, will now be more involved with UIAA and Mountain Leader Training and the challenges these organisations face.
All AGM items were passed, including no increase in membership subscriptions for 2013.
Henry Folkard and Dave Bishop were honoured for their outstanding voluntary work in the Peak District that stretch back 20 years; in particular their work on ring ouzels, quarrying at Backdale and representing climbers on the Stanage Forum. Their role as mentors to a new generation of access activists was also applauded. Both men were presented with the George Band Award, given to BMC volunteers who have made an exceptional contribution to the organisation's work. Last year the award was given to Neville McMillan and George Steele, who between them have given over 60 years of service to the BMC Technical Committee.
You can read more about Henry and Dave's work at the BMC website
The BMC's Annual General Meeting follows the publication of the BMC's Annual Report and Annual Accounts for 2011 that give a detailed picture of what the BMC has been doing, what their priorities are for the future and their finances.
One discussion at the AGM raised questions about the accessibility of the annual report to the BMC's members. A thousand copies of the Annual Report have been printed and it is available as a download at the BMC website. A thousand copies is not a lot when you have 73,837 members and it can be awkward reading and printing a pdf.
Indeed when asked what were the major challenges faced by the BMC CEO Dave Turnbull said that an important one is: 'Communication; getting our message out to climbers and walkers.'
One suggestion at the AGM was to have an extended edition of the BMC's members magazine Summit that would contain the Annual Report, the Financial Report, and also publicity inviting members to the AGM and if they could not attend, a copy of the Proxy Voting Card; all members of the BMC can vote at the AGM, either by being there or by postal vote, but not many do.
Another suggestions was to have an easily readable and digested synopsis of the Annual Report and Finances.
I have attempted to do this below in this news report and hopefully you will be able to recognise something that is relevant to you.
What did the BMC do for us in 2011?
Below are edited highlights of what the BMC did for us in 2011. For a full picture of BMC work and the BMC Finance Report you can download the BMC Annual Report and Finance Report by following this link: BMC AGM Weekend 2012.
Membership has grown by 16,000 in the past 3 years. BMC membership now stands at 73,837 (49,416 individual members and 24,421 club members. 292 clubs are members). In the early 90's total BMC membership was under 30,000.
Membership is down by 119 from 2010, not a significant number especially considering BMC insurance surcharges have increased. Climbers and hill walkers don't just join the BMC to get insurance. However membership is easier these days, especially the retention of members, because of the BMC Direct Debit scheme.
Finance Report Snapshot
David Lanceley is the Honorary Treasurer of the BMC and he was re-elected at the AGM. Graham Richmond is the Chair of the Finance Committee. The largest proportion of income is from members subscriptions, and the largest expenditure is staff costs. Staff time and work is mainly allocated to the BMC Specialists programmes, especially Access and Conservation.
2011 income: £2,126,000
2011 expenditure: £2,143,000
A deficit of £19k (forecasted deficit was £80k)
Income Sources: Income from members subscriptions: £1.4 million, Grants and donations £226k, Travel Insurance £311k.
Expenditure: Personnel : £932k; Office: £447k; Personal accident and civil liability insurance £313k; Specialist Programmes £307k.
Access and Conservation
Access and conservation is one of the most important functions of the BMC and considerable staff time is devoted to it, with three full time access and conservation officers and numerous volunteers.
- Lulworth Cove, Dorset, access secured.
- Increased access at Mowingworld, Pembrokshire.
- Opening up of 40 previously banned routes on the Marine Drive, Llandudno.
- Secretary of State recognises that climbing is a permitted activity under new coastal access provisions and inland under the CROW Act.
- Many meetings with government agencies and committees fighting the case for climbers and hill walkers.
- BMC Midlands engaged with quarry owners trying to ensure that quarries are left in a good state for future climbing activity.
- BMC Access and Conservation Trust re-invigorated and given new direction: they have money and they need your suggestions for projects: e.g., Avon Gorge revitalised, Dinas Cromlech path restoration?
- Publication of 'White Guide': a pamphlet advising climbers how to conserve alpine plants and habitats when ice climbing.
- Held the BMC Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Landscapes conference to discuss BMC position on wind farms.
- Working with the Peak District National Park Authority on their asset review especially as regards new ownership and management of the Roaches and the Eastern Moors Estate.
- Worked with RSPB and produced publicity for seasonal bird restrictions.
It's not all roses however, despite the BMC's best efforts access was lost to Foredale Quarry, an important mid-grade sport climbing area in North Yorkshire. This was due to the quarries popularity, some climbers not accessing the quarry by the agreed paths, gates being left open, a group of climbers camping in the quarry, and commercial climbing use of the quarry (Full details at this UKC news item by Dave Musgrove and Alan James).
- BMC Walls Committee produce Climbing Walls Essentials DVD for increasing number of climbers starting climbing at the 300+ climbing walls in the UK. Rock Climbing Essentials DVD to follow in 2012.
- Started analysis of the Climbing Wall Accident Database. This is especially relevant as two climbers died in accidents at climbing walls in the last year.
- Ed Hamer and Molly Thompson-Smith successes in competitions: Ed finished 4th in the world.
- Stew Watson ranked 15th in the World (bouldering).
- Meeting between GB Climbing Team, the Sports Minister and Sport England in the Houses of Parliament.
- Very good news recently is the support of the GB Climbing Team by Lonsdale China in a cash agreement for the next five years and the success of Shauna Coxsley in recent Bouldering World Cups.
- Training courses for club members.
- Loan scheme for clubs.
- BMC Equity Steering Group working to identify and remove barriers to under-represented groups in hill walking and climbing.
- Over The Moors: Moorland Grit - now published.
- Ongoing: Sandstone: Merseyside and Cheshire and Peak District Limestone.
- BMC hosted two international climbing meets.
- £10K allocated to support British Expeditions in the Greater Ranges.
- Technical Skills articles published in Summit magazine.
- Three Equipment Incident Reports published online.
- Better Bolts Campaign continues.
- BMC representation at the UIAA Safety commission.
Training and Youth
- Held BMC Coaching Symposium.
- Organised BMC Youth Climbing Series.
- Organised several Masterclasses, Safety Seminars and Skills events.
What can you do for the BMC? You can find out here
I asked the new BMC President and Vice-Presidents for some information about themselves, and what are the primary issues that they would would like to tackle during their tenure.
BMC President: Scott Titt
Scott's first route was Flying Buttress on Dinas Cromlech in 1968. By the 1970's he was representing the Swanage Climbing Club at BMC meetings in Bristol. In the years that followed he became a BMC access volunteer negotiating the access to Skeleton Ridge and the Swanage bolt agreements being especially memorable. He has represented the Wessex Mountaineering Club at BMC South West Area meetings and became a National Councillor for the BMC. At the 2010 BMC AGM he was elected as a Vice President, and now faces the daunting task of taking over from Rab Carrington after his energetic 3 years as President.
'I have come to the Presidency from the grass roots so I want to make sure that the BMC always remains connected to the needs of the ordinary hill walker, mountaineer and climber. Strengthening the Area meetings and ensuring that our volunteers are valued are the keys to our links to the members.
Another issue I would like to look at is encouraging coach transport to crags, fuel prices can only go up and we have to develop a more sustainable way to enjoy our sport.
Finally I would like to see composting toilets at some crags.'
BMC Vice-President: Mike Watson
Mike's two sons are Stew and Mart, you may have heard of Stewart as he is a successful competition climber. Mike started rock climbing and walking in the mountains at the age of twelve with his Dad a little over fifty years. His first climbs were at Windgather Rocks wearing black Woolworths pumps. These days Mike embraces all types of climbing and has led E6 and 7c+ sport, but you are as likely to find him on some alpine face as you are redpointing a sport route. He is currently a Senior Lecturer in The Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Mike was BMC Honorary Treasurer from 1985-87, then Chair of the BMC Finance Committee (1988-92). He also became a member of the BMC Competition Committee in the 1990's and became Chair of this committee between 2005-10. He continues to serve as a member of that committee.
Mike was away when I contacted him, but he sent us this brief message:
'Very briefly I am interested in helping competition climbing and getting more young people interested in the BMC'.
BMC Vice-President: Kate Phillips
Kate has been the CEO of the Lakeland Climbing Centre (Kendal Wall) since 1995 and has just managed a £500k redevelopment of the Lake Districts' major climbing wall. She was the first female president of Cambridge University Climbing Club and was a member of Alpine Climbing Group/ Alpine Club from the 1990's to 2005 including period as committee member. She made the first British ascent of Ama Dablam and has attempted new routes on 7000m+ peaks. She has onsighted 7a and led E6's. She was a member BMC Training Advisory Group and the BMC Climbing Wall Committee in the late 1990's.
'My primary issue? Ensuring that the BMC remains relevant to the new climbers of today whilst protecting the rights of all climbers to enjoy their climbing, whatever form that takes: trad, bouldering, winter, alpine.'
BMC Vice-President: Ed Douglas
Ed was the founder and Chief Editor of On The Edge magazine and Mountain Review magazine, and is former editor of the Alpine Journal. He is the the author of several books including, Chomolungma Sings The Blues, about the effects of Western commercialism on Everest, and a joint author with David Rose of Regions Of The Heart, a biography of Alison Hargreaves. Ed has been a professional journalist specialising in the outdoors for the last 25 years and writes regularly for the Guardian. This is Ed's second term as Vice President of the BMC.
'There's a practical thing I can do, which is to help the BMC improve its communications. There's already some great things happening. Summit is very good, and the BMC's presence in social media is strong. But there are a few structural changes that will take things further.
Second, some people have the impression that the BMC can be quite elitist, interested more in performance and top-end climbing. My presence on the Executive Committee should reassure everyone that this isn't the case. Climbing and hill walking make people's lives richer no matter what the objective, and I've also got a deep interest in the mountain environment, and these things get talked about a lot, so I'm very pleased to be involved.'
Mick Ryan is Senior Editor and Advertising Manager at UKClimbing.com and UKHillwalking.com.