Gwen Moffat. Photo: Jen Randall

Gwen Moffat. Photo: Jen Randall

Two veteran climbers have been made honorary members of the British Mountaineering Council.

Gwen Moffat and Angela Soper were appointed following the first meeting of the BMC’s women’s think tank, which convened earlier this month.

BMC chief executive Dave Turnbull said: “It’s great to see Gwen and Angela as the first women to become honorary members of the BMC.

“They are joining a distinguished line-up including the likes of Eric Jones, Henry Folkard and Ken Wilson.”

Angela Soper began climbing in 1963. From her beginnings in old school trad climbing, she worked her way through British crags and grades with highlights such as Right Wall (E5 6a) and the Old Man of Hoy, diversifying enough to win her first bouldering competition aged 50 at a Huddersfield wall.

She was elected president of the women-only Pinnacle Club in 1981, and organised the Women’s International Meet in 1984, which saw Jill Lawrence become the first British woman to climb E5 with her ascent of Right Wall.

The BMC said: “The effects of the meet galvanised a whole generation of female climbers and the waves of psyche have surely gone on to influence the Women’s Climbing Symposium, which Angela headlined in 2013.”

Angela Soper, left, in action on an indoor wall. Photo: Hillary Lawrence

Angela Soper, left, in action on an indoor wall. Photo: Hillary Lawrence

Ms Soper acted as BMC vice-president from 1990 to 1993.

Gwen Moffat started climbing at 21 when she met a rock-climber whilst stationed at a suburban Auxiliary Territorial Service station during the Second World War.

After a mini-adventure in Wales, she soon left the army for a life of climbing. After an existence dictated by the conditions and her discovery of new crags throughout the UK, she decided she could make a living from climbing.

The BMC said: “Alongside a fruitful mountain-writing career, in 1956 Gwen became the first female British mountain guide. She wrote her renowned climbing autobiography Space Below my Feet in 1961.

“She was a very committed member of the mountain rescue, writing the non-fiction book Two Star Red about her experiences in its service.”

This year Gwen starred in the BMC TV production Operation Moffat, which collected the special jury mention at Banff Mountain Festival and best climbing film and people’s choice award at Kendal Mountain Festival.

Alex Messenger of BMC TV, said: “Good films have memorable action; the best films have memorable characters.

“And when it comes to characters, they don’t come any more inspirational than Gwen Moffat. Directors Jen Randall and Claire Carter have created something very special.”

The BMC spokesperson said: “Ever humble and limelight-shy, Gwen maintains that she was surprised to learn that she had been made an honorary member.

“Although her association with the BMC goes back to 1953 and her first guide’s certificates, apart from some regional committee work she feels has done nothing to deserve such a tribute. Since the success of the BMC TV film, Gwen’s book Space Below my Feet has been commissioned for a reprint.”

Current president of the Pinnacle Club, Hillary Lawrence, said: “Gwen and Angela joined the Pinnacle Club in 1949 and 1967 respectively and were both made honorary members in recognition of their contribution to the club and for inspiring women climbers for many years.

“Angela is still a regular on meets – last seen a week ago making light work of the steepest overhanging section of Leeds Wall.”

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