Rumours are rife amid mountaineering circles that two of the sport’s leading bodies could come together in Sheffield.
Winter mountaineering in the UK: neglected by the BMC?
The British Mountaineering Council’s chief executive Dave Turnbull has admitted that his organisation and the Alpine Club have held discussions about a joint venture. Speculation is that the two would share a building in the South Yorkshire city, located on the edge of the Peak District.
At present, the 150-year-old Alpine Club (AC) is based in Charlotte Road, London, and has an extensive library. The British Mountaineering Council (BMC), formed in 1944, has its headquarters in a former church in West Didsbury, Manchester. The debate on the future location for the two mountaineering bodies was prompted by the tabling of an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons by the BMC’s parliamentary contact Angela Smith MP.
The motion, a type of politician’s petition, extols the virtues of the former steel capital, while stressing the importance of mountaineering to the UK for its role in encouraging many participants in healthy activity. The motion goes on to: “[recognise] the particular importance of the city of Sheffield to the UK's mountain sports culture given its status as a world-class centre of rock-climbing; and places on record its support for Sheffield's ambition to promote further its mountain sports culture as an essential part of its sports and recreation on offer”.
Dave Turnbull said: “As a result of [Ms Smith’s role under the Parliamentary Sports Fellowship Scheme] she has become aware of the BMC’s and the AC's discussions about a possible joint venture. MPs are clearly keen to promote their constituencies and that’s what they're doing through the EDM. Anything that puts the BMC and climbing on the political map must surely be a good thing.”
He went on to say that he has held two ‘exploratory meetings’ with Sheffield City Council. The suggestion that Graves Gallery is the location for the joint base is ‘complete speculation’.
The news of the possible coming together of the BMC and the AC surfaced this week on UKClimbing.com and there was much discussion on its forums, including the contributions by Mr Turnbull.
There has been recent criticism that the BMC concentrates heavily on rock climbing and sports climbing, to the detriment of alpine sport and hillwalking. Any joint venture between the two organisations would require the consent of their members.