Final Year Chemistry student Andrew Keating describes his experiences in the UCD Mountaineering Club….

As with nearly every 1st year I wandered into the Fresher’s Tent and spent all my money joining as many clubs and societies as my wallet allowed. That Sunday UCD Mountaineering Club had a hike to Glendalough and I decided I would go if it wasn’t raining. Luckily we got one of the best days all year! The Fresher’s Hike is a great introduction into hiking if you have never done it before. It’s not too tough and you get the spectacular scenery of Glendalough. I got to meet so many new members to the club from every corner of Ireland and from all over the world, some of which are still my closest friends. I never really had an intention of climbing. I joined for the hiking. But I thought I may as well try it out and see if I liked it. Turns out I loved it! Climbing is one of those things where you just don’t know how good it is until you do it. Was I afraid of heights? Definitely, in fact I kind of still am, you just get used to it!

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I spent much of my first year doing everything the club had to offer, whether it was the training sessions, hikes, trips away, and, of course, all of the many social nights! Like a lot of the members I just couldn’t get enough of the club. So I decided I would run for committee of the following year, I went for the position of treasurer. Unfortunately, I lost by just 2 votes! Nevertheless, I was later co-opted onto the committee as Health & Safety Officer.

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My 2nd year in the club was even better. I got to help run the club with the committee, an experience I’ve never had. The best part about being on the committee is helping everybody because I remember what it was like to join the club with no clue what I was doing. This year the club ran a first aid course catered for the outdoors, a bare minimum for most outdoor work. It was unbelievably cheap! The idea of the club is to have as much cheap and fun events as possible. The most expensive club trip is the Wales trip which typically costs no more than €80. This includes a ferry and bus, 3 nights accommodation, and insurance. The trips around Ireland cost less than €50 and some of them even include a dinner made by the committee!

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By the end of 2nd year I had done nearly everything the club had to offer. At some point I had the crazy idea of becoming Captain of the club. At the AGM I was elected captain for the following year. This was a new experience altogether. Along with the committee I had to run the club. We would plan the trips away, training courses, competitions, social events as well as the everyday training and supervision at the UCD Climbing Wall. On top of all that we had to organise and run the Irish Climbing Intervarsities which is the largest climbing competition in the country with clubs representing from all over Ireland. We ended up with nearly 250 competitors. It was stressful to say the least! Thinking back, I have no idea how I managed to balance that and college. It’s safe to say I had a great committee that made my life a lot easier. If it wasn’t for them I’m not sure I would have managed it all.

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Now as I am just starting my final year in UCD, I look back at all the fun I’ve had and I can’t really believe it. I’ve got to see some beautiful areas and climbed in awesome places. This past summer I went climbing in Germany with friends who joined the club on Erasmus as well as friends still in the club.  I have learned so many new skills and have kept myself fit but the best thing about the club is the people. They are, by far, the nicest and most accepting people I have ever met! Everybody is so different and interesting. To put it into perspective one member, Naomi, was only meant to stay here for 1 year on Erasmus but the club was so great she decided to leave Germany behind and move over here!

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