Having worked your way carefully through the Hillwalker's Self-Analysis Questionnaire, you've determined what kind of hillwalker you are. But one thing remains unresolved: how do you fit into that mighty institution, the Cambridge University Hillwalking Club? What is your future in the Club? Is it time to move on? A few simple questions will help you find the answer...
Any similarity to the possible responses of actual Club members, either active or duffer, is purely coincidental.
- It's the beginning of the academic year, and the evening of the Club squash. Do you:
- Fail to make it due to a college drinking society initiation that night. A couple of days later, frantically email the President demanding a space on the Edale trip.
- Come along dutifully, cheque book in hand, half an hour before the advertised start. When the talk begins, sit in the front row, gaping at the fantastic slide-show of appetite-whetting hillwalking photos. At the end, hang around chatting to everyone else there, until you realise that the only people remaining are all on the committee and trying to clear up around you.
- Turn up nervously in your Club T-shirt, hoping that the slide projector won't break. Neck two glasses of wine in your agitation when you realise that the advertised start time has just passed and there are only two freshers arrived, both of whom are sitting staring at you from the front row. Rejoice quietly when another 150 turn up during your speech, and when the treasurer later announces record membership takings.
- Arrive with just enough time before the advertised start to grab a glass of wine and a large handful of Doritos. Settle down in the back row, shouting out corrections to the President whenever he makes a factual mistake in his speech. Stand around afterwards telling freshers: "it was a bit different to this in my day..."
- What is your favourite Club trip of the year?
- Not made it on one yet. You did try to come to Edale, but set your alarm for 6:30pm instead of 6:30am. And the bastards wouldn't give you your money back!
- Your first trip, which was to the Lake District. You did a HUGE walk with some people on the committee, the weather was fantastic, and everyone sang songs after the pub! In college, your friends sometimes make you feel like you are a bit odd, but you fitted in perfectly on that trip...
- The new year trip, of course. You had an epic on Scafell pike, and sang the Cow Song every night at an annoyingly loud volume, not to mention the complete works of Don McLean and the Gnu song. And that's where you first got asked to be in the committee...
- The new year trip. Though it hasn't been quite the same since the Club stopped going to Eskdale... Now how many years ago was that now?
- And what's your favourite kind of day out in the hills?
- Hills? Dunno! But walking to Grantchester is nice - or walking to one of the more distant colleges (such as Jesus) for formal hall can be enjoyable.
- The Langdale Pikes, on the last trip. You passed near there on your Duke of Edinburgh's practice expedition, but it's much more fun without a heavy sack!
- Something like the Helvellyn range or Fairfield horseshoe - loads of new Wainwrights to bag!
- Hmmm. Tricky one. Well, there was that day you bagged Fellbarrow and Low Fell, thus compleating [sic] the Western Fells... Nah seriously, any day out in the hills is good - especially if it's insanely long!
- What do you think of the Club T-shirt?
- A bit silly really - you'd never be seen dead in something so unfashionable!
- Really cool - all the committee wear them! Shame there were no more left in your size. Ah well, maybe next year they'll do another print run.
- A badge of honour - you wear yours practically all the time - to lunch, to the pub, even when you're too busy revising to come to any Club activities...
- Quite good. Definitely better than T-shirt marks II and IV. The design is better on T-shirt mark III, you consider; and then there was mark I, which does have nostalgia value, but is sadly too flimsy to actually wear outside any more.
- What's your opinion on that great Club tradition, the Cow Song?
- Weird! It totally freaked you out when they all sang it after that formal at Fitz. How come they all know the words?
- Magnificent! After hearing it sung on your first Club trip, you went home and learned all eighteen official verses off by heart.
- Magnificent! No Club trip or evening out would be complete without a slightly off-key, drunken rendition of that legendary composition - sung in accordance with Presidential Proclamation Number One.
- Magnificent! Although it's hardly a Club tradition - you well remember the days of B.C. (Before Cow) when there was no Cow Song and the Club had to make do with Bohemian Rhapsody and American Pie - and nobody even knew all the words to that back then!
- You browse the club website...
- Occasionally - sometimes the front page has useful information on it - such as the dates of forthcoming social events.
- Obsessively - ever since joining the club, or possibly even before that, you've used the site to find out as much as possible about all the other keen members of the club (most particularly its venerable committee); to whet your appetite for the hills with the dazzling collection of past trip photos; and of course, to look up all the lyrics to the Cow Song.
- Pedantically - constantly checking for incorrect dates and missing information, not to mention glaring omissions from the People in the Club page, and typos in the online copy of the Constitution - whilst proudly noting how many of your own quotes now appear on the site.
- Disappointedly - there's hardly ever anything new to read! You've already read and memorised the site's entire content, including such classics as the 1997 Annual Dinner Poem and the report of the October 1992 Snowdonia trip. Why don't the committee ever type up stuff from the trip book any more? They always used to in the old days...
- You arrive at Churchill on a Friday evening, at the start of a Club trip. Do you:
- Sit on the wall with your friend from college (who also made the mistake of joining the Club), staring down at your "new" Oxfam walking boots, feeling slightly scared by all the strange people you're surrounded by.
- Say hello to all the your friends from the last trip, and introduce yourself to as many new people as possible. When the Trip Safety Coordinator gets into a stress about who is going in which car, politely volunteer to help - after all, it could be you in that position next year!
- Stand in the middle of the pavement waving aloft the official Trip Clipboard and a couple of lever arch files containing safety information. When a each participant arrives, tick them off in at least four different boxes. If any new members are trying to have a conversation, interrupt them by demanding to take down all their relatives' mobile phone numbers, their blood group, and what they ate for breakfast that morning. When everyone is finally ready to set off, realise that there is one rucksack left on the pavement outside the minibus - the one containing all the Club gear!
- Leap out of your car and rush round to talk to all the other drivers, explaining why the route suggested by the Meets Sec isn't any good due to carriageway improvements on the A50 near Stoke. Suggest a more complicated alternative using the M606, A6177 and A650, including portions of the Bingley Relief Road. Revise this completely when you remember that the chippy in Shipley has recently put up its prices for medium-sized portions of Haddock. Finally, tell everyone that the best option is actually the A14, M6, A34 and A4148, with plenty of opportunity for losing freshers at the Morrisons in Walsall. Throw the Safety Coordinator's carefully thought-out Transport Allocation Plan into disarray by refusing point blank to take an entire car-full of mid-Western Americans.
- It's a Saturday morning in November and you are on the Snowdonia trip. As usual, the weather is miserable. Do you:
- Sign up for a walk on some hill called Crib Goch. Freak out at the top and spend 15 mins clinging to a rock, developing borderline hypothermia, before the group agrees to turn back. Find that the soles of both your "new" Oxfam boots fall off on the way down - this is some consolation, as it at least means that you can spend Sunday sitting in the bunkhouse.
- Get persuaded by the committee - who all want to go and do Crib Goch again - to take all the novices on a circuit of the Carneddau. Despite being relatively new to the Club, they say they can trust you because you know the area well, having done it on your Duke of Edinburgh's award last summer.
- Get stressed out by the 30 people who've never come on a trip before, all of whom simultaneously demand to borrow waterproof trousers whilst you're trying to eat breakfast. Get even more stressed when the rest of the committee sod off to go up Crib Goch. Find some consolation in sadistically taking the remaining hopelessly under-equipped stragglers up Tryfan North ridge, even though your conscience tells you it isn't really the right thing to do...
- Get up late and head straight for the kitchen, fighting your way through hordes of freshers frantically signing disclaimer forms in triplicate. Eat breakfast, put on boots and sack, and find you're the first ready. Discover that the only people down for your epic to the North Glyders are a Greek couple who weren't allowed to sign up for Crib Goch. Go anyway, despite the bad weather, late start and the fact that there is zero chance of returning within a sensible time frame with all group members unharmed.
- The Social Secretary sends round a long-awaited email announcing a Formal at Sidney Sussex. You respond by:
- Signing up straight away - you haven't bagged Sidney yet - despite the fact that you probably won't know anyone else going.
- Signing up straight away - an excellent chance to see your hillwalking friends again, and perhaps even sing the Cow Song or some Queen afterwards - whilst making a personal note not to drink quite so much port this time, or at least to wear a tag round your neck with your address on...
- Thanking the Social Sec for all their organisation - hopefully that will quieten down all those people who've been clamouring for an extra social this term!
- Composing a three-page critique of the email, pointing out omissions, inaccuracies, and giving separate marks for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Forget to mention whether or not you are actually planning to go to the Formal, and confuse all the finances by mentally adding the cost of the ticket to your ongoing account with the Club.
- Your group is nearing the end of a long, miserable, soaking wet walk in early January. You decide to:
- Feign injury for the rest of the trip so you don't have to go out walking again, catching an early lift home if possible. On safe return to Cambridge, thank your lucky stars for your deliverance, and ceremonially burn your Oxfam walking boots and cagoule in the college gardens.
- Change into dry clothes as quickly as possible back at the bunkhouse. Find someone willing to drive you into Keswick, so you can spend a fortune in Fishers buying new B1 boots and a decent waterproof jacket - as a replacement for the rubbish gear your parents got you when you were at school - so now you can go out in even worse weather with no problems.
- Rally the group around, checking that the new bloke in the cagoule isn't suffering from hypothermia. Panic slightly when you realise that your Master List of Participants' Blood Groups and Relatives' Mobile Phone Numbers has dissolved in the rain. Demonstrate your excellent leadership qualities by guiding your group by the safest possible route back to the bunkhouse, where you heroically save the building from burning down after some fresher puts their wet socks a little too close to the stove.
- Insist to your flagging group that, contrary to what your compass and their sense of direction might say, the most direct route back to the bunkhouse in fact lies over the next two Wainwrights (by pure coincidence, not yet bagged by yourself). When night falls and it becomes apparent that only two of your group have a head-torch, confidently lead the way, inch by inch, from a hazy memory of three years earlier, whilst encouraging your group to compose new verses to the Cow Song to keep up morale. On eventual arrival back at the bunkhouse, remind the fuming Safety Officer that you "never were that good at judging distance from a map".
- The AGM is coming up, and a minor change to article 15(e) of the constitution has been proposed. Do you:
- Ponder whether to go. You're not remotely interested in Club business, but the email did say that there might be free wine!
- Look forward to the day with much keenness. Although you'll probably be too shy to say much in the constitutional debates, there's a chance that you might get elected onto the committee for next year...
- Spend most of the week compiling sufficiently large quantities of obscure membership statistics for your report to satisfy all but the most nerdy member. Find yourself asking the Social Sec 26 times for reassurance that the Club really is allowed to serve wine in the room booked for the AGM. If any emails should happen to arrive entitled "Constitution", delete from your inbox without reading.
- Get into a huge stress about the possible change to your sacred constitution, and spend the week sending at least 1,500 emails in an attempt to rally support to defeat the motion. Towards the end of the week, actually bother to read the details of the proposed change, discovering that it simply aims to make the capitalisation of the word "Safety" consistent throughout the document for obscure legal reasons. At the AGM itself, try to rebuild damaged relations with the outgoing committee, pointing out that you do that every time - adding by way of consolation that you "really are planning to leave Cambridge this year".
The verdict - which category did you answer most often?
a. You are a "social hillwalker" - someone who sees the Club more as a means of bagging different college formal halls than a way of getting to the hills. Most of your hillwalking is done with your parents in the holidays, and if you did come on a trip once, you probably didn't enjoy it much. Maybe you're the person in the Annual Dinner photo whose name no-one quite remembers...
b. You are a keen hillwalker, and a keen Club member too, full of enthusiasm and ready to join in with anything. No doubt you are excellent potential for next year's committee!
c. A stalwart Club member, you have most likely put in some sterling service as a member of the committee (perhaps even as the President). However, you should beware: if you end up doing a higher degree or a job in Cambridge, you might easily find yourself answering (d) to some of the above. You have been warned!
d. It sounds like you've been in the Club for at least half a decade, quite possibly more - you probably have only a hazy recollection of a time when it wasn't a major part of your life, of the days when there was no ready supply of keen freshers to drag out on your epic bagging expeditions. You may occasionally have differences of opinion with more "modernising" members of the committee - but be reassured - in the long run, even they will start answering (d) too.