We created this Q&A in Spring 2021 based on common questions from prospective members – we’ll add more in the future.
1. Are you a Mountaineering Club or Climbing Club? What is the club’s main activity?
Despite our ‘Mountaineering’ name, the heart of the club is top-rope climbing on the easily accessible local sandstone. Away from home, our members’ preferred disciplines are Trad & Sport climbing in the UK. We don’t currently arrange hill walking weekends but some members meet locally for a walk / run. A small number of us enjoy summer alpine and Scottish winter mountaineering, usually once a year.
2. Can I try out the club before committing to membership?
Yes absolutely! Ideally we would like to meet you before accepting your application, similarly, we prefer you climb with us locally first, before joining a trip away. After a couple of sandstone / indoor climbs you will get a feel for whether we’re a good match. You can be a prospective member for a maximum of 3 months.
3. How do I get involved? What is the best way to meet the club?
We aim to run a New Members Event every month or so, usually on a Tuesday or Thursday evening. Between April & October it will be on sandstone and from November to March at an indoor wall. Let us know you’re coming and we’ll arrange to meet you, and introduce you to other prospective members and some experienced climbers to support you. If there’s not a dedicated event on the Club calendar, contact our New Members Rep and we’ll find a day that works.
After you’ve met us, you don’t have to stick to the New Members evenings, but please state your competence / knowledge level with anyone you partner with and ask them the same!
4. Where do I meet the club for a climb?
Harrison’s Rocks car park map. We will try to meet you at the car park, but it depends on who is climbing and what time you’re likely to arrive. We suggest you pay for parking, then message the group chat and wait by the standalone noticeboard (on the left as you drive down the hill, not the one by toilets) to meet others. Note: Most members have car park season tickets so won’t visit the P&D machine. If you know Harrison’s Rocks, we may ask you to walk along the base of the crag and find us, it’s a 10-15 min walk SW.
Bowles Centre map. Bowles rocks are only a 2 minute walk from the car park, so just come and find us, the crag is only 200 meters long. The Centre charges a small fee for climbing per visit so please have cash / card – season tickets are available.
Bulls Hollow / Toad Rock map. Park considerately on Harmony Street. We usually climb at Bulls Hollow rocks 2 mins to the South East, not the obvious Toad Rock bouldering to the North West. Meet us on the corner of Harmony Street and Rusthall Park or from here, walk down the small steep path (not the tarmac path or private road), go past some boulders, at the bottom bear right into a clearing to arrive at the foot of the main rocks.
Chimera Climbing High Brooms map. This is our local bouldering centre, let us know you’re coming or look out for t-shirts with the club logo and say hi.
High-Sports Withdean map. Top-rope and lead climbing wall preferred by those South / West of Tunbridge Wells, let us know you’re coming or ask the staff to point out a member. 1 hour from TW.
The Reach Woolwich map. Top-rope and lead climbing wall favoured by those working in London or living North / East of Tunbridge Wells. 55 mins from TW, we often arrange to car share.
5. What equipment do I need?
- As a prospective member you will need to have your own climbing harness to join a New Members Event on sandstone and ideally some rock shoes – which should be comfortable not painful, try them on in a shop without socks! Helmets are not customarily worn on sandstone but this is your personal choice and you should understand the risks. Indoor walls will rent you a harness and rock shoes.
- As a regular sandstone climber you will need this top-roping equipment, in addition to a harness, belay device and rock shoes. Please come along for a chat before purchasing kit. Be sure to read our Sandstone Info page which tells you everything about climbing on these fragile rocks. The nearest shop with climbing equipment is Go Outdoors in Tonbridge, we recommend seeking advice and trying on harnesses and rock shoes before buying.
- As a Trad or Sport climber you will need your own ‘rack’ to lead climb. To ‘second‘ behind experienced climbers, in addition to a harness, belay device & rock shoes, you need a helmet, nut key with leash, sling & screwgate carabiner. Add a prusik loop (1.25m) and screwgate carabiner if abseiling or multi-pitch climbing. Check out the BMC’s Guidance for New Outdoor Climbers and the BMC’s New Rock Climbers leaflet.
6. Does the club have any equipment I can borrow?
No sorry, there’s too much paperwork involved, we are a community of independent climbers not an activity centre. Unfortunately, COVID currently prevents us lending out personal gear to prospective members. This is rarely a barrier if you’re keen; sandstone needs relatively little equipment and those who enjoy Trad & Sport prefer to invest in their own gear. Members are individually responsible for ensuring they are properly equipped, not just for the climb and descent, but also the weather and mountain environment.
7. Do I need to have experience or climb a certain grade? Can you teach me to climb? Do you run courses?
We’re open to climbers of all abilities. Ideally before joining the club, you’d have a basic knowledge of how to tie-in and belay safely. See ‘Climbing With Us‘ to find out about beginner courses. We don’t run formal training courses ourselves – we are a group of independent climbers. Some members are keen to share their knowledge, but we are not setup to teach you to climb from scratch. That said, if you’re unsure of anything, please ask!
8. How are trips organised, what do I need to bring?
Find out about ‘Club’ and ‘Personal’ trips in our Trips section on The Club page. Accommodation is usually in a climbers hut / bunkhouse or a campsite so a sleeping bag is essential for all overnight trips plus a tent, roll mat & stove if camping. Members usually bring their own food or eat out together at a local pub, occasionally we cook a group meal. Transport is car sharing and lifts. A WhatsApp sub-group is often created so people can make plans with each other.
9. How does the club communicate? Where can I chat to other members online?
We use WhatsApp Groups for most comms, there are 2 main club groups, one just for meets / trips and another for chat. Club meets are also posted the Club calendar. We have a Members only Facebook Group for photo sharing and an email distribution list for formal club matters, we’ll add you to these if you join.
10. How do I find a climbing partner in the club?
We prefer our members to make their own decisions about who they climb with and so climbing partnerships are established organically, rather than determined by an organiser / Committee. This is especially important for Trad & Sport. However, very experienced members sometimes offer beginners the opportunity to climb with and learn from them, usually on a trip suitable for new members.
We suggest you first come along for some social top-rope climbing locally and meet others members. State your competence / knowledge level and ask others the same please!
11. Am I insured as a BMC Club Member and for which risks?
The BMC’s Combined Liability insurance covers prospective club members during a trial period of up to 3 months as long as we have your details via a membership form. Club members are covered for the provision of advice and knowledge sharing, as long as they are doing so in a voluntary capacity and receiving no payment. Personal accident insurance is not standard, but you can upgrade your Club Membership.
12. Is climbing dangerous?
We endorse the BMC’s Participation Statement regarding risk – see image in footer. All members agree to take part in club activities voluntarily and shall be responsible for their own actions and involvement.
13. I have medical conditions, can I take part?
Members must determine, taking into account any medical conditions, whether activities are appropriate for them, and make a self-declaration of fitness. TWMC do not keep records of members’ medical conditions, we recommend you make others aware of anything important each time, and carry any required medicines with you at all times.
14. Will I receive a membership card?
We do not issue paper TWMC membership cards, you can access a Digital Membership Card via our Members Area after we’ve accepted your application and the Membership Secretary has processed your details. The BMC send a paper membership card embedded in the address front sheet of Summit magazine – don’t throw it away by accident!
15. Do I have to pay for BMC Membership? How much does it cost?
Your TWMC membership fee includes affiliation to the BMC as a club member, there’s no need to join the BMC separately. As a BMC club, we must affiliate all TWMC members for insurance purposes, it is not possible to ‘just’ join TWMC. Visit our Membership page for benefits, prices, how to join and reclaiming multiple BMC Affiliation fees.