Going to university is an expensive business so make the most of those climbing-sized gaps in your timetable by keeping your climbing costs down. Here are a few tips for how to climb on a shoestring … well, not literally!
1. Climb local
Make the most of your local crags to save money on transport costs. Make a hit list of lesser-known local crags rather than going to well-known crags further afield. Guidebooks and crag listings will help. See the UKC crag finder to search for crags near you and check for any for access restrictions before you go on the BMC’s Regional Access Database. If you’re climbing in the Peak, there are even some free sample chapters from BMC guidebooks available in the BMC online shop.
2. Share transport
Split travel costs with friends by car sharing or look for car share websites such as UKC lifts and partners forum. Other ways to save on transport include booking train tickets well in advance, cycling to the crag, hitch hiking, using buses such as the Snowdon Sherpa or hiring a minibus.
3. Shop for less
BMC members can get discounts in over 700 outdoor shops. This applies to both Individual members and BMC affiliated club members. If you’re a student but not in a club you can join the BMC as an Individual member for just £17.35 a year and easily recoup this by saving money through discounts on clothing and equipment. See a list of retail discounts for BMC members.
Whilst it’s important for safety reasons not to scrimp on kit, you can take advantage of discounts and deals. Last season’s climbing gear is often available in the sales. Do you really need the latest ultra-lightweight karabiner?
4. Go bouldering
There’s less gear involved so this could save you some cash. You can get the local lowdown on bouldering areas from these grassroots climbing websites.
5. Join a club
Yes there will be a small club membership fee but more than likely you’ll save money on kit, travel and expertise. See a list of BMC affiliated university clubs and societies.
6. Subsidised courses
There are some great value courses out there subsidised by the BMC and charities.
Indoors to outdoors: for people wanting to make the move from indoor climbing to outdoor climbing the BMC is running Ready to Rock courses in conjunction with Plas y Brenin which are brilliant value. Looking to learn the skills closer to home? The BMC has teamed up with climbing walls around the country on Rock Out courses which give you a £20 discount.
Conville Courses are an excellent way for young mountaineers (aged 18 – 30) to gain essential skills. These are subsidised courses set up by the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust and now include Alpine Preparation Courses, Alpine Mountaineering Courses and Scottish Winter Mountaineering Courses. For example, the Alpine Preparation Course in north Wales is £200 yet trainees are only charged £75 of this. Bargain!
The James Brownhill Memorial Fund provides bursaries to support university students wishing to undertake Mountain Training qualifications delivered by Plas y Brenin.
7. Be wall savvy
If you’re going regularly to an indoor climbing wall, check out their monthly or annual passes. Think about climbing during the day rather than evenings and you may get a cheaper entry rate.
8. Tips for climbing trips
Go with a group such as your climbing club, a group of friends or there may be trips arranged by your local climbing wall. BMC members can get travel discounts on a range of travel companies, airport parking and hire car firms.
Camping, huts and YHAs are three relatively cheap options. Camping can be great fun and is often far and away the cheapest option; as is bivvying under the stars! If a hut is a better option for you, BMC Individual members and BMC club members alike can take advantage of the many club huts which can be booked by BMC members. Or beds in YHAs generally cost less than £20 per night and you can save up to £3 a night if you become a YHA member.
A number of other accommodation providers offer BMC members 10% discount including Best Western and Cottages4You. See our list of member discounts.
If you know you’re regularly doing weekends away, a longer-term option could be to get a campervan – transport and accommodation in one!
10. Expedition funding
Now we’re into the realms of spending serious money here but there are lots of grants and companies you can contact for kit. Added bonus is that once you’ve done your expedition you generally get to keep the kit. Apply for a BMC grant and check out our list of other mountaineering grants.
The BBC has some more general tips for student fundraising.
Any finally here are some cost-saving options that we don’t recommend but have been tried and tested:
Eating from bins (we won’t mention any names!)
Sleeping in train stations (again, not mentioning names!)
Sneaking into the climbing wall for free – see how the pros do it. Of course, the BMC does not condone such sneaky behaviour!
climbing works - tips for entry 640x480 from team_BMC on Vimeo.
This article is part of BMC Student Season, a term's worth of student-friendly articles and social media banter to help students get the most out of climbing and walking. Please tell us what you think of the BMC by completing our young people survey aimed at 14-25 year olds.
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