2020/21: Ben Lairig with COVID-19


Freshers, welcome to York! If you join us we’ll make sure you see as little of our lovely city as possible.

As you know already, Covid-19 is going to have a big impact on how the club operates. Our weekly pub crawls are now illegal, but we’re extremely lucky that, being an outdoors club, we can continue with most of our activities from a normal year. Sadly our signature Scottish Winter trips through term 2 aren’t possible due to tighter restrictions there, but South of the border we can continue with everything we did before, only with distancing measures to keep us safe from Covid-19.

Below we’ve outlined how things are going to be different. We’re sorry we couldn’t push this out earlier, every time we had plans firmed new restrictions were announced and we needed to jump through the hoops again. We’d also like to remind everyone that the program is completely reliant on us being able to congregate in groups up to 6 (from separate households) in cars and on the mountain. If the restrictions are tightened in York or the destination trips will need to be cancelled, sometimes at short notice. When a trip is cancelled all tickets will be refunded in full.

Trip changes

      • Fornightly weekend trips replaced with weekly day trips (total mountain days the same, but split apart): We’ve done this to reduce the significance of time missed by members self-isolating and reducing disruption from changes in Covid alert levels.
      • Limited to 12 people (down from regular 18)
      • Two isolated groups of 6. Each group sharing a separate car and routes (or same routes but staggered time) . Leaving times from the University may also be staggered.

Bi-weekly weekend trips and the freshers trips (17/18 October) in Autumn term will continue to the Lakes and Snowdonia as usual with the changes listed above; so while we must be conscious of our social distancing, the term will offer all the same mountaineering opportunities as normal. We may also be able to add another group of 6, but we don’t know enough about numbers and driver availability to offer anything concrete on that right now.

That reminds us. . .  We need minibus drivers! Must have had a valid UK driving licence for at least one year and you’ll get priority placement on trips if there’s a shortage. Please contact us if you can.

First Aid training will also take place as usual on week 9 (28/29 November), but we have limited places so the most active freshers will be invited before opening it up to first-come-first-served.

Winter Term is looking less rosy. Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland prevent even just car sharing, so until they’re eased the Scottish Winter Trips aren’t possible :(. We have provisional bookings with accommodation and our Mountain Guides so we can resume Winter Skills and trips at short notice if restrictions are relaxed. But if not Winter term will continue exactly as Autumn term. That being said, we hope to bring forward the Mountain Rope-work course to the usual Winter Skills weekend after Christmas if Scotland is off the table, so members still get a progression opportunity in the second term.

The Easter trip and Summer term are too far ahead to comment on. But if the Easter Trip and Scotland trips are cancelled there will likely be part-refunds for memberships.

So all-in-all we can keep mountaineering! Though it looks like the thrill and beauty of the Scottish Winter Mountains isn’t within reach this year. But this will give us more time to spend on summer-conditions and foundational skills like navigation and rope-work. So if you’re a Fresher joining us, you should be on the best springboard ever to progress into Scottish Winter next year and get more out of future years on the whole. 

Key dates for Autumn Term

Trip sign-ups are emailed out Friday 7pm, the week before a trip.

  • Every weekend: Day trip the Lake District. You can come on one trip without membership!
  • 28-29 November: First aid Training (Catterick)


Our usual pub crawl socials can’t happen this year and we’re not sure what people would like to do in their place. If you’re joining Ben Lairig this year, please take 20 seconds to respond to this ideas for socials form, so we know what the majority would like us to do!


Ben Lairig is hugely grateful to the YUSU: Kickstart fund for providing our annual funding and covering some additional costs incurred by Covid-19. To the Sport Union for hours of help in interpreting distancing rules and to the YUFund: Development fund, who gifted us a grant to replace our B1 crampon stock with newer models capable of fixing to regular hiking books, letting members take part in more activities without dedicated mountaineering boots.

COVID-19 Club Policy

This is a somber paragraph, but we need to be clear on it. We are very fortunate we can remain as close to normality as we can, but this relies on the committee and members being able to attend and organize trips. We also want to do everything reasonable to keep members safe and given you will be spending a whole weekend with people outside your household, we need to be strict with distancing protocols, reports of members contracting COVID-19 and disobeying self-isolation orders.

If a member is asked to self-isolate they must inform the committee and withdraw from any club event that takes place during the 14 day period, don’t worry, we’ll give you a full refund! If a member does not, then attends a club event and the committee becomes aware, or repeatedly violates the distancing & transmission rules below, the union will be informed and membership may be revoked without refund.

General distancing & transmission prevention rules

    • Union car share policy must be followed when in minibuses
    • Masks must be worn when indoors unless you are sleeping or eating/drinking
    • As usual, try to maintain 2m+ distance wherever possible in all settings
    • Obey whatever venue-specific distancing measures are laid out by committee or the venue owners
    • Equipment: If you are borrowing club equipment, it must be disinfected and a committee member made aware before it is swapped with someone else. Wherever possible enough equipment will be taken so swapping won’t be needed
Thank you if you’ve read this all the way, we know it was a dump. If you’re interested in joining this year head to the join us page, or if you have any questions contact us.
Tom, Ellie, Katie & Mallory

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