On 29th April 1974 a group of seven people with an interest in mountaineering and hill-walking, got together, decided to climb Knocknarea, and thus was born the Sligo Mountaineering Club (SMC). The group soon applied to become a member of the Mountaineering Council of Ireland, (now Mountaineering Ireland), and were formally constituted as a club. Hill-walking in the early 1970s was considered the rather strange preserve of a few, but in the last decade mountaineering and hill-walking have become an extremely popular past-time and a major part of adventure tourism. Today, nearly 50 years after that day in 1974, the SMC continues to enjoy the hills responsibly, and strives to ensure that mountain landscapes will be valued and protected as environmental, cultural, and recreational assets for us all.
What it is to be a mountaineering club
It is important to remember that the SMC is a CLUB, and not a merely a guiding or recreational group. All members are expected to develop their navigational skills, physical endurance, and hill awareness while with the club. We aim to promote the mountaineering ethos of adventure, personal responsibility, and respect for the environment.
The SMC, echoing our parent organisation, Mountaineering Ireland, aim to inspire all who engage in hillwalking and climbing throughout the island of Ireland, and encourage our members to adventure and exploration in the mountains of the world. We enjoy the personal challenges in the hill, mountain, and crags, and recognise the value of the unknown, and uncertain outcome of our activities.
Hillwalking is inherently dangerous and all who take part in regular walks organised by us do so at their own risk. There are usually several experienced hill walkers on each walk, each walker must take responsibility for his/her own safety and well-being, and for ensuring they are properly equipped with weatherproof clothing, strong footwear, food and drink. Participants need to be fit as walks will be on open hills in all weather conditions, usually over rough terrain, heather, boggy ground, and high fences.
The Sligo Mountaineering Club is dedicated to walking in high mountain areas, in conditions that can sometimes be extreme. Therefore, the club encourages its members to acquire navigational and survival skills to help them enjoy this activity in safety. All members should look after themselves and other walkers on the hills and ensure their own and others safety.
Welcome to all
The SMC is open and welcoming to all. We especially like to welcome those who have little experience on the hills and hope to foster in them a sense of adventure and help them to acquire the skills to enjoy the mountains safely. We enjoy the relationships and friendships that follow from our club activities, and we appreciate all the health benefits, both physical and metal, that derive from hiking in the hills. The Club calendars walks of varying lengths and capabilities, to reflect the diverse abilities and interests of our membership, while adhering to our central ethos as a mountaineering club.
Education & Training
Over the years many of our members have undergone professional training in hill skills and mountaineering. The Sligo -Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team was formed from Mountaineering club members in 1983, later becoming a separate emergency volunteer service. Each year, weekend course is run teaching basic navigation and mountain safety for all new members. At the end of the course all participants take part in a field exercise and receive a certificate of proficiency.
Where we walk
The club walk mainly in uplands of the Sligo – Leitrim area, with regular trips to the Donegal hills, and mountains of Mayo and Connemara, all of which are within a two-hour drive of Sligo town. Longer weekend trips to other places in Ireland, are organised at specific time throughout the year.
The Sligo – Leitrim Uplands contain some of the most ancient rocks in Ireland. Metamorphic rocks 1.5 million to 600 million years ago are found in the Ox Mountains. Underlying about 80% of Sligo and Leitrim’s surface are limestone, Carboniferous period rocks, about 350-million years old. It is these carboniferous rocks and their resulting formations which have given rise the landscape we know today. The scarped uplands are characterised by steep cliffs and scree slopes, forming a unique habitat for birds and plants. The Dartry range was extensively sculptured during the last Ice Age, between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago.