/ Do young adults join mountaineering clubs?
In my limited and totally anecotal experience, most 'adult' (and by that I mean not student) mountaineering clubs are predominantly made up of people over the age of 40. Do other UKC members agree or disagree?
If that's the case, why are young adults not joining clubs after graduating? Many of them will have been members of student clubs, and it seems to me that it's a great way to get cheap accomodation in the mountains, meet people, and have a bit of craic. I keep reading Guardian op eds about how young adults entering the workforce are increasingly lonely and isolated; joining mountaineering clubs or any social group seems like a good way to combat that. So if they are not, why?
My initial thought is that young people are focused on starting careers, families, etc. But a lot of the clubs seem to have been formed when their members were in their 20s and 30s, and surely they had the same priorities.
Again purely anecdotal but when I was in my early 20s the purpose of a club was to meet other climbers to share lifts and get to use huts, either the club's own or others that were block-rented. However, even then there was a pattern that once you had formed your own clique, be it as partnership of two or a small group of like-minded mates you did not need those services and often drifted away from the club, even if you kept paying your subs and going on the occasional meet and maybe the dinner. Now 40 years on I'm not sure how much of that is needed with climbing walls and even sites like this providing the initial contact with other climbers, more people having their own transport and climbing in the mountains - where most of the huts are situated - being so out of fashion that in the Lakes entire crags are disappearing back under moss, choss and greenery.
I'm 26, wasn't into mountaineering at uni but have come to it since. Now I go walking in the lakes every other weekend and have been climbing indoors for about a year. I've started going out with the Yorkshire mountaineering club and am looking to start climbing outdoors with them.
I will say that one of the main reasons is wanting to go with someone who knows what they're doing. However, I can't afford to pay a guide or instructor so the club's novice programme really appeals.
As far as young adults in general, you just can't help some people. I've offered to take various people out walking to the lakes and although they show initial interest, nothing ever comes of it. The same with climbing indoors. I on the other hand would (and have) jump at the chance to be taken climbing with someone experienced.
I'm a 25 year old bloke and have been an active member of several mountaineering clubs over the last 6 years (Loughborough Students MC, London MC previously) (Northumbrian MC, Oread MC and CC currently and a committee member in two of those), the variety is due to moving about with summer placements and finishing University.
It is a bit of a conundrum for some clubs, however occasionally I'll meet someone from another club in a hut who will bemoan young incomers turning up on meets and "blocking" beds which would have been used by their mates so they could have a piss up. The young "oik" then dares to go out climbing regardless of the weather conditions and has a bloody good day out, the shock and horror of it!
On a more serious note I feel that it is a mix of attitudes of club members, the level of activity (and diversity) of their meets programme, a regular indoor programme (or not), a good process for nurturing developing climbers and a welcoming atmosphere which make or break a club's impression on a young person. When I joined the Oread I was approximately half the age of the next youngest member of the club, we have had approximately 30 new members join/ begin the application process in the last year with at least half of them being less than 35 (and god forbid 30 in a few cases), still only one younger than me though! If you would like to have some info on the initiatives we have put in place please feel free to get in touch with me.
I'd be very interested in seeing what the Oread club has done to expand their demographics.
How do you make mountaineering clubs less outdated?
There are young adults in MKMC though it does tend towards the older end.
I suspect you may get a split between newer/smaller clubs whose entrance criteria basically involve showing up, saying you want to join and paying a small fee, and more established clubs where you have to go about the faff of getting nominated and seconded, a trial period etc, an approach which was common years ago but I doubt any millennial would have the patience to bother with.
I started climbing in my early 20s and am now in my late 30s. I've climbed a lot over this period and never joined a club (although I have tried).
The main reason is that I want to go climbing with just one partner, someone I trust, someone who wants to go to the same crag and do the same routes. 2 teams works fine, more than that is just a world of faff. Other than the folk I've been climbing with more or less since I started, and friends of theirs, I've found that by far the best way to meet such partners is on UKC and Facebook.
I did try to join the CC, but that process has been going backwards and forwards for the best part of a decade (even though I'm mates with loads of members, have been on trips with the club, have climbed on pretty much every major adventurous crag in the UK, etc etc). I don't want to offend the membership secretary so I'll say that this is entirely my fault. There's pretty much no way I'm prepared to jump through the hoops required for the FRCC.
Local clubs seem to like to organise a programme of meets 2 years in advance. This is just not my style. I've got (slightly) limited opportunities to go climbing, so I want to go to the best crag according to conditions. And I want to climb with people who have the same interests and aims. For me, going on a club meet would likely involve not doing exactly what I want to do, in favour of fitting in with the plans of a bunch of strangers who may have completely different ideas about what they want to get out of the day/evening.
I can see why other people might see the aspects of clubs that I see as limiting as benefits: they might not have clear ideas about what they want to do (so appreciate the pre-organised event structure) and value meeting new people in a group setting (something I find difficult, but I'm perfectly at ease one-on-one) above the things that are important to me, i.e. getting on routes I actually want to do. As such, clubs probably provide great opportunities for those people, but I just don't think it's for me. And I think there are a lot of people in a similar boat to me - either they're not looking for new partners or they find online a great way to meet people to climb with.
One of the best moves we made in our club was to really encourage young new comers to take on the 'executive' roles of climbing secretary, social secretary etc.
Not only do you get a different blend of trips and socials organised but, as the first point of contact for new members, its just way more welcoming for a younger membership.
Of course this can't work if the club committee is so far up its backside that its older members won't step aside to encourage ownership from a younger membership.
I have been a member of several clubs through the years, curently in 2. My local club (the Mynydd) has a great mix of ages from twenty somethings up to 70+. One secret of the Mynydd's relative success in attracting and retaining members seems to be due to the family friendly nature of the club. It's expected that members with kids will take said kids on trips / meets and use our hut*. As they grow up many of them stay in the club or return to it after finding out that there aren't any better hobbies than climbing. This contrasts markedly with other clubs who simply don't allow under 18s to participate, which means their parents have a harder time getting out, and so drift away from the club. In contrast we have 2nd and pretty soon there'll be 3rd generation members - and we only started in the 50s.
* I realise that this will probably repel as many as it attracts!
I am a member of a couple of clubs for other sports/activities, but not a mountaineering club:
Sailing - this gives access to facilities (boat storage, changing), competitive racing, and a bar/canteen.
Orienteering - this is a competitive sport, so being part of a team is nice. The clubs also organise the competitions, so if there were no members to volunteer then there would be no orienteering.
By contrast it is possible to climb without ever engaging with a 'climbing community'; indeed I only joined this online community quite recently. I started at school, and ever since have only climbed with people I know from outside climbing (school, uni, work). As a trad climber or boulderer you can buy the kit, buy the guidebook and go to a crag - the only point when you cannot climb totally independently is when learning.
The benefit that I would like to get from a club would be a sense of community, and as such I think the most relevant thing would be to have a 'resident' club at the local wall. I do talk to random climbers, but would not head to the wall without the friends I normally climb with. If there were an organised event then I would definitely go for a pint with other wall regulars. If people within that informal social club wanted to organise outdoor meets then so much the better.
Thinking back to my mid twenties, work was a priority, as in getting work, not advancing my career! This involved a lot of moving around so not conductive to joining clubs. Also after subsidised membership for lots of things as a student suddenly costs go up.
My experience of joining a club ( I was 23 at the time) wasn't particularly positive. They met at a local wall and their website said just show up. I did- wall was packed, numerous groups. Nothing obvious to make them out as being members of the club, I bouldered for 2 hours and left.
At another event the mean age of the room was over 50 and very cliquey. Stayed for the talk sipping a pint. Nobody talked to me more than pleasantries. I left.
Unsurprisingly I didn't try much with them after that.
I'm not saying this is typical and obviously some might say I could have tried harder but groups have to want to be inclusive and make an effort to attract and retain people. Otherwise more informal fb and internet groups probably attract the younger generations more. Just an observation.
That's been my experience also. Clubs don't seem interested in new members at least from what I have experienced.. it would be nice to find a club that encourage new members.. but I feel they are few and far between.
My club is predominantly 0's. As members get older and have kids they drift away, then eventually come back in their 50's. Our demogrpahic may be because we're primarily a rock climbing club, and the only way to use the local climbing walls regularly is to join the club (there are no commercial walls here).
as someone looking at joining a mountaineering club (I only know one other person with any interest in the outdoors - and he only wants to go hill walking), some of the points raised in this thread are quite disappointing
I'm 23, by the way
If like Jon Stewart you really just want to find one person to climb with regularly then a club is not the place. There are other ways to find climbing partners. The point of a club is to have access to a range of partners, with different interests and levels of experience, and of course as a social group. Personally, for me this is an essential element and I can't imagine climbing outside a club.
The issue doesn't just affect climbing clubs. Organised sports where you need to be in a club to participate may be doing OK, but clubs in other areas are also struggling to attract new members. Having effectively lost a generation who prefer to meet online or at climbing walls, many clubs now find themselves with a predominantly older age profile, which in turn may put off potential young members. Do young people want to be part of a social group of people old enough to be their parents? I know I didn't when I was young, but there were always plenty of people my age.
The young people who complain how the price of gear is a barrier to taking up trad climbing wouldn't have to worry if they were to join a club, they could climb with more experienced members, pick up tips and build up a rack over time.
Clubs have to arrange their programmes a long time in advance for the simple reason that huts get booked up a long time in advance. It can be frustrating when a long-arranged meet turns out to be in the wrong place for weather or conditions, but there's nothing to stop you going away between official meets.
> Clubs don't seem interested in new members at least from what I have experienced
Clubs will vary - as will individual members within them. Some are cliquey and some are more friendly. Some may have a quasi-formal set up for greeting potential new members, others may not. And bear in mind that most members will have just gone down to have a pint and a chat with their mates and may not be particularly interested in giving that up to talk to a total stranger. In the final analysis you are joining them not them joining you so it probably pays to be a bit proactive rather than standing round waiting for someone to talk to you.
I wouldn't read to much into the thread. Everyone has different experiences and I thought I'd give you a positive one.
I am part of the Gwent mountaineering club and they have been great. I am one of the younger members at 32 but everyone is happy to climb with everyone.
They are a really friendly group and organise trips everywhere and I find it great to ask the experiance of others who have done most of what i want to do.
I would say go along to a meet and see how you feel about it.
Don't worry, one thread on UKC won't put me off joining I've been thinking of doing it for at least 6 months now, things just got in the way and never got around to actually doing it.
My biggest 'concern' (from what I could see from various clubs' websites) is that most clubs in London seem to be geared towards rock climbers and their meets and trips away are mostly focused on rock climbing. I'm more into walking/scrambling/mountaineering, so joining a mainly climbing club won't necessarily provide what I need and want - people to go in the mountains with
Age varies from club to club - the average age of my previous club (I joined aged 27ish) was probably around 50. But there is more of an even split in my current club including some teenagers, which is really refreshing. Personally I find it more interesting to have a wide range of ages to chat and climb with, rather than all young or all old. Clubs that are based around an active climbing wall have a big advantage when it comes to attracting younger members.
> My biggest 'concern' (from what I could see from various clubs' websites) is that most clubs in London seem to be geared towards rock climbers and their meets and trips away are mostly focused on rock climbing. I'm more into walking/scrambling/mountaineering, so joining a mainly climbing club won't necessarily provide what I need and want - people to go in the mountains with
> Thinking back to my mid twenties, work was a priority, as in getting work, not advancing my career! This involved a lot of moving around so not conductive to joining clubs.
Interestingly, both of the clubs that I'm in tend to get a number members - often youngish - who've joined not because they've always dreamt of epic adventures among the high peaks, but because they've just moved for work and quite like the idea of a fun hobby that provides them with an instant social network. So I think this cuts both ways.
Although, chiming in with what Graham says above, they're both very keen on getting newer members involved with running things, which helps to avoid any sense that they're just a clique of mates running the thing for their own benefit.
You make some good points.
I've said, in one of the other posts on this topic that regularly turn up, often in clubs you have a bunch of people who may have known each other for years so may appear cliquey at first. Unless they are deliberately exclusive from the start, try to give it some time as it's only natural that both parties may be a tad wary at first.
I'd like to think that I and most of our club are welcoming to prospective new members, it's how I was treated years ago and I feel I owe it.
thanks for the recommendation Dave. funnily enough, if I remember correctly, Rockhoppers was the club I decided on giving a try a few months back, but work got in the way and never gotten round to actually do it.
it's slightly more relaxed now, so will definitely try and make it to a social as soon as possible
Thanks all for the answers. I'm early 30s, and every now and then I start to eye up local mountaineering clubs, and it seems that there aren't many people in them who are my age. Don't get me wrong, people my parents' age can be great fun and I have a few good friends in that demographic, but if you are joining a club where everyone is much older and has known each other for 40 years, you feel a little bit awkward. I guess diversity is what I'm after. I was just curious as to why there isn't a lot of it.
> If like Jon Stewart you really just want to find one person to climb with regularly
To clarify, I prefer to climb with 1 (or 3) people *at a time*. I've got a load of regular partners and I'm not trying to wittle them down to the best single one! What they have in common is that they're all people I really like spending time with and they pretty much all climb around the same grade as me. So, we want to go to the same crags, and we have a good time when we do. My experience of clubs has not been like this (apart from a fantastic CC trip to Pabbay, thanks to Misha et al).
Fair enough, but my point stands - the arrangement you're seeking doesn't need or benefit from being in a club. Clubs offer a different experience, including the opportunity to meet a broader range of partners with perhaps a greater range of age, experience and interests than you might otherwise meet through your usual circles.
For me, the social aspect of being part of a club is an essential part of what I enjoy about climbing. I realise it's not for everyone. However I think a lot of younger people are perhaps missing out by dismissing what clubs have to offer, although the generation gap which many clubs have inadvertently allowed to build up may be too much of a deterrent. Perhaps they should form their own clubs.
> I guess diversity is what I'm after. I was just curious as to why there isn't a lot of it.
You ARE it.
If every person thinking of joining a club had that attitude, then there will never be diversity.
Totally agree, I just thought I might have mistakenly given the impression that I'm looking for some kind of committed, monogamous climbing marriage
In my experience they do if its a club with other young adults already in it, particularly those who have been involved in student clubs in the past. It can be a great way to meet like minded people for both climbing partners and wider social circles on moving to a new place. The key is that like everyone else young people will join clubs which reflect them. Young people are unlikely to join a club populated by exclusively over 50's.
Find the right club there's bound to be one that matches your needs in london.
I would say that joining a club will require as much effort on your part as on the clubs part, its worth remembering that for any club many people show initial interest turn up once and are then are never heard from again this can even if it shouldn't generate a certain amount of cynicism among long standing members, so its worth giving it a proper go, attend a few wall nights or go on a weekend meet before giving up entirely.
I'd like to think I'm still young (ish, 32).
My previous climbing partner lost interest and for about a year I didn't really do much. I was quite hesitant about joining a club after some bad experiences of cliques and underhand behaviour in other (none-mountaineering) clubs I was in previously. However, I joined a climbing club last summer and it's been great. Yes, I am very much at the younger end of the membership, but its not an issue for me. Other members are enthusiastic, interesting and friendly and I think there comes a point when you become an 'adult' and age stops being too important. The club has someone who acts as a new member contact and for the first few meets you are allocated a 2 others to climb with, this ensures you meet a number of people and that when you turn up there is someone expecting you.
Over winter we have been climbing at a wall frequented by another club and they seem to have a similarly small number of young people. As to why there are not more people my age, I don't know, but they are missing out.
We've done a couple of things:
Regular evenings at local walls (Climbing Unit and Wirksworth Wall), when I first joined I think the club was only having regular evenings at Wirksworth Wall. The Climbing Unit meets were introduced around when I joined, Derby has a hell of a lot more young climbers than Wirksworth so the pool of people to recruit has increased massively and the number of young members has snowballed since the meets started, regular trips to the pub afterwards have provided people with an opportunity to get to know the club in a social context as well. Most of the active members are willing to offer advice about technique and skills at the wall, we'll often discuss upcoming meets/ planned trips in the pub)
I have started running introductory meets for the club intended to bring in a small cohort of new(ish) members at a similar time to each other ensuring that they have a pool of people within the club who they recognise, these are very well supported by existing active members so newer members should not feel isolated on any of the club's meets which they attend after this point (I also find that feeding them tasty food/ cake helps).
We have started identifying where meets are suitable for beginners (Dartmoor, Galloway, Peak have all been marked as such in the last year) and where additional skills are needed to be able to participate (Scottish Winter for instance).
An active and ambitious meets programme which covers a wide range of activities, within the last year we have had people trad climbing, sport climbing, bouldering, alpine climbing, winter mountaineering, ice climbing, mountain biking and caving (some of these were planned/ advertised as part of the likely plan for the meet, others were forced by the weather). Venues in the last year have Skye and the Dewerstone with a decent number of the major areas in between them also included. The main asset of a mountaineering club is the range of experience within its membership, personally I love visiting new areas and climbing on relatively quiet crags so search out areas like Galloway and North Pembrokeshire.
Where young people can't drive/ don't have a car most members are willing/ able to provide lifts to meets, Derby has a fairly high turnover of young people due to them moving around the business in Rolls Royce, often internationally which means it's not worthwhile them getting a car for the period where they are in the UK. The next step is getting them to run meets and to begin to gradually take on committee roles to ensure that in 10-15 years time the club has fresh ideas and continues to be run by those who benefit most from it; the active members.
Lastly, and possibly the most obvious one, the active members try and welcome new people to the club at any opportunity, be this one of the evening lectures, the pub trips after the wall, at the wall, at the crag and in whatever huts we are staying in.
I hope that helps, if you wish to discuss this more please feel free to drop me a message.
From my experience joining a club has a range of experiences.
The first was through a friend that I met outside a club who encouraged me to join. The first meet that I wanted to go along to was in Pembroke so I planned a family w/e where I climbed with the club while my other half did beach things with the kids. I signed up to the meet and we as a family camped at the nominated site. During the night the camp was disturbed by people riding motorbikes & cars around the site in close proximity to our tents - too close to feel safe. In the morning I wanted to make contact with the club but quickly realised it was they who had terrified us so I declined joining them and we had a great w/e together on the beaches.
A second attempt to make contact was at a club hut meet in the Ogwen valley. I arrived on the Friday night and had a nice evening with the members including my friend and began feeling quite positive about the club. On Saturday morning everyone paired up in established order and I was left alone without a partner. I had a great day soloing on Idwal Slabs & Milestone Buttress (3000 ft in a day) but it wasn't what I expected. So I never joined that club.
The current club I am in came about through several mates who I climbed with on our local wall and then outdoors. I started to go to their indoor meets and eventually someone said that it was about time I joined. So I did and it is an easy transition from knowing a few members to meeting others and is a success. This is partly because of the introduction but mainly because the new club members are so open to new participants - there aren't tight pairings for partners and three is not too many on a rope. It is much more like the original Uni Climbing Club that I started with where we turned up on a meet and sorted out who does what when we met.
For me clubs are about collective opportunities for participation and that is what i have now found.
Another plug here! Give Ibex a try - although I'm not in my 20s (or 30s) any more, our current President is only just in his 30s and we have a large age range, are into weekends hiking and mountaineering around England and weeks of the same in Scotland.
Could be what you're after,
A lot of the clubs recommended here with a pretty active social calendar appear to be in England. Anything around the west of Scotland?
The Mountaineering Scotland website lists clubs in the area if you use the drop down menu here:
I'd suggest that you take a look through ones which have a lot of members in your area and contact the membership secretaries, some of them will probably not get back to you/ not be keen to get you involved, then try going on meets with those who do respond until you find one you like (possibly go along with a local friend, that way you have someone you know you get on with and can go climbing with if you don't get on with the club).
When I joined my club (JMCS London Section) in the late '80s, there was no internet, no UKC, no facebook, snapchat or anything like that, so the only way to meet partners for climbing WAS a climbing club. Since the inception of all the above, and the proliferation of climbing walls and bunk houses and camping sites, there's now no need to belong to a club to find climbing partners or to use the club's hut. I suspect that that is the main reason why young people don't bother to join clubs...
It goes further than just clubs; my son aged 19 gets all his social contacts through his mobile so although he socialises a lot with people on his Uni course and in his halls, he and his generation seem remarkably uninterested in sex, drugs and rock 'n roll.
I joined the Leeds MC a couple of years ago because I wanted to start doing more trad having focussed on bouldering for a few years. There's quite a few under 40s in the club.
They have a really active Tuesday night meet programme during the warmer months which I really enjoy. I've also been on the summer trips (these are generally camping meets, with a back-up location selected if the weather at the chosen venue is due to be bad) which I really enjoyed.
I think the key to having an active club is having an active meets programme. This gets the new members in and keeps them in. These are the same people who keep the meets programme active, thus keeping the cycle running.
> During the night the camp was disturbed by people riding motorbikes & cars around the site in close proximity to our tents - too close to feel safe. In the morning I wanted to make contact with the club but quickly realised it was they who had terrified us so I declined joining them
What a bunch of dicks!
Our local club in Bristol (Avon MC) maybe another that doesn't fit the typical 'over 40' age bracket. Current membership is that almost two thirds are under 40, with about 1/5th under 30; given we're based in a large university city, we don't expect to get many uni students joining as both unis have their own clubs. The club demographics have changed considerably in the last 5 - 6 years I've been a member. Its a much younger group now than when I first joined. Having a young (ish) and very active committee helps - the oldest of the 8 committee members is just over 40. A busy trips calendar (18-20 per year) including trad, sport, Scottish winter, alps, ski trips, walking/mountaineering to a good variety of destinations helps mix things up, as does weekly climbing meets and an active pub social on a monthly basis. The membership costs are low, which I think helps, as works out at 50p a week....
Its not all youngsters though and we have members into their 70s too. Trips are a good mix and it is great to see sharing of skills and experience, in all directions.
The previous comments regarding turning up and being a member vs. being proposed and seconded probably does ring true in that I get the feeling that younger generations, perhaps because being more mobile with work etc, want to be able to join and get on with it, rather than having to go through longer and more committing processes, particularly if they may only be local for a year or so. Not to say that this always works out well, as I can see the argument for having a more formal management process in some instance too.
Having looked around at lots of club websites for ideas for ours a few years ago, there is a huge variety in how 'modern' and welcoming the site it - some of those posting above mentioning their clubs have a younger or more wide age range seem also to be those with more open, welcoming and modern websites. There's a lot to be said for this I think, as we use social media and websites so much more now than even 5 years ago, and something as simple as having a modern uptodate and appealing web page maybe a start for clubs wanting to appeal to those in their 20s and 30s.
Having a useful Facebook page helps too, I think we have 1 or 2 new people requesting to join the page a day (note: this doesn't mean they are actually joining the club).
As long as the club is happy for people to come out climbing with them before they are a fully confirmed member who has been through the full application process it can be worthwhile for someone to join if they're only about for 2 or 3 months. BMC advice is that people can come on 3 "meets" and still be covered by the club's insurance, from that point forward the club needs to have paid the BMC a subscription for the individual, we use a prospective member status for this purpose. Generally I have found that local clubs are happy enough to have a couple of people climb with a competent applicant and then sign the necessary forms to enable them to participate in the club's activities.
I met some very friendly members of the Ladies Scottish last May at the Downes Hut on a CC meet, if the rest of the club is like them this is a very good recommendation (which I feel stupid for not making myself!).
I'm no longer young (unless someone is looking for something from me or I am speaking to the 'properly old') but clubs have rarely appealed to me. I look at the photos of groups of people drinking tea during a lunch break on the mountains and realise that is not for me. I am not a restive person when out, never spending much time for a tea or snack break while walking, preferring to eat on the go and have 'micro-breaks' and move on, scramble up a rock, wander off path to peer down a glen... Timing a walk or scramble to accommodate a group would drive me nuts! I also prefer to indulge the fantasy that the mountains are empty bar myself: proper escapism, I am seeking the wilderness or what can pass as it if you believe for a moment.
You seem to have a perception of climbing clubs which is very different to any I've been a member of. Although meets go to one place (day trips) or region (weekends or longer) once there I've mostly climbed as a group of 2 or rarely 3. Even if there were several ropes at a single crag we would tend to do our 'own thing'. Socialising was for the evening. The only exception would be trips bouldering but that tends to be either solitary or a group anyway.
> When I joined my club (JMCS London Section) in the late '80s, there was no internet, no UKC, no facebook, snapchat or anything like that, so the only way to meet partners for climbing WAS a climbing club. Since the inception of all the above, and the proliferation of climbing walls and bunk houses and camping sites, there's now no need to belong to a club to find climbing partners or to use the club's hut. I suspect that that is the main reason why young people don't bother to join clubs...
This always feels like a bit of a cop-out argument to me, to be honest. If younger people are meeting climbing partners at the wall or on facebook, make sure your club has a well-attended and approachable wall night and a relatively open Facebook group - we gain loads of members through both. And are campsites really a modern innovation?
We're a UK wide club now. We did start in London and had a pub meet and a wall meet every month back in the 80's/90's.
Unfortunately for the club, most of us have fled London and we're scattered across England.....;-)
There's one club I'd quite like to join that had a system similar to this. In order to meet members it's expected that you will go on an aspirant meet...which are expensive and arranged months in advance. Why would I do that instead of going wherever the weather is best and, you know, climbing? Also they usually have them when I'm already away on a longer, more interesting climbing trip.
To the OP, the above plus greater car ownership, internet and easy communications for organising stuff and rapid, accurate weather forecasts. Tents being fairly cheap probably helps; the price of staying in a youth hostel is pretty shocking.
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