Sunday 15 October 2023

The Southern Sandstone Open Meeting

The Southern Sandstone Open meeting has been going on for approximately 27 years (1996 approximately) and in that time, it has seen packed-out function rooms to virtual no-shows.

 Over the past 10 years, the open meeting has seen two significant attendance items which were the transfer of the car park, camping and toilet block facilities to the forestry commission and the isolated buttress bridge issue. Attendance has slowly been decreasing over time. Back in the mid-1990s when the open meetings started, the internet was in its infancy and people had to obtain their information at area meetings and through magazine updates. 

Today people use the internet for almost everything and in the climbing world this is no different, with dedicated websites and discussion forums for climbing. In 2013 Southern Sandstone got its dedicated website which was a great portal for all information regarding Southern Sandstone and sees over 7000+ hits a month. In addition, information is also distributed on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. UKC provides a platform for new routes, and an open forum for people to discuss almost anything they like (within reason). With the changes in both the demographic of climbers and how information is accessed and distributed and the poor attendance of the annual open meeting, which is now only once a year, there are discussions concerning rethinking things. 

As such an experimental outdoor meet at Harrison's Rocks under Isolated Butters was undertaken on Sunday 1st of October 2023, and saw what some would describe as circumstantial success due to good weather, the numbers of people climbing that day and holding the meeting at a popular climbing point. Over 40 people attended of which numerous topics were discussed and overall was seen as a success. This scenario is reliant on good weather and is often subject to change.