About SMoG - FAQs

SMoG... Slough Mountaineering Group

This FAQ should tell you everything you need to know about SMoG. If it doesn't, please contact us to find out more.

Slough Mountaineering Group (SMoG)?

Slough may not have any mountains but it does have a mountaineering club!

In the early 1970's the Slough College of Technology (now Thames Valley University) ran Mountaineering courses. When the courses were no longer offered the participants decided to start up their own local mountaineering club in order to cater for the needs of outdoor sports enthusiasts in the area. Some of the founders are still members.

British Mountaineering Council (BMC)?

The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) is the representative body that exists to protect the freedoms and promote the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, including ski-mountaineers.

SMoG is a BMC affiliated club. By joining SMoG you will become a club member of the BMC. This comes with a number of individual benefits such as retail discounts, liability insurance and access to BMC's highly regarded travel and activity insurance. You will also be supporting the important access and conservation work that is undertaken by the BMC.

Another major benefit of membership is that SMoG has access to BMC club "huts". These provide cheap (<£12pppn), high quality self-catering accommodation for hillwalkers, climbers and mountaineers - typically situated in the heart of the popular mountain areas in the UK. Climbing club huts in the UK are great places to stay. They are well located for climbing and walking, and they will often be full of friendly people. Some huts are very modern (some even have wi-fi), whilst others are pretty basic but still warm and cosy.

What type of activities does SMoG do?

Rock climbing, mountaineering, hill walking, scrambling, mountain biking, caving and skiing are the core SMoG activities. In addition, some members kayak, paraglide, orienteer...

On a typical weekend trip away, a number of people will walk, others will climb, scramble or mountain bike. It all depends on that great British unknown - the weather! It has been known for some members to actively pursue the more leisurely sports of gear fondling, visiting tea shops and riding on a steam train.

We also arrange local walks, mountain bike rides and indoor climbing, as well as trips to the pub via our group email system.

Check out our trip reports and Facebook page for photos and stories of SMoG in action. We now also have a video!

When and where does SMoG meet up?

Many of our members have moved away from Slough over the years so our weekend "away meets" have become our primary social activity. You can find the date, time and location of the next meet in the club event calendar. If you want to come along then please get in touch first so that we can make sure someone is there to welcome you and give you all the info you might need to know about the club.

Members of the club can often be found at one of the local indoor climbing walls. If that's your thing, or you'd like to have a go, feel free to join us - someone will show you the ropes.

The mountain bikers also arrange local, and not so local, rides on spare weekends throughout the year - everyone is welcome to come along, especially if they like mud and hills!

Away Meets?

We have a weekend trip to the hills most months of the year. These are often extended for bank holiday weekends, Easter and Christmas/New Year in order to maximise our time in the great outdoors.

We also have an annual camping trip to mainland Europe each summer and often a winter ski trip too.

And then there are the extra ad-hoc trips away for climbing, biking, caving...

Check out the club event calendar for information on upcoming events.

Where does SMoG go on trips?

Typically we have 4 or 5 trips to Wales, 4 or 5 trips to the Lake District and a couple of trips to Scotland. Usually we make it down to Cornwall or up to the Peak District too. In the winter we stay in mountaineering club "huts"; in summer we often camp.

The trip to Europe is normally scheduled for a fortnight in late July/early August, staying at campsites with good access to the mountains. Over the past few years we have been to Spanish Pyrenees, Austria, Switzerland, Dolomites...

What do I do if I want to come on a trip?

Get in touch and let us know what your interests are and where you would like to go. We'll pair you up with a member and they'll let you know what to expect. Some of the basics are covered next.

How much will a weekend away cost?

A typical weekend trip costs about £8-12 a night for accommodation (this is a benefit of using BMC club huts!). Fuel costs are shared per car. And food? That depends entirely on what you eat - in fact we are so keen on food we have a whole question dedicated to it!

How does SMoG travel to its destinations?

We drive up on Friday night after work. This typically takes 4 to 5 hours depending on destination, traffic, weather etc. If it's a hut meet then some of our northern members will likely already be there, with the fire lit and whisky bottle open.

We share transport in our private cars, typically with 3 to 4 people in each car, each paying their share of the fuel costs. The club has an away meets organiser who makes sure that everybody who needs a seat has one. The transport is organised in the week prior to the trip.

What gear do I need to bring?

All the huts we stay in have dorm bunk rooms, cooking facilities, refrigerators and hot showers. You will need to bring a sleeping bag, towel, toiletries, and clothing appropriate to the season and your choice of activity.

And most importantly... don't forget some earplugs!

What food do I need to bring?

You will definitely need to bring food for breakfast and food to make up packed lunches for Saturday and Sunday. The huts may not always have good access to shops so you will need to bring everything - milk, tea, butter, bread rolls, cereal etc.

For the evening meal on Saturday you have the option of bringing your own food and using the hut facilities to cook, or eating out at a local pub. You will nearly always find someone to join you at the pub, and there will always be someone cooking in the hut - so take your pick!

How do I become a member?

Come along to a couple of our meets, see how you fit in, and then let our "committee" know that you'd like to join.

How much does it cost to become a member?

The membership fee is currently £20/year. By joining SMoG you will become a BMC "club member". If you wish you can pay a small additional fee to the BMC to upgrade to individual membership, saving £16.25 off their normal price in the process (so effectively it costs you <£4 to be a member of SMoG!!).

Is there a minimum age?

Unless accompanied by an adult member, you have to be at least 18 to come along to one of our away meets.

How do I contact SMoG?

See the contact page!

Please note: SMOG does not offer any formal training or mentoring to its members although more experienced members may offer help and advice to novices and leaders will ensure, as far as is reasonably practical, that climbing and/or walking objectives are within the expected physical and mental ability of all participants. No leader of a walk or expedition is or needs to be qualified. They will all be amateur climbers, walkers or mountaineers with some experience that are happy to impart their knowledge; any advice given needs to be viewed with this in mind by the recipient. If you are interested in learning more about the technical aspects of outdoor sports have a look at the BMC web site or attend a course offered by an organisation such as Plas Y Brenin.