Following a near closing of the club and the coronavirus pandemic, Brandeis’ Mountain Club is back and stronger than ever. In 2018, it dwindled to a group of friends who were the only people there, with the old president passing the leadership of the club to a friend upon graduation. “It was two people who had a closet full of gear and a club that was kind of dead,” Mountain Club president Hannah BenDavid told The Brandeis Hoot in a Zoom interview.
When “I came to Brandeis and saw that it wasn’t there, I was disappointed,” BenDavid continued. “But then they sent out an email which said that the club is looking for board members.” She joined in fall of 2018 as a trip leader.
They started up the club again, and in the spring had a larger budget, so they did more trips; “that is when demand skyrocketed,” said BenDavid. They used to do trip sign ups on a first-come first-serve basis, but then a “trip filled up in 2 minutes, and we decided that we needed to run a lottery.” To show the scale of the club’s growth, they went from “a three thousand dollar budget to a 56 thousand dollar budget.”
This is a “great community of people who love outdoors and are very laid back” as well as a “home for people who want to gain experience,” BenDavid continued. However the issue of too much demand continued to persist; however, the E-Board has gotten as many people as they can from the community outdoors on weekend trips, according to BenDavid.
In fall 2020, they organized a total of 13 trips, averaging one to two trips per weekend. Mountain Club has over seven hundred people on their Listserv, which allows for different levels of commitment to the club. “People stay tuned for trips that are interesting,” said BenDavid. However, most trips are no-experience necessary, and most fall hikes and ski trips are for beginners, but they still offer great views and scenery. White water rafting and ice climbing, which are done with guides, also do not require experience.
Some trips are free, but it depends on the trip. Typically gas and food are not covered so there is a fee for that, though fees run between five and ten dollars.
However, “we understand that not everyone is interested in beginner trips,” said BenDavid. For those who would like to go on their own [more difficult] hikes, Mountain Club has gear that Brandeis students are able to rent for free, such as kayaks, everything you need to go camping or hiking on your own. “This allows students to run their own trips.”
“My favorite trip was ice climbing, definitely, I’ve been doing it since I was 14,” said BenDavid. “The guides we work with are fantastic, they love teaching beginners and inspiring people.” Ice climbing, which is like rock climbing but on frozen waterfalls where you climb up with ice picks, is a very niche sport, she explains. It is “normally inaccessible, because it is expensive and requires a lot of gear,” However, with funding, Mountain Club is able to offer it.
Mountain Club’s next trip is a ski weekend which will take place between March 11 and 13, which is open to anyone. During April break, the group will be going backpacking, but that trip will require previous experience. More information about upcoming trips can be found on the Mountain Club Instagram.