One of the questions we’re often asked by those who are considering moving to Aberdeen and the north-east, is “I like sport – do you have decent facilities at RGU – and are there any new things I might try?”
Well, now you mention it, we do. There are excellent facilities, and there are certainly lots of new things you might try. One of the most obvious, given our proximity to the highest mountains in the British Isles, is hillwalking, or for the more adventurous, mountaineering. And if you would like to try the latter, Stephen Harcus, who works in RGU SPORT, is the man to talk to…
Stephen, when a mere 16 years old, was part of an expedition by the British Schools Exploring Society (now British Exploring). Not for them a stroll up some easy hills in the Highlands; instead they went to the Ladakh region of India, in the far north of that country, within the Jammu & Kashmir region, bordering Pakistan on one side and China on the other, a stone’s throw away from Nepal. As Stephen told us, with typical British understatement, “it’s a bit of a war-torn area”. Indeed it is. During the trip, on one occasion the BSES students had to wait while a convoy of 52 large army vehicles, loaded with troops, headed past.
The expedition had as its goal peaks of at least 6,000 metres. The Indian Himalayas in the Ladakh region are not so often visited by climbers as their more famous neighbours (Everest, K2, etc.) and as a result there are several which are still unclimbed. Stephen’s party reached the summit of three of these unclimbed mountains, in the process raising some thousands of pounds for charity.
Having celebrated his 17th birthday in the Himalayas, Stephen tell us that an impressive birthday cake can be made on a camping stove! Also, he says you’ll get the best tan you’ll ever have in the Himalayas, but it washes off the first time you get in a shower. It’s a dusty place.
Since his trip to India Stephen has: organised an abseil from the RGU Library Tower to mark the opening of the building; done a charity bungee jump twice on our own campus (he got to the bottom and asked if he could go again and they said yes!); and climbed Kilimanjaro for Childreach International. As he says, if you’re willing to put in the effort, there’s a lot of opportunity here at RGU.
Turning his attention to Scotland more generally, Stephen believes that it’s a really good climbing country. “Some paths are well trodden”, he told us, “but it’s great because there are easy climbs for the beginner and also some very challenging ones for the experienced mountaineer. Add in the fact that it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world, even if you don’t want to climb or walk up anything it’s great just to spend some time in the countryside”.
If you don’t want to go out and about, or are a beginner, you can use the climbing wall at RGU, which Stephen (from his exacting viewpoint!) believes is first-class, as is the other one in the city, at Transition Extreme down by the beach. All in all, RGU SPORT has tremendous facilities, two fitness areas and many other opportunities for sport and exercise. But if you do want to climb some mountains go and talk to Stephen first!
Thanks to: Stephen Harcus, Climbing Co-ordinator and Administration Assistant, RGU SPORT