UL Wolves Clubs & Societies’ Outdoor Pursuits Club provides students with opportunities to explore and connect with like-minded people

Outdoor Pursuits Club members enjoy the view atop Mount Brandon, Co. Galway, on a recent trip. Photographer: Eamonn Fitzpatrick.

The Outdoor Pursuits Club is a unique club to the University of Limerick, in that the activities and members of the club range in both skill and activity interest. They all have one thing in common, though, a great love for the outdoors.

The home of adventure at University of Limerick includes activities such as caving, climbing, orienteering, hiking, and many opportunities for overnight excursions throughout the country and beyond Ireland.

Sophie Meskel, OPC Events Officer, remembers first walking into the climbing wall in the fall semester of 2022 unsure of herself. When it came time to leave, she was beaming with joy.

“It’s like the best experience you can do. I feel like I have made lifelong friends from it, and now I have a lifelong love of hiking and being outdoors too, which is really cool,” Meskel said.

The club is recognized extensively by the UL Wolves Clubs & Societies and was awarded Club of the Year for three academic years in a row until the 2021-2022 academic year.

The size of the club is equally as impressive. According to OPC Treasurer Hugo Loughran, there are upwards of 700 club members and 16 board members who take on the responsibility of various roles within the Outdoor Pursuits Club.

Loughran said that OPC speaks for itself in the experiences of both past and current club members.

Only a small group of board members organize each event, and there are huge responsibilities behind each officer, hike leader, and even senior member to create a welcoming community of outdoor enthusiasts on campus.

Loughran assured that the moments make the hard work worth it, it is a labor of love.

Meskel also included that the club has a very informed and diverse leadership team, which is the reason the club is so well-rounded and involved.

The Outdoor Pursuits Club is extremely active in every avenue of the outdoors, which opens a world of opportunity once you join the club.

“It is cool that you can combine so many things. Usually, you wouldn’t get yourself into trying something new unless you knew someone who was doing it. I think the fact that there are so many people doing different things, you’ll kind of just be pushed into doing it,” Meskel said.

Every week, the Outdoor Pursuits Club hosts an orienteering run, which includes running and navigating simultaneously around Limerick.

The club also regularly hosts climbing on the University of Limerick’s very own climbing wall, the tallest indoor climbing wall in Ireland.

OPC members are provided with climbing gear, including everything from harnesses to shoes during these events.

New members should never worry about not having experience, or if you don’t have gear. Beginners are very welcome, and even beyond board members, every OPC member is eager to see new faces interested in the sport.

Members can even pursue these activities competitively, in categories such as top rope, lead climbing, and bouldering. OPC members recently competed in Climbing Intervarsities, held in Belfast.

OPC brought home a third-place finalist award in intermediate women’s final lead-climbing from Belfast, and several competitors made it to the finals in their category of the climbing competition.

The opportunities as an Outdoor Pursuits Club member don’t stop there, though. Members’ interests even expand underground, where some explore the outdoor activity of caving.

In high demand are the Outdoor Pursuits Club weekly hike excursions. Most often on Sunday, the club safely transports and guides hikes for members to explore the beauty of Ireland off the beaten path.

Club members are required to have hiking boots with ankle support, and proper hiking attire to safely participate in such trips.

OPC maintains a ratio of certified hike leaders to members on a hike, ensuring safety and guidance while exploring. Hike leaders are certified in resuscitation, first aid, navigation, and safety. Maintaining the ratio of hike leaders to members, along with limited space, means that weekly hikes are conducted by an application and random selection process.

Daily hikes are 15€, while overnight trips are slightly more expensive to account for accommodation and food provided.

The club recently spent a weekend hiking Mount Brandon for a longer excursion, where members enjoyed snow at the peak and were able to relax at the OPC-filled hostel in the evening.

When Assistant Trips Officer, Tadhg Horkan, joined OPC in October, he began climbing and going on hikes every Sunday, and immediately found it a great way to meet people, all while enjoying the views and chatting.

“If you’re going on a hike by yourself it’s nice, but if you have someone to share the view with it’s even nicer,” Horkan said.

OPC adventure extends beyond Ireland, too.

Last summer, the club hosted a budget-friendly, three-week trip along the border of France and Italy, where they enjoyed camping, outdoor mountaineering, climbing, and hiking along the Alps.

Another past OPC adventure includes the 300 km trek over 11 days that club members completed last May, hiking from Porto to Camino de Santiago.

Meskel assured me that OPC isn’t just an academic school-year community, but one that exists all year round.

According to Meskel, the Outdoor Pursuits Club prides itself on diversity, inclusivity, and charity. In addition to the wide array of club events, engagement officers host events such as

Women’s Climbing Night, ensuring that all members experience a safe and welcoming environment.

When club members are not enjoying the outdoors, social events take over.

You can find OPC members enjoying evenings together such as game night and movie night, in which all the proceeds go to the club’s chosen charity.

Loughran said that the experience of being on a hike, enduring a -5 windchill, rain, and snow, seems as though it would be miserable. But when the hike finishes, everyone agrees that it was great, and you find yourself happy because of the community you are with.

“There’s a lot of people in there that have things going on, active lives, so when they all come together it is all these strong nice personalities meeting. We have very much a familial vibe. Everyone’s doing their own thing, but compatibly with everyone else,” Horkan said.

The OPC community is one of endless opportunities for exploration, whatever that means to you. Find a home in adventure at the University of Limerick within the Outdoor Pursuits Club.



Related Post