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Student Life

Join our Club: Spotlight on Mountaineering

There are over 200 clubs and societies that you can choose to join at Queen's. From academic, religious, political, sports related, and more there are really clubs for every type of student. Check out Sami's blog on the Mountaineering Club.

Mountaineering club
Group Photo from the trip

Although I had rock climbed when I was younger, it had been many years since I saw myself on a rock wall. The last time I climbed was over three years ago, so I was hesitant to sign up for the climbing club since I really didn’t know how good I’d be at climbing.

Nonetheless, I was welcomed into the club with open arms. Regardless of what type of climber you are, this club really does have something for everyone!

QUB Mountaineering club meets every Tuesday and Thursday evening at Queen's PE Centre (PEC) climbing wall (PEC is the university gym).

Climbing wall in the PEC

There are many walls for all types of climbers. There are easier walls with more stones for those just getting into climbing and there are walls with less stones for those who have more experience. I found myself on the beginner/medium walls as I have basic technique, however there is a lot of strength and technique that I have to work on.

The mountaineering club offers many weekend trips to work on climbing skills which includes traveling to the Republic of Ireland (Wicklow, Donegal, Gala), Scotland, Spain, and Northern Ireland (Mourne Mountains). This previous weekend was the fresher’s trip to the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland.

rock wall at the Mournes
The lovely Mournes

A couple of weekends ago, I participated in a trip to the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland. The trip cost £30 and included the bus to/from the cottage, lodging at the cottage, breakfast Saturday and Sunday, and dinner Saturday. Along with packing clothing, we were responsible for sleeping bags, snacks, hiking shoes, dinner for Friday, and lunch for Saturday/Sunday (there were a lot of sandwiches consumed.)

Below I’ve documented the highlights of the weekend:


At 5:30pm we boarded the bus to the Mourne Mountains. The mountains are about 1.5 hours away and along the way we chatted on the bus. When we arrived at the cottage, we got to know each other through games, bonding over similarities, and talking about the adventure that awaited.


We woke up at half past nine and ate porridge and toast before starting our trek to the climbing site. The hike to the climb was about 3-4 hours, but it had the prettiest scenery that I’ve ever seen in my life. We climbed through the countryside, hiking towards the cliffs that we were to climb.

The Mourne Mountains
Overlook of the valley 

Even though Sunday was our scheduled hiking day I found myself walking through bogs, over rocks, and through little rivers. It didn’t matter if you were a quick or slow hiker (I was on the slow side) because everyone waited for you and helped you along.

At areas where we had to hike over streams that might be slippery, there were members helping along the entire way and I always had a hand to hold on to. It didn’t matter if this hike was easy to some and hard to others since we were a team, no one was left behind.

Saturday’s Climbing site

At around 1PM, we arrived at our site. Committee members had left earlier that day to set up ropes, so as soon as we got there we sat down to eat our lunches and started to climb! There were many ropes for all different levels of climbers. Although it was windy and cold, I decided to have a go at a climb.

Even though I didn’t make it all the way up, the support I got along the way was humbling. Everyone was rooting me on and when I didn’t make it all the way up I was congratulated on my effort and promised that the more experience I had on the wall, the better I’d be at outdoor climbing.

High rock walls at the Mournes
Saturday's Climbing site

Around half past four, we packed up our ropes and started the hike back to the cottage. Lucky for us (since everyone was exhausted from the day) we got a few lifts back to the cottage.

When we got back, everyone changed into warm clothing, and we sat down in the living room chatting and playing games. One of my favorite games was the box game, where we had to pick up a box standing on our feet and using nothing but our mouths. Every round, the box would get shorter and shorter, making the task more difficult.  Just like hiking and climbing, there was a sense of community with cheering and encouraging others to try to pick up the box. 

For dinner we ate chilli, and we ended the night by playing more games until everyone decided to go to bed. It was a fun night and I felt myself continuing to bond with many members.  


Happy hiking day! Today we were given the option to participate in three different hikes: Wee Binnian, Slieve Binnian, and the hardest hike which was Slieve Binnian where instead of climbing down, you’d loop around the valley to come back.

As we were eating our porridge and toast we decided which hike we’d decided upon. I chose to do Wee Binnian since I was sore from the hike the previous day.

Around half past 10, all groups departed for their respective hike. The other hikers and I left the cottage to trek up the mountain. It was a foggy day, and the weather was rainy, however this didn’t stop us from exploring and climbing.

Cows up the Mournes
The herd of cows we met while climbing up Wee Binnian

Some of my favorite parts of the hike were seeing cows and other farm animals along the path. As I found out, many farm animals live on the mountains for the winter. Something unique about the animals is that farmers dye their wool to make sure that they know whose animals were whose.

I loved the final part of the hike which was a scramble up the mountain. Whereas much of the hike was walking, the scramble was using the rock-climbing technique to make it up the final portion of the mountain. 

Sami Koitz walking up the Mournes
Me climbing up part of the mountain

We were all at different levels of rock-climbing experience, however the committee members were awesome at giving tips about where we should put our hands, feet, and even providing a hand when needed. Regardless of level, we all were proud of ourselves for making it up the mountain.

When we were at the top, we looked out into the fog, however on sunny days the view is supposed to be amazing (yet another reason why I need to go back!) We started our descent and at half past two we arrived back to the cottage. After taking a couple of minutes to eat lunch and warm up, we started cleaning up the cottage that we were lucky enough to call home for the past two days.

walls at the Mournes
The sky overlooking one of the rock fences 

After cleaning the cottage, the bus came to pick us up and take us back to the PEC. At around 7:30PM we arrived in Belfast, and I went to dinner with some new friends that I met this weekend to celebrate hiking, climbing, and friendships.

Counting down the days until the next trip!

Find out more

MA Conflict Transformation and Social Justice

Queen's Accommodation

Life in Belfast

Sami Koitz

Conflict Transformation & Social Justice | Postgraduate Student | Maryland USA

I've always been interested in the Middle East, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and non-profits that work towards building bridges between divided societies.

I am from Maryland, USA (about a nine-hour flight from Queens) and graduated in 2022 from Susquehanna University with a double major in Communication Studies & International Studies.

Outside of academics, I am a member of the equestrian team, Jewish Society, and wakeboarding club. I love meeting new people and I look forward to chatting with you.

Sami Koitz