The Founding of the Club

Portraits of the 3 founders of the club Summit of Gyalgen Peak (22,000ft) First Ascent, 11th May 1955

Summit of Gyalgen Peak (22,000ft)
First Ascent, 11th May 1955

Mass ascent of Buachaille Etive Mor: Club Centenary May 2008

Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe, May 2008

The Ladies Scottish Climbing Club was founded in 1908, by three women, at a boulder near the Lix Toll in Perthshire: Jane Inglis Clarke (mother of Charles to whose memory the CIC hut on Ben Nevis is dedicated) her daughter Mabel Jefffey, and Lucy Smith. All three had climbed extensively in Scotland and the Alps, though, typically, in the company of their respective male family members and friends. Having said that, they were experienced Alpinists in their own right.

Club activities - the early years

The founding of an all-women's mountaineering club in Scotland, just a year after the Ladies Alpine Club in London, soon had the interest of like-minded 'ladies' with a keen interest in mountaineering, and who were to become pioneers in their day in many ways. The first New Year's meet was held in 1908-09 and a programme of regular meets developed much then, as now, with the Club visiting all the main climbing areas in Scotland such as Crianlarich, Glencoe and Skye.

The twentieth century – a few firsts

The pioneering spirit, which was there from the start of the Club, has been particularly illustrated in some of its members.

Club member Esmé Speakman made several first ascents of rock climbs in Glencoe, including January Jigsaw in 1940, a classic Severe on the Rannoch Wall of Buachaille Etive Mor.

Betty Stark, Cynthia Marr, Evelyn Camrass and Elma Wrench organised one of the first mountaineering expeditions to the Lyngen Peninsula in arctic Norway in 1954.

In 1955, Monica Jackson, Betty Stark and Evelyn Camrass formed the first all women's expedition to the Himalayas. They explored the previously unmapped Phurbal Chyachumbu glacier and made a first ascent of a 22,000 ft peak on the frontier of Nepal and Tibet, naming it Gyalgen Peak, after their lead Sherpa (photo).

In 1970 Helen Steven led an expedition to the previously unexplored Alpefjord region of Greenland. Several first ascents were made, as well as the first all women's ascents of the Berseker Spire and Ardverikie.

One hundred years old and still climbing

In 2008, the Club celebrated its Centenary with a programme of events taking place over the year, including a mass ascent of Buachaille Etive Mor (many dressed in period costume - see photo) a meet in Bolivia, based at the Condoriri base camp and a three week stravaig across Scotland. 

In 2010 Kate Ross became the first British woman to climb all the 4000m mountains in the Alps.

Over a hundred years on, the LSCC is still as committed today to mountaineering in Scotland and abroad as it was upon its founding.


  • The history of the Club is told by Helen Steven in ‘Rising to the Challenge – a 100 years of the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club’ published by the Scottish Mountain Trust in 2010. It is not only a chronicle of the Club’s history but of women and their achievements in the context of mountaineering and a society where the role of women has changed over 100 years.
  • The story of the 1955 Himalayan expedition is told in ‘Tents in the Clouds’ by Monica Jackson, republished in 2000 by Seal Press (US). It is an amusing and inspirational account of three women who parted from jobs and family to ‘subject themselves to extreme discomfort on some lonely, alien and desolate wrinkles on the earth’s surface’.

Events Calendar

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