The CMC was formed on the 10th April 1925 with a membership base of around 27 adventurers. Originally formed as a tramping club, outings on the Port Hills around Christchurch, and further afield to the foothills of Canterbury were the usual activity. Christmas and Easter holidays were spent in the mountains, usually at the head of the Waimakariri River, where climbing had a stronger focus. In October the 14th 1927 it was changed to The Canterbury Mountaineering and Tramping Club Inc., then again in May the 14th 1953 shortened to The Canterbury Mountaineering Club Inc.
One of the Club’s real personalities of the time, was a young Gerard Carrington, who was the motivating force behind the formation of the Club. Carrington’s ambition was to build a hut at the junction of the White River and the Waimak, a popular campsite and the start point of many climbs in the Arthurs Pass region. With his characteristic energy, he gathered funds from friends, the Tourist Dept and Canterbury Progress league and construction of the hut began.
While materials were still being carried to hut site, Carrington was tragically drowned while floating down through the Waimak gorge on a home-made raft. His death was a big blow to the Club, but members finally completed the hut in 1929 and then named it in his honour – Carrington Hut. One of the most impressive mountains in the area was also named Carrington Peak. Now access to this beautiful region was within reach for many, without the need to carry a tent and utensils, and the Carrington Hut has since been visited by thousands, and the original aims of the Club have been maintained ever since – the encouragement of a love for the mountains, and nature out of doors, with increased facilities for enjoying the beauties that lie in the heart of the ranges.
The Erewhon branch of the CMC opened in 1933
The Club then changed its primary focus to that of mountaineering, and purchased a car in the following years, so that CMC members could have independent transport to the Alps. It was during this era of the 1930s to 1950s that the CMC achieved so much. Huts were built in the Arthurs Pass, Rakaia, and Mount Cook regions, and climbing and exploration in these areas became very popular with members, and a number of famous names were by now on the membership roll.
The CMC was for many years an affiliate in the Pioneer Sports Club, and our meeting location during that period was at the grand Pioneer Sports Centre in central Christchurch. This site was gifted to the City of Christchurch by a trust, and is now the site of the Town Library.
In the modern age, the CMC is a very active club for climbers – alpine, sport and rock climbers alike. There are still the instruction courses run over the Easter and Christmas holidays as there were in the early days, as well as Queens Birthday and either Labour Day or Canterbury Show weekends, and these are still the best way to learn mountaincraft skills from experienced older members. Rock climbing courses are held on the crags in the Port Hills overlooking Christchurch. Advanced mountaineering courses are staged in the Mount Cook area over the Christmas break. Regular meetings are held, and slide shows recounting a recent adventure by a member or guest are always popular.
The CMC has been fortunate to have been thought of by many in their Wills, and there is a fund which is used to achieve and promote the aims of the CMC – namely, exploration and enjoyment of the mountains. Overseas expeditions are funded through grants, local trips away are often assisted through subsidised helicopter or 4WD transport, and the network of mountain huts that the CMC has been involved with for the last 75 years get regular maintenance, so that a new generation of Canterbury mountaineers can enjoy the experiences of the alps.