About VOC

What is the VOC?

We’re a member-run student club with members interested in hiking, camping, climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing, canoeing, and many more outdoor activities. While many of our trips are fairly challenging, we welcome everyone to participate-enthusiasm, but no experience, required.

What does the VOC do?

The VOC is what its members do – basically, everything to do with the outdoors. There are literally dozens of trips that go out over the year. VOC members post on our web-based notice board, detailing proposed trips. You’re encouraged to sign up and come along. If you have somewhere you want to go, put up your own trip! In general, trips take place on weekends.

There are a number of traditional yearly Club events, including:

Glacier School (Sept)

  • Learn the basics of glacier travel and crevasse rescue

Longhike (Sept)

  • 100+ VOC members head to the hills for a weekend of rock climbing instruction, hiking, and partying

Anywhere-but-here Climbing Trips (Oct/ Nov)

  • Try to escape the rain by going to Skaha, Leavenworth, or Smith Rocks

What studying? Winter trips (exams)

  • Longer ski trips and an epic road trip to a desert climbing destination

Winter Longhike (Jan/ Feb)

  • Learn to winter camp, telemark ski, and snowshoe during a weekend at Manning park or some similar destination

Tele School (Jan/ Feb)

  • Learn to crank graceful telemark turns, or at least how to put your skis on the right way

Garibaldi Lake, the Neve (Feb/March)

  • Stay in the Sphinx Hut at the E end of Garibaldi Lake.  Ski everything in sight

Avalanche Courses (Dec-Feb)

  • Avoid getting smushed by the fluffy white stuff

End of the Year Banquet (March)

  • Dress up, snark tasty foods, read the new Journal, embarrass your friends with “awards”, and listen to hardcore speakers.  Decide what the Club will be doing for the coming year.  Elect new Exec to run the Club

Rock School (April)

  • Rock climbing instruction for the beginner, the expert, and the just plain clumsy


In addition to the traditional trips and events organized by members, there are many other Club events (not always offered every year). These can include mountaineering school, kayaking instruction, and wilderness first aid. We also maintain a number of back country huts for use by the larger mountaineering community.

What if I’m new to the outdoor scene?

The VOC is made up of a large number of students with varying degrees of outdoor experience. While many of our trips are quite challenging, a large dose of enthusiasm can often make up for a lack of experience.

We run several informal “schools” over the year designed to help beginners develop their skills amongst supportive peers, and many of our traditional trips are beginner-friendly. As with acquiring any new skill, becoming a proficient skier, climber, or even hiker takes some commitment, but in the VOC you’ll make new friends and see beautiful places while you’re learning. With a supportive and exciting learning environment, the VOC is a great place to hone your skills or pick up some new ones!

The VOC varies from year to year, but past activities have included

  • BBQs, beer gardens, and keg parties
  • Halloween costume party typically at Skaha
  • Storm the Wall teams
  • Intramural sports
  • Music jams in small mountain huts
  • All-you-can-eat dessert nights

The trips and social activities continue all year long. Remember: No experience necessary-just a little enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

Where is the VOC located?

You can find us in the basement of the UBC Student Union Building,  (see map). Drop by on your lunch break and hang out to talk about your latest trip, or to plan your next one. Upcoming events, trips, and the occasional piece of juicy gossip are posted on the bulletin board outside the clubroom.

What is the “VOCene”?

The VOCene is the weekly(ish) newsletter that is distributed by email on tuesday evenings. The VOCene includes any upcoming events/trips, clubroom gossip, artwork, and embellished reports of trips recently completed.

What is the VOC Journal?

The VOC Journal is an annual publication containing accounts of the many epic VOC trips completed during the year. It also includes lots of photographs, poems, artwork, and the occasional hidden contest.

What does membership do for me?

Your membership fee gets you:

  • The ability to borrow gear for free
  • Access to our library of maps, guidebooks, and other outdoor literature
  • A Hustler’s Handbook (names and phone numbers of members) so you can plan trips or pick up on that hot instructor from rock school
  • A VOC membership book with tips and important resources
  • A 200+ page VOC journal
  • Free use of the indoor climbing wall in the norm theatre.
  • Membership to the Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia
  • Affiliate Membership in the Alpine Club of Canada – Vancouver Section, with access to hundreds of weekend and weeklong trips, courses and camps, plus accomodation at ACC huts on the Coast and in the Rockies. You will receive an ACC membership card in early October and the Vancouver Section’s monthly newsletter, the Avalanche Echoes, by email.
  • Opportunities to get special rates on lift tickets or professional instruction courses such as avalanche safety, kayaking, and wilderness first aid.

Borrowing gear

Club members can borrow gear through a deposit system. You leave a cash deposit, take the gear, and return it in a week. As long as you return the gear on time and in good condition, you get the original cash back. The one catch is that we require you to complete a “workhike” after three times (to make sure you really like this skiing thing) borrowing gear. A workhike requires doing some small amount of volunteer work for the club — tasks like repairing gear, trailbuilding, photocopying, or cleaning up after a party.

Club gear includes:

  • Ropes, rock shoes, harnesses, helmets
  • Ice axes, crampons, avalanche beacons
  • Telmark skis (with skins), telemark boots, snowshoes
  • Topo maps, & guidebooks galore
  • Other assorted and mysterious outdoor gear

Gear is loaned on a first-come, first-serve basis. That means occasionally members have to borrow or rent gear, but we try to help offset costs as much as possible. To find out when the gear room is open and everything else about our gear, check out our wiki.

How do I get Involved?

Club membership is $40/$60 (students/others) for one year, and is open to UBC students, faculty, staff, and Club alumni. To get a membership, sign up at Clubs’ Days or drop by the clubroom and pester someone until they confess to being an executive.

After you have your membership, the next big step is to check the trips board and sign up for your first trip. Each trip sheet will give a meeting time and place for a pre-trip meeting (usually outside the clubroom), where you can arrange rides, equipment, meet everyone else, etc. All you need to do is go on a few trips, and you’re hooked!

For lots more information about the club, check out our WIKI!

If you like people and the outdoors, the VOC is the club for you!

The VARSITY OUTDOOR CLUB of the University of British Columbia

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