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National News, December 2016

MCSA National News 4 December 2016 National News, December 2016


In this bulletin:

  1. UIAA Matters
  2. Contributions for 2016 Journal
  3. Supertramps
  4. Membership of the Austrian Alpine Klub
  5. Annual Memorial Service – 26 February 2017
  6. UIAA Global Youth Summit Opportunities
    (i) International Youth ice climbing camp – Guillestre, Hautes Alpes (05), France. 5 – 11 February 2017
    (ii) Youth ice climbing camp – Dolomites, Italy. 9 – 13 February 2017
  7. BMC International Summer Climbing Meet 2017: Apply by 16 January 2017
  8. Nepal
  9. International Mountain Day photo contest
  10. Facebook and webpages
  11. Section News
  12. Snippets
  13. Any Newsworthy Items



One of the privileges of being President of the MCSA is the opportunity to attend the UIAA annual meeting – held in a different country each year. This year was the turn of Brixen in the Sud Tyrol region of northern Italy.

I appreciate that there are those members who have doubts about the MCSA’s involvement in the UIAA and consider perhaps that the funds involved could be utilised elsewhere. It is a valid argument but based, I think on misconceptions as to what the UIAA actually is and, more importantly, does.

The UIAA, for those who are unfamiliar with its aims, objects and workings, is “the leading representative body for climbers and works to promote their interests throughout the world”. It does not purport to control mountaineering in the fashion of perhaps more conventional international sporting bodies – that would be rather like herding cats, I think – but rather to provide the basis for cooperation between the member federations and to assist with the “study and solution of all problems regarding mountaineering” as the founding fathers of the UIAA rather nicely put it.

A lot of the more important work of the UIAA is actually undertaken by the various Commissions which deal with matters of import for all climbers. These include, amongst others, safety standards for climbing equipment, medical matters, training (including youth) and mountain access and protection. The MCSA is active on several of these commissions and their contribution is well-respected – and this in an international organisation which represents over three million climbers in 68 countries on six continents.

The MCSA is also the representative on the Management Committee of the UIAA for the African continent. This sounds very grand but there are only two countries which “qualify” for membership of the UIAA at this stage – Morocco is the other one – so we are almost there by default although the value we gain from this is considerable. However, as a result of our involvement in the UIAA, it has proved possible – and valuable – to pursue what is now known as the “Africa Initiative”. This involves making contact with all the (more or less) active mountain clubs in Africa and suggesting some form of closer cooperation. Initially, we thought that we might manage to obtain some form of UIAA membership for these clubs and associations but the problem is that they are rather small and somewhat transitory as they traditionally involve the ex-pat. communities in those countries. However, this is changing and some of those clubs are now quite strong, e.g. Uganda with about 200 members.

What we now hope today is to promote closer cooperation between the MCSA – as a sort of lead player in this – and the African clubs such that we share some of the knowledge that we have built up over the years. There has been a good deal of enthusiasm for this concept amongst our East African brethren, to the point where we are discussing a joint “Africa Meet” – possibly next year in the Ruwenzori.

Another form of contact is what I am calling the “Southern Hemisphere Axis” which will involve the three countries in the southern hemisphere who are members of the UIAA. These countries are New Zealand (also celebrating 125 years this year), Argentina and ourselves. This is a much looser arrangement thus far but one that we have agreed could be a good thing in the coming years. We just have to agree not to mention rugby!!

There is also a big push in the UIAA to encourage what is now being termed “Adventure Climbing”, what we here in South Africa would term Trad. While there is obviously a big place for sport climbing and bouldering and this is well catered for on a number of fronts, the adventure climbing movement is a strong one and I would encourage every member of the MCSA to go to the UIAA web site ( and search for the paper (largely written by Doug Scott, who visited here some years back) entitled “UIAA Recommendations on the Preservation of Natural Rock for Adventure Climbing”. I appreciate that it sounds rather dry but it really is good stuff and music to the ears of trad climbers! I will also try and post it on the national web site as soon as I can.

The UIAA meetings were not all work I am pleased to say! There was a programme of films and talks (part of the concurrent International Mountain Summit) with some top climbers presenting. Highlights for me were the presentations on Ueli Steck and the amazing things that he has done over the last few years, the film on the 1970 accident and rescue on Mount Kenya, made by Reinhold Messner and the presentation of Honorary Membership of the UIAA to Reinhold Messner – who was born in Brixen. By the way, this was actually boycotted by the German delegation which just goes to show that politics gets into everything!

There was also a day set aside for visiting one of Messner’s mountain museums (he has five!) – absolutely stunning, and one day when we managed to go walking in the mountains – I claimed Plose Mountain as one of the MCSA’s 125 summits! I had the pleasure of walking with the new head of the Medical Commission, George Rodway (USA), and he is keen to join us next year in the Ruwenzori… I also spent some time with the head of the Mountain Protection Commission, Carolina Adler who is very active in the UIAA conservation effort – as is our own Maretha Alant, a corresponding member of the Commission.

In all, the UIAA General Assembly and the associated meetings were successful and valuable and I urge all MCSA members to familiarise themselves with its work and to get involved – either locally or internationally. I look forward to some discussion around this aspect.

Contact Details for Greg:
Home: +27 21 701 7618
Mobile: +27 83 763 9943



This is a call for contributions for the 2016 Journal. These can be sent to the Editing Team at: Please refer to the Guidelines and Style Sheet on the national website before you submit any contributions ( As this will be a special edition, it being our 125th anniversary year, we will be including a bit about the history of the MCSA.



Good luck to: Jed Johnson with his partner, Craig Burden, who will be climbing in Ethiopia from 2 to 22 December.

Rick Kotze, Chris Arderne and Michael Kloos (Los Supertramps) who will be climbing volcanoes and rock-faces in Mexico from 18 December onwards. Check out: website

Tiffany Wells who together with her partner, Kirsten Roberts, will fly out on 31 December for a month of climbing in China, Thailand and Vietnam. The MCSA and recipients expresses their deep appreciation for the sponsorship.



Charles Edelstein writes: As part of the ongoing commitment to improving the quality and safety of trad climbing I strongly urge individual climbers to sign up as members of the Austrian Alpine Klub (UK). There is nothing quite like it as a rescue insurance for rock and mountain climbing that I am aware of. Membership is initiated in January every year so if you sign up after that you still pay for a full year but lose the benefit for the months after that.

My membership for my whole family is under £100 or R1700 per annum. I wish I had membership earlier this year as I paid R66,000.00 for a chopper ride in Nepal when Margaret and Duncan got ill. Individuals born after 1957 are £500.

The benefits far outweigh the costs and to put it simply rescues are covered to €25000 (Over R400,000.00) anywhere in the world if under 6000m. It also allows for discounts in the various huts and refugios around Europe!

I know of two individuals who have benefitted directly from this service.

Inform yourselves and ensure your next chopper ride when you snap your ankle or worse.


5) ANNUAL MEMORIAL SERVICE – 26 February 2017

The Annual Memorial Service will be held at Maclear’s Beacon on Sunday 26 February 2017. The service will be conducted by the Reverend Anthony Ryan. This is a non- denominational service and commemorates members of the club who have died in the past year.



All enquiries should be directed to MCSA/UIAA Youth Commission Convenor, Jenny Paterson at or through Applications should not be submitted without being signed off by either her or the MCSA President.

(i) INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ICE CLIMBING CAMP – Guillestre, Hautes Alpes (05), France.
Dates: 5 – 11 February 2017
Venue: Guillestre, near Briançon in southern Alps of France. All the ice climbing sites are described on this internet site:
Accommodation: in the youth gite; 4 persons/room; breakfast and dinner provided by the gite and are included in the cost.
Participants: Young people from 16 – 26 years old. Participants should lead climb at a minimum of 5b French grade, and should be autonomous for managing belay. Spaces will be limited to a maximum of FOUR per country. Participants younger than 18 years must be accompanied by an adult climber/coach who is able to look after them during this meet.
Insurance: participants should be insured for accident, rescue, third party liability and travel which is valid for participating for the duration of the trekking/climbing programmes.
Visa: a visa will be required so early booking is recommended as the visa process takes time.
Cost: €240 per participant, payable on arrival to the organiser.
Included: accommodation, dinner and breakfast, leading and organisational costs
Not included: cost of midday picnics; international flights; insurance; visa; items of a personal nature.
Registration deadline: 20 January 2017 (for European participants; (earlier for any South African participants due to time required to process flights and visas).
More details and assistance with registration can be obtained from Jenny.

(ii) YOUTH ICE CLIMBING CAMP – Dolomites, Italy.
Dates: 9 – 13 February 2017
Venue: The Dolomites
Participants: Young people from 15 – 19 years old (strictly). 10 Italians and 10 foreigners.
Insurance: participants should be insured for accident, rescue, third party liability and travel which is valid for participating for the duration of the trekking/climbing programmes.
Visa: a visa will be required so early booking is recommended as the visa process takes time.
Cost: €240 per participant, payable on arrival to the organiser.
Included: full board and local transfers.
Not included: international airfare; insurance; visas; items of a personal nature.
Technical Equipment: climbing harness, winter mountaineering boots, crampon, helmet, two ice axes, ARTVA equipment. The missing technical equipment will be provided by the organization. (Communicate to the organization which technical equipment you need no later than January 15th).
Equipment: heavy winter clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses, free time clothing, personal medicines.
Registration deadline: January 15th 2017 (earlier for any South African participants due to time required to process flights and visas).
More details and assistance with registration can be obtained from Jenny.


7) BMC INTERNATIONAL SUMMER CLIMBING MEET 2017: Apply by 16 January 2017

The 2017 BMC International Summer Climbing Meet will be located at the Count House in Cornwall, a 200-year-old building perched above Cornwall’s finest granite cliff, Bosigran. The MCSA has been invited to nominate two (one female and one male) experienced trad climbers from your country. Preference will be given to climbers who have not attended a BMC International Meet before.

Please note that if the meet is oversubscribed, places will be reduced to one per country.

BMC’s Becky McGovern will email all applying Federations by 30 January to inform them of the outcome. Please do not make any bookings (flights, trains etc.) until you have had confirmation from the BMC.


  • We will team you up with a UK host climber each day and they will take you out climbing.
  • Partnerships will be changed every few days so that you get to climb with different people.
  • There will be an optional trad clinic (placing runners, building belays, belaying with two ropes) on the first morning.
  • There will be several evening presentations throughout the week.


Visiting climbers must have at least two years’ experience of traditional lead climbing (experience with the placement and removal of protection).


  • Venue: The Count House, Bosigran, Pendeen, Penzance, Cornwall, TR20 8YX.
  • Dates: Saturday 13 May to Saturday 20 May 2017.
  • Arrival evening: Saturday 13 May (no climbing on this day).
  • Departure day: Saturday 20 May (no climbing on this day).


  • You are responsible for making your own travel arrangements to the UK.
  • Travel details will be sent to you at the beginning of February when places are confirmed.
  • The hut offers ‘alpine hut’ style accommodation with shared rooms and bathroom facilities.


The fee is £150 per person and includes:

  • Seven nights’ accommodation
  • Three catered meals per day
  • Nightly presentations
  • Six days’ climbing with experienced host climbers
  • Optional trad clinic
  • Transfer from Penzance train station


Interested parties should contact MCSA secretary at for meet details and for the required forms to be completed as soon as possible. Deadline for applications is 16 January 2017.



Despite the fact that it has been more than a year and a half since the devastating earthquake struck Nepal, some parts of the country continue to struggle to get back on their feet. With that in mind, there have been a lot of efforts to help improve the living situation there, including a project from Goal Zero that sent solar equipment, water filters, computers, and more to help the people in areas that are still recovering. This video takes us to Nepal on just such a mission, and along the way you’ll catch a glimpse of what makes this such a special country. No, it isn’t the amazing mountain landscapes, although those are impressive. But it is the Nepali people who leave the longest lasting impression. Video:



It’s International Mountain Day on 11 December, and the theme of this year’s day is Mountain Cultures: celebrating diversity and strengthening identity.

We’re asking people to capture mountain culture in photos ahead of the day and enter the International Mountain Day photo contest, and we’d appreciate your help in spreading the word through your networks.

Please find some suggested tweets below, as well as visuals for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn in English, French, Spanish and Arabic here.

Possible tweets:

It’s #InternationalMountainDay on 11 December! Enter the photo contest to win @NatGeosubscription #MountainsMatter

Celebrate mountain cultures this #InternationalMountainDay 2016 by entering the #MountainsMatter photo contest!

Send us a photo of #mountain cultures in action and you could win a subscription to @NatGeo #MountainsMatter

Taken a great photo of mountain peoples, practices, festivals, temples? Enter the #MountainsMatter photo contest

Capture the diversity of mountain peoples and cultures with your camera and enter the #MountainsMatter photo contest



Links for all sections’ web pages are on the national webpage.




Outreachers from MCSA-CT and group representatives got together at Du Toits Kloof hut the weekend 26/27 November to learn and to mingle. The 28-strong group learned valuable skills from experts and one another to help us groom the mountaineers of the future. We did everything from how to teach others about fynbos to finding your bearing on a compass to how to deal with people. It was a very valuable time and we thank all involved


On Saturday 26th November, the MCSA Cape Town Youth Section and Top Out Climbing Club held their joint awards ceremony at the MCSA Club House in Hatfield Street, Cape Town. Each of the club’s 7 coaches was given thank you gifts as well for all their hard work throughout the year:



Please consider attending the AfroMont-Mt Kili mountain research meeting early next year. There is a website now to register and send abstracts.

At just 2810 meters (9220 ft.) in height, Mont Roraima isn’t even close to being the tallest mountain in South America. At the top, there is an ecosystem unlike what is found nearby, including some species of animals that aren’t seen anywhere else on Earth. We make the trek along with some other adventure travellers to explore a place that was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Sad news from the Himalaya on November 28 where it was revealed that an avalanche on Ama Dablam has claimed the life of a Sherpa and injured a foreign climber. The avalanche was caused by ongoing seismic activity in the region, with a 5.6 magnitude earthquake causing the slide.



Newsworthy items for inclusion in MCSA National News can be sent to the Editor, Bridget Carrick:


“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”
Edward Abbey.

“explore – discover – connect – protect”
“verken – ontdek – ontmoet – bewaar”
“phonononga – fumanisa – qhagamshela – khusela”


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