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National News, March 2017

MCSA National News 6 March 2017 National News, March 2017


The festive season, aka the silly season, is now over and it is back to business, I was about to say “as usual” but there is never anything “usual” about this great club. When I was Chairman of the Cape Town Section, I used to say that the Section had 1 800 members and therefore 1 800 opinions! As National President, the situation has improved somewhat (I think), in that there are 14 Sections and 14 opinions! In general, the issues are easily and amicably resolved and life goes on much as before but hopefully better.

This is the case with our outreach programmes across the Sections which vary in character and activities but all have the same fundamentals, a desire to improve the lives of South Africans across the board. With this in mind, we now have a “relationship” with the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa, where we are interacting with a national government agency, probably for the first time really. It has been a learning experience for both parties. We are learning (quite fast!), how government operates and the Department is learning at least a little about mountaineering, both as a sport and a recreation. The National Convenor for Outreach has done a sterling job in this respect.

On the plus side, we are receiving funds from the Department, mainly for our outreach activities but on the flip side of the coin, we have a few hoops to jump through. Watch this space; I may be calling for volunteers (you, you and you!) to assist us to navigate the hoops in the near future!

Elsewhere, the UIAA is proving to be very interesting to this President. We are currently the continental representative for Africa (not too difficult at the moment as we were the only association in Africa who qualified to be a member when the elections were held!). But we have also started the “Africa Initiative”, which I have mentioned before, and will involve a loose association of all the mountaineering clubs and organisations that exist in Africa. Hopefully, we will be able to organise joint meets with all or some of these Clubs, to some of the wonderful mountains that are on this continent of ours. As our bank says in its latest advertising campaign – “some call it Africa, we call it Home”.

Talking of which, I have just returned from a work trip to Madagascar. Unfortunately it was a work trip, but until you go there, you do not realise just how mountainous Madagascar is. It is stunning! And of course, the wild life is something else. I strongly encourage members to consider Madagascar as a climbing venue for future trips.  As it was the Club’s 125th anniversary there was a push to have a national expedition which was due to go to a relatively unexplored part of Patagonia. Unfortunately, this initiative collapsed over the course of the year and eventually somewhat fragmentary parties went to the more “usual” Patagonian venues. (See the National Convenor’s report for more on this).

Generally speaking, expeditions are not organised events as Club Meets are. They spring from the desire of climbers, of any standard, getting together as a bunch of friends and going off to explore and/or climb something challenging to them – not necessarily technically difficult but challenging.

To this end, I strongly encourage all members to consider the type of mountaineering that really appeals to them and to organise themselves into a party to explore the myriad of opportunities in the mountains of Africa and the world. We have the research facilities available and experienced members to provide advice – but don’t always take that advice!

And always remember the basic rules of expeditionary mountaineering:

1. Come back alive and preferably in one piece.
2. Come back friends.
3. Achieve your objective.

In that order!



Then join THE 2017 National Meet – the July Winter Camp in the Drakensberg which is hosted and organised by the KwaZulu-Natal Section of MCSA. This is the Camp that provides everything, (and that does mean ‘everything’). You just bring your personal hiking kit and tent and snacks and favourite tipple, we supply the rest, and more!

This year July Camp will set up just off Mike’s Pass in the Cathedral Peak area of the Drakensberg, an area we have not visited since 2006, so a return is long overdue. The dates are Saturday 8th July to Saturday 22nd July, or any part thereof. Although it will be a July Camp with a difference, we are back to the old pattern of a July Camp with a proper ‘stretch your legs’ walk in. For the longish walk in you are advised to carry your basic hiking kit, especially warm clothes and a torch!

The remainder of your kit will be transported for you to the Camp site up the Mike’s Pass which is officially ‘closed’. Notwithstanding, the campers’ kit will be transported to the camp site. The officer-in-Charge of the Cathedral Peak Park, and Ezemvelo KZNWildlife are being very supportive allowing us into the area, even though Mike’s Pass is closed.

Do come and join us in one of ‘the’ iconic parts of the Berg with fabulous hiking, memorable climbs and pleasurable scrambles, mountain biking trails and incredible views with enticing pools, dramatic waterfalls, Bushman paintings, caves ……. come and see.  There are some few details still to be sorted out and the full brochure, hopefully, will be released by Easter. In the meantime, for further information, contact Rikki Abbott Wedderburn on 082 538 5389 or e-mail



All members are welcome to participate in the local event and details of the itinerary will be posted on the Facebook event page,, on , and also disseminated via Cape Rock News from time to time. The final itinerary will depend on whether there is access to certain climbing areas as some have been badly affected by wild fires.

Should anyone wish make themselves available for selection to travel to the USA later this year on the second leg of the exchange, then please email your request and a short climbing CV (bio) to Charles Edelstein at Younger talented climbers will be given preference.



Jonathan Newman is trying to put together a list of people with 3 or more completed Drakensberg Grand Traverses. If you have completed 3 or more, or know someone who has, please let him know. It is surprisingly difficult to find actual stats.  The latest copy of the list is at the following link:

Many on the list are estimated numbers, pending confirmation. If any details on the list are wrong, please let me know so I can correct the list. For the record, a GT does not need to meet the conditions for a speed traverse, it only needs to meet 4 conditions:

  • 1) The Tugela must be crossed above the falls (if the traverse starts further north in the Free State Berg, this condition does not apply.)
  • 2) The team must have crossed the Long Wall Ridge within 1km of Long Wall Peak or Lotheni Peak (Lotheni Peak is the 3296m spot height on the map near Long Wall.)
  • 3) The Walkers Ridge must have been crossed.
  • 4) Between the Tugela and Walkers Ridge, an altitude of above 2500m must be maintained



A festival of TRAD climbing.

  • When: 25th March 2017
  • Where: Mhlabatini in the Magaliesberg

Spit Braai and social after the event hosted at Bergheim. It’s free to enter


6) SUPERTRAMP 2016 (last ones in) FEEDBACK

Los Supertramps 2016: Chris Arderne, Michael Kloos and Rick Kotze in Mexico

Chris, Michael and Rick were three of the MCSA Supertramps for the MCSA’s 125th anniversary in 2016. They explored Mexico’s highest volcanoes and rock faces in December 2016 and January 2017. Writes Chris: “We summed up our trip using the line with which we were forced to introduce ourselves one dark and dusty night in Mexico: ‘Primero, somos tontos’ (Firstly, we’re fools). We knew this already, but our three weeks in Mexico drove the message home on an almost daily basis. The plan was simple enough: keep the plan simple, and figure the details out when we get there. How difficult could two volcanoes and some rocks be? Three objectives, and three weeks to accomplish them. The plan (if you can call it that) was for Rick and Michael to head straight to the primary objective and highest peak in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba. They would start figuring things out while waiting to hear whether Chris (whose passport was precariously full) would be able to enter Mexico at all.

Looking back on it, it’s classic hubris. With Andean experience above 6000 metres, Chris felt confident the altitude would be no obstacle. Having been in the high 5000s in the Cordillera Blanca in Peru, Michael thought he knew what he was in for. Only Rick, having suffered up Mt Elbrus in Russia, was properly prepared to suffer again. We semi-confidently set Christmas day for our summit attempt, just four days from sea level. And one by one we succumbed. This is the story of three South African amigos fumbling their way up a few volcanoes and some jagged rock faces in the land of chillies, tortillas, piñatas and mustaches.

Tiffany Wells and Kirsten Roberts in South Asia

Inspired by Alex Honnold’s dream trip to South East Asia, we (Tiffany Wells and Kirsten Roberts) embarked on a journey of a lifetime. Climbing our way across South East Asia (China, Vietnam, and Thailand), we immersed ourselves in every culture. Setting out for the best routes in each locale, our adventure began in Yangshuo, China, a wonderland of rice fields, mist and tall mountains. China was a treasure trove of limestone sport routes. The choices were endless, and the quality of the climbing was truly world-class.

We then journeyed on a train to Vietnam and caught a ferry to the continuously developing climbing areas of Cat Ba Island, where the perfect conditions lead to some of our hardest sends to date! We completed our month-long journey in Krabi, Thailand, a climbing mecca for many who visit the area for months on end. Thailand offered a vast selection of limestone crags, and other perks like the beautiful beaches and deep water soloing trips. In each location, we represented our South African culture, the MCSA (Mountain Club South Africa) and further promoted the climbing and outdoor lifestyle in our country to everyone we encountered. This trip was an opportunity of a lifetime and the experiences we have gained are numerous!

Finally, Alex Bester is nearly halfway with doing 125 first ascents.

What a great way to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the MCSA!


National:  .  Links for all section’s web pages are all on the national webpage.




Cape Town Section Youth Programme – First Outdoor Camp for the year as per the below details:

We are holding our Top Rope and Lead Climbing Youth Camp over this weekend so that our Youth can also take part in the Annual Montagu Rock Rally. Steps and deadlines to register and take note of:

  1. Book Accommodation at De Bos Guest Farm As soon as Possible
  2. Register for the Montagu Rock Rally here: 2017 Montagu Rock Rally
  3. Register for the Youth Camp here before 17th March: MCSA Youth Climbing Camp April 2017




We have been contacted by a military medal collector who has added a set of medals which contained a pin of The Mountain Club of South Africa along with the medals. The medals are named to Miss Decima Moina Davidge-Pitts. She resided in Johannesburg primarily, but also had Durban as an address in her military records. If it helps any she was a nurse during WWII in the South African Military Nursing Service and served in North Africa and Italy.The MCSA pin is numbered 985. The mint mark is dated for 1936. If anyone has any recollection of Miss Davidge-Pitts or knows someone who may, please contact Jenny,   


Tyler Armstrong is a 12-year old alpinist who is attempting to climb all of the Seven Summits. Tyler has already topped out on Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, and Elbrus, and had hoped to attempt Everest this spring. But, the Nepali government denied him a permit based on his age, so he has set his sights elsewhere :


The call for papers for the “Symposium on Climate Change and Droughts Resilience in Africa” to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 16th-18th October 2017 is now open. Details can be seen at:  The book “Climate Change Adaptation and Droughts Resilience in Africa: “building resilience to climate change and droughts in Africa” will be published, with all accepted papers. This will be a further volume of the award-winning book series “Climate Change Management” published by Springer, which since its creation in 2008 has become the world´s leading book series on climate change management.



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

QUOTE:  The mountains have rules. They are harsh rules, but they are there, and if you keep to them you are safe. A mountain is not like men. A mountain is sincere. The weapons to conquer it exist inside you, inside your soul. Walter Bona

“explore – discover – connect – protect”

“verken – ontdek – ontmoet – bewaar”

“phonononga – fumanisa – qhagamshela – khusela”



MCSA-CT Office Admin

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