The Mountain Club of South Africa
Latest News

National News, December 2019

National News 4 December 2019 National News, December 2019


Another day, another dollar – well, metaphorically anyway. And in fact, as we approach the end of another eventful year in the Club’s history, we can be proud of what the Club is and its history. The Club is the oldest conservation body in the country and, over the years has contributed greatly to the preservation of mountain environments in South Africa. Additionally, we were one of the first organisations to become “non-racial”, opening our doors, as it were, in 1986. Nationally, we remain a significant body even though in many ways, we are still seeking our “proper” role in South African society.

These ponderings were in part prompted by two on-going threads in our history. One is the series of significant “milestones” that I as the current President, have been privileged to be involved in. These have included the centenaries (or more) of several Sections of the Club demonstrating that our history is important within the mountaineering context in South Africa – and indeed, internationally (see the UIAA sections later on in this newsletter).

Further, our history is being “put out there” by a South African academic, Farieda Khan, who is writing about South African mountaineering and mountain clubs in the broader context of South African societal history. Worth reading – contact me if you wish to know more.

All this brings home to me, that mountaineering is changing. We live in the age of instant gratification and for many people who climb, the long lazy(?) days spent in the hills, climbing long “adventure” routes are non-existent. Two or three hours on a sport crag with fixed protection – no need to worry about the lost art of placing your own – and then off to the next activity!

Adventure tourism currently seems to rule the roost and nowhere is this more apparent than in the high mountains of the world. I know that I do bang on about this but to me it is one of the issues that matters most in today’s environment. We have all seen the pictures of the queues on the Lhotse face and the summit ridge of Mount Everest. Several hundred people go up Everest in any given year now. They are not climbers; they are tourists being ushered up the world’s highest peak by guides and porters who do everything for them. And did you know that the best estimate – for that is all it can be, an estimate – is that approximately 80 000 – yes, eighty thousand – people went up Kilimanjaro last year?

The high peaks of the world exert a fascination on many (!) people, that much is obvious. But how do we manage this and avoid ruining the thing we love most; that is the conundrum and one which I feel privileged to be working on with some of the most respected mountaineers of our day – see the UIAA piece further on in this newsletter.

Recommended reading – the American Alpine Club have put out a publication (available online), State of Climbing, 2019. While US-oriented it does address a number of issues that are common to all countries and societies. As do the various editorials/President’s pieces in the last two New Zealand Alpine Journals. Also very much worth reading.

Irony of the Month; one of the finalists in the UIAA Mountain Protection Award was the cleanup of Ama Dablam, that iconic peak close to Everest. Indeed, a laudable project! And then we get this happening;

Word is coming out of Nepal that a huge flag was draped from the summit of one of the world’s most beautiful mountains, Ama Dablam in Nepal at 6,828 meter/22,401 feet, this week.







Wrong, Wrong, Wrong – Defacing Ama Dablam. Is the world going crazy!!. I leave it up to you to decide…




This is a call for contributions for the 2019 Journal. Please see the JOURNAL GUIDELINES on the national website, or ask the editor to send you a copy. Email Jenny Paterson at Deadline for contributions is 31 January 2020.




The 2019 UIAA General Assembly was held in Larnaca, Cyprus in November this year and was hosted by the Cyprus Mountaineering Climbing & Orienteering Federation (C.M.C.O.F). The General Assembly is the prime opportunity for all the member associations – 80-odd – to get together and consider the various issues facing mountaineering around the world. Many of these issues are also of particular interest to us down here at the southern end of Africa and members are urged to get involved in what ever activity most fires them up. Some of them are noted in the following sections or have been mentioned in the “President’s Bit” above.

Your President attended as the representative of the only current member from the African continent – as such he is the continental representative on the Management Committee, giving the MCSA a strong voice in the global deliberations.

Full details of the UIAA General Assembly are available on the UIAA web site:

At every GA, the hosts find new ways of offering delegates a diverse and interesting cultural programme. A number of delegates enjoyed the island’s numerous rock climbing opportunities. Pavlos Georgiades, the Cyprus federation President, spearheaded a project focused on the history of the UIAA. Following months of dedicated research, Georgiades created a visual graphic tracing the key moments in the federation’s history. The end result was a giant banner which was also reproduced as a gift for all delegates which will be on display in the MCSA Clubhouse shortly.


The UIAA continues to develop its services for members and will be improving its web page to offer federations the opportunity to exchange more details about climbing and mountaineering in their own countries. A Donate page will also be available to members who wish to showcase initiatives and causes they are supporting. Both projects will be rolled out during the first quarter of 2019. Members are therefore reminded of many existing resources, and some new ones, provided by the UIAA.

Members are encouraged to go to the UIAA web site to find out more about the UIAA‘s important activities.


This important issue was discussed extensively at the GA in Cyprus with the MCSA taking the lead role in presenting the findings of the working Group that was set up to consider the various issues.

“Greg Moseley, Mountain Club of South Africa, presented details about the creation of a High Mountains Working Group, endorsed by the EB to focus on the issues facing the high mountains of the world. This group will continue to work with key stakeholders including member federations and local bodies to recommend policy. Please refer to recent statements published by the UIAA on Everest and Kilimanjaro.”

Of particular note, was an indicative vote taken by a show of hands, supporting the stand-point taken by the Working Group and guiding the UIAA to co-sign a document being issued by the Alpine Club which lays out the key issues and offers support to the Nepalese authorities in tackling the various problems surrounding Himalayan climbing in general and Mount Everest in particular. The issues discussed are common to many high mountain regions of the world, not only the highest peaks, and we need to be vigilant in order to manage the mountain areas that mean so much to so many of us.


The Swiss Alpine Club’s (SAC) Alpine Learning Project Weeks was confirmed as the seventh winner of the annual UIAA Mountain Protection Award at the 2019 UIAA General Assembly in Larnaca, Cyprus on Saturday 2 November.

Construyendo Vidas 2019 – Bolivia 2019 by Mujer Montana was confirmed as Best New Initiative, Mountain protection worldwide through citizen science and volunteering by Biosphere Expeditions was announced as Runner-Up and Ama Dablam 2020 by High Altitude Mountain Cleaners won the Community Award.

During the GA, BALLY was announced as new partner of the UIAA Mountain Protection Award. While it might seem strange at first sight that a luxury fashion brand should be sponsoring this award, it is worth noting that Bally high mountain boots were worn by Tensing on the first ascent of Everest in 1953 – so they have a long association with mountaineering.


One of the innovations to feature as part of the 2019 UIAA Mountain Protection Award is the Community Award. This initiative provides the opportunity for the general public to recognise the projects they feel most deserving of support.

The MCSA Outreach Programmes should be entering this category! Your President will be leaning on the leaders of our outreach programmes to put together an entry for 2020. Check out the UIAA web page on this one:


The UIAA Medical Commission met for their annual meeting in Bolzano, Italy from 7-8 November 2019. Dr. Hermann Brugger and his team at Eurac Research, hosted the Commission delegates in their new facilities and organized a visit of the extreme environmental simulator “terraXcube”. The UIAA Medical Commission, representing no less than 12 different nations and UIAA member federations, spent two days discussing ongoing and future projects, research papers and recommendations in the field of mountain medicine. See for more details.


Suru Boulder Fest was confirmed as the winner of the 2019 UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award (RCFA) during the Award Ceremony held as part of the UIAA General Assembly. The festival is supported by UIAA member association, Indian Mountaineering Foundation, with the latter’s Amit Chowdhury (also UIAA SafeCom President) accepting the Award on their behalf. The 2019 RCFA was only open to festivals from Asia. The Almaty International Rock Climbing Festival and Korea’s Trad Climbing Festival, both supported by UIAA member associations, were also nominated.



The French Alpine Club, Toulouse, is facilitating another of their highly successful International Youth Ice Climbing Camp, which is held in Guillestre, Hautes Alpes (05), in France.

DATES: 9 – 15 February 2020

  • Participants: Youth members aged 16 to 26 years. Participants should lead rock climb at a minimum of 5b French grade, and should be autonomous for managing belay. We will be offering places to maximum of 4 participants per country Federation. Participants younger than 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult Climber/coach/guardian, who is able to look after them during this meet.
  • Equipment: climbing harness, winter alpinism shoes with ice crampons, climbing helmet, belay device and 05 quick draws (UIAA standard/CEN), 2 ice axes (could be rented by staff), one avalanche detector device (could be rented from staff), 05 ice screws, sun glasses & cream, sleeping bag, head torch, winter climbing clothing and toiletry kit, water bottle.
  • Insurance: Participants should be insured for accident, rescue, third party liability and travel which is valid for participating in the programme of climbing and trekking. A copy of each insurance should be presented to the organisers on arrival.
  • Entry visas: South Africans need a visa for France and we can assist with obtaining support documentation from the organisers.
  • Price: 250 EUR per participant, payable on arrival to the organiser. Accommodation, full board, leading and organisational costs included (except picnic of midday on one of the days).

Registration deadline:  6 January 2020 for South Africans. This is to allow time to get visa support documentation, applying for visa etc.

These are the details of the Camp. MCSA has had several members attend one of these camps before and the feedback is that they are superb. We can assist with travel and visa arrangements.



5.1  National: abbreviated link for the national MCSA Facebook page:

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



Please send any newsworthy items for inclusion in MCSA National News Editor, Ineke Moseley at:



“We want clean expeditions more than we want clean-up expeditions”Mr Shresta, Nepalese Ministry of Tourism.


“explore – discover – connect – protect”

“verken – ontdek – ontmoet – bewaar”

“phonononga – fumanisa – qhagamshela – khusela”



Related Posts