The Mountain Club of South Africa

Leaders for Club Meets

Why do we need meet leaders?

meet-leaders_01It’s simple: without leaders, there would be no ‘meets’ – that is no outings, walks, hikes, climbs or trips.

Club meets are a central part of the MCSA’s raison d’être, as it is through meets that a number of the Club’s objectives are achieved. Meets bring together like-minded members and prospective members with common interests to share their love of mountains and mountaineering with one another. Club meets

  • facilitate mountaineering, and promote the safety and training of mountaineers;
  • allow prospective members to assess whether the Club is an organisation they wish to join;
  • help less experienced members gain knowledge of particular areas and experience in mountaineering skills; and
  • provide excellent opportunities for newer members to become familiar with the Club’s various properties, leaving them better able to make use of the valuable assets to which membership entitles them access.

We are always interested in hearing from Club members who would like to volunteer to lead meets. See the qualities we look for, and “How do I become a meet leader?” below.

What qualities do we look for in our leaders?

hike-roodebergThe safety of all participants on Club meets is paramount. Leaders should therefore be experienced mountaineers possessing, in general:

  • Knowledge of the route or area to be visited
  • The ability to navigate the route in all weather conditions
  • The ability to evaluate and avoid the dangers posed by rivers or other water bodies
  • The ability to identify the dangers posed by ascending, descending or traversing steep ground
  • Knowledge of and the ability to administer basic first aid procedures
  • Diplomacy and good people management skills, including the ability to communicate expectations to party members, and delegate responsibilities to group members
  • Knowledge of access or permit requirements for an area to be visited
  • Awareness of how to minimise the environmental impact of visiting ecologically sensitive areas, and the ability to convey relevant information in this regard to group members
  • climb-white-faceKnowledge of local search and rescue structures, and the abilities to take control of an emergency situation and initiate a rescue call-out

More advanced skills might also be required, depending on the nature of the activities to be undertaken on a proposed or scheduled meet. For example, should the meet involve walking where there is no established path, the leader should have more highly developed navigation skills, and might need to know how to assist members of the party to move safely on steep ground, either with or without a rope. And of course, leaders of rock climbing meets should be experienced and competent rock climbers capable of lead climbing and well-versed in self-rescue techniques.

Periodically the MCSA (Cape Town Section) offers training to assist those members who wish to develop their personal mountaineering skills and their leadership skills. This training also affords interested members the opportunity to acquire the qualities generally needed for leading meets.

What are the usual duties of meet leaders?

kloof-noukransLeaders plan and schedule trips, make any necessary access arrangements with landowners, coordinate meeting arrangements and communicate any special equipment requirements to participants. Ahead of a meet, they might screen interested participants for the levels of experience and fitness expected for a particular meet. During the meet, they undertake the route-finding and navigation for the group. Typically the leader appoints a co-leader to assist with various of these things ahead of the time or on the day.

Meet leaders (or their co-leaders) submit meet reports to the Club after meets have been held. The purpose of these is to note any access issues, interesting observations or experiences, unforeseen difficulties encountered, and response of participants to the particular area or route. This information helps with the planning and scheduling of future meets.

Meet reports shared as news items on the website also help to keep members enthused and inspired about what the MCSA-CT can offer them, and vice versa.

How do I become a meet leader?

Contact the Meets Sub-Com or the Rock Climbing Sub-Com to introduce yourself and suggest a meet you might like to include on the Calendar, with some information on your mountaineering or climbing experience and familiarity with the route or area. Email Brian Lambourne at for general meets, or Douw Steyn for rock climbing meets.

If you have recently transferred to Cape Town from another MCSA section, please include a short summary of your experience to date in managing groups of people in mountain situations.

It would also be helpful if you could indicate whether your preference is to lead meets that fall on weekends, Tuesdays or Thursdays.

Procedure for offering meets

If you are an approved leader you can submit your suggested meets directly to the relevant Meets Calendar Coordinator* for

  • Weekend meets
  • Tuesday meets
  • Thursday meets, or
  • Rock climbing meets.

Alternatively you can email with the details, and these will be passed on to the relevant coordinator.

Please submit your suggested meets as early as possible so that a programme can be planned with an even spread of meets, no duplication and no overlapping. If you are unable to commit yourself months in advance then you may submit any offerings as little as 10 days in advance of when you would like to hold a weekend meet, or a week in advance for a mid-week meet. Bear in mind, however, that the weekly What’s On emails to members include listings for the upcoming fortnight.

Additional resources for managing the administrative aspects of organising meets can be found here.

*Meets Calendar Coordinators
Weekend meets: Ezan Wilson
Tuesday meets: Teresa Raposo
Thursday meets: Don Jepson
Rock climbing meets: Megan Beaumont