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01_Dec 2011

Dear MCSA member

In this News Bulletin:

1) MCSA President’s End of the Year message

2) Journal 2011

3) Supertramp 2012

4) International Mountain Day 2011

5) Cape Nature access

6) Club/SA snippets

7) Other snippets


1) MCSA President’s Message: ACTUALLY IT’S ALL ABOUT PEOPLE (Some thoughts to round off year 2011)

The Mountain Club of South Africa, by its very name, has a sharp focus on the mountains of South Africa, but is that really what our club is all about?

While climbers and hikers do join this Club because of a shared love, some may call it passion, for mountains and the varied challenges they present, we should not forget that the Club is actually made up of like-minded people, and not mountains.  In fact it is the very dedication shown to the Club by so many of its members, all with this common purpose, that actually makes us tick.

Most MCSA members are content to pay their dues and make good use of all it has to offer for hikers and climbers without giving much thought to how the club is run or by whom.  In fact the response often given by members when asked if they will stand for election on this or that committee, is a blunt “No thank you!”   Followed equally often by comments like: “I joined this club to climb mountains not to sit on committees.”

Very few members, with their love of the mountains, give much thought to the tedious business of administering a national club with 4000 members and of making our contribution felt as a well-respected member of the UIAA, and who can blame them? After all, most MCSA members are determined outdoor types for whom any sort of meeting is a form of torture. But the job still has to be done by somebody and those who do volunteer are just as important cogs in the machine as any of our top climbers or hikers.

Looking back over the years, it is remarkable what a huge contribution has been made to the administration of our club by its leading hikers and climbers who clearly have a competence far beyond the ability to attend boring meetings.  That our Club continues to run smoothly and efficiently and at a remarkably low cost to the members, given all that the Club offers, is a tribute to those who are prepared to volunteer for these tedious committee tasks.  Largely because of this dedication, while individual Section subscription vary from Section to Section depending on things like properties to protect or buildings to maintain,  the central levy paid by all to service our central functions remains so low as to be almost a joke.  In 2012 it will again not be necessary to raise it, and this has been the case for the past few years.  This good news is  because our affairs are so efficiently run by our elected volunteers and by those who run our small offices.

Reflecting back on the past year and in looking forward to an even more successful 2012, appreciation needs to be put on record for all these dedicated MCSA volunteers and workers.  Whether they are in high profile positions on Cencom, representing us on UIAA Commissions, putting together our annual Journal, keeping our Club’s communications running effectively or helping to run Section offices, we owe them all a great debt of gratitude.

While the Club extends its usual festive greetings at this time of the year to all its members, it salutes in particular all our faithful servants of administration who deserve to feel appreciated.  Hopefully, all those ordinary members who understandably just prefer just to get on with their mountaineering will make use of  opportunities presented by the ending of yet another successful mountain  year, to let them know.

Dave Jones - President  MCSA, December 2011


2) JOURNAL 2011 - NB Please note point 6

This is a call for submissions to the 2011 Journal No. 114 to be published by the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) (http://cen.mcsa.org.za/home/journal).

About the MCSA Journal: The MCSA Journal has been published since 1894. Apart from reaching 3,000+ MCSA members, the MCSA provides about 65 complimentary copies to libraries of eight South African universities; the National Library, the Royal Geographic Society in London, the American Geographic Society, the International Mountaineering Museum in Nepal, international alpine associations such as the British Mountaineering Council; the Alpine Club, the Scottish and New Zealand Mountain Clubs and other Mountain Clubs in Africa (Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe). 

Contributions for the 2011 Journal should reach the Editing Team through the Journal Co-Ordinator (journal@mcsa.org.za ) by 31 January 2012.  Late submissions will not be accepted after 31 March 2011, except by prior arrangement (best via email so that there is a written record).  Submissions missing information as requested below will also be returned to authors.


1. Each article submitted must have a TITLE, AUTHOR'S NAME, FULL AUTHOR CONTACT DETAILS.

2. Photographs, if submitted, must be submitted at the same time as the article (not months later). No more than TEN photos may be submitted.   Feel free to first email smaller low-resolution images as JPEG or TIFF files.   Photos must be accompanied by an MSWORD TABLE WITH PHOTO FILE NAME, CAPTION AND PHOTOGRAPHER for each photo. If there are particular photos you feel it is essential to be included in the article, please indicate as much.   (A sample of the MSWord Table is on the web site under Journal contributions).

Once final photographs have been agreed, high resolution images can be submitted through a free FTP site:   https://www.transferbigfiles.com/    PROVIDED YOU INFORM THE JOURNAL CO-ORDINATOR AT THE TIME THAT YOU ARE DOING THIS!!!! so that the pictures can be "fetched before they "drop off" that site!

Photos are not to be submitted embedded in the Word document – it cannot be printed from such format.

3. All material can be emailed to the co-ordinator, so long as individual messages do not exceed 5 Mb.

4. Please use the Style Sheet on the website at http:/cen.mcsa.org.za/home/journal/stylesheet as a guide to spelling conventions for mountaineering terms and especially for route description style and layout.

5. Route descriptions submitted which deviate significantly from the guideline format will be returned to authors for correction.  Please be very clear in route descriptions – they often present many problems and much to’ing and fro’ing with authors.  Check route descriptions in previous issues of the Journal.

ALL material is preferably to be submitted in electronic format: if you have prints or slides, please could you get them scanned (at 300 dpi resolution) (all photographic shops now offer scanning services). 

6.Please note in particular the following about rights (copyrights) for text, photography etc in the Journal of The Mountain Club of South Africa [JMCSA]: The MCSA copyrights the entire annual JMCSA.  However, authors and photographers retain all rights to re-use their individual contributions. The MCSA retains the right to utilise, if included in the JMCSA, the author's/photographer's submitted text articles and/or photographs and/or designs and/or sketches for any other purpose in MCSA-related publications in print or in any other manner whatsoever, for no compensation. (Published photographers and contributors who are non-members will receive a complimentary copy of the JMCSA).  Permission will be requested from authors and photographers for any publication of their work outside the MCSA. Since authors and photographers retain all rights to their work, they may re-use it without permission from the MCSA.

2010 Journal: Maybe check just a little bit later in the month with your Section if the 2010 Journal - a perfect read for Christmas - is out as there is a good chance that it will be.



Remember that applications for the MCSA Supertramp Award for up to R15 000 close on 5 January 2012. The award will be made to a young individual who wants to undertake an expedition in 2012 to any country - including South Africa - for any length of time. Preference will be given to originality as well as to first ascents and/or unusual/remote destinations. The main criteria are that an applicant has to be a SA citizen and be younger than 25-years-old at 31 December 2011 (and the same is valid for all members of the groups if it is not a solo trip). MCSA membership is not a requirement. More information and an application form can be found at: http://cen.mcsa.org.za/home/youth. Contact Petro Grobler (petrogrobler@telkomsa.net) for more details.

Supertramp 2011, Joe Mohle, will shortly leave for his expedition to Morocco. Buy the latest SA Mountain Magazine to read a profile of Joe.



This eNews is issued on International Mountain - a day to raise awareness of the importance Day of mountains (eNews August and November has already covered it).


The KwaZulu-Natal Section of the Mountain Club of South Africa, hosted (as advertised in eNews October and November) an event for South Africans to celebrate this day at Cobham EKZN Reserve in the Southern Drakensberg from 3 – 4 December 2011. It featured hikes for the youth, families, creative writing, mountain biking, San paintings as well as rock climbing and slack lining. (http://kzn.mcsa.org.za/meets/mountain-day#TOC-Activities-to-sign-up-for)

The Magaliesberg Section hiked up the Magaliesberg at  Rietfontein in the city, carrying posters advertising the day with the aim to get press coverage.

(If any other Sections hosted events, please provide feedback to secretary@mcsa.org.za) DURBAN EVENT:

Organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and The World Bank (WB) together with the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO), EVK2CNR,  the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS)/ Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), The Alpine Convention, The Carpathian Convention, The Mountain Institute (TMI),  the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Vienna and UNEP GRID Arendal, the Mountain Day:

 assembled a high-level panel of global personalities, ministers, and scientists to advocate the value and critical role of mountains and share scientific evidence and examples of challenges and opportunities. The day-long programme included plenary presentations and discussions, working groups, and panel discussions. The organisers hoped that Mountain Day will conclude with the adoption of the Durban Declaration on Mountains and Climate Change; and

 called to the COP17 delegates and global development partners for more concerted and long-term actions at the national, regional, and global levels to save vital mountain ecosystems. It is hoped that the knowledge shared and the evidence presented will provide a powerful and convincing message to ensure that UNFCCC deliberations include provisions for protecting mountain systems’ integrity for the survival of current and future generations. The Mountain Day also featured a Photo Exhibition: ‘Himalaya- Changing Landscapes’ and information on the Knowledge Market Place for selected partners to exhibit their works.

Highlights of the Mountain Day included keynote speech by Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, Chair, IPCC and Director General, TERI, India; Mountain Ministers’ Panel – Bhutan, Chile, Italy, Nepal, Slovenia, and Tajikistan; Working Sessions; Information Knowledge Market Place; Photo Exhibition: ‘Himalaya – Changing Landscapes’ and book launches.

(see: http://www.icimod.org/mountainday;  https://www.facebook.com/mountaindayCOP; Youth Climate Report Video on Mountain Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR1ojGmFExU; microsites are at http://www.icimod.org/cop17;  http://cambioclimatico.mtnforum.org/)



CapeNature have now lifted their moratorium on overnight permits in their Boland reserves (Limietberg, Jonkershoek, Hottentots Holland and Kogelberg) with the introduction of a safety screening procedure and some increased fees. At a meeting of the reserve managers with representatives of all the Club's Western Cape Sections, they outlined their concerns about proper management and safety in the face of increasing pressure for access for hiking clubs, trail runners, sport climbers, adventure racers, mountain bikers, etc.  We were able to put the Club's case, and they asked us to assist them with information on the most popular overnight routes and input on devising their screening process.  We have done so, the moratorium has been lifted, and we can once again overnight in the Boland reserves.

When you contact the reserve manager for permission to overnight (or to do a high-risk off-trail day trip), the manager may now ask you to complete and return a 'Route Safety Form' which is based on the Drakensberg Mountain Register and will help him to screen out applicants who are a safety risk. Apart from that, MCSA access arrangements remain the same as before.  There is also a price increases for wilderness areas (Cederberg, Groot Winterhoek and Grootvadersbos) to R50 per entry (if you don't have a Wildcard) and R80 per night (regardless). 



6.1) CEDERBERG HIKING MAP: Peter Slingsby, with the full cooperation of Cape Nature, is compiling a new map of the Cederberg. They would appreciate it if members would share their expertise and have put up an interactive website page where people can make contributions (eg confirming names and locations of significant features): www.slingsbymaps.com/cederberg-hiking.aspx. All contributions will be acknowledged in the final product. There is a free, downloadable walking map of the Algeria area on the site that has been drawn in the style they intend to use for the complete map.

6.2) UIAA GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2011: MCSA President, Dave Jones, attended the UIAA General Assembly in Kathmandu in October. His report can be read on the MCSA Web site: http://cen.mcsa.org.za/home/uiaa There is also a report-back on the MCSA Annapurna Sanctuary Trek.  Thomas Vermaak of Cape Town and Hugo Kritzinger of Tygerberg participated in the UIAA Global Youth Summit meet (a side event of the Assembly) in Nepal but feedback is still awaited.

6.3) CAPE TRADATHON: The Black Mountain Trad climbing Festival will be held on 17 March 2012, The Ledge, Table Mountain: www.on-the-edge.co.za. Win a trad rack worth R14 500.

6.4) Follow the MCSA on https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mountain-Club-of-South-Africa/181163071916739

6.5) NOORDHOEK, WESTERN CAPE: On Monday 14th November 2011 three MCSA members were mugged by two knife wielding men who had been hiding in the wreck of the Kakapo on Noordhoek beach. Please either don't go there or make sure there are a good number of people in your party. 

6.6) CAPE TOWN SECTION ARCHIVES: The Club has deposited its archives (including publications, newsletters, hut registers, climbing & expedition records, mountaineering history, photographs & newspaper clippings) in the University of Cape Town’s Manuscripts and Archives Department. Members will be given access on production of a valid membership card.


7) OTHER SNIPPETS (from http://theadventureblog.blogspot.com/)

7.1) AMA DABLAM, NEPAL - HELICOPTER CRASH: There has been a helicopter crash on 7 November just below the summit of Ama Dablam during a rescue of 2 climbers from the steep north face. They got stuck as they weren’t able to get back down because the snow was too soft and they couldn’t go up any further because of a lot of crevasses, wind and snow mushrooms. They called on their mobile phones for a helicopter rescue. The helicopter came up there and one of the climbers was able to crawl inside and be evacuated down to Chukkung. The helicopter went up again to rescue the 2nd climber and crashed. It was one of the specialty B2 Euro high altitude helicopters. It’s a brand new helicopter that’s out and able to reach those high elevations because these climbers were above 6500 metres. In the previous years it would have never been possible to try to rescue someone at that elevation.

7.2) SKI/EXPEDITION GOGGLES. Recon offers a device that incorporates a micro-optics display (MOD) inside goggles and displays such data as current rate of speed, vertical distances travelled and the temperature. The system also incorporates a GPS chip so that it can track your location and the routes you take on the mountain. It even includes a sophisticated chrono/tracker for showing you real-time info on your current run. That has been in goggles before.  The new MOD Live system is powered by Google's Android operating system and links up to a smartphone via Bluetooth technology. With a data connection enabled, the MOD Live can add navigation cues to the screen (and includes a database of a ton of ski resorts across the world to show you the best runs and points of interest) ($299 and $399 respectively).

7.3) PORTABLE POD: An Italian design firm called LEAPfactory has unveiled a new conceptual design for a portable pod that would give high-altitude mountaineers a more robust structure to live in while on long expeditions. The Living Ecological Alpine Pod (LEAP Pod) would reportedly provide all the comforts of home, while also going easy on the environment. According to the designers, the pod would be delivered to base camp on a mountain via helicopter, and would offer living quarters, a sleeping space, bathrooms, and plenty of storage for gear. Solar panels would provide power for lighting, an integrated stove and communications gear, and the interior would be warmer and more comfortable than a tent. Waste materials would be stored on board for easy clean-up, which would also lessen the impact on the environment as well.

The LEAP would need to be securely fastened on a set of moorings, which would make it a semi-permanent structure, and multiple climbing teams could use it over time. The belief being that the more it is used the more the environment is protected from the impact that climbing teams can have on mountains where they spend weeks climbing.                   

7.4) SEVEN SUMMITS: 15-year old mountaineer Jordan Romero will be attempting Mt Vinson in Antarctica this December to complete his Seven Summits. Romero successfully climbed Everest at the age of 13, sparking a debate in the mountaineering community about how young is too young for some of these big peaks.  Jordan started his quest when he climbed Kilimanjaro at 10.

7.5) K2 WINTER ASCENT ATTEMPT: Sixteen Russians will be attempting the first winter ascent of K2 in Pakistan without the use of supplemental oxygen. Plans are to ascend via a variant of the Cesen Route. At some point they will traverse and switch over the Polish Route, which they'll take to the summit. They will depart for Pakistan on 5 December and then have until March 20th to complete a true winter climb.

7.6) EVEREST BASE CAMP TO KATHMANDU: British ultra-runner Lizzie Hawker has set a new speed record end-November from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu (320km) in 2 days, 23 hours, 25 minutes. Her latest time includes an unexpected stopover in the village of Bupsa, where she spent 8 hours waiting out the rain. She completed the run without sleep and while suffering from what is described as a chest infection, which she contracted while on the Everest Sky Race.

7.7) NEW ZEALAND LONG-DISTANCE TRAIL: A new long-distance trail of 3000km, Te Araroa, which means The Long Pathway, was opened in New Zealand. It stretches from Cape Reinga, in the northernmost tip of New Zealand's North Island to Bluff, located in at the southernmost end of the South Island. Walking the entire length of the trail will take backpackers through thick forests, past verdant farmland, up volcanoes and mountains, and across open meadows. The trail even passes through seven cities, which will serve as starting and ending points or places to resupply. Building this epic trail was no small feat, as it was mainly accomplished by volunteers who worked many long years to link up a series of trails and fill in open spaces on the map. In fact, it took more than 17 years to complete this project, with all kinds of legal, technical, and physical challenges that had to be overcome in order to bring it into existence.


Except for if something urgent crops us, this will be the final edition of MCSA eNews for 2011. Have a great and safe festive season with hopefully lots of climbing. All the best for 2012!

Best regards

Petro Grobler



Does anybody have any information about the trad route Hunted Child (21) at the Umfolozi?  Several highly competent trad climbers have backed off this seriously under-protected line.  Does anybody know of a single soul who has led this route and lived?  The first ascentionist has refused permission to bolt this dangerously under-protected line: "Climb it as it was opened or wear a nappy,” was his comment. Any further information or comments would be welcomed.

- Gavin Peckham