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03_Oct 2011

Dear MCSA member

In this News Bulletin:

1) BMC International Winter Climbing Meet, Cairngorms, Scotland - 22-29 January 2012

2) International Mountain Day - 4 December 2011

3) Sport climbing World Youth Championships 2011 feedback

4) Magaliesberg - armed robberies and assaults

5) Drakensberg conservation breakthrough - Mnweni area

6) Club/SA Snippets

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1) BMC INTERNATIONAL WINTER CLIMBING MEET, CAIRNGORMS, SCOTLAND: 22- 29 January 2012

The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) invites two MCSA climbers to the BMC International Winter Climbing Meet which will take place at Glenmore Lodge in the Cairngorms in Scotland from 22-29 January 2012.

Those interested should please contact Jenny Paterson (secretary@mcsa.org.za) as soon as possible as preliminary applications to the BMC should be ready by 21 October 2011.

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2) INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN DAY: 4 December 2011

International  Mountain Day was instituted for the first time in 2002 after the United National had declared 2002 the Year of the Mountains (Previously the day was championed by the UIAA as Clean Mountain Day - a project that had been supported by the MCSA for quite a few years). The 2011 International Mountain Day will be held in Durban on 4 December 2011 and organisers include ICIMOD, GIZ, the Mountain Partnership, FAO, UNEP and the World Bank. It will be held on the side-line of UNFCCC COP-17 entitled 'Highlighting the Critical Role of Mountain Ecosystems for Climate Adaptation and Sustainable Development'. The programme will include a high-level panel of ministers and policy makers from different mountain systems of the world who will share the challenges and opportunities for mountains in the context of impacts of climate change. Dr RK Pachauri, IPCC Chair, will deliver the keynote speech. For more detail, visit www.icimod.org/?q=3895

The KZN Section is organising a weekend at Cobham from 3-4 December to celebrate International Mountain day. They will be car camping and going on day hikes and mountain bike trips, get some climbing in and will have a mega braai on the Saturday evening. Any members are welcome to lead hikes (or activities) and everyone is welcome to come and join in the fun. This weekend is specifically aimed at showing novices and families that they can have fun in the mountains. Having said that, it is hoped to have a few epic one-day trips for the very fit as well! So please diarise this, and keep an eye on the website where details will follow shortly: http://kzn.mcsa.org.za/home

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3) SPORT CLIMBING WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIPS: 25-26 August 2011 - FEEDBACK

History was made when 16 South African youths, as SA's first ever climbing team, competed in the 19th Sport Climbing World Youth Championships in Imst, Austria. This was all made possible by the formation of the South African National Climbing Federation (SANCF), who affiliated in 2010 to the International Federation for Sport Climbing (IFSC), the body organising the championship. The SA Youth Team was chosen from the WP, KZN and Gauteng/Pretoria regions.

Over 650 athletes representing more than 50 countries attended the championships held under the patronage of the President of the Austrian Republic (a fact highlighting the importance attached to this sport event dedicated to the youth, and to the sport itself). All the continents were represented with South Africa taking part in the event for the first time. Other newcomers were Thailand, Ecuador, Venezuela and Singapore. Some other countries that participated were Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United States.

Most SA climbers reached the 12m height which is currently the height they compete up to in SA. Considering that SA is rather behind in competitive climbing development compared to the other countries that competed, the SA climbers did extremely well. SA is also far behind in grip development and so the type of grips used on international walls was quite alien to our competitors. The grades were very high as well, with u-17 boys having to climb 26/27 for 25m for the qualifiers and the u19’s 29/30. It took Canada for example 12 years of participation before they managed a podium position. (Excerpt from an article placed in the KZN Section's newsletter, Oct-Dec 2011).

For the results of the 2011 Nationals that took place on 1-2 October at Wonderwall and The Barn in Gauteng, see http://sancf.org

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4) ARMED ROBBERIES AND ASSAULTS IN THE MAGALIESBERG

From the committees of the Johannesburg and Magaliesberg Sections: There have been a number of criminal incidents in the kloofs of Magaliesberg over the past year or so and unfortunately this trend currently appears to be on the increase. The incidents have involved theft of property and armed assault with knives, affecting MCSA members and non-members. The most affected kloofs are the Cedarberg on Mountain Sanctuary property  and Grootkloof.

We would like to let you know that both the Johannesburg and the Magaliesberg Section general committees are taking this matter very seriously and have initiated steps to counter this infringement on our freedom in the hills. To this end, a Security portfolio was established at the Johannesburg Section earlier this year, tasked with the development of a strategy of how best to prevent such criminal activity in the future and make the Magaliesberg climbing areas once again secure for our enjoyment. We are currently investigating a number of options and hope to be able to begin putting plans into action before the end of this year.

Until such time as the crime situation has been resolved, we strongly advise all our members venturing into the kloofs to take the following precautionary measures, in order to limit the possibility of becoming a victim of crime:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and cautious of any unidentified individuals that approach you.
  • Go to the kloofs in larger groups (e.g. 6 – 8 people or more).
  • Limit the number of valuables you take with you. E.g. take an old cell phone rather than a fancy smartphone for emergency situations.
  • If possible, leave valuables and car keys with lodge staff / the parking lot attendant.
  • Carry pepper spray / mace with you.
  • Carry a whistle and sound an alarm in case of trouble or perceived trouble to warn others around you.
  • Avoid camping in the kloofs, particularly at campsites that are easily accessible (e.g. the Grootkloof campsite or Twiddle Dee Twiddle Dum).

These safety tips apply to all the climbing areas in the Magaliesberg, and not only Tonquani / Cedarberg the Grootkloof (Ed: ... and unfortunately also to many other climbing areas).

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5) DRAKENSBERG CONSERVATION BREAKTRHOUGH: MNWENI AREA

Conservation awareness in rural KwaZulu-Natal has been given a major boost with the announcement that 45 000ha of traditional land will be given over for use as a wilderness area. End-September, two amaKhosi entered into an agreement with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, and have applied for part of their land to be included as a wilderness area with a long-term vision for inclusion in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site (UDP WHS). Their agreement to set aside 45 000 ha of their combined traditional land is considered one of the most dramatic and progressive community conservation decisions made in KZN. In doing so the two amaKhosi – Nkosi Menzi Hlongwane of the amaNgwane community and Nkosi Mthetho Miya of the amaZizi community in the Upper uThukela region – have laid down a footprint of understanding that the protection of this land is crucial for the supply of water as well as the fauna and flora that exists in this mountainous ecosystem. After two years of negotiation, both are jointly in the process of applying to have this land proclaimed as a Wilderness Nature Reserve under Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Biodiversity Stewardship programme. Both want the land left untouched for future generations and have agreed that this 45 000ha will be fenced off from the remaining land that they can still use for their cattle.  This land (known as the Mweni-Busingatha Gap) constitutes a critical region that presently cuts the UDP WHS in two. For decades this gap has been considered particularly vulnerable because it has no formal conservation status yet comprises part of one of the most valuable conservation regions in South Africa, the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. Part of its value lies in the critical ecosystems it supports, such as highland grasslands and rare fauna and flora. But perhaps its most strategic value lies in the water that emanates from it. The quantity and quality of this water is considered indispensable to the country and as such depends on future protection of the catchment areas.

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6) CLUB/SA SNIPPETS

6.1) THREE PASSES HIMALAYA TREK - April 2012:  From Corlius Jooste (076 680 5312; corliusj@gmail.com): "30 days in Nepal - This is an ultimate Himalaya adventure: We trek over three passes for 20 days through the Solu Khumbu region. This is where Everest base camp and the Gokyo Lake is situated. We experience views on Everest, Makalu and Cho Oyu. This trek is not technical but we spend a lot of time above 5000m. So if you have recently done a Drakensberg 5-days trek in winter with a full pack you should be able to do it. We use porters to carry our gear and sleep in tea houses. You can buy gear at a fraction of the price in Kathmandu." Contact Corlius Jooste for more info.

6.2) SUPERTRAMP 2011:  Congratulations to the MCSA Supertramp 2011, Joe Mohle, who also has received sponsorship from  DMM/Wild Country (See: http://www.climb.co.za/2011/10/joe-mohle-gets-dmm-wild-country-sponsorship/). Joe is departing in November to Morocco on his Supertramp adventure.

6.3) TABLE MOUNTAIN RINKHALS: Please report any sightings of rinkhals in the Table Mountain National Park to rinkhalsrelic@gmail.com (with photos if these can be safely obtained).

6.4) SECTIONS: KwaZulu-Natal Section's newsletter for the 4th quarter of 2011 is now available on http://kzn.mcsa.org.za/about-us/newsletters

6.5) ROCK MASTER 2011:  Rock Master Cape Town 2011 is a climbing competition that aims to bring climbers together from around South Africa (and ultimately from around the globe). A 'Rock Master Champion' will be crowned. There will be expert route setting, spectator spot prizes and contests and... an after party. It will take place at City Rock in Cape Town on Saturday 10 December from 12:00 until late. For more info, see: samountainsport.co.za or www.mountainextreme.co.za.

6.6) MAGALIESBERG BIOSPHERE: While the Magaliesberg range was proclaimed a Protected Natural Environment in 1977, the protection applies only to the core area.  The pressure of an expanding population has led to some encroachment into pristine or special places already. The Magaliesberg Biosphere Initiative Group (MBIG) is actively encouraging the South African government to register the Magaliesberg Biosphere under UNESCO. Biospheres are places of cooperation, education and research where local communities, environmental groups, and economic interests can work collaboratively on conservation and development issues. By becoming a member of the Magaliesberg Biosphere, people can help to ensure that the area is used and conserved in perpetuity and that the government has a sound foundation on which to base its application for UNESCO recognition. Contact mercia@magaliesbergbiopshere.co.za for more information or visit their website www.magaliesbergbiopshere.co.za

6.7) JOINT MEET OF THE WESTERN CAPE SECTIONS, 12-13 November: Tygerberg Section is hosting the 2011 Joint Meet of the Western Cape Sections from 12-13 November in Bains Kloof.  Contact:  Hannes Truter (hannes.truter@gmail.com; 082 441 5413).

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Best regards

Petro Grobler

MCSA eNEWS Editor

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After looking at the Alps, I felt that my mind had been stretched beyond the limits of its elasticity, and fitted so loosely on my old ideas of space that I had to spread these to fit it.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858), ch. 11

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