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UIAA Pros and Cons

Some Feed Back from our Members

In a previous issue of eNews, back ground information was given on membership by the Mountain Club
of the UIAA (International Alpine Association) and of the potentially key role we play as the only member
federation in Africa. However, conscious of the cost of belonging to such an international body, the
President listed 10 potential advantages of belonging for the average MCSA member.

This list generated some response and interesting inquiry from individual members. Not all of it in support,
but all of it useful.

A Negative Response came from a member who pointed out that the original, most powerful argument in
favour of affiliation was in order to gain recognition for our Sports Climbers to enable them to take part
in international competition. Since the International Sports Climbing Federation has since hived off from
the UIAA and gone independent, this member questioned whether our continued membership had any
relevance. A good question and one that has been asked in other federations! The short answer is that
other advantages to membership do exist and that, even within the UIAA, the hiving off of Sports Climbers
has had a positive effect. The UIAA still retains membership of the Olympic Movement with potential
advantage while the “hiving off” generated positive debate and some useful reforms within the movement.

An Inquiry came from a professional guide who is also an MCSA member. Listed among the 10
potential advantages was the UIAA’s involvement in the setting of standards in Mountain Guiding. It
was suggested this could be to the advantage of members making use of professional guides during
overseas climbing trips. Within South Africa, the Mountain Club has had a direct involvement through
the MDT (Mountain Development Trust) in setting our own standards as part of the NQF system (National
Qualifications Framework). However, since the emphasis within the club is on amateur participation in
mountaineering its continued involvement now that a Professional Guiding Association has been formed is
questioned. This too was a good question and a debate is already under way regarding our club’s continued
involvement in the MDT and whether the time has not come to update this.

A Positive Response and a pleasing one came via our Expeditions Sub-Committee from a group of young
climbers in the Johannesburg Section, led by Justin Nixon, who are planning a climbing visit to Canada.
They were needing help with some sort of invitation to facilitate visa applications. (Many developed
countries seem to be getting wary of visa applications from visitors who can offer no clear indication of
where they are going or where they are planning to stay, especially if from Africa.) Using the UIAA
network, the President made person-to-person contact with his counterpart in the Alpine Club of Canada
and doors were immediately opened. The Administrative Officer of the Alpine Club has not only issued
letters of invitation but also a list of suppliers in Canada offering discount prices for its members and for
which our climbers will be eligible as its guests. The main element was confirmation from the MCSA
that the climbers were in good standing and thus eligible for reciprocity treatment as a fellow member of
the UIAA. We shall all be watching with interest the progress of this trip and it will be great if a similar
request should now come from a group of Canadian climbers wishing to try our mountains.

Dave Jones