1. PRESIDENT’S VIEWS
I have spent some considerable time during the various lock-downs over the past year ruminating on the type of climbing that really turns me on – I have titled this piece “President’s Views”, you get what you see here! Part of that introspection was because the pandemic has allowed me time to scan all my old 35mm slides (remember those?) and particularly from various trips/expeditions back in my relative youth. While my generation missed out, to an extent, on the true exploratory era of mountain exploration and pioneer ascents, there were still enough “left-overs” to keep us happy.
Trips to Patagonia and spending 10 weeks in the Fitzroy area – the first six of which we were the only party in the whole range. Crossing the border from Argentina and Chile in Tierra del Fuego and walking in two days to climb an unclimbed peak. Going up the valley below San Lorenzo and bagging two peaks there. Six weeks in southern Greenland? 21 new peaks amongst the nine of us!
So, I can look with some sympathy at the modern generation where this kind of thing is almost unheard of. [Not completely – watch this space!] They are left with harder and harder new routes. Attempts on peaks to set speed records, to be the oldest/youngest up the highest. And of course, ascents/attempts out of season.
A lot of this has been fuelled by the rise of the adventure tourism industry. It is an unfortunate fact that this appears to have led to a concomitant rise in “issues” on the high peaks. Dating back to the disastrous 1996 Everest season through to the debacle in 2019 when overcrowding certainly played a part in the manifold problems in that season. This winter, it has moved to K2, where the first winter ascent appears to have been a coveted prize. This was achieved, in good style, by some Nepali climbers who were part of a much larger group – upwards of 50 people(!) who were also bent on making this ascent. It unfortunately developed into something of a media circus fuelled by what I term “antisocial” media – sorry, my bias is showing! I say sad because, in my view, it is publicising and glorifying something that does not need to be glorified. And all the “clients” at K2 base camp are part of that glorification and publicity.
This somewhat sad media circus has now, almost predictably, turned into a potentially tragic story. One man has fallen when a fixed rope broke – current status unknown (to me). Three others are missing above the 8 000-metre level and have not been seen or heard of for nearly 24 hours… This on a difficult mountain in winter with the weather worsening. At the same time another climber has set off to try and break the speed record..! I rest my case…
I sincerely hope that the climber who fell is O.K. and that the missing climbers somehow manage to extricate themselves from what must be a horrifying predicament. I would also
hope that the media allow this to play out without the publicity and fanfares around these events. I realise that this is not likely to happen as there are posts and media feeds from journalists sitting in comfort in their homes and reporting these events on an almost hourly basis. Personally, I find this very sad…
2. COVID-19 UPDATE
This really has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride over the last months – and it continues to be so! Personally, because of our effective self-isolation policy in our household, I find it difficult to keep up with the changing regulations!
But at least – and it is a BIG “at least” – we do seem to be able get out there climbing mountains and enjoying all the Club’s various activities with very few exceptions. We have all learned a great deal about a number of things over the last few months – and not all of it negative, I might add! We can still operate via video-conferencing and even improve the communications on which we rely. Personally again, I am slightly unhappy that the experiment of a “virtual” slide show has not been followed through – it worked very well when we tried it to the point that the UIAA is going to be running more of them so that all member associations can “keep up”. But I do realise that it is no substitute for the real thing!
We are certainly out there again! But…
PLEASE STAY SAFE!!!
And look carefully at the guidelines and (necessary) regulations so that we can all enjoy the Club and its amenities.
3. UIAA UPDATE
The UIAA continues most of its normal activities with numbers of initiatives on the go. Members are urged to go to the UIAA web site – https://www.theuiaa.org/ – for more information plus a load of other useful data.
3.1 2019 UIAA MOUNTAIN PROTECTION AWARD
We are now in 2021 and it is the new “season” for the Mountain Protection Award. The timeline for the 2020-2021 UIAA Mountain Protection Award has now been confirmed with applications open until 31 may, 2021
The UIAA Mountain Protection Commission (MPC) is pleased to confirm that it has updated several important assets related to the annual UIAA Mountain Protection Award (MPA). Owing to Covid-19, and as communicated in May 2020, the 2020 and 2021 Awards will now be combined with the winning project announced at the 2021 UIAA General Assembly.
As we have previously noted, we would like there to be two proposals for an MCSA entry into this prestigious award – both would appear to be worthy contenders. Following on from the previous news-letter, we will start driving these projects forward so we get out entry in timeously.
The two projects are:
- our national outreach programme with a number of sections involved and;
- the alien vegetation-clearing initiative – largely in the fynbos regions but also elsewhere in South Africa.
The National Committee is looking for people to drive these projects. The National Convenor for the Outreach Programme is one obvious choice but she will need strong backing from the Sections.
The video that was made of the “heli-hacking” would form a good basis for the alien vegetation entry and NatComm will be looking for a working Group to drive this one as well.
The Safety Commission Working Groups are making impressive progress on a number of projects. Over the past six weeks Standard 123 for Rock Anchors was updated and the Commission’s climber safety Q&A continues to prove popular. A good-looking piece of research on the corrosion of rock anchors in a coastal environment looks to be particularly applicable in our coastal regions.
MedCom is currently working on a project related to safe water which is likely to be released over the next six weeks.
3.4 Endangered spaces and species in Canada’s mountains
This might seem a little esoteric for South African tastes – but I can assure you that it is a worthwhile read. Find it at – https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/endangered-spaces-andspecies-
4. ASIAN ALPINE NEWS
I often find myself recommending this publication and this month is no exception – particularly if you a mountaineering literature freak like me! The main item in Issue No. 82 is a book catalogue from Barking Mad Books in New Zealand. While you may not wish to buy anything from Colin Monteath (the proprietor), I think you will find the catalogue very entertaining. It has a host of quotes and great illustrations plus a bunch of very funny “Farside” cartoons. Find it at https://asian-alpine-e-news.com/asian_alpine_enew_issue_no82.pdf
I reproduce the following cartoon for your edification:
For me it is particularly amusing because in my extreme youth(!), I attended a lecture by the leader of the successful 1953 Everest Expedition – no names, no pack-drill – and he actually did trip on the stairs going up to the podium! Discrete titters all round!
5. FACEBOOK AND WEB PAGES
5.1 National: abbreviated link for the national MCSA Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MCSA125/
5.2 Links for all the sections’ web pages are on the MCSA national webpage.
6. NEWSWORTHY ITEMS
Please send any newsworthy items for inclusion in MCSA National News Letter to Greg Moseley at: email@example.com
I make no bones about repeating a quote I used a few issues ago:
“Getting to the top is optional, getting back down again is mandatory.”