Despite stage 3 and wave 3, April and May are, in my view, amongst the greatest months to be outdoors.

I had the privilege of attending one of the first official meets, in nearly 15 years, to be held at Dome South in the Magaliesberg. A well-organised climbing meet organised by Bennie de Wet of MCSA Johannesburg, held after the Johannesburg committee had concluded new access arrangements.

The climbing was spectacular with the vultures circulating beneath us and the eagles above us. This was followed with a visit to the Northern Mountain Club in Limpopo, for their inaugural meet which attracted around 30 new members. The meeting included a presentation to prospective members and climbing on the granite of the Kanniedood Crag. They have since held a further presentation and now have 58 members, regular meets and dream of joining the MCSA as a new section.

The Johannesburg section held its 90th anniversary camp, organised by chairman, Stephen Hoffe at Wilgepoort. Activities included climbing, hiking, peak bagging, and probably the most memorable of all, a campfire with champagne, cake and candles, whisky and entertainment by Terry White under spectacular night sky. We were also witness to an attack by an eagle on baboons who ventured too close to her nest on the steep crag.

Recently the NatComm, has been approached by a number of commercial entities seeking advertising or partnership arrangements with the Club. This is an issue of some complexity, but over the years MCSA and its members have benefited from various relationships with entities including Drifters, Mountain Mail Order, Camp and Climb, Cape Union Mart, City Rock and the older amongst us, may remember Bergsport, opposite Wits University. The question has been posed whether we should formalise a policy on partners/advertisers/sponsors. Sections may have already done so, and certainly the Journal has benefited over the years from loyal relationships with various companies.

All of this, and we still have to look forward to the July Camp, which is now weeks away, and then also the National Mini-Camp, in October hosted by Paarl/Wellington Section between 4 and 10 October 2021!

That’s Me!


It looks like we are in the classic “good news, bad news” situation! At least the vaccine rollout seems to gathering some momentum with people in my age-bracket slowly being sorted. We just have to hope that the dreaded third wave does not develop into a tsunami…

While the indoor gatherings remain a bit dodgy, we ARE able to get out there and do stuff – and I hope that you all are!

In the interim, please note the initiative of the KZN Section (see below) in promoting virtual meetings with presentations of interest to all MCSA members. This is to be strongly applauded as it enables us as climbers/mountaineers to stay in touch with the world of all things mountain.

But to end this piece with my usual exhortation:


And look carefully at the guidelines and (necessary) regulations so that we can all enjoy the Club and its amenities.


We are pleased to note and spread the word, that the KZN Section are initiating a series of “Zoom Socials” at which presentations on topics of interest to MCSA members will be zoomed (if that is the word!).

The first of these will take place on 30 June at 7:00 pm and will be a presentation by Dr Timo van der Niet is “Flying high: plant-pollinator interactions in the South African Mountains”.

Dr Timo van der Niet is a Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He investigates the ecology and evolution of South African plant biodiversity, with a particular emphasis on the role of pollinators in shaping patterns of biodiversity. In this talk he will showcase work done by himself and others that reveals some unique interactions between plants and animals that are characteristic of South African montane ecosystems. This talk will shed light on familiar and surprising plants and animals in South Africa’s mountains that are of interest to any mountain club member who enjoys nature.

There are bound to be some stunning images as the picture below suggests!

Anyone – from any Section of the Club – who is interested in joining this session may register by sending an email to Karen Miller who will provide the necessary links to the Zoom presentation nearer to the time. The link will also be posted on the various social media sites of the KZN Section. Dr Karen Miller kjmchiro@eject.co.za


The MCSA National Mini Camp 2021 will be hosted by the Paarl/Wellington Section over the period4-10 October. A full programme of events is planned:

Camp starts on Monday with a Cheese & Wine opening function and will close on Saturday night with our Annual Dinner.

An exciting programme of varied hikes in the Limietberg area will be offered as well as wild camping and overnighting in our Kromrivier Hut. The Paarl/Wellington area has some excellent rock climbing, mountain biking & trail running for the more extreme mountaineers.

We encourage families to join us – there will something for everyone!

See our Event post on this site.


Regular readers of this Newsletter will be aware that the Club has been preparing a submission to the UIAA for the Mountain Protection Award for 2021. This was completed and submitted on time (31 May).

The subject of the entry is “Helihack Alien Clearing in the Western Cape Mountains” – part of the MCSA’s broader alien vegetation clearing programmes that are on-going in the Western Cape mountains.

The entry is spectacular! And as MCSA President said in a recent communication “The MCSA submission is magnificent! It is truly humbling to see what these teams of volunteers are achieving. Please circulate our submission to all members of the MCSA, so we all can all appreciate, support and applaud these efforts!”

The entry is available to be viewed by all members at: https://mcsa.org.za/activities/conservation/helihack-alien-clearing-in-the-western-capemountains/ and everyone is urged to check out the entry and possibly contribute to this tremendous effort.


The UIAA continues pretty well all 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.


The 2020 Annual Report has been issued and is available at – https://www.theuiaa.org/uiaa/2020-uiaa-annual-report-now-available/


The meeting focused on specific issues currently developing: the recent outbreak of Covid- 19 at Everest base camp; ethical questions regarding the distribution of oxygen cylinders; should foreign climbers be visiting the Himalaya and other high altitude locations?; and, the impact of over-tourism, a contentious topic particularly for many UIAA member federations in Europe. These issues are escalating on a daily basis, therefore it is difficult for the UIAA to provide guidance on individual cases. However, the Committee has released the following statement to clarify the current UIAA position.

“The UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation – primarily through its Covid-19 Committee has been following recent developments and the pandemic’s effect on climbing and mountaineering. The UIAA recognises that restrictions and negative recommendations have serious economic, social, and other consequences. The UIAA also acknowledges and advocates the independent decisions of climbers and mountaineers and operators. However, looking at the current pandemic challenges faced by certain countries, in particular the high mountain regions of Africa, Asia and South America, the UIAA urges individuals to carefully consider the place and timing of their excursions. The UIAA recommends that, for the time being, in view of the rapidly evolving pandemic and given each country’s ability to respond to changes and to managing their own healthcare systems, this is not the time to visit these areas. In close partnership with its membership, the UIAA will continue to monitor the situation and offer further guidance.”

On this very subject, the UIAA Medical Commission has recently published a paper ‘Adventure travel in the Covid-19 era’ which helps individuals make informed decisions about when to travel. The paper can be viewed at: https://www.theuiaa.org/uiaa/adventure-travel-and-the-covid-19-pandemic/


A UIAA study on Mountain waste was published for World Environment Day. The results are predictably somewhat shocking but solutions are mooted. It certainly behoves us all to adhere to “best practices” and to avoid situations such as shown in the photograph below:

Go to: https://www.theuiaa.org/uiaa/mountain-waste-survey-results-published-on-worldenvironment-
day/ for the full article.


While spending time in the mountains, exploring new rock faces and peaks and even climbing indoors has been severely restricted for most people over the past twelve months, the climbing community has been able to able to engage more frequently and actively online. Although no substitute for being outdoors, technology has made it possible for creative projects and collaboration to flourish.

The UIAA has worked almost exclusively online for the past twelve months at an office, Commission and General Assembly level. Harnessing some of the experiences and feedback the federation has absorbed over the past year, the UIAA has decided to launch a Mountain Network Series of webinars focusing on a range of topics from climber safety to sustainability; ice climbing to mountain medicine. The webinars will be streamed on YouTube and made freely available to the public to watch and ask questions live or to view at their leisure.

Further webinars will follow and these will be detailed on the UIAA web site.


I am sure many Club members will join me in congratulating the University of Cape Town Mountain and Ski Club on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Hoare Hut on the University’s Zuurberg property – perhaps better known as Waaihoek. In the current pandemic situation, celebrations were somewhat muted but nevertheless, several hut builders (from 50 years ago!) did manage to get up to the hut and celebrate in traditional style!

The hut and the whole Zuurberg property have been central to the continued health of the UCTMSC which is a valuable feeder for various sections of the MCSA. And many members of the Club have of course, have got to know and enjoy the Witels Kloof.

[If this editor may be allowed a personal comment, it is indeed a testament to the energy of the UCTMSC and to the power of the mountains – in this case, the Hex River Mountains – to hold our climbing community together. Having been involved in the building of the hut and attended the opening ceremony 50 years ago, it really does gladden my heart.]


What the hell is SHAFF do I hear you cry..? SHAFF, the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, is normally a live event held each year to show and celebrate adventure-themed films. The pandemic has of course, played havoc with live events but many of the films are available on-line – either for live-streaming or down-loading and watching at leisure. There is a
nominal charge for some films and some of them are free-to-view. Highly recommended for viewing a number of mountain/climbing films. Go to: https://shaff.co.uk/shaff21/climb-films-1 to access the various titles that are available.


9.1 National: abbreviated link for the national MCSA Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MCSA125/

9.2 Links for all the sections’ web pages are on the MCSA national webpage.


Please send any newsworthy items for inclusion in MCSA National News Letter to Greg Moseley at: moseleyg@zsd.co.za

These have been distinctly lacking over the last years – so please remember to send any items that may be of interest to the broader, national membership for inclusion here.


“The manners of mountaineers are commonly savage, but they are rather produced by their situation than derived from their ancestors.”

Dr Samuel Johnson; ca 1750

plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose..!!