1. PRESIDENT’S RAMBLES
With the New Year comes new hopes, new challenges and new ambitions. I hope you achieve all of yours gloriously!
Two exciting challenges which I anticipate with great expectation is the implementation of the MCSA App and an online version of the MCSA Journals. I notice that some of you are rolling your eyes, you are correct, we have been talking about both these innovations for a
long time, but some things are worth waiting for. The online journals will be tested in the next two weeks, and when implemented, those members who choose to access them will, I am certain, be amazed at the quality, the ease of access and also the extensive ability to search, even through the articles of the oldest journals. Of course, as with physical journals these will only be provided to members. We will also still produce the “hard copy”. Although the MCSA App, is presently being “driven” by only a few Sections, again a “pre-release” version will be tested shortly and once released I am confident that it would become a desirable feature on every member’s phone. I’m positive that these innovations will resolve a lot of administrative issues which we currently face.
However, whilst both of these innovations will result in the MCSA becoming more technologically up to date, it is important that the MCSA remains a “Club”, it is personal interaction which determines our “success”. Whilst climbing, hiking and expeditions (for example) are a vital part of our “DNA”, for me it is not so much about the hike, the climb or the expedition, but rather about who I share those adventures with. To me, it is this community aspect which makes the adventure memorable. We must ensure that technology does not detract from a warm personal welcome which new members should receive, or from our Club evenings, or from our Campfire stories, or from the quick social after a climbing meet or from the laughter we share explaining how we struggled to place a critical piece of gear whilst being stung by wasps!
This brings me to the question as to the motivation why we join, and remain, members of the MCSA. For me again, and I’m sure I speak for most of us, it is a passionate acceptance of the Objects of the MCSA. To commit to, and become involved in, the organising and facilitating of mountaineering, to protect access rights, to protect the natural beauty and wilderness character of the mountains, to promote conservation, safety and training, and to provide search and rescue services. Immediately it is clear that these are all aspects which MCSA members contribute selflessly to the Club. None of these aspects record what MCSA members “take” from the Club. It seems we are a Club which focuses on “giving rather than receiving”. Of course, there are benefits such as the discounts from retailers, receiving the journals, free stickers, t-shirts, and access to our properties, however, these pale when we appreciate the enormous contribution that our members make, and called upon to make, to achieve our Objects.
Finally, we welcome Anneline Swanepoel as Chair of Free State Section. The Free State Section has benefited for many years by having Anneline on their committee and the national committee now looks forward to sharing this benefit! We also express our grateful thanks to their past Chair, Steven Adendorff for his contributions to his home Section, the National Committee and the Executive Committee.
Look to the Hills!
2. KILIMANJARO CABLE-WAY PROJECT
It will be of interest to many MCSA members to hear more about the proposed cable-way intended to be constructed on Kilimanjaro.
While not (currently) intended to go to the top of the peak, it will, if constructed, reach an altitude of approximately 4 000 metres on the Machame Route to the upper reaches of the mountain. This project has been mooted for some time now and your editor has been following developments closely as part of the UIAA High Mountain Working Group. The UIAA put out a statement some months ago drawing attention to some issues that might be expected should such a project go ahead.
Recently, the Tanzanian authorities released a statement saying that construction was due to start in 2022 and that a US company was involved in the financing and construction. The UIAA remains concerned about the possible ramifications of such a project with the health and safety, local community and mountain protection issues being amongst them. As readers will know, Kili is a hugely popular peak with “adventure tourists” and is already highly commercialized. The UIAA is concerned that the proposed cableway will add to the load on that iconic mountain.
Action in the form of a letter to the Tanzanian Minister concerned is planned – not in any way confrontational but rather supportive in that the UIAA can certainly assist with evaluating the project and possibly advising on the relevant issues. Future editions of the National Newsletter will keep MCSA members informed on this important topic.
3. COVID-19 UPDATE
The editor is weighing up the value of including this semi-permanent fixture in the Newsletter. While the vaccine roll-out has gathered some traction, there are still a large number of people in this country who either doubt the efficacy of the vaccines or have some other objection to the Covid-19 vaccines. In the Editor’s view this is most unfortunate.
So – it still comes down to how the various Sections of the Club will deal with vaccinated and non-vaccinated members. We are actually fortunate(?) that as a Club, we do seem to have a choice. Most members are probably well able to get their jabs so it then becomes a personal thing. It seems to the Editor, that at least down here at the southern end of Africa, that meet leaders are increasingly saying that only vaccinated people may attend any specific meet.
Possibly we should run parallel meets for the non-vaccinated! Any takers for that idea!
[Here the Editor interjects with a personal note. I would rather not attend a Club meet/event where non-vaccinated people are present. Consequently, I will enquire as to the vaccination status of the other participants and decide whether to continue or not based on their replies.]
Your President (and the Editor) also has the “advantage” of reviewing the Covid situation world-wide through the UIAA Covid working group. These findings and a review are to be found on the UIAA web site should you be interested to know more.
But to end this piece with my usual exhortation:
PLEASE STAY SAFE!!!
And look carefully at the guidelines and (necessary) regulations so that we can all enjoy the Club and its amenities.
4. UIAA NEWS
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.
6.1 UIAA SAFECOM ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
An important question has recently been addressed by SafeComm – when should we retire climbing equipment? The article on the web page – https://theuiaa.org/uiaa/uiaa-safecomanswers-your-questions-retiring-carabiners/ – discusses a number of issues. Most notably
when/if to retire carabiners should they be dropped on to a hard surface, e.g. from 10 metres on to a rock surface. There are many factors involved and often a sensible decision is only possible after tests that the average climber does not have access to.
Consequently, the UIAA SafeComm reiterates that while it can only advise on what might be involved in the decision, it reminds climbers that the safest choice is to replace suspect gear.
Ultimately, climbers need to make their own risk decisions.
6.3 UIAA MEDICAL COMMISSION – TRAINING COURSE IN SOUTH AFRICA
Many countries offer regular courses in mountain medicine. The medical commissions of the UIAA and ICAR, together with the International Society for Mountain Medicine (ISMM) established minimal requirements for a formal diploma course in August 1997 (Interlaken, Switzerland). Many course organisers adopted these standards and the resulting Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM) has become a widely respected qualification. The regulations have been updated to reflect developments in mountain medicine, and to ensure that the high standard of the DiMM is maintained. It is the intention of the UIAA Medical Commission to bring these courses and training opportunities to all parts of the world, and possibly where such courses are not on offer yet. In 2022, MedCom is planning to run a dedicated course alongside its annual meeting, scheduled to be held in South Africa. It is due to take place in Stellenbosch with the intent to cover topics specific to the needs of the country.
[Please note that while the Covid pandemic rules the roost, the actual dates of this important meting are not finally decided. Final dates will be provided in a future edition of the National News.]
7. FACEBOOK AND WEB PAGES
7.1 National: abbreviated link for the national MCSA Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MCSA125/
7.2 Links for all the sections’ web pages are on the MCSA national webpage.
8. ITEMS OF INTEREST
Please send any noteworthy items for inclusion in MCSA National News Letter to Greg Moseley at: firstname.lastname@example.org
8.1 RICK RIDGEWAY INTERVIEW
The Editor recently came across a most interesting interview with the renowned US climber Rick Ridgeway. His name will be familiar to a number of you, I am sure. Amongst his many other achievements are an oxygen-less first ascent of a new route on K2 back in the 80s –very interesting and enlightening and I urge you to listen to it if you have any interest in mountains at a serious climber indeed! He is also a well-known businessman (Patagonia) and conservationist.
The interview is available at – https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/podcast/our-planet-a-talk-with-patagonias-mountaineer-turned-executive-rick-ridgeway/
“We always destroy the thing we love the most”.