A brief history of the Supertramp Award
Not all those who wander are lost.– JRR Tolkien
In April 1992, 24-year-old Chris McCandless ditched his car, burnt the money in his wallet, donated his savings to charity, hitched a lift to the outskirts of the Alaskan outback and, armed with little more than a hunting rifle and a sack of rice, walked into the wild. He renamed himself Alexander Supertramp and deliberately lost contact with everyone he had ever known. He wanted nothing more to do with what he saw as a sick, sad world and sought only to survive as his (flawed) heroes had done: on their wits and survival instincts alone. He did not even carry a map in his rucksack. He was a disillusioned idealist, a passionate, zealous young man who yearned for adventure without the encumbrances of modern living or the inevitable complications that come from human interaction. His emaciated, lifeless body was discovered 100 days later, having starved to death through a series of unfortunate events.
Opinions about this story (chronicled by Jon Krakauer in his extraordinary book, Into the Wild) are diametrically opposed. Some think Alexander Supertramp was an arrogant, selfish, rich kid. Others think he is someone to whom hymns should be sung and statues erected and that his story is not about his death, but about his life. That he made the bravest of all decisions: not to be a victim, at least not to civilisation’s mechanical march. That he subscribed to the philosophy that to live is to do and to do is to do now. “Most men” said Henry Thoreau – one of his champions – “lead lives of quiet desperation”.
The Supertramp Award has been administered since 2005 by the Magaliesberg Section of the MCSA for those young, impecunious wanderers, no older than 25 years, whose cynicism is still directed outwards, in the hope that they will purchase at least a map, and as a tribute by the donor to the voyager who was Alexander Supertramp who wisely gathered his rosebuds whilst he could.
The MCSA would like to acknowledge the tremendous generosity of the sponsor of the MCSA Supertramp Award.
The recipients so far have been:
- 2005: Guillaume du Toit and his partner explored rock climbing possibilities in India
- 2006: Greg Borman could not undertake the planned rock climbing trip to Brazil due to the Brazilian airline going bankrupt and not refunding their tickets
- 2007: Donovan van Graan and his brother went on an alpine climbing trip to climb high peaks in Turkey, Armenia and Georgia
- 2008: Not a single application was received in time!
- 2009: Kyle Meenahan walked the circumference of South Africa.
- 2010: Michael Woodward climbed on Mt Mulanje in Malawi.
- 2011: Joe Mohle explored climbing in Morocco.
- 2012: Alasdair Walton climbed in the East Andes in Colombia.
- 2013: Duncan Frasier went on a trip to Madagascar and opened a sport route.
- 2014: Bernie Theron did an unsupported solo trek across Iceland.
- 2015: Matthew Davies for ‘Other’ 9000+ft East African Rift Valley Volcanoes.
- 2016: To help celebrate the 125th year of the MCSA, our Supertramps explored the world:
- Micha Stiller trekking solo for 400 kilometres of rural Himalayan Nepal solo and unassisted over the course of three weeks, allowing him to immerse himself in culture and landscape virtually untouched by tourism.
- Chris Arderne, Michael Kloos and Rick Kotze bagged volcanoes in the Cordillera Neovolcanica in Mexico
- Alex Bester explored bouldering options in Chimanimani Mountains in Zimbabwe
- Jed Johnson and Craig Burton went rock climbing in Ethiopia
- Tiffany Wells and Kirsten Roberts climbed in South East Asia
Congratulations to all! Sincere thanks to the donor for a cool R128 000.