April 2012


The 2012 AGM was kindly hosted on 21 April by the Stellenbosch Section.  Dave Jones accepted nomination for another year in office,  his fourth,  and was pleased that both Jenny Paterson(Secretary) and Lester Coelen (Treasurer) also accepted nomination.  The experience and dedication of Jenny and Lester will make for smooth running of our club affairs.

Toni Roux of the Worcester Section was re-elected as Vice President with Dobek Pater from Johannesburg  (re-elected) and James Voortman, KwaZulu-Natal to fill the other two positions on the Executive.

The AGM approved the Secretary’s Report for 2011 and also Accounts for 2011 which show that the club is in a sound financial situation and that there is a small but encouraging growth in membership.

The AGM was immediately followed by the first Cencom Meeting for 2012 which proved to be very constructive with a good attendance and with valuable contributions being made by all present, including Chairs attending for the first time and others enjoying a second term in office.  Routine business was handled which will be reported by the Chairs to their Sections as well as some new issues which deserve comment.

A National Roster of Events and Anniversaries is being set up so that the MCSA has a permanent record of important anniversaries of its member Sections as well as a definitive record of events hosted by Sections such as Annual dinners and National Camps.  This document has kindly been set up by Wim Morris of the Stellenbosch Section and now needs to be populated with relevant data.  All Sections were asked to forward this information to Wim.

Mountain Conservation in accordance with one of our principal aims enjoyed considerable attention with some bad news and some good.   Bad news was the slow response from some Sections to a request from our Conservation Sub-Committee under Maretha Alant, for copies of their Alien Vegetation Control and Conservation Policies on properties owned by the MCSA and the sad news that a legal challenge to the inappropriate  Kasangane development in the Magaliesberg which had been supported financially by the MCSA had failed.  Sections were urged to assist the Conservation Sub-Committee with the information requested while it is understood that the Kasangane decision will be appealed.

Good news was a report of consultation held with Guy Preston, a senior official in the Department of Nature Conservation,  to determine in what ways MCSA Sections owning mountain land could assist as role-models in combating alien vegetation infestation especially at altitude.  Sections who have need of assistance in alien vegetation clearance were invited to contact Guy Preston directly,  while Cencom agreed that our mountain hikers could perform a service by helping to identify infestation high in our mountains which could be the source of seed-spread.  Wim Morris agreed to set up a data-base that individuals could contribute to.

Via Ferratas enjoyed a great deal of debate, precipitated by the construction of one in the Drakensberg without prior approval which has resulted in legal action.  This was not officially endorsed by any of our Sections but some MCSA members were involved.  A serious view has been taken by Cencom,  not against Via Ferratas as such,  but against the construction being attempted without proper permission.

However, since Via Ferratas are becoming increasingly popular all over the climbing world as tourist attractions and as a means of introducing the public to climbing in a safe manner, they possibly have an important role to play in the Mountain Club.   Since no MCSA policy is currently in existence regarding Via Ferratas, even thopugh they have been discussed in the past,  the Johannesburg Section tabled a discussion document on possible policy which has gone back to the Sections for further consideration.

The MCSA will celebrate its 125th Anniversary in 2016 but so far no concrete proposals have come forward on how best to celebrate it.  On the table for discussion is the possibility of hosting a meeting of the UIAA as was last done by our club in 1995.  Such hosting will not cost the club as  delegates must meet their own costs and there is considerable scope for sponsorship,  but it will depend on one of our Sections being willing to offer to organise it.

A reciprocity agreement with the New Zealand Alpine Club was signed three years ago and the President, who made a private visit to the country earlier this year, made a point of contacting the NZAC management and of determining how best this reciprocity agreement can be exercised. 

The agreement basically gives members of both federations full reciprocity in the use of mountain huts and access to mountain properties.    The value for visiting Kiwis will be updated access information from Sections in areas where they might wish to climb or hike.  The value for MCSA members visiting New Zealand is the right to make full use, as if they are members, of the NZAC huts at a very favourable rate.

Knowing how attractive New Zealand is for both hikers and climbers, the President made a point of investigating both NZAC huts as well as the huge network of N.Z. Department of Conservation huts and hiking trails and of testing many of them out.

Any MCSA members thinking of a hiking/climbing holiday in New Zealand is invited to make contact with the club for updated information and for an introduction to the NZAC.  (A Power Point Presentation has been put together detailing the investigation in an informal way and is available for any Section that might be interested.)

Membership of the UIAA  by the MCSA has been confirmed now that the financial dangers it appeared to be running into have been averted but a close eye is being kept on things.  The MCSA as an elected member of the Management Committee of the UIAA took a leading role in calling to question wasteful expenditure which led to the resignation of the UIAA President and two members of his Board.

The MCSA has stayed prominent in monitoring the remedial measures put in place so approval has been given for our President to attend a full meeting of the Management Committee in Hungary in May.

eNews came to an end when Petro Grobler relinquished her position as its editor at the end of 2011 and no replacement has yet been found.   Cencom recorded a warm vote of thanks to her for all she has done over the years to keep members informed and the President was asked to write a letter to convey this to her. The Secretary was asked to arrange a suitable gift in appreciation on behalf of the MCSA membership.

An opening remains for any other MCSA member to volunteer to take up where Petro has left off,  either with a similar eNews format or else in an updated form.  Meanwhile, our members will continued to be kept informed by regular Secretary Bulletins like this and by posting on the MCSA Web Page.  

Dave Jones   -    MCSA President