The current membership base have aging members with hardly any youngsters wanting to come on board - for various reasons (non of which are bad, mostly because they cant find relation to join - so they end up joining other smaller or maybe even more 'commercial' hiking / climbing groups). The members have the knowledge and experience that younger generations would love to learn from. I trust that the leaders at MCSA will find ways for their current members to pass on their wisdom, experience and knowledge for the generations to come.
PS: The MCSA have a kick-ass website going live soon, and even better communication technology which they are putting together to keep the communication channels open for its members. All of this is headed up by Tony Heher and his team of IT volunteers. Well done to all of them for a great amount of effort going in to proving to be great results!
See Interview for the New MCSA President below.
Source : Mountain Club of South Africa - Cape Town Section
Bill Turner, a Cape Town Section member of long-standing, was asked to interview the newly elected President of the MCSA, Dave Jones, who he has known for some years.
Bill: Congratulations, Dave, on your election as President of the MCSA. We have read an account of your mountaineering activities in your CV for the UIAA, published in our national newsletter. Despite your disabled leg as a result of the accident when you were a student, you have engaged in many hard outdoor activities in addition to carrying your children and family rucksacks up and down the mountains. Please tell us about your marathon running.
Dave: I have always pretended that I don’t have a disabled leg. I used to be a marathon runner until the wheels came off permanently. I enjoyed the challenge of it.
Bill: What marathons have you run?
Dave: I have run two Comrades and about seven Two Oceans, and all the qualifying marathons that go with that. It was only for about a 10 year period, and then the crocked leg said “stop!”
Bill : You also have an interest in sailing and canoeing...
Dave: When I was younger there were not so many outdoor activities as there are now. I have always been a sailor. When I was a student I enthusiastically planned to join the UCT Mountain Club. Then I got hit by a car and so sailing was the other thing that I could do. As a student I was part of the UCT Yacht Club and I have been an active sailor ever since.
Bill : And now you are the Commodore of the George Lakes Yacht Club, where you and I have often crossed tacks while competing in our respective Laser dinghies.
What is your vision for the MCSA in the future?
Dave : I find that a very interesting question. I have been a member of the Mountain Club for over 40 years and I have never actually had a view - I haven’t felt it necessary. As an ordinary Mountain Club member I've had lots of opinions, but vision? That was for the high and mighty, I always thought.
Bill : Nevertheless, you must have some ideas about certain really important aspects, one being our access to the mountains...
Dave : Yes, you are quite right, Bill. I mustn’t be flippant about it. I joined the Mountain Club for many good reasons. The main reason was the access it gives you to wonderful mountains. The importance of the Mountain Club in my life can’t be underrated.
Bill : And this of course ties up with ownership of mountain land by the Mountain Club...
Dave : Yes, this is a very important aspect of the Mountain Club, although it has an element of concern for me. The responsibilities that go with any land ownership are becoming more and more significant. I hope, as the Mountain Club, we can weather possible storms that may lie ahead. I am confident we shall. Certainly I am in favour of the Mountain Club owning mountain land, it needs to be protected and we are the best to do it.
Bill : How can we improve our relationship with authorities in charge of mountain land?
Dave : It is one of the sad facts about our recent history that we have lost stature as an association, as a mountain club. We were consulted by government bodies in the past. Now, if anything, we tend to be ignored, and I think in some ways it has been our own fault. We have continued as if there was no need for change, and yet the country has been changing. We haven’t been contributing enough actively to broadening what we do with the greater community. What I mean by that is there are considerable opportunities for job creation and skills training - especially in the tourist industry - for people who are experienced and know the mountains. I don’t think the Mountain Club is doing what it could be doing to exploit these opportunities. I think if we were a bit more proactive we might be listened to a bit better.
Bill : Of concern is the perception that the Mountain Club is dying of old age. How can we attract those many younger active climbers, who are at present not members, to join the MCSA?
Dave : The fact that we have an aging membership and virtually a static membership in the Mountain Club is a matter of concern. What many people forget is that it actually is a reflection of the population group that traditionally the Mountain Club has served. This group is also aging, and their numbers have fallen. If the Mountain Club was more attractive and offered advantages, or training, and offered accessibility to job opportunities, I think we would see a very different demographic makeup and a very different age makeup. At this stage of our development the people we should be attracting are the people who are in the game, particularly the young climbers, because young climbers often become very good older, mature hikers in the Mountain Club. I think that the Mountain Club has at this stage to really make itself accessible to the young and adventurous. So I, personally, am all in favour of new developments like competition climbing, although I have never done it. If we are going to represent mountains and mountaineering in this country, we should be actively seeking to represent sports climbers on the international stage. I think they are our future.
Bill: Why do you think we really need a mountain club?
Dave: You need some sort of direction in any activity. We need some sort of representative body. Individuals can join or not, that’s not really relevant. Unless there is some sort of central vision, almost control, we’ll be like a whole lot of wanderers in the darkness. So I think a unified body in a country like South Africa, which has beautiful mountains and has people active in climbing and hiking, is essential.
Bill : Going on to the world stage, how important is the UIAA membership for the MCSA? After all it is rather expensive...
Dave : I personally think it is one of the most important developments in the Mountain Club. After a period in the wilderness in the bad old apartheid years, we became reaccepted into the international community. Previous presidents - I think Andre Schoon was the front runner here - made sure that we were not only accepted internationally, but accepted as full members of the UIAA, the International Alpine Association, and I am very proud of the fact that we are active members of that association.
Bill : Do you intend to attend UIAA meetings?
Dave : Yes, if we are members of the UIAA we should be contributing, we should be attending the meetings, so, yes, I am. I’ll be going to my first one in October this year and I am looking forward to it, not because I can make a contribution yet, but because I should become au fait with what it is all about and how it works, so that I can contribute.
Bill: Finally Dave, in a nutshell, how would you like to see the club develop during your term in office?
Dave: I should like to see the MCSA strengthen its position as a unified, central voice for all mountain related activities, for conservation and for mountain access; that it continue to forge international links by active participation in the UIAA; that it seek to regain some of the stature it appears to have lost with the authorities as a legitimate consultative body in Mountain Policy Planning; that its membership become more inclusive; and that it pay more attention to aspirations of the young and adventurous to encourage them to become members.
Bill: And now I’d like you to join me on a canoeing trip down the Breede River .
Dave : Good idea. When?