Is it worth joining the MCSA

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Is it worth joining the MCSA

Post by Kirsty » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:46 am

am a newcomer to rock climbing, I've climbed at the gym a bit and done a climbing course (I'd like to climb more and meet more people to climb with). My question: is it worth joining the Mountain Club of South Africa? What are the benefits of joining the club?

Derek Marshall

Post by Derek Marshall » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:47 am

It won't do you any harm. But there are few real benefits. It like all things...its about what you can put in. Bare with the fuddy duddies.


Post by Leo » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:47 am

The MCSA organises monthly rock meets. These are held at a variety of venues. this is an ideal way of meeting other climbers and being exposed to the large number of crags we have scattered around. The MCSA is DEFINATELY worth joining if the above appeals to you. There is a very old, and conservative element to the club. If you can deal with this and engage with likeminded keen climbers then you are MCSA for away!


Post by PietSkiet » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:47 am

For many years I avoided the mountain club because of their reputation for being a bunch of old bureaucratic farts that never did anything for climbers. I realised recently that will never change until we young 'uns get in there and change it. Hence I picked up my membership forms a few weeks ago. There is definitely room for improvement in the way of the MCSA helping climbers, but I think you can get your money's worth out of the club's relatively small subscription. I am happy to see they are now helping sponsor bolting costs for new routes. Perhaps they will do more for access in the future.

Andy Davies

Post by Andy Davies » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:48 am

The MCSA has been regarded as a bit conservative as the above people have stated. However, this is a volunteer organisation and the only people involved are some more senior people. We as young climbers should see the MCSA as a representative body that will take care of our climbing interests. But this requires effort from all the climbers and it seems that a lot of youth are too selfish to put in some time doing the not-as-fun-as-climbing things. My recommendation to any person, young or old, is join and put some effort in and reap the benefits. PS the CT MCSA rocksubcom has an average age of 30 and we are keen for people to lower that average age even more :-)

Grant Rens

Post by Grant Rens » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:48 am

What planet are you guys from? This may be a Cape issue but in Joburg all the best climbers are MCSA members. Only wannabee's with no safety standards would avoid becoming members. Climbing meets are arranged for all types (Trad & sport, beginners' & youth)on a regular basis. Maybe if you only wanted to do sport you could get by not joining, but then you wouldn't have access to some of the sport stuff. The best routes in the area are MCSA access area's and it's only people who want to use the land without paying for access that would get any value out of not joining. So maybe the question is whether there is any point in not joining. Sure it takes a while to get to know people and how things work but that goes for any organisation. Your attitude will determine how much worth you get from being a member. Also these are the guys- the rescue section- who will come and haul your ass out of trouble when you need them- which is a good reason to support them. Bureacracy be damned, lets do some climbing.


Post by Anon » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:48 am

Not sure about Joburg, but here in the Cape it seems like it is harder to join the MCSA than getting offered a free rack of cams. It should be about the climbing but its not, too much paperwork and rules. Another reason no one here in the Cape joins is that most of the areas don't require any membership to climb. Not knocking the idea of the MCSA rather some of the rules and regulations surrounding it. Times have changed, so should the MCSA.


Post by PietSkiet » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:48 am

Quite agreeh Anon! In Europe its very simple. Fill in your details. Pay your susbscription and you're in. Included is also rescue insurance for any eventuality in the mountains. Trust me, a heli-rescue in Switzerland can really blow your pocketmoney. I hope the MCSA can move towards this model. But maybe thats just a Cape gripe.


Post by Flex » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:49 am

In response to Grant Rens: I don't think your comment about all the best climbers in Joburg being MCSA members is entirely accurate. I will agree on the issue of rescue though. The rescue service that is on standby for all us climbers is a good enough reason to support the MCSA.


Post by Paddy » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:49 am

Depends where you are. From my experience the Jhb MCSA offers real benefits and is defenitely worthwhile joining. It provides oppurtunities to meet climbers and go climning through regular and frequent meets as well weekly socials. It also offers preferential access to Magaliesberg crags and some others. It is more of a climbing club than a hiking club. CT on the other hand is more of hiking club than a climbing club, although matters are improving through the recent efforts of the Rock Committee. The CT MCSA defenitely cannot be relied upon to the same extent as a vehicle for frequent climbing meets. It however does offer an oppurtunity to meet climbers and hopefully through this get to climb more. However, it will require more patience & effort. My tip would be to go hang out at the MCSA bouldering wall on tuesday and/or thursday evenings. On the plus side you are more likely to meet climbers at the MCSA who are intersted in doing outdoor stuff than at a commercial gym. So on balance the CT MCSA is probably worthwhile joining, although it far from where it should be as a rock climbing club.


Post by MarkM » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:49 am

The MCSA also helps pay for bolts (at least the JHB section does) that help make routes for you to climb, so there alone is a reason to join. You also get 10% off at some climbing shops so if you're looking to make some big purchases the saving you make there will cover your annual fee.


Post by Anon » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:50 am

Seriously though, for what are we paying MCSA fees? What do you actually get out of it? In the past, yes, you could get free permits or reduced fee admissions for various parks/areas, etc. Now all you get is an ID badge that serves no real purpose. I think the mountain club should start to think more about adding value.

Douglas Ward

Post by Douglas Ward » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:50 am

What? I can't believe I'm reading this. Without the efforts of the MCSA there would be no climbing allowed at Rocklands. At all. And you ask what the benefit is? If I have to spell it out now: the MCSA makes very real contributions to ensuring access at climbing venues. By becoming a member, you are supporting a respected organisation that has and uses its influence when it comes to negotiating access (often very generously for all climbers, not just members). By not becoming a member you are being short-sighted; by saying there are no benefits to being a member you are being stupid.


Post by Anon » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:50 am

Let's say you are new to climbing and don't know any MCSA members. You can't join!! What kind of club is that? Pushing away potential members because you decide who is worthy? The MCSA is slowly coming right in several areas, but I think they still have alot of work to do, especially removing themseleves from the past. We are in 2004, not 1980.


Post by grigri » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:50 am

Anon your comments are totally without foundation. If you apply to join you will be invited to attend rock meets and socials where you can easily meet and get people to propose and second your application. Or simply ask around at your local gym or crag, its not that hard to find people to help your cause. The paperwork has actually been drastically reduced in recent years and the number of signatures required to back your application has also been drastically reduced. There has to be some form of screening to ensure that prospective members are actually interested in the outdoors and are likely to uphold club policies of caring for the environment. The MCSA does more than you can imagine to support climbing. Without them bolting would most likely still be banned in the Western Cape, access to several sensitive areas would be impossible without their efforts. In addition they have a network of club huts for accomodation, in Du toits kloof for example the only places to stay are the hotel at a few hundred a night or the MCSA hut at less than one twentieth of the price. They have an awesome library of climbing books which Im sure most members get endless hours of entertainment and useful information from. There are even some really cool young people amongst the members, and there will be more if you and others join. To top all of this off they help sponsor bolts and even own a drill you can use! (with proper instruction) what more can you ask for? Quit complaining and sign up!


Post by Anon » Sat Apr 30, 2005 9:51 am

Believe it or not i agree with about 90% of what you say. Just that last part. Let me quote: \"There are even some really cool young people amongst the members, and there will be more if you and others join.\" Why aren't there many more youngsters? Because it's so complicated to join. Good or bad young climbers don't want the hassle of seeking signatures and going on meets. This does not mean they are not dedicated climbers, they are simply full of new ideas and doing their own thing. The old guys like their rules and procedures and I understand that they are an integral part of climbing, but youngsters don't like to sit around discussing policies, that's just the way it is. But let's say they get sent a newsletter every month, addressed to them they might take some interest. Just some thoughts.


my R0.02

Post by trango » Mon Nov 07, 2005 2:59 pm

hi,I agree with anon. the olde school loves rules.personally,I feel in some way though that its cool for the club to at least require that your basic competency gets tested. It's really for the good of everyone. So what if you have to go on a few meets to get going. If you go into a bank, and you want a credit card, then why do you not complain when they want your dna sample? All the club is doing is protecting itself and rightly so. If you are just starting out climbing, why would you want to turn down valuable mentorship from older, wiser more experienced climbers? I was taught by older climbers from MCSA when I was young, and I can tell you that before I started going on meets, I was nowhere. I really dont understand why so many people are pissed off with this club. Sure, during the dark years in this country, they stopped coloured climbers from joining, which I detest. But that was then, and now, we have a club that is open arms, active and want to get to know you and make you a better person. If they really are such bastards, then how come even if you are NOT a member, they will go out of their way to rescue you? It's just people, with hearts, like you and I. Just join. you dont have to goto every weekly meeting, in fact the older guys would be far happier looking at the photos of your amazing adventures, because, like it or not, you'll get further with a reputable club behind you, which has money to spend on expeditions and gear.

opportunity cost

Post by opportunity cost » Mon Nov 07, 2005 10:27 pm

Maybe with all the money that has been spent on paying the phone bills of the internet connections involved in this forum conversation, we could have all become members of the MCSA? I think it costs R20, in nominal terms, to apply, and once you are a member you have the right to vote or raise a potentially influential opinion about the rules and regulations.



Post by trango » Tue Nov 08, 2005 5:43 pm

this makes no sense to me? some of us actually have broadband in this place with lions roaming the streets. If money is a factor then maybe you should consider a different passtime. Lets just consider that a rope now costs R1500 and shoes are the same...most people are complaining about the rules and regulations which is a joke. Learn to be anarchic elsewhere. The rules of the club are set out to create a positive outcome and all I'm reading is that guys want to fill out a form, get sent a card and then you are a member. Tell me rather, why should this massive club, who own huge portions of land, just let anyone who can come up with a few bucks roam freely without at least being able to teach their ethics and ideals. Every time I go to a non mcsa crag I'm appalled by bottles, stompies, piss stench...and why then when I goto a place like magalies do I not see this? I'm glad they have the balls to keep the riff raff out.

Hairy uncle

Post by Hairy uncle » Thu Nov 10, 2005 7:53 pm

Trango - I have to agree. Become a member or don't. But don't expect the already reasonably low standard to be lowered just for you.


Post by Douw » Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:21 pm


About a year ago we got the Cape Town section to relax its entrance procedure. You no longer need proposers and seconders, or to go on meets, etc. You just fill in the application form and pay your money and you're in. In a couple of months, if you haven't done anything very bad (like burning down a club hut) your application is ratified and made permanent. We also created a new, youth membership category which caters for ages up to 25 with a much lower subscription (R120 pa - little more than the cost of a quickdraw).

I believe that you get a lot of value out of your membership. I think very few people realise just how much effort some club members put into various arenas. There is a huge amount of negotiation with various authorities that has resulted in the preservation of the access that we have. The Cederberg Sport Climbing Management Plan, the path building meets in the TMNP, the money that the MCSA has paid for contractors to fix paths, etc, are examples of this. If it wasn't for this we would not be allowed to climb at Rocklands, Trutjieskraal, the various Peninsula crags, etc at all. Who else is doing this or would do so if the club stopped? The fact that a lot of this effort doesn't produce results is not so much a reflection on the MCSA but on the fact that the authorities are full of it. On top of that there's a huge amount of effort into conservation, search and rescue, etc. These may not affect you directly (and in the case of SAR hopefully never) but they sure as hell are to your benefit as well as that of the entire country.

Lastly, it irks me whenever I hear people asking what the club does for them. It's a club not a business. Members get out what they put in. If there aren't anough climbing meets for your liking it's because you aren't in there helping to organise them. Why is it that so many climbers are so selfish and expect always to get something out and never to put anything in themselves? So join, increase the number of climbers in the club and help to increase the value that the club provides.



Post by dingo » Mon Nov 14, 2005 8:10 am

why join, they are just a bunch of regulars who think they own the hills, with memebers like hairy uncle, would you join? NO, dont join them. It's a waste of time and money and really, it's just the blind leading the blind.

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Post by Rastaman » Mon Nov 14, 2005 8:49 am

Dingo please don't join the club. Its probally better for everyone.
I have some questions for you:
Have you ever belonged to the MCSA?
Have you ever belonged to any club?
Have you any clue on what the MCSA has done for climbing?
I suggest you go make yourself a strong cup of coffee and WAKE UP!

Hairy Uncle

Post by Hairy Uncle » Mon Nov 14, 2005 12:13 pm

Dingo, yea we are all regular. take a good crap & become regular.


Post by Guest » Tue Nov 15, 2005 7:07 am

While not a member myself the effort undertaken by some of the Cape guys (and specifically girl) to arrange access to Rocklands has been really significant. I think the level of effort varies per province though (not sure if you would see the same efforts in Joburg).

I think securing access to Rocklands alone is enough.


PS. Grant Rens - your comments regarding all the best joburg climbers are MCSA is the biggest load of sh*te I have ever heard. Maybe you are speaking off a low base but with the exception of a few....Flex, Pedley, Eric, Mark Millar, Mark Seuring and Alard the majority are extremely average. Nothing wrong with being average though.

Derek Marshall

Post by Derek Marshall » Tue Nov 15, 2005 8:23 am

Currently: In the Eastern Cape...almost all progress & development of climbing is undertaken by MCSA members or people in the process of becoming members. \"Almost\" indicates that there may be some by non members, but its quite unlikely.

Although not that much is done in the name of MCSA. Its done by privatly by people who are also MCSA members.


no point

Post by dingo » Thu Nov 17, 2005 12:16 pm

MCSA is for safe little wannabees who need someone to change their nappy. get out there by yourself and climb whatever you want. MCSA needs to be changed to HCSA - Hiking Club of SA, 'cos that's all they are...a bunch of berg hugging, long bearded, conservative poncey hikers, and even then, I'm mocking real hikers. There really is NO need to join.


Post by Hector » Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:03 pm

So you're telling me that the guys who climbed Trango recently are a bunch of novice hikers? And how about Cerro Torre - I guess thats another easy day out in the hills? And most of the bolting at Boven, especially Wonderland - those bloody hikers again! And expeditions to climb new peaks in China? And new multi pitch sport routes in the berg? And how about single handedly saving Magaliesberg from big developers by buying all the pristine kloofs? Ya, those hikers sure get on my tits as well

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re: no point

Post by Bron » Thu Nov 17, 2005 1:30 pm

Sour grapes - an interesting thing to watch.

Don't let bitter people put you off the mountain club! The mountain club is like most societies - full of a range of diverse people. Yes there are berg hugging, long bearded, conservative poncey hikers in the mountain club. There is undoubtedly someone in the mountain club that you will dislike and who will irritate you beyond words. Dingo has, after all, has previously claimed (in other posts on this site) to be a member.
There are also some really cool people in the mountain club. Quite apart from the guys who go on expeditions, bolt climbs for the rest of us, negotiate access to and help conserve crags etc etc, there are a whole bunch of regular climbers looking to hang out with like minded people. There is undoubtedly someone in the mountain club that you will like and that you wouldn't have met otherwise. A couple of weeks ago I went on an mcsa meet to Swinburne with a group of very nice people. They were young, cool and decidedly un-poncey. I had a great weekend.
I met a number of new people on that meet. Two of them have come climbing with me and my friends since and will again. Join the mountain club by all means. It is a great way to meet people.
All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.

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Post by MarkM » Thu Nov 17, 2005 2:16 pm

There are a couple of options regarding the way in which you approach the whole MCSA thing:
1) you don't join
2) you don't join and bitch and moan about the way in which the club is run.
3) you join and enjoy the benefits (you can decide on those benefits based on what's offered)
4) you join and bitch and moan that you're feel you're getting nothing out of being a member or whine about the way in which the club is run.
5) you join and although you don't agree with certain issues you get involved and onto the committee so you can slowly start to change the 'issues' or at least voice your opinion
6) pretend you're Swiss and remain neutral about the whole issue as a member or as a non-member
Open hand, open mind...

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