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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:10 am 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
I consider it abhorrent when senior climbers and mountaineers commit acts that violate the rules and laws both written and un written of our National parks and natural areas to engineer climbing routes.

I consider it even worse when these engineering projects violate existing traditional climbing routes or areas.

And finally I consider it equally abhorrent when senior climbers and mountaineers, who are supposed to be the custodians of our mountains and climbing ethics endorse, defend or promote these acts.

When these acts are committed, the worst comes out in all of us. Lies, half-truths, mudslinging and character assassination occurs publicly and privately.

The climbing community suffers terribly; we lose our cohesion and soul. We lose respect for each other and friendships are dissolved. And society rightfully thinks the less of us.

The “authorities” merely have to read through the posts on climb.co.za to conclude that we are a disorganized pathetic bunch of cretins and we lose all credibility.

This is not progress but regress.

I strongly urge that climbers wanting to engineer any bit of rock in our country ensure that they do this by the book in future. And that they do their research about existing trad routes properly. Climb.co.za is a medium that all such projects can be aired before embarking on one.

History tends not to judge us by our best deeds but our worst.

Finally I wish to apologize to anyone who I personally offended or slated directly or indirectly on any post I made on Climb.co.za


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:47 am 
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Real Name: Franz Fuls
hail snort!
I second your motion. If we want respect of others, and ourselves, we need to be responsible.
nuff sed.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:05 am 
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Real Name: Willem Boshoff
now that's a speech i will follow. respect & thank you. :thumleft:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 12:28 pm 
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Real Name: Grant Marinus
The content of much of what is said by SNORT in this thread should quite clearly be the position of anyone who is truly committed to mountaineering anywhere in the world. At the end of the day mountaineering must maintain and retain as its core absolute integrity.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:46 pm 
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Real Name: Gavin Peckham
Snort has succinctly outlined what should be a matter of consensus amongst all responsible climbers. What worries me is that, according to the voting on the VF Poll, a majority of climbers do not appear to hold these values sacred. Maybe we, as climbers, are not the responsible group that we like to imagine. Apparently, we harbour in our bosom, a majority whose values seem more focussed on their own personal pleasure than on the greater interests of the climbing community. If this really is the case then maybe it is time for us old dinosaurs to step aside and let the dogs loose! Hopefully some future order will emerge from the resulting chaos. Gavin P.
Hmmm, maybe we should just give the dogs a good thrashing, lock them in their kennels, and keep them on short rations until they toe the line. Bob Mugabe!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:21 pm 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
The poll being conducted about the VF is whether it should be left in situ for good or bad reasons. It is not a poll of climbers who agree that its implementation was correct and it does not determine whether people condone the same thing being done again. The final act in that saga has not yet been played out and I would prefer that this thread does not dwell on those issues.

We are all products of parents, teachers and mentors. It is our job to continue that role as seniors. We cannot abrogate our responsibility and step aside. Lashing our wayward colleagues also does not seem to work as can be seen on the VF forum. If anything it attracts support for the "offenders" if that they are.

This thread is not meant to determine whether any engineering in the past is good or bad. But rather to determine what happens here on and if we as a community can reach consensus.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:55 pm 
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In my opinion it seems that in all things to actually push bounderies you need to go against the considered norms, this leads to progression even if these norms are the rules, so in order to progress we cannot follow the rules, however there are consequenses to breaking the rules.

Please don't read that I think that a VF is pushing innovation in climbing, I refer to this in general.

I feel that from 1000 Km I cannot accurately judge the situation, gut feel tells me that the VF in the Berg is wrong because of the way it was done, that being without permission and what consequences and reprocussions that this could have.

How to ploice it, liase with the national park and provide the nessary time and skills to remove the offending structure on a volutary basis (maybe through MCSA). If someone wants to install a VF they should have to go through the procedure that the boulders went through at Red Hill. (Apply and wait till the end of time.)

If someone sees that the money and effort they are putting in will be removed if they don't go through the correct channels it wont be done again in a hurry.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:15 pm 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Wayne, as I said I would prefer that this thread not be used to debate the merits of the VF in the berg.

I would prefer if we can get consensus on how and when engineering of rock takes place.

In most sports and activities "Progress" means doing things harder faster and better. And only the truly best athletes get to the top so to speak. So one can debate whether making access to mountains easier with cables in hand or hanging in a cable car below cables is "progress" or "regress". In my opinion there is certainly a place for it but not in the circumstances mentioned.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:29 pm 
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I hope you dinosaurs don't just give up without a fight....Even though you are probably destined to lose the only way your soul will ever rest in peace is if you never ever ever give up... trying :)


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:09 pm 
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Snort, I was not debating the VF in the Berg just refering to it as that is the source of this thread. How do we gain consensus - we can't as we are induviduals and our opinions however valid and reasonable are ours and others have there own opinions, in this easier to ask forgiveness than permission culture that has sprung up over the last while it seems that the only way to deal with it is via punishment and that will hopefully act as a deteriant to others. Lets take an incident involving bolts in a no bolt area that happened recently, to get away from the VF, it seem to me like the consensus was to chop and cover it up rather than getting Parks involved so that access is not compromised, I know the bolts were chopped but I do not know of any further action taken against this person, but I suspect not. Actions have consequences but as long as the community keeps cleaning up on the hush hush no one will learn to take responsibilty for their actions. Now please the above is just anouther recent example and not the start of a debate that has already happened ad nausim (sp).

If you want to engineer the mountain you need to get the owners permission and once that has happened the project will go regardless of our opinions, So educate the landowners? I can't really see that permission would actually be granted for this by the National Parks Board on any of their lands.

So to conclude - Big stick approach after the fact as imo people will continue to trangress regardless of the rules that we might agree and conform to

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:34 am 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Wayne73.

One of the major problems regarding engineering of Mountains is that there is a fundamental difference in belief amongst climbers in South Africa and around the world.

And it is a major sticking point.

And that is that many people consider engineering as progressive and constructive.

Then there are people such as myself who consider it by and large regressive and destructive .

Those that believe that it is progressive and constructive will continue to break the rules supported by commerce and egged on by consumers who want more engineered routes. It will never be enough and as I said in a previous post people will be clamoring for it same way as they line up outside the Apple stores for the newest I-pad.

Engineered routes are populist and appeal to the masses in the same way as Juju does. Under those circumstances it is extremely difficult to wield a big stick and the ANC has had its hands full controlling him.

The only way engineering will be controlled is if the hearts and minds of people are won and especially the land owners. I think the custodians of our national parks don't need convincing and it will be interesting to see how they deal with the Berg VF and the guys involved. But it is private landowners and commercial entities who do. Until then companies like Red Bull will sponsor guys like David Lama to drill more bolts on Cerro Torre, illegal bolted routes will go up, VF's will go up in the Berg or elsewhere and bits of steel and metal will criss-cross existing trad routes and trad areas.

I am not sure how many people have viewed this thread but there are very few people who have endorsed my sentiments....The vast majority of people probably don't care.......

I do!


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:43 am 
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Real Name: Derek Marshall
Define exactly what actions constitute "engineering of our mountains". Maybe a list would be helpful.

It is a fine/or blurred line between regressive/destructive & progressive/constructive. Easy for me(all of us) to judge other's engineering as regressive and destructive whilst viewing my(our) own as progressive and constructive. Who is the judge?

For example; easy(for me) to throw stones at the Berg VF, whilst overlooking (my):
chopping/crushing a new path
cleaning a new route/ dropping rocks
making a tea area/campsite at a new crag
bolting a crag
chopping around a boulder
camp fire at a wilderness campsite
recording so others may follow

Pioneers of Towerkop used dynamite to improve Nel's cave. Cool & justified 50+ years on. Time helps to settle the dust. Often we don't realize that our special places have been considerably altered by forward-thinkers/destroyers.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 8:53 am 
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Real Name: Charles Edelstein
Derek you have para-phrased my point exactly. I wonder if there was no cable car up TM if there would be one considered now?

What is important is that there is room for everything and yet engineering still takes place in areas where it is verboten or where it is inappropriate in established trad areas and over existing trad routes. That is what is regressive, not that it occurs.

What astonishes me is that it is so frequently done by and promoted by seasoned senior adventure climbers. Just goes to show how compelling it is.

I have said it before: VF's and bolted routes are fun. I probably done more of both than most climbers.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:31 am 
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Snort

I don't always agree with your comments but can't fault the passion, however I agree with your sentiments that if engineering is to take place it needs to be done properly and responsibly.

So now onto the point of the thread

HOW?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 9:48 am 
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Dunno!

I/we can only control what we can control.

Somebody inappropriately engineers any trad route or area where I consider myself a "custodian" I will remove the metal such as at Yellowwood and this is in the process of being done.

Hopefully the guys doing it will give up after a while. Lot of time and expense for nothing if their constructs are dismantled.

As I say I wonder what will happen to the VF in the berg. If it is left in place, it will give credence to it being done again and again.....


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:15 pm 
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Real Name: Franz Fuls
I really like where this is going. I am now 36yo, and did my first climb about 16ish years ago, and got scared off. approx 3 years ago I jumped in again with all my weight. wow, how things have changed...

One thing I noticed is the amount of 'unregulated' climbers out there (see 'poll' in the forums to get a very rough breakdown of the environment people prefer to climb in). Not that it is per se a bad thing. Climbers like freedom.
One side effect though, supported by the growth of plastic walls is that people dont get an opportunity anymore to learn what constitues good (and bad) behaviour once you land in nature: I've recently stopped people throwing rocks down tranquilitas crag, and (being a smoker myself) called back climbers to pick up their stompies.

It is as if people dont realise what is a responsible way to conduct yourself in nature anymore.

Now, back to my statistics in 'poll':
The formal side (all counted together) is larger than the informal side. So why is the message not coming across?
In my opinion:
The MCSA is too inward focused to create awareness among the non-mcsa crowd, as supported by their constitution.
The non-mcsa clubs are small and self regulated. (who knows whats going on in there) or are (in the case of SANCF, supported by a mission & vision) exclusively focussed at building strong climbers on plastic - thus never learning them the proper ways in nature.
Scorn is too new to know the impact yet, but I expect it will be focussed on correcting behaviour of individuals rather than the whole community.
The informal side has no rules.

Please understand I am not badmouthing. It is my perception and it may be completely warped.

What I think we need is a national governing body for our game in general. Cycling, boxing, yachting, surfing all have this. Some have reciprocity, others are a body that lays down basic groundrules for clubs (who affiliate to the national body) to follow.

Maybe I am too tired right now.
Maybe I am delusional.
Maybe climbing is to young for a common voice.

What I do know is that if we dont get a common foundation for all climbers in our country pronto we are heading towards issues bigger than 'who was the latest guy to boldly bolt where no one should've'

Anyone that likes the concept, please contact me. I am good with facilitation. Anyone that disagrees, post it here but please dont pm me.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:18 pm 
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Real Name: Franz Fuls
PS: I am not dissing any climbing organization.
MCSA has done wonders over the years in conservation, and building a good image of climbing and mountaineering in general.
The SANCF is probably one of the largest catalysts in making climbing a growing activity and they are achieving amazing things in competition climber development.

Still, something is lacking, evidence is stompies at the crags, illegal bolting, etc...


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:40 am 
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Real Name: Willem Boshoff
he franz i hope the world looks a bit brighter over you cup of morning coffee! :)

i think organisations like the MCSA are good and that we, as the "formal" and "informal" climbing community, are not doing a bad job. yes there are rogue bolters, litter-monkeys and people who have the nack to annoy the land owners; but in the greater scheme of things i think we are doing pretty well to stick to basic & sound ethics. i remember the embarassment of some of the 4x4 community when a bunch of their cowboys went on a drive along the drakensberg escarpment. the support and excitement generated by that act of obvious vandalism-to-nature on one of the 4x4 forums was embarrasingly high. not so on the well guarded edges of the climbing community; at least most acts of border-line behaviour gets scrutinized & debated.

imho we do not need another "governing body". it has its place, but what has been shown so clearly in organised politics, religion or any other attempt to govern human behaviour, is that unless you win the hearts & souls of people all the laws in the lawbook are but good ideas on paper. laws are for the lawless and are so very limited; we are designed to live by persuasion & passion; not by fear of retribution. the emerging generation views life differently. information is freely available. people think more for themselves and more critically so. the days of dictators, the great leader-on-the-podium & the hallowed i-am-the-one are numbered. todays leaders are in the crowd. they tread the trails with the people they are influencing, and their voices are not heard from elevated podiums but in the conversations where men & women share their hearts & minds & lives with one another. leadership is serving and serving is done best in relationships. i think the best we can do is to make the effort to hang out with the new generation of climbers. take them to the mountains and let them experience for themselves the nature of unspoilt places - their conviction will be so much stronger. like hilton hanging out with guy. that's the model i'd like to follow.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity...”
― John Muir


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:26 am 
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Real Name: Franz Fuls
Hi mokganjetsi,
Thanks, the cuppa changed my perspective.

The MCSA is indeed doing a great job. No contest. The MCSA is also mainly inward focused.
Yes, creating bureaucracy does not solve problems, and yes, the best solution is one-on-one but logistically not that practical (been there, still doing that)

IMO the best solution is for the MCSA to become more inclusive. I however do not see this happening due to consitutions, committee meetings etcetc.
But somehow we need to find a way to make a big impact - fast. The general non-mcsa community is in urgent need of awareness regards conservation and climbing ethics, thus I see the following soltions:
- MCSA spreads its wings (low probability)
- Some lone ranger starts an awareness campaign out of his own pocket, with flyers at events, gyms, internet and magazine exposure, etc (almost zero probability)
- All climbing related organizations get together and set down very basic rules of conduct in nature / at the crags then promote with members and non-members (probability??)
- climbers and climber related orgs get together in the form of a national body, formulate basic ground rules. All who want to affiliate / associate shall declare their commitment to the groundrules.

Somehow an agressive campaign is needed to change behaviour. The place where the biggest impact can be made right now are the climbing gyms and non-mcsa clubs.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 9:48 am 
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Real Name: Willem Boshoff
ah, the practical mind :thumright go for it!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:22 am 
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Real Name: Franz Fuls
When the MCSA makes a press release about illegal bolting they are being reactive representatives of climbers (which is more expensive than pro-activity since the damage has already been done).

Full score methinks, would be if the MCSA (being the self proclaimed representatives of climbers nationally and rightly so) heads up such an initiative, and create ways of spreading our gospel to all climbers in a palatable way.

I would gladly get involved in such an initiative within my means (if the MCSA would allow a non-member to do so), eg as a committee member of Ermelo Mountain Club (non-MCSA) I could channel such a campaign to our club (if the MCSA would be willing to share).
At the risk of sounding arrogant I am sure that ALL climbing gyms, SANCF, the new club in Middelburg (Mpumalanga), exploratio (tuks), wits, etc will all support such an initiative.

Being previously employed in the SHEC dept of a heavy industry corporate I have experience in behavioural change of groups. If anyone who feels they can represent climbers want to kickstart such an initiative they can contact me. I have plenty ideas across the whole budget range.

Do you think I am farting against thunder?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:16 am 
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Real Name: Bruce Tomalin
Hi Franz.
Your enthusiasm is extremely praiseworthy, thanks!

As a normal member of the MCSA I am not sure that your inpression of it being inwardly focussed is correct. My impression is that they get an enormous amount done outwardly (primarily around access which is really what this is all about) with very little fuss. They might be poor at communicating their achievements and not particularly democratic (once the committe is voted in they do what they think is right). They are all volunteers so you can understand why this is the case.

In your particular case, why not investigate some sort of reciprocity between your club and the MCSA?Or just belong to both - the MCSA annual fees are laughable (I've just received the journal which is worth the fees on its own). Then drive the MCSA from the inside in the direction you think it should go. The advantage is most authorities already have much respect for the MCSA.

As an aside, you mentioned the other sports federations: I know a bit about surfing - the national body there is only interested in promoting and organising competition surfing. I would guess less than 10% of surfers compete. The surfing world, eg. between the Durban piers is total anarchy, controlled by individuals who care, as it should be. There are rules of engagement, but they are self imposed by active participants out in the water.

Up to very recently, I thought climbing was the same ...

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:13 pm 
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Real Name: Franz Fuls
Hey Bruce, you bring back memories of North beach & new pier. Being an ex-bluff resident I understand exactly where you come from. U a durbanite? Maybe we can do a dawn partol when I'm dont there again. My longboard is waiting for me in dbn.

Somewhat back to the topic:
When I moved from Pretoria to Ermelo, I found myself isolated from the climbing community. So I decided that I will create climbers to climb with. Thats how Ermelo Mountain Club was born. My personal objective is to get the club running on its own feet without my intervention as soon as possible. (Right now my climbing missions revolves around training and empowering, not climbing)
Ermelo mountain club has tried hard to get a relationship going with MCSA and SANCF, and it has been declined due to constitutional reasons. No hard feelings, but i feel its a pity. Being the only 'competent' climber in the club I have been working my knees off to get the club off the ground in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, and although I asked for help numerous times, as to date real support has been from my friends only.
Our club has a committee, constitution, rules, competency tests, etc. To become competent to climb without supervision you not only show that you can belay and clip a quickdraw safe, you also write a test in which you demonstrate your knowledge of good behaviour in nature & at the crags. To this end I also did the MDT SPSC at my own expense, and is now in the consolidation period, building a low book on trad for the assessment.

Our constitution state that we aim to align with SANCF and MCSA but to date the formal relationship is somewhat one-sided.

Upon request for some kind of affiliation, where I asked how we (EMC) can help the MCSA, and to enter discussion on how they can help us (and no, money is not the first thing on our minds - Ermelo has wealthy businessmen that can sponsor) the response was that the MCSA constitution does not allow affiliation, and that there is a lot of red tape to start a section, then suggested we start an Mpumalanga section with help of other people residing in Mpumalanga.
A Mpumalanga MCSA section is definately a worhty cause, but will not help the EMC. We have specific needs that can not be aligned with other towns in Mpumalanga, further our local businessmen will not donate money to a provincial section and then see it being spent out of town - they dont operate that way.

Slightly off-subject: With ermelo reaching -10degC last winter outdoor climbing on weeknights is not really a psyche building experience. Regardless we climbed once every week (at night) throughout the winter on the very limited church wall made available to us.
WE NEED AN INDOOR FACILITY. The headmaster of a large secondary school (there are 2 big ones) spoke informally to an EMC comittee member and he is interested in helping us. The primary need of EMC right now is to get a well dressed representative of a national climbing body (MCSA or SANCF) to join me in making a formal visit to the headmaster to start formal negotiations regards such a facility. The idea is to show him that we are not in isolation, and that there is a support network to help and guide us (EMC), thus making our case stronger the get space on the school property). I will make this appointment to see him next week with, or without support.

EMC does not desire operating in isolation, but we will continue with, or without support. This has implications for us, but also for the national bodies who claim to represent us. We would love to align, but we will not beg. We have no hard feelings, and will continue to be open to climbing organizations that desire cooperation with independent clubs.

To be fair: I did get some info from the MCSA and SANCF websites, and Jackie (SANCF) has invited us to come join in their training sessions and shared their presentations with me. Individuals from the MCSA has been involved to some extent: some personal friends that helped out at club meets in their personal capacity are MCSA members, and when I selectively distributed the route guide for Batwa valley (awesome boulder crag) mountain rescue made effort to get GPS coordinates and access details for the area.

Now you know where I come from.
Regardless of our differences and politics I believe we should all at the very least get to a point where we can work together when it comes to behaviour in nature, for the benefit of all.
Maybe the national body suggestion (where clubs like us can affiliate) is the only way, or maybe the MCSA can find a way...

Finally: As snort and many others stated, we need to avoid polarising the climbing community. I feel that means meeting each other halfway...

The national climbing community is growing.
In the words of the venerable Bob Dylan: "The times, they are a changing..."
There's a lot of ignorance rambling around the crags.
Our opportunity to influence the future of climbing is NOW. Tomorrow may be to late.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:37 pm 
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Real Name: Bruce Tomalin
Franz - indeed I'm a Durbanite - let me know when you're down and we can do a dawnie (and discuss mountains...).
You've done all I suggested! So I salute you for that. I have no more ideas except don't give up...
C ya,
Bruce

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 12:46 pm 
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Real Name: Franz Fuls
Fear not dear Bruce!
My learning curve is very flat when it comes to gaining skill in the art of giving up.
hehe


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:26 pm 
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Real Name: Franz Fuls
I dare all climbers who have experience on how to conduct yourself in a responsible manner in nature and the crags to dedicate one evening a week at a climbing gym or other facility towards education of noobs.
As a reward you will get many hours of hard mental labour, exhaustion and people staring at you as if you are crazy and then.. maybe... one day you will get a breakthough and one more noob will see the light.

Who's on?


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:28 am 
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Real Name: Dirk Talma
Bliksem Willem, incredible post! That one is one for the notice board! Must be the brandy talking at this time of night, but that wasn't bad at all.

Franz, as mentioned earlier, we (Explo at TUKS), would gladly support such a scheme.

In fact, I think it would be incredible for climbing clubs and gyms to incorporate ethics and general good outdoor behaviour into their training and introductory courses.
This is probably already being done automatically in gyms and clubs across the country, but it still needs to be incorporated formally at every club. The SANCF has adopted a great policy of mentoring kids and young climbers into the community.


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