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  • Vincent Egan


A clinking of metal on metal tinkles through the trees, echoing around a glowing, red ampitheatre. A muffled, slightly fraught call of “Tight rope!” halfway up one of the red rock-faces is followed by a more relaxed “No worries - got you…” from below. Calls of “You can do it!” and “Chalk up!” come from onlookers snatching a quick lunch in the impromptu bush-kitchen on the left. There’s a grunt from the face, the dry scrape of rubber over rock and a “Whoo-hoo!” of delight as someone gets to the top of a challenging climbing route.

On the slopes above, others are hiking – not the ‘follow the painted foot-steps’ or guided style of hiking though. These folks are taking a walk off the beaten track, heading for secret, special places away from the humdrum existence of daily life using disused jeep-tracks and faint game trails that lead to multiple eco-nirvanas. Some are challenging themselves physically, while other nature-lovers are birding, botanizing and mapping other animals - enjoying this tranquil, beautiful environment.

The sun sets on relaxed conversation around a crackling camp-fire (where allowed) or the subdued roaring of camping stoves. Familiar aromas of coffee and tea mingle with those of a variety of meals, as headlights lance the darkness. Discussion of tomorrow’s plans fills one ear as the other strains to catch a joke’s punch-line. Hoots of laughter herald the re-telling of someone’s momentary idiocy or attempt at a Darwin award earlier in the day. The group comes together for cooking, music and light-hearted leg-pulling before falling asleep to the sounds of nature – the chuckling of a river, an occasional owl hoot and a side-striped jackal’s forlorn yipping in the distance. This is what weekends are for members of the Northern Mountain Club.

Under the leadership of the late Deon Richter of the Thabaphaswa Mountain Sanctuary, a small group of hikers and climbers did the groundwork leading to establishment of the club in December 2021. Membership grew by word of mouth at key centres of activity in Mokopane, Wolkberg / Magoebaskloof and Musina. Although most of our activities focus on the fun side of this adventure lifestyle, the club also intends to expand meaningfully into Mountain Search and Rescue, Safety training, Conservation and expanding our activities to folks from all walks of life. We are in the process of affiliating to the Mountain Club of South Africa which will align the club to UIAA, the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, allowing members access to various perks and opportunities abroad.

Don’t be put off by thinking the Mountain Club is all about testosterone-fueled, adrenaline highs. Sharing in activities is as important as achieving accolades. Beginners are always welcome! Does this sound like your cup of tea? Call Vince Egan (082 412 7247) or Bron Egan (081 4020 417) to experience some outdoor magic in the Wolkberg and Magoebaskloof. Connect with Jacobus van Heerden at 060 966 8868 to join the Northern Mountain Club. See you in the mountains!

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