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Some History

History of the Hottentots Holland Section

"On December 1, 1960, the Mountain Club of South Africa gained a new Section, namely, 'The Hottentots Holland Section'—for the second time in 37 years.

It is interesting to trace the origin of the Section in both cases. In the 1924 Annual it is stated in the Annual Report that on January 17, 1923, a meeting was held at the Dynamite Factory, Somerset West, to discuss the desirability of forming a local Section of the M.C.S.A. As a result of this meeting the Section joined the Club on February 19. The Section started off with 17 members, who were very active, until eventually through lack of support the Section was discontinued a few years later. Since then a few of the original members and many new local climbers have continued their mountaineering as Country Members of the Cape Town Section.

Over the last 10 years or so, as M.C.S.A. members living in the Hottentots Holland area increased in number, the idea of re-establishing the old Section was often discussed, but unfortunately nothing came of it at the time. By the end of 1957, however, it was discovered that there were approximately 20 members of the M.C.S.A. residing in the area. Although all these persons were in favour of re-establishing the Section, it was considered that numbers were still too small to warrant positive action along these lines. Instead it was decided to call a meeting of all interested persons in order to form a local Mountain Club, separate from the M.C.S.A., with the purpose of determining whether there would be enough sustained support to warrant the reestablishment of the Section when the time was ripe.

The meeting was held on September 4, 1958, once again at the Dynamite Factory, nearly 36 years after the original meeting, and the 'Hottentots Holland Mountain Club' was established. This Club was initially directed solely by M.C.S.A. members; the first Committee·being constituted as follows:—

Chairman: H. F. Wood. Hon. Secretary: R. W. Baxter.

Committee: H. J. Ackermann, M.A. Loos, A. C. N. Malkin.

At the first A.G.M. of this Club in January, 1959, Col. R. W. Hallack, a foundation member of the original Section, was elected President of the Hottentots Holland Mountain Club. Col. Hallack was still our President when the Section was re-established in December, 1960.

The H.H. Mountain Club grew rapidly, and at one stage membership reached the 90 mark. It was realised, however, that several members had merely joined the Club for novelty, and that some time must elapse before it would be possible to determine the size of the hard core of genuinely keen members. It was not very long before our membership settled down to a steady figure in the vicinity of 70.

Much work was done in the way of efficient organisation. Soon a conventional-type mountain rescue stretcher was constructed by two members at a cost of £12; since then a Thomas splint and Lowmoor Jacket have also been made. A demonstration of the equipment in use was given to members by a team from the Cape Town Section. A Rescue Schedule was drawn up and an efficient Rescue Unit established. The latter has proved itself extremely capable on recent mountain rescues.

We have always maintained close and friendly relations with the Stellenbosch Section. During 1959 and 1960 our members were gradually introduced to M.C.S.A. methods and organisation. Meets were held regularly every three weeks, and a 'Friday Evening' once a month. Privilege of access through local farms was obtained and friendly relations were established with Foresters in the area.

At the 1960 Annual General Meeting members were consulted on the question of the H.H.M.C. becoming a Section of the M.C.S.A. The Committee was instructed to approach the Central Committee of the M.C.S.A., and, as a result, the H.H.M.C. was admitted as a Section on December I, 1960.

Membership now stands at 72; and the Section is proud to number among its ranks three of the members of the original Section, namely, Messrs. R. W. Hallack, N. M. McLeod and J. G. R. Macleod. We are greatly indebted to the Somerset West Factory of African Explosives and Chemical Industries Ltd., for the close relationship the Company and its employees have had with mountaineering in the Hottentots Holland area through the years.

In conclusion, I thank the members of the H. H. Section for their loyalty and support; support that has enabled a Section of the M.C.S.A. to be reborn. We look forward to a long and happy association with the Club and all its Sections, and we will endeavour to maintain the high standard of mountaineering that has existed in this Section in the past."

R. W. BAXTER - 1960