2017 wrap-up and briefing

05 Jan 2018 06:38 - 05 Jan 2018 18:21 #72565 by intrepid
Fist off I'd like to wish all members the very best for 2018!

I wanted to provide everyone with a briefing on where things are at with VE.

2017 saw the fulfillment of 10 years of VE. And there is every intention to continue. Be that as it may, I believe it is important to never lose sight of the fact that that the cause of the mountains is one which supersedes the necessity of the continuation of VE. By that I mean, VE should never be the cause itself, or an end in itself. VE may one day cease to exist and be forgotten, but what really matters is that each generation discovers its own passion for mountains and takes a proactive ownership in protecting them. VE is simply a means to achieve this end at the current time. The core of VE has always been the cause, and the call, of the mountains. Friends have offered critique and support over the years to help grow VE into a profitable enterprise (i.e. that it earns an income proportionate to the time and effort it takes to run it). But for me the causes that VE strives toward have always been far more important than making any sort of profit out of it. This continues to be a driving principle.

An important consideration in anything that is undertaken on/by VE is sustainability. If something is initiated, whether it be a new software-related feature on the site, or an initiative such as The Pine Tree Project, I want it to have the best chance of sustaining itself through it's intended lifetime. Often this means it takes a while for things to be launched as the preparations are done. Sometimes it may mean that something is put on hold, or not pursued further. In addition, VE is run entirely out of my own free time and that of the moderators - this also means that things often take time to implement. My point in all of this is that we are in it for the long haul and tend to take the slow-and-steady approach. Though there may be periods in which progress is slow, the work continues, and often behind the scenes.

OK, now that I've rambled on it, here is an update on where we are at with some existing and upcoming projects:


The Pine Tree Project
Now running for several years, this project demonstrates what perseverance and the slow-and-steady approach can achieve. We have a core team of people who are making notable progress, particularly in the Monk's Cowl/Culfargie and the Injasuthi areas. We have well defined project areas, our good relationship with EKZNW continues, and one of our members is establishing a very comprehensive and scientific approach to recording all of the data of the work that is done. Our Upper Tsekesteke project area features the offshoot initiate to do some maintenance on Tseketseke Hut. I believe the hut has been utilised more as a result. The Pine Tree Project has earned VE an award and has also been featured on TV. Thank you to everyone that works on this project! It embodies many of VE's core values and vision - I strongly encourage members to get involved, in what is also a fun and personally rewarding activity.
For more information see:
www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/13-drakensberg-environment/3217-the-pine-tree-project.html


Featured Annual Threads
The Snow Watch, Dragon's Wrath and Berg Alert threads have run for many years and seem to catch most, if not all relevant events as they happen, especially as our community continues to grow. They also serve as a value historic record. Everyone is encouraged to post as many links, pictures, information and insights as possible to keep the record as comprehensive. We will set up the Water Watch thread to also follow the annual thread structure as of this year. I hope this will encourage more participation on this topic. An idea is to set up a list of strategic and commonly used sites (for example Twins Cave, top of Tugela Falls, Keith Bush Camp), and whenever anyone has been to those defined sites they can provide a very quick update on what the water situation was.


Essence of the Dragon
The photo competitions have run on a quarterly basis for 7 years and have produced some really impressive shots of the Berg. To give the quarterly format a break, we will be running this on an annual basis for 2018. There will be 2 categories that have an open theme. One of the categories will be for cell phone shots only. Many members will be aware that we did have prize sponsorship at one time. Though VE itself had no profit from this, I encouraged it in order to keep the competition interesting for participants. Currently we do not have any sponsors, but are still open to this should we find one. All images can be viewed in the sub-galleries under this link:
www.vertical-endeavour.com/gallery/drakensberg/essence-of-the-dragon.html
Winning images from each round are also copied into the main folder on that page.


Khulus/Peaks project
A core group of people continues to shape a list of summits, peaks and "Khulus" of the Maloti-Drakensberg. It continues to be a substantial undertaking given the vast number of poorly documented peaks and summits, and the complexities surrounding definitions of what makes a summit a peak, and ultimately what makes a peak a "Khulu". The scope of this list of summits is unprecedented. Recommendations will be put forward for a list of Khulus but this list will ultimately need to be subjected to a long-term maturation through broader review and input. For more information see:
www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/10-drakensberg-peaks/56046-the-high-ground.html


Amagug'esizwe

For those that haven't figured out what this is all about yet, I'll keep you in suspense. Suffice it to say we continue to foster good relationships with the Mnweni Wilderness Working Team and the AmaZizi Wilderness Group and will support them where we can.


The Cable Car proposal
As many will know, VE played a very active role along with several other organisations in highlighting concerns and opposing the cable car proposed for the Busingatha area. Things have gone very quiet with the proposal but we will continue to monitor this, and will continue to raise concerns where we see them. For more information see:
www.vertical-endeavour.com/forum/14-drakensberg-general/55316-drakensberg-cable-car.html


New feature on the site
I have alluded to an upcoming new feature on the site for some time. It is a wiki and cataloging type feature. Taking the example of Berg peaks, passes and caves, it will provide a place to store summarized info and all references (forum links, pictures etc). Each peak, pass and cave will have its own page, and these pages will be tagged and catalogued in a way that makes it easy to find and look up. This is being tested and developed and when it is ready, it will bring all the information stored on VE together into a user-friendly format.


Future projects
As we are currently doing with the Drakensberg peaks/khulus, I hope that we can also tackle Berg passes sometime in the near future. The way we describe, categorise and rate passes can do with an overhaul and this comes up periodically in the forum. As with the peaks and khulu project I envisage this to be a process that must be open to all to be involved in, and one which be subjected to review and critique by the broader community, and be properly time-tested. The same can also be done for Berg caves.

With all this focus on peaks, passes and caves, the issue of naming the many unnamed and undocumented ones, is also something that will need to be looked at. It is something that will need a lot of care in order to ensure that the best possible chance is given to assign appropriate names. I don't envisage that VE is, or should become any sort of naming authority. Rather, while we explore and document so much of the Berg as we do, I think we have to take some responsibility in ensuring appropriate naming. We can act as a catalyst to identify the need for new names, and to steer this in the right direction where ultimately good names can be assigned. This is something that is much bigger than VE and it is not something we should do on our own. And as with everything else, it will need time. More on this later.




In closing, many of you will be aware that I currently reside in Canada. My time in the Berg and South Africa is limited to visits. After more than 2 years of living in Canada, VE continues to function and grow, as I hoped it would. I continue to love South Africa and the Berg dearly, and living so far away as I do is not always easy for me. But there are many new adventures here for me, with no shortage of mountains. Certainly my mountaineering experience has broadened significantly since living here. Thanks to this site, I can remain connected to the Berg, as it will always be a very special place for me.

Thanks to everyone for making this site what it is, for posting stuff and for being so enthusiastic about the Berg! A special thanks to the moderators and those who advise me in matters.



A lovely summer's day climbing in my new mountain playground - Vancouver Island, Canada

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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Last edit: 05 Jan 2018 18:21 by intrepid. Reason: typo

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08 Jan 2018 09:36 #72589 by MarkT
Replied by MarkT on topic 2017 wrap-up and briefing
Thanks for all your work Intrepid! I am interested in the technology being trialled for the wiki and cataloging feature. What platform are you looking at?

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11 Jan 2018 20:16 #72625 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic 2017 wrap-up and briefing

MarkT wrote: Thanks for all your work Intrepid! I am interested in the technology being trialled for the wiki and cataloging feature. What platform are you looking at?

It will integrate seamlessly with the current set-up, just like the forum, gallery and downloads do.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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17 Jan 2018 08:37 #72650 by Rhinoandhedgehog

intrepid wrote:
New feature on the site
I have alluded to an upcoming new feature on the site for some time. It is a wiki and cataloging type feature. Taking the example of Berg peaks, passes and caves, it will provide a place to store summarized info and all references (forum links, pictures etc). Each peak, pass and cave will have its own page, and these pages will be tagged and catalogued in a way that makes it easy to find and look up. This is being tested and developed and when it is ready, it will bring all the information stored on VE together into a user-friendly format.


Super idea!

Don't for get a about the VE Buff .... hopefully this year in time for winter...

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19 Jan 2018 07:59 #72663 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic 2017 wrap-up and briefing

Rhinoandhedgehog wrote: Don't for get a about the VE Buff .... hopefully this year in time for winter...

Macc and PapaD have been working on this. We are finalising some designs and have gathered quotes, and will update everyone of options in due course.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Richard Hunt

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