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While most people I have mentioned it to can’t believe it, truth be told, I myself scarcely believe that 20 years have passed since the very first issue of SA Mountain was published on 1 June 2002.
I had harboured the ambition of starting up a full colour climbing mag for a few years since returning from a couple of years abroad. Then, due to a number of deciding factors, it all came together in the first half of 2002. The main factor being that I got the buy-in from some of the major players in the climbing and outdoor industry, because, as is plain and simple, without advertising, there ain’t gonna be no mag.
The other major factor was that many of my friends and acquaintances in the climbing world were more than happy to supply me with articles, information and images. And then, all of a sudden, I sat down and thought, now look what you’ve done! Now you have to put together a climbing magazine.
What a mixture of emotions – excitement, anxiety, the fear of failure, financial worries. But hey, this is what I wished for, wasn’t it? And now here it is. Put on your big boy pants and get out there. I sat in front of my computer and slowly started to piece together my first attempts at publishing a climbing mag.
I remember the day quite clearly, when issue number one came off the press, and the MCSA hosted the launch of South Africa’s newest climbing magazine. I remember it well, because, as fate would have it, on that evening, standing proudly behind my table with stacks of SA Mountain no. 1 laid out neatly in rows, I managed to snap my front tooth off at the gum, chewing on a piece of biltong. The anguish when I realized what had actually happened is hard to explain. There I was, with my new magazine, having to chat to numerous people, with a huge hole in the front of my mouth. Not the best of starts, but I managed to get through that evening, even though most of my mates thought it hilarious.
Since that first issue, a lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge. Some trying times, but mostly good – through the 20 years the publication retained good and loyal support from many of our advertisers, and contributions in the form of articles, photos, gear reviews, etc. continued to come in unabated. One of our proudest moments was when SA Mountain was awarded ‘One of the top 5 climbing magazines in the world in 2019’ by an independent American body.
When the Covid axe fell in March 2020, we went through our worst period. Some of our biggest supporters pulled their advertising spend, and for a few worrying months I wasn’t sure of the future of SA Mountain. After throwing around ideas and some possible solutions, in the end, the only answer was to cut production costs to offset our drastically reduced advertising income. And the only way to do that was to cut our print run and continue on a solely digital, online platform – which is now free for all to read on our website.
I’d like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to all our advertisers over the last two decades and to all of you who contributed in any way. And also to our readers, many of whom having supported the publication from day one. Without either of you, SA Mountain would not exist and would not be South Africa’s only dedicated climbing magazine. Click here to read our 20-year anniversary issue and to stand a chance to win some awesome prizes!
Be safe in the hills
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