History of the Mountain Club

Founded in December 1952, the Club was initially known as the ‘Mlanje Mountain Club’. It was started by a group of energetic expatriates who were regular climbers on Mount Mulanje. The first chairman and driving force in starting the club as a formal entity was Pat Hall, who had been climbing Mulanje since the 1930s. Other founder members include Moira Bird and John and Anne Killick. In the 1970s, the club became known as the ‘Mulanje Mountain Club’ and, later in 1980, the club changed its name to ‘The Mountain Club of Malawi’.

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Most of the club’s archives (old minutes, newsletters, hut books, etc) are kept at the Society of Malawi Archives and Library, Mandala House, Blantyre, where they may be viewed. Although membership remains to this day overwhelmingly expatriate a growing number of Malawians also now visit the mountain.

The Club’s principal function is to bring together like-minded people who enjoy mountaineering and to introduce them to what Malawi has to offer. The Club runs an events programme throughout the year, produces a newsletter for members, holds social events and assists with maintenance of the huts on Mulanje in cooperation with the Department of Forestry and the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust.

Further Reading

Guide to the Mulanje Massif by Frank Eastwood
First edition published in 1979 by Lorton Communications. Second edition copies available in Blantyre bookshops. 
Rather dated visitor information but very comprehensive background on geology, flora, etc, and valuable information on huts, walking, scrambling and climbing routes.

Venture to the Interior by Laurens van der Post
Published in 1952 by the Hogarth Press, London. Currently available in paperback.
A beautifully written account by the author of a journey made to Mulanje and Nyika in 1949. Criticised by some for fanciful embellishment of the facts, van der Post nonetheless conveys much of the special quality of Mulanje’s unique environment and the seriousness of harsh weather conditions which resulted in a fatality in his party. The ‘interior’ in the title is as much that of the author as of Africa.

Welcome to Mulanje by Lynn Hughes
Published in 2005 by MMCT. 
This colour leaflet has pictures and information on some of the common flora and fauna on Mulanje. Available from MMCT and infoMulanje

Bushbashing in the Chikala Hills

Photographic Guide to Wildflowers in Malawi by Günter Baumann
Published in 2006 by WESM. 
Excellent colour pictures of many flowers on Mulanje. Available from bookshops and WESM.

An Introduction to the Common Trees of Malawi by Clare Shorter
Published by WESM.

The Mulanje Cedar by Jim Chapman
A short book about the unique and endangered Mulanje cedar tree which is the National Tree of Malawi. Published by The Society of Malawi and available from their library at Mandala House in Blantyre.

The Mlanje Mountains of Nyasaland by Frank Dixey
This article by the Government Geologist of Nyasaland was published in 1927 in The Geographical Review vol XVII, no. 4 pp 611-626. It was reprinted in 1990 by Central Africana and is available from their bookshop on Kidney Crescent in Blantyre. Of considerable historical and geological interest.

MCM Golden Jubilee Journal 1952-2002 edited by Mike Petzold
Published in 2003 by MCM.
Contains many fascinating tales and information gathered across 50 years of the club and longer. It covers history, hikes, peaks, climbs, huts and wildlife topics with lots of interesting photos and sketches. Available from MCM. There were four previous journals (1963, 1971, 1978, 1985) but copies are not easily available.

Mulanje Mountain Forest Reserve by Carl Bruessow in David Kelly’s book Endangered Beauty
Published in 2005.
Accompanied by sketches and paintings of Mulanje, this is a 23-page account of the physical geography, climate, ecology, and history of Mulanje. The book also covers other national parks and reserves in Malawi. It is available from many bookshops and galleries in Blantyre and Lilongwe.