Former IFSC Secretary General
With his parents taking him along when they were hiking in the mountains during their vacations is how the mountaineering career of Reindert Lenselink (born 1956) got started. These family hikes usually went no higher than to an alpine hut. But soon the snowy peaks and glaciers luring in the distance became the focus of young Reindert. After taking a great number of courses, he went on to become a climber as well as a mountaineering instructor. He was then invited to take up the post of Secretary General of the Education Committee for Mountain and Climbing Instructors and for Group Leaders.
Oddly enough, the Netherlands, a famously flat country without exposed rock or mountains anywhere, and with just a few hilly ranges including the maximum elevation of 322 meters ASL, had no less than two mountaineering federations serving some 45,000 members between them. The Dutch Ministry for Sports had expressed its wish to merge the two federations for several years, when it started a campaign to have members elected to their boards who were receptive to the idea – and who would proceed with the eventual merger. Reindert, already Secretary General of the Education Committee and a long-standing member of both federations, was considered a suitable candidate. He was duly elected to the board of one of the two Dutch federations.
Following the January 1st 1998 merger, Reindert became a board member of the unified federation, which had received the assent by Queen Beatrix, The Royal Dutch Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (NKBV). He took on the responsibility for the branch of sport climbing. It had emerged as a rapidly developing new activity within the international mountaineering and rock climbing community. To better serve the policy objectives of the new Dutch Federation, Reindert was nominated as a member of the International Council for Competitive Climbing (ICC) of the Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA), as well as being elected as Treasurer of the ICC. One year later, the members of the UIAA elected Reindert as the Secretary General of the Council.
Historically, mountaineering was regarded as an upper-class sport, its practice reserved to those who could afford it – and they were few. That was reflected in the national mountaineering federations too. They tended to be smallish and exclusive. The rise of sport climbing at gyms in urban areas, especially in countries without an established mountaineering history and with newly created federations, soon started to cause problems with the UIAA and the traditional mountain sports community.
These developments ultimately led to the establishment of the International Federation for Sport Climbing (IFSC) in 2007. In his role as Secretary General of the ICC Reindert was involved in the development of the management strategies that ultimately led to ICC separating from the UIAA and assuming its new identity as IFSC. At the Founding Plenary Assembly of the IFSC in 2007, Reindert was elected as General Secretary but, as a result of problems with his health, was forced to resign from that role in 2009.
Reindert Lenselink is Honorary Member of the Royal Dutch Climbing and Mountaineering Federation as well as of the International Federation for Sport Climbing.