Commission Reports from 2023 UIAA General Assembly

Anti-Doping, Featured, General Assembly, Legal, Mountain Medicine, Mountain Protection, Mountaineering, Safety, Training, Youth
Creating and revising global safety standards remains a core priority of the UIAA. Photo credit: Peter Lappas/Lappas

During the 2023 UIAA General Assembly (full report to follow) held in Trabzon, Türkiye, the nine UIAA Commissions provided updates about the progress made this year and priorities for the next 12 months.

Anti-Doping Commission

Marija Andjelkovic (PSS, Serbia)

  • Continued work to remain compliant with the WADA Code:
    • Upcoming deadline in November to meet all the latest requirements from WADA.
    • Submission of information for both UIAA Ice Climbing competitions and Skyrunning, UIAA Unit Member.
  • Ensuring athletes have all the information they need to understand everything about the doping process.

Legal Affairs Commission
Klara Dvorakova (Czech Republic, CMLA)

  • Finalisation of a database of laws related to mountaineering and climbing accidents
    • This will go live on the UIAA website in the coming weeks, with seven international cases currently processed and posted.
    • The database will serve as a tool to increase knowledge amongst members and the climbing community regarding legal risks and consequences of mountaineering and climbing.
    • In its report findings, there will be an opportunity to showcase UIAA’s other work in international safety standards (medical, training, Safety Label) and introduce a more educational component.

Medical Commission
Urs Hefti (Switzerland, SAC)

  • Revision to the paper on Women in High Altitude published in High Altitude Medicine & Biology journal, one of leading journals in high altitude medicine. To be available on the UIAA website shortly.
  • Revision to paper on children – is currently at a research and literature search.
  • Development of revised high-altitude peak-specific papers. The intention is to bring existing papers up to date and develop new ones for different mountain regions and ranges. The first one in this new series has been published – dedicated to Denali. To be followed by Fuji (November 2023) and  Kilimanjaro and Aconcagua (early in January 2024).
  • 2024 Medical Conference: Work is underway for an international medical and safety meeting in Bariloche, Argentina in April. This will run in parallel with the UIAA Management Committee meeting. Medical events will include lectures, workshops, and practical field work.

Mountain Protection
Carolina Adler (New Zealand, NZAC)

  • Finalisation of revised Environmental Objectives and Guidelines. The original document was published 20 years ago for International Year of Mountains. The new guidelines focus on the significant change in the impact of climate change, and our understanding about its impact on the mountains.
    • The aim is to release the document for International Mountain Day, 11 December 2023.
    • The release will be supported by a communication campaign to focus on some of the document’s individual aims and objectives with case studies and best practices. UIAA member associations will be provided with these assets to use on their own platforms.
  • The United Nations General Assembly declared the period 2023–2027 as Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions:
    • The UIAA Mountain Protection Commission invites an expression of interest for particular topics that members would like to discuss and develop through webinars and workshops.

Greg Moseley (South Africa, MCSA)

  • The Commission has created a number of working groups:
    • One, spearheaded by an initiative from the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI), is looking at hiking and trails.
    • A second, is focused on climbing festivals and evolving the UIAA’s Rock Climbing Festival Award.
  • An update to the 2002 Tyrol Declaration is in progress and in a more simplified format. A draft version was presented to delegates. Its release is scheduled for the coming months.
  • The Commission has addressed the question of the number of 8000m peaks, particularly the subject of the 14 x 8000m summits, and released a position paper.
  • MountCom is working on a number of similar position papers with the intention to provide the UIAA with the ability to interface with mainstream media in a more agile manner. A recent statement focused on the subject of historic mountaineering records.
  • The Mountain Worker Initiative, focused on the fair and equitable treatment of mountain workers, is being revived after a period of inactivity.
  • The Commission is working closely with the Mountain Protection Commission regarding guidelines for MPC environmentally conscious expeditions.

Lionel Kiener (Switzerland, SAC)

  • A recent UIAA website article addressed the progress being made on a number of projects including researching into the welding of top anchors.
    • Following the testing of a number of random products from UIAA Safety Labels, the UIAA is working on a report detailing the key findings.
  • Additional research groups are looking into textile degradation and helmet rim impact.
  • On the subject of canyoning harnesses, SafeCom released a recent warning which addressed degradation based on UV exposure, humidity and heat.

Steve Long (United Kingdom, BMC)

  • The Commission emphasised the role of the UIAA in providing guidance and guaranteed quality assurance, particularly in light of the number of amateur videos on social media.
  • Work on the UIAA database is nearly complete with the system to be launched live soon. This will be linked to a world map to see where qualifications are and have been accredited.
  • The Commission is currently assisting inspections (training labels, instructor and leader qualifications) in Greece, Japan, Mexico and the USA and will soon begin a period of revalidations for certificates which have expired or are nearing expiration.
  • The UIAA personal skills certificate, focused on individual’s own competence, has proved popular in Hong Kong where thousands of people have been accredited. The Commission believes this has huge potential when rolled out in other countries and with the advent of the database making it easier to apply for such qualifications.

Pavlos Georgiades (Cyprus, CMCOF)

  • The Commission’s Innovation Panel, a group of experts from different countries specialised in national youth camps, are working to define the future direction of the UIAA’s youth programmes.
  • The Youth Commission achieved eight camps of target of ten (two in France, two in Romania, two in Cyprus, Ireland in Austria, one in Spain). The Swiss Alpine Club, FEDME (Spain) and CAI (Italy) are set to host events in 2024
  • South Korea, through the Korean Alpine Federation (KAF), is set to commit to some significant youth projects in 2024.
  • Regarding its teaching syllabus, the Commission is working on a cross-Commission project to ensure other aspects of the UIAA are introduced into the syllabus. This will introduce mountain protection, medical and safety aspects as well as a specific focus on mountain culture, trad climbing, sport climbing, hiking as well as ice climbing and others.