Further developments on Training Standards label announced

Mountaineering, Training

Significant progress has been made on the further development of the UIAA Training Standards label. Also discussed at the recent meeting in Switzerland of the UIAA Mountaineering Commission was traditional climbing and an update to the Legal Experts Working Group document on legal liability. The full report on the meeting is from Phil Wickens, commission secretary:

The UIAA Mountaineering Commission met in Bern, Switzerland, in April. The meeting, which was hosted by the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC-CAS), was very well attended with 20 delegates representing 14 different countries, and included meetings of the Mountaineering Commission’s two working groups; the Training Standards Working Group (TSWG) and the Legal Experts Working Group (LEWG).

Chiaki Aoyama from Japan is developing an international system for collecting and analysing accident statistics. Once in place, this will help to identify areas where safety and training can be improved, and for insurance companies to better understand risk in mountain activities.

The Bolting and Traditional Climbing Working Group is currently in the process of collating national policies, guidelines and publications regarding traditional climbing, and regarding the placement of fixed protection in the mountain and crag environments. The group, which is chaired by Doug Scott, is concerned about the loss of traditional climbing areas, skills and ethics. It aims to formulate an UIAA statement that is recognised internationally, and to establish guidelines, based on existing policies, to assist federations in developing their own policy and guidelines for traditional climbing and the placement of fixed protection.

A lot of interest has been expressed in the Training Standards by developing federations and organisations. In order to expand the work of the Training Standards Working Group, a detailed business plan was drawn up, together with a system for training experts, assessors and trainers. The group proposes that a UIAA Training Standard label be awarded to Federations that meet the UIAA standards, and are currently organizing a series of seminars to train the trainers, assessors and external validators. Philippe Deschamps and Stéphane Lozac’hmeur from the Petzl Foundation charity discussed areas in which they are continuing to assist the TSWG. This currently includes providing help for Asian federations to set up their own national training schemes, and help with the design of training manuals for federations that have none.

Xabier Saenz Ezeizabarrena from Spain has succeeded Renee Hopster as Chair of the Legal Experts Working Group. The group is currently updating its 2002 report on legal liability, which it expects to publish shortly. They have also created a database of the most important cases from Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Britain, France, USA and Japan, and report a reduction in the already limited significance of waivers in EEC law due to new consumer protection regulations. Future work will include reports on waivers, climbing wall accidents, use of expert evidence, insurance, legal risk assessment and cross boarder employment issues.