Like a number of UIAA Commissions, SafeCom recently held its first in-person meeting since 2019. The three-day event included not only the internal SafeCom meeting but a plenary session with representatives from global climbing and mountaineering equipment manufacturers together with personnel from the laboratories accredited for testing that said equipment meets UIAA standards. Over 50 people, in-person or online, participated.

One of the significant recent developments has been the issue of the first Safety Labels for corrosion resistance. These have been granted for class GC stress corrosion (see related article on Update to UIAA Standard 123 and related explainer). Further products are expected to be released soon subject to further welding analysis.

Members of the UIAA Safety Commission meet in Skopje, North Macedonia in early May

Progress has also been made by Working Groups (WGs) dedicated to the developed of several new Standards:

  • Headlamps –  A battery operated lighting standard. A draft has been proposed, this is ongoing within the WG and the next meeting will be held shortly. Further details to follow.
  • Welding of rock anchors – In November 2021, SafeCom collected anchors from around the globe, including a number received from Europe and North America. Anchors were tested and analysed by the internal commission. What SafeCom has found is that there are some problems with welding that could result in failures and cracks. Lack of welding quality was identified: the WG will investigate further and the internal commission is independently testing further products with different manufactures.
  • Static ropes –  The WG has been meeting frequently and has looked closely into weight and sheet percentage, materials, static strength and the strength of knots. This work has included reporting on different testing methods: including life safety ropes, intended to support those caving, canyoning; glacier transverse for rappelling, ascending, positioning and rescue rigging scenarios.
  • Sharp edge test on ropes – A machine was created to test a rope’s cut resistance in pure shear situations and lateral movement. The latest test shows that the force in a dynamic belay system does not correlate with the dynamic capacity of the rope. Work is ongoing.

In its commitment to providing the climbing community with information related to safety and risk management when out in the field, SafeCom continues to expand its Q&A series. Climbers can submit questions via the dedicated website page. SafeCom is also working on the release of an animation to explain the importance for climbers to use accredited and fully tested climbing gear.

For more about the UIAA’s work in safety please click here.

Main photo: Credit/Peter Lappas