A GLOBAL COMMITMENT TO CLIMBER SAFETY

Uniting representatives from global climbing equipment manufacturers and testing laboratories and national delegates from UIAA member associations, the annual UIAA SafeCom meet is a crucial opportunity for leading players in the field of mountain safety to discuss the current challenges facing the climbing world and to present progress on innovations and developments. This year’s session was held in Porto, Portugal from 14-16 May and hosted by Clube Nacional de Montanhismo CNM.

For the first time chaired by recently-elected UIAA Safety Commission President Amit Chowdhury (IMF, India), the meetings were held over four days comprising a session with the UIAA Ice Climbing Commission to discuss mutual collaboration on standards for ice climbing walls and temporary ice structures, an internal Safecom meeting and a two-day plenary session with international manufacturers.

The UIAA currently counts 77 active safety label holders from 20 countries. This represents a rise of 11 manufacturers since 2017. While half are European-based there is a steady rise in requests from Asia and the Americas. This includes three new requests from American-based manufactures, three from China, two from India and one from Brazil. Further testament to the global nature of the UIAA Safety Label was provided by the presence of delegates from the Jiangsu Zhongzheng Testing Co (OTC) laboratory in China, and the manufacturer Gipfel Climbing Equipment from India.

In terms of the UIAA Safety Label, the most popular standard certified is for connectors followed by dynamic ropes, harnesses and slings. Over the past eighteen months, the UIAA has certified its first labels for crash pads. A full list of certified UIAA equipment can be found on the dedicated database. This tool, together with the UIAA Recalls page, is a fundamental resource for climbers who want to check the authenticity of their equipment. As a recently published article focusing on the perils of buying online equipment introduces, it is important climbers seek equipment from certified manufacturers. A forthcoming article from the UIAA will outline the key considerations when purchasing climbing gear.

Among the important developments confirmed in the meeting was confirmation of the publication of new standard on Dynamic Lanyards (UIAA 109). Further details will be communicated in the coming days. A new working group has been created to brainstorm and come up with a list of potential equipment (non-PPE) for which UIAA will develop standards and issue safety labels. The UIAA continues to gather information on anchor corrosion incidents and failures and will provide an online tool for climbers to share information to support this research. UIAA Standards are developed by the climbers and mountaineers for the climbing and mountaineering community.

As part of its collaboration and information exchange with the International Commission for Mountain Rescue (ICAR), the UIAA welcomed Gebhard Barbisch to the meeting. Lionel Kiener (SAC, Switzerland), vice-President of SafeCom will represent the UIAA at ICAR’s upcoming meeting in Chamonix.

The UIAA Safety Commission bestowed honorary membership on its former President and Commission member, Jean Franck Charlet (FFCAM, France), recognition for his longstanding dedication to the UIAA and mountain safety. Jean-Franck has overseen the development of a number of major UIAA Safety Standards.

Past and present UIAA SafeCom Presidents: Jean-Franck Charlet and Amit Chowdhury with UIAA Safety Label Administrator Stephanie Stettbacher

The UIAA Safety Label holders present at the meeting comprised:

Austrialpin
Aludesign
Beal
Black Diamond
Camp SPA
Cousin Trestec
DMM
Gipfel Climbing Equipment
Kong
Lyon
Mammut
ORTOVOX Sportartikel GmbH
Petzl /ZEDEL
Salewa
Simond
Singing rock – Lanex
Skylotec GmbH
Sterling Ropes
Stubai
Tech Rock
Teufelberger Fiber Rope

Full details on all UIAA Safety Label Holders can be found here.

UIAA Accredited Laboratories present at the meeting:

APAVE, France
AUVA, Austria
OTC, China
VVUU, Czech Republic

Further reading:
UIAA Safety Labels
UIAA Safety Standards
UIAA Accredited Labs

Main Image: Opening animation to UIAA Safety Label video