REVIEW: UIAA MOUNTCOM AUTUMN MEETING
The UIAA Mountaineering Commission (MountCom) met in Hong Kong in October 2019. The meeting, which was hosted by the China Hong Kong Mountaineering and Climbing Union (CHKMCU), was attended by 14 delegates from 11 different countries. Frederick Yu (President of CHKMCU) welcomed everyone and Shirman So gave an interesting overview of the CHKMCU, which represents 167 clubs that promote and provide training for all forms of climbing and mountaineering. Please refer to the UIAA’s recent profile of the federation. Climbers and walkers in Hong Kong raised a number of important issues that they face: climbers and instructors have difficulty obtaining personal and liability insurance, environmental issues related to lack of environmental understanding by tourists, damage from artificial footpath creation, environmental damage due to large numbers of adventure races, and hikers getting into difficulty due to inadequate planning and preparation.
Peter Farkas (MountComm President) presented the new strategic plan of the UIAA which proposes that MountCom will be integrated with the Access Commission and renamed the Climbing and Mountaineering Development Commission.
MANAGEMENT OF THE HIGH MOUNTAINS OF THE WORLD:
A working group was recently established to address concerns related to climbing the world’s highest mountains. In addition, the British Mountaineering Council and Alpine Club have prepared a statement in response to negative media coverage and subsequent proposals from the Nepal Ministry of Tourism. The statement highlights concerns surrounding workers’ rights, guiding standards, access, corruption and fraud, sustainability, and best practice. MountComm endorses this statement, and will work towards using it as the basis of a UIAA statement and how to address these concerns. See also Values & Ethics.
ISO CERTIFICATION FOR FEDERATIONS & CLUBS:
MountCom is working to provide Federations and their clubs the option to acquire ISO 21101 certification at a massively reduced cost (€1000-2000). This standard outlines the requirements of a safety management system for adventure tourism activity providers and was established by private outdoor activity companies in Europe. The standard covers guidelines, procedures and good practice for all activities that clubs and federations undertake, with a view to preventing accidents and improved understanding and management of members’ and group activities. The benefits include demonstration of professionalism and commitment to safety, lower insurance premiums, and may prove extremely valuable in legal cases. As such, it will be a valuable certificate for national federations, training bodies and larger clubs – particularly those that provide training, coaching and mentorship.
MOUNTAIN HUTS DIRECTORY
The Canadian Alpine Club has created an online directory and booking system for its mountain huts. MountCom is investigating how their system can be adopted to create a global booking system for mountain huts – like an AirBnB for climbers – and will be inviting federations to become part of this project.
UIAA TRAINING & MOUNTAIN QUALIFICATIONS:
The value of UIAA membership and accreditation of training schemes and qualifications was highlighted by our delegate from Cyprus. As a result the government of Cyprus now takes outdoor activities seriously and provides funding; this has contributed greatly to increased safety and participation in outdoor activities.
UIAA Accreditation of Qualifications. Following a recent inspection and meetings with the Hong Kong training committee, the Hong Kong Mountain Craft qualification has received UIAA accreditation.
Training. Additional leadership and rescue training has been provided in Ladakh and Mongolia, with the long-term aim to create qualifications that are eligible for UIAA accreditation, and personal skills training has been piloted in Kenya, Indonesia and Mongolia.
Seminars. The MountCom Annual Training Seminar, which was was held in Hong Kong for club coaches and trainers, addressed training priorities and course design for hiking, climbing and canyoning. These seminars are a useful and valuable forum for sharing and discussing best practice, skills and safety with world experts and at an international level. A further seminar is planned for Canada in 2020 that will focus on avalanche and snowsport safety. Federations interested in running their own Training Seminar are encouraged to contact Laura Samsó (FEDME).
UIAA Alpine Handbook. The second edition of the UIAA Alpine Handbook has just been completed, with a new section that covers traditional climbing and additions to alpine skills. The handbook, which has proved extremely valuable to a large number of Federations, is now available in over 10 languages, from Korean to Serbian, from Greek to Mongolian. The digital version of the handbook can now be purchased online. This is an extremely valuable and affordable resource for all outdoor leaders, instructors and participants. Further details will be provided in the UIAA General Assembly review.
Database. Development of the qualifications and training database, which will allow management of walking, climbing and mountaineering training, accreditation, courses, seminars etc. is continuing in order to provide scalability.
ETHICS AND VALUES:
The Ethics and Values Working Group (formerly TVWG – Traditional Values Working Group) is investigating the definition of climbing and mountaineering styles and associated ethics, sustainability, best practice and environmental impact. This is of value in other areas of MountCom’s work, including the Tyrol Declaration, Management of the High Mountains of the World (see above), and for the UIAA and Federations to ascertain best and acceptable practice.
With special thanks to Shirman Sho and Frederick Yu of the China Hong Kong Mountaineering and Climbing Union (CHKMCU) for hosting this meeting.
Article by Phil Wickens (BMC Representative),
UIAA Mountaineering Commission