Mountain Voices is a podcast from the UIAA. Throughout each series, the UIAA explores different climbing and mountaineering topics. The series provide a platform for both experts from the UIAA and renowned figures from the mountain world to share their views and opinions. Each series is made of up of six episodes. Season 1 launched in February 2024 with Season 2 to follow later in the year.

Season One

EPISODE 1

What is the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour?

Episode 1 of Mountain Voices transports you to the thrilling setting of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour. The annual series pits athletes against challenging, technical routes and sends them up vertical walls of ice at lightning speeds. The venues are scenic but temperatures challenging. Climbers must master their tools and diverse competition walls. Gordon McArthur (Canada) and Eimir McSwiggan (Ireland) provide an insight into what it takes to be an elite competition ice climber, how to get involved and what keeps them coming back. Rob Adie, Competition Manager at the UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation – explains the format of the sport, its recent evolution and ambition to be part of the competition programme at a future Olympic Winter Games. There’s tales of blood on the ice, when to execute a Figure 4 and how ice climbing differs from sport climbing.

EPISODE 2

Avalanche: The Sound Nobody Wants To Hear

Episode 2 of Mountain Voices focuses on the subject of avalanches and is inspired by the UIAA Safety Commission’s recent work related to electromagnetic interference in avalanche transceivers. Experienced American IFMGA Mountain Guides Marc Beverly (a member of the UIAA Safety Commission) and Zeb Blais provide an insight into the findings of the recent UIAA research particularly the do’s and dont’s when a transceiver is in both search and send mode. The podcast also discuss what causes an avalanche, the impact of climate change on avalanches and how our everyday electronic devices from phones to head cameras to GPS watches may interfere with transceivers.

EPISODE 3

Everest: It’s Complicated

Ahead of the 2024 Everest Climbing Season, Mountain Voices shines a spotlight on the world’s highest, most iconic and debated mountain. It is the 100th anniversary of Mallory and Irvine’s fated last attempt to climb Everest. They’ve come to define that heroic post first world war period of exploration in their experimental oxygen sets and (by our standards) primitive clothing.

What would define the present age? The age of commercialisation? A trophy achievement for rich individuals with limited climbing experience, blindly sliding up a rope fixed by teams of Sherpas? Is climbing Everest actually an achievement? And what is the current situation for the sherpas who support every climb? Opinions come from three expert figures:

Ed Douglas the author of numerous books on Everest and the Himalayan region including the biography of Tenzing Norgay, Chomolungma Sings the Blues: Travels Round Everest and Himalaya: A Human History.

Victor Saunders is a UIAGM guide who’s led numerous ascents around the world. His 1st ascents include Panch Chuli V and Golden Pillar of Spantik. His most recent was Sersank in 2016. Victor’s books have won prizes in Canada France and England. he’s a former president of the Alpine Club, and has made six ascents of Everest.

Young Hoon Oh, is a Korean climber and anthropologist. He has made four attempts on Mt Everest, three of which were to do with his ethnographic research and he summited in 2012. He’s also lived among Nepali for two years and he’s a contributory author of Other Everests: One mountain, many worlds, a scholarly book published in 2023.

EPISODE 4

Women at Altitude

Episode 4 of Mountain Voices focuses on the subject of women at altitude. Inspiration came from the work of the UIAA Medical Commission who have played a leading role in the publication of a number of papers dedicated to women and mountaineering. Topics covered across the papers include altitude sickness, frostbite, nutrition and papers on female-specific issues like menopause. Mountain Voices tackles the following questions: Are women more or less prone to cold and altitude related illnesses than men? Do women need to follow different advice? and do women make safer mountaineers?

Contributions come from two of the authors of the UIAA Medical Commission papers, namely Dr Jacqueline Pichler Hefti, a Senior Physician at the University of Bern, Clinic for Pulmonary Medicine and Dr Alison Rosier, an Organisational Psychologist & Strategic Change Consultant. IFMGA guide Emilie Drinkwater, the ninth woman to qualify as a full mountain guide in the United States, and a leader of several expeditions all over the world, offers the perspective of climbing with both all female and all male groups.

Further details on the UIAA Medical Commission papers can be found here.

The recently released women in mountaineering papers, the result of a number of years of dedicated research and work, have been published in the High Altitude Medicine & Biology journal. They are available to view, free of charge, until November 2024.

EPISODE 5

Let There Be Rock

In exclusive interviews, two legends from the world of rock climbing – Adam Ondra and Beth Rodden – share their passion for the sport.

Adam Ondra, from the Czech Republic, is often described as the world’s best climber. His list of hard ascents is staggering – including some 130 routes graded 9a or above. It was way back in 2012 that he climbed the world’s first 9b+ in Flatanger, Norway. In 2016 at the age of 23 he repeated Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s Dawn Wall in just eight days – it took them 19. He’s a familiar face on the podium of the IFSC circuit and is currently preparing for Paris 2024 qualification.

Beth Rodden is inextricably linked with some of the hardest climbs in Yosemite, having made a number of historic free ascents, including the first free ascent of Lurking Fear in 2001 and a free repeat of The Nose in 2005, set by her childhood hero, Lynn Hill.  With Meltdown in 2008, she established the hardest first ascent of a single pitch ever done by a woman. Beth recently released her autobiography: A Light through the Cracks: A Climber’s Story. In it, she doesn’t hold back and details not just the climbing adventures, but the long-lasting trauma of a much-publicised kidnap ordeal in Kyrgyzstan, the breakdown of her relationship and climbing partnership with Tommy Caldwell, the inequality in female sponsorship and her battles with injury not to mention, herself.

The UIAA thanks Mammut for their support in organising the interview with their athlete Adam Ondra.

EPISODE 6

Climate Change and Climbing

A focus on climate change and climbing featuring contributions from François Masse (Parks Canada), climber Graham Zimmerman and Pedro Lacaz Amaral (Gear Tips)

Available on 28 May

PODCAST
PRODUCTION
TEAM

Mountain Voices is a podcast series from the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation

Presented and produced by Tarquin Cooper
Co-produced by Peter Bourne
Edited by Tom Tushaw

Mountain voices brings together views and opinions from the world of climbing and mountaineering. They are not necessarily those of the UIAA.