New Training Standards program ready for evaluation

Featured, Mountaineering, Training

An innovative multi-year UIAA Training Standards program conducted in cooperation with the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) is in the final stages of evaluation and will provide a template for a much sought-after service from federation members.

The Nepal program, supported by a charity called the Petzl Foundation, is for a trekking leader training scheme with “train the trainer” courses to be administered by the NMA. Steve Long of the UIAA Training Standards Panel said the model can easily be modified for any the current seven UIAA Standards.

Those standards are accreditation for summer and winter walking, ski-touring, rock (adventure and sport) climbing, ice climbing and high alpine climbing.

“We have a model that we can now take to other countries,” said Long. “That model is to help UIAA federation members design and implement credible training qualification systems to an international standard while being geared towards local needs. These will complement and protect professional qualifications, providing training for volunteers and in some cases a first rung on the professional ladder.”

“Each country has its own special requirements,” said Long pointing out that the UIAA can help federations, particularly those who do not have established training standards, to develop a scheme that works for them as one size doesn’t fit all.

Member priority

A new web portal is under development and will be launched through the UIAA website ( for automation of the process of applying for Training Standards this year.

The call for such a service was rated as the number one priority of member federations in the strategic plan survey in 2011, which outlines a road map for the UIAA until 2016. Long said there has been significant interest from member federations who want similar programs either for straightforward accreditation or for a train the trainer style program.

The Nepal program which involves a range of skills development from rope and knot use, to map and compass navigation, risk management and rescue training began in 2006 but was halted due to internal changes within NMA, and resumed again in 2010.


The program is now at a point where six students who were trainees two years ago are now teaching.

Another 10 trainers are working with the HITT programme (High Impact Tourism Training),  implemented by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), to develop tutor training resources and help cascade trek leader training to trekking agencies in Nepal.

Next steps

“We are almost ready for an independent evaluation of the program,” said Long. He said the NMA is now in the process of developing the assessment infra-structure (logbooks, prospectus etc.) and once that is complete, the UIAA will evaluate the whole scheme before accreditation.

The scheme is aimed to deliver a short intense “sandwich” course wrapped around a trekking season and takes place near Kathmandu. It came about because of an agreement at the 2011 UIAA General Assembly with the Nepal Mountaineering Association and Petzl Foundation to develop a self-sustaining course that would provide a suitable level of technical and practical knowledge for hill-walking activities; to complement the longstanding Basic Mountaineering course developed in partnership with the Alpine Association of Slovenia (PZS).

The Petzl Foundation’s original goal of training professional trek leaders has evolved into a mixed-ability training program to help young mountaineers gain basic hill craft, and more experienced mountaineers to gain practical leadership skills and work as a cooperative team.

Long said that a working party, with the assistance of EC funds, the HITT programme is in the process of developing a tutor training manual for UIAA member federations to use and is also in discussions with organisations in Pakistan and India, advising that this should be managed by the national representative organisation in the UIAA.

The UIAA Training Standards group has offered training and support for rock climbing instructors in recent years and several organisations have been newly accredited from Norway, Portugal and Spain, and more recently an evaluation was made in Chile whose result will be ratified at the Mountaineering Commission meeting in March.

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