Online climbing gear: are you buying safe equipment?

Featured, Mountaineering, Safety, Training

The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) recently published a guide regarding the potential perils of buying climbing equipment online, notably the abundance of non-certified equipment offered by dubious sellers.

The UIAA endorses the BMC article which advises buying gear ‘which conform(s) to the relevant CEN or UIAA standard, which is usually mentioned in the product description’. The UIAA also invites climbers to read an interview with former UIAA Safety Commission President Dave Custer which addressed the subject of climbing risk management and the challenges faced internationally.  Outside of Europe – where the CEN standard is not mandatory – it is even more important climbers seek equipment which bears the UIAA Safety Label.

One of the cornerstones of the UIAA’s mission is mountain safety which encompasses the federation’s internationally-recognised UIAA Safety Label, supported by 23 different equipment standards, as well as the UIAA’s commitment to providing high-altitude medical advice, mountain medicine diplomas and training qualifications for mountain leaders.

As the BMC article states: ‘It’s becoming common to shop online rather than take time out from our busy lives to physically visit a shop. The convenience, range of choice, and often better prices, make buying online incredibly attractive. But don’t be caught out: there are some nasty surprises awaiting the unwary.’  As the article explores, these nasty surprises could have fatal consequences. It also offers advise about how to detect such equipment: ‘In the past, such products were often unbranded, but the modern trend is for them to have a brand name of some kind. We’ve seen examples of items including ropes, harnesses, and helmets.’

The UIAA is also developing a new Black List database where any equipment illegally advertised with the UIAA Safety Label will be recorded. Databases on certified UIAA Safety Label equipment and product recalls are regularly updated. Links can be found below.

A link to the full BMC article titled ‘Online climbing gear: are you buying safe equipment?’ can be found here. It was first published on 20 September, 2017.

Further Information:

British Mountaineering Council
UIAA Safety Label
UIAA Mountain Medicine
UIAA Training
UIAA Certified Equipment Database
UIAA Recalls Database