For the first time in the UIAA’s near 90-year history, and owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, its biannual Management Committee meeting was held online. The virtual format proved to be a success. All discussion topics and voting were successfully negotiated and all MC members, delegates from each and every continent, were able to join. The MC, held on Friday 1 May, was followed by a meeting of the UIAA Commission Presidents on Saturday 2 May.
MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE MEETING
UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt opened the meeting by addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, the current impact on the UIAA and its membership. Vrijlandt detailed some of the important measures and support the UIAA has put in place – notably a Covid-19 Crisis Consultation (CCC) Taskforce and a dedicated website portal. The CCC, which held its first meeting on 28 April, and counts a number of MC members amongst its representatives, has been put in place to offer a structure for the UIAA to provide answers, to guide people to the relevant government or competent authorities, to a crisis management body, to a competent national federation or to a relevant UIAA Commission.
The dedicated website portal offers a number of services. It allows members to share updates from their own countries on the impact of the pandemic, the measures they are implementing and complying with. It also offers an insight into the impact on UIAA Commission work and projects. The platform also provides general information for climbers on topics such as training, mental health and the wider impact on climbing and mountaineering. Shortly, the UIAA will start to address specific topics such as the situation with mountain huts. Through online forms, members will be able to share updates and information. To date, over 40% of UIAA members have contributed to the Portal.
The 2019 UIAA Annual Report (above) was approved for publishing and will be available to members and the general public from mid-May. Regarding the ongoing review of the UIAA Strategy, it was decided that recent re-stated priorities proposal requires further development to align with the key decisions taken at the 2019 UIAA General Assembly.
The organisation (format, location and date) of the 2020 UIAA General Assembly remains an open topic owing to the Covid-19 situation. The MC discussed various scenarios for the staging of the event. Further details will be communicated following a follow-up MC meeting on 5 June. The UIAA is in regular contact with hosts, Turkish Mountaineering Federation (TDF), and medical experts. No preliminary assessment procedures will be in place for the UIAA Presidential election (held at the 2020 GA). As per the AoAs, the deadline for nominations is 14 August 2020.
Thirteen new UIAA Commission members were elected. The relevant Commission lists will be updated on the UIAA website in due course. Dr Carolina Adler (New Zealand) was re-elected as President of the Mountain Protection Commission and Pavlos Georgiades (Cyprus) was elected as the new President of the UIAA Youth Commission. He succeeds Mark Dennison (United Kingdom), who the UIAA thanks for his hard work and dedication throughout his tenure.
COMMISSION PRESIDENT MEETING REVIEW
Frits Vrijlandt provided Commission Presidents with a rundown of the key takeaways from the previous day’s MC meeting. As well as ongoing discussions regarding cross Commission collaboration, budgets and Commission regulations, each CP provided an update on ongoing activities:
Anti-Doping, Maria Andjelkovic
Given the current freezing of competition sport, any in-competition testing has been put on hold. Out of competition testing may continue. The Commission is primarily focusing on compliance with the upcoming changes to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) regulations.
Ice Climbing, Carlos Teixeira & Rob Adie
The 2019-2020 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour concluded before lockdown. However, the impact on next season’s calendar, which provisionally is almost complete and looks impressive, is being closely monitored. An online Commission meeting will be held on 9-10 May. The Commission will also discuss the negative impact that the cancellation of events has had in the past and will seek to rectify this issue in the future.
Mountain Protection, Carolina Adler
The MP is another Commission planning to hold an online meeting this month. Dr Adler detailed the number of international conferences which had been cancelled in 2020. Regarding the 2020 UIAA Mountain Protection Award, a communication will be published shortly. The MPC has agreed to postpone the Award to 2021 while leaving the platform open for submissions. Regarding the Respect the Mountains (RTM) international calendar, events may shortly be promoted on a case-by-case basis and subject to organisers adhering to guidelines from competent authorities in their respective countries.
Mountaineering, Peter Farkas
A full review of projects is ongoing including the accident report project (closed down, data to be analysed); ISO certificate project and a Style and Ethics initiative, which will focus on a review, and potential face lift, of some existing UIAA declarations.
The Mountaineering Commission also has two sub-groups, Access and Training.
Access, Juan Jesus Ibanez Martin
The main priority is the Access WG’s integration into the Mountaineering Commission. Access will also be an increasingly important and contentious issue when lockdown rules are relaxed or adapted in different countries. The UIAA continues to monitor issues related to Everest (Covid-19 has stopped progress) and Kilimanjaro (currently no updates).
UIAA Training projects continue to deliver member benefits. Photo: Steve Long
Training Panel, Steve Long
Piloting skills programmes continue to flourish although the current lockdown means many are on hold. Significant progress has been made regarding the Alpine Summer Skills handbook with new chapters and course material being prepared. The database for training courses/certificates is undergoing final testing and nearly operational. Steve Long also emphasised the power of the UIAA in lending its approval to video content and advice material (in reference to the project completed with the DAV in 2019).
Medical, Urs Hefti
Since his election as President at the spring MC in 2019, Urs Hefti has focused on the restructuring of the Commission and its activities and has called for UIAA member federations to provide greater clarity regarding the work they would like MedCom to focus on (notably recommendation papers).
Safety, Amit Chowdhury
The annual SafeCom meeting scheduled for early May has been cancelled and may be replaced by an online meeting in June. Two new accredited laboratories for equipment testing have been accepted, in France, CRITT, and in Scotland, Sports lab. A request has also been made by the Chinese Mountaineering Association (CMA) to accredit a new lab in mainland China. Ongoing projects including: corrosion studies (the UIAA invites members and climbers to submit examples of Climbing Anchor Corrosion. Information can be supplied through a dedicated form); Slacklining (impact of UV radiation and weather on textiles) and a WG related to new Standards have all been held up. Work on probes has continued in collaboration with WG leader from the Italian Alpine Club (CAI). A recent safety advice article was published on canyoning harnesses.
Youth, Pavlos Georgiades
Newly-elected YC President Pavlos Georgiades provided a snapshot of the future focus of the Commission – notably collaboration with the Training Panel to produce certificates and standards for youth camps and a stronger management from the Commission in running UIAA Youth camps (together with member federations).
‘Freeride Skiing at home’ – by Philipp Klein. UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt played this clip as part of his opening address. The video typical of the spirit and creativity the outdoor community has fostered during lockdown