Workshop activities at the International International Mountain Sports Training Course held near Bariloche. Photo credit: UIAA

The UIAA Management Board (MB) held its second meeting of 2024 in Bariloche, Argentina. The event was part of a wider climbing and mountaineering meet which saw the UIAA jointly organise the inaugural International Mountain Sports Training Course with host federation FASA (Federación Argentina de Ski Snowboard y Andinismo) and the ISMM (International Society for Mountain Medicine). A report, and extensive video content, from that event will be available shortly.

Below is a short summary of the key decisions and talking points from the UIAA MB meeting and, courtesy of UIAA Commission Presidents, information on the status of core UIAA projects.

Commission Elections

Below is a summary of the MB Commission elections:

  • Jane Carney (MI, Ireland) elected Vice President, UIAA Youth Commission
  • Pavlos Georgiades (CMCOF, Cyprus) re-elected President, UIAA Youth Commission
  • Paul Kwakkenbos (NKBV, Netherlands) elected President, UIAA Mountain Protection Commission
  • Victor Saunders (BMC, UK) elected Vice President, UIAA Mountaineering Commission

A further eight delegates were newly elected as full members of UIAA Commissions. The official lists of UIAA Commission delegates have been updated on the UIAA website.

The UIAA thanks outgoing Mountain Protection Commission President Dr Carolina Adler for her enormous commitment to the UIAA throughout her two terms. Carolina helmed the Commission through a period of significant achievement including the continued growth of the UIAA Mountain Protection Award and the spearheading of the UIAA as a signatory, and a major contributor, to a number of major international declarations and pledges.

UIAA Management Board meeting in Bariloche, Argentina
Strategic Plan: 2025-2028

The current UIAA Strategic Plan (SP) expires in 2024 with working group assigned to produce a comprehensive strategy for the period 2025-2028. Significant analysis has gone into the drafting of the new SP with insights drawn from various tools and databases as well as considered input from stakeholders.

In terms of analysis the following has been produced:

SWOT Analysis: Identifying the UIAA’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, providing a clear picture of the internal and external factors that could impact the federation.

PESTEL Analysis: The political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal aspects have been examined to ensure that the strategy aligns with broader external conditions and prevailing trends.

Stakeholder Feedback: A fundamental component of the analysis has been the integration of feedback from various stakeholders notably UIAA member associations and UIAA commissions. This feedback is still welcomed.

Delegates can continue to submit feedback through the following UIAA Strategic Plan 2025-2028: PESTEL & SWOT Analysis form.

One of the chief priorities of the new strategy is to increase the UIAA’s visibility and global reach and to further strengthen its position as a centre of excellence for mountain safety.

The next steps will see the WG develop the draft strategy document for comment and recommendation during the next MB meeting in September and then to be voted on at November’s General Assembly in Malta.

The proposed Strategy is an evolution on the existing one, seeking to build on the achievements and foundations of the past four years as well as integrate learnings and areas of both development and improvement.

Ice Climbing Report & Ice Climbing Governance Group

The Ice Climbing Governing Group provided a detailed report on the 2023-2024 World Tour. The World Tour witnessed eleven events in ten different countries culminating with a UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships and World Cup in Edmonton, Canada.

Focus was also shone on the future of the sport. Here, a new governance model was proposed – chiefly the creation of a self-governed Operating Unit under the UIAA umbrella. This proposal would demand updates to the current UIAA Articles of Association as ultimately the creation of new operational guidelines to guide the future direction of the sport. The feedback from the MB was positive, with some clarifications requested regarding some operational questions and risks.

Further information will be made available ahead of likely formal recommendation to the GA in November.

Workshop activities at the International International Mountain Sports Training Course held near Bariloche
Commission Reports

UIAA Commission Presidents each presented information on the progress of ongoing projects. A brief summary can be found here:

Marija Andjelkovic (PSS, Serbia)

The UIAA Anti-Doping Commission again provided close support to the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour with both in and out of competition testing as well as educational workshops for climbers including one dedicated to youth.

A significant milestone for the Commission is ensuring that the UIAA is compliant with the latest WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code. This process should be completed shortly.

Klara Dvorakova (CMLA, Czech Republic)

The UIAA Legal Affairs Commission recently completed a major project, the launch of its international database of climbing and mountaineering case laws. The database includes judgments from courts, tribunals, and authoritative bodies. Users can search for cases based on the key activity, e.g. winter hiking, outdoor climbing, indoor climbing, the accident location, or type of a proceeding, e.g. civil, criminal, or disciplinary. Each entry includes a comment from the UIAA Legal Affairs Commission and links to the original case-law if available. The intention is for the database to serve as a live tool with regular updates. Full details here.

The Legal Affairs Commission encourages UIAA members to help contribute to this important library. Specific case studies, notably the important takeaways, will also be highlighted in future UIAA newsletters.

Urs Hefti (SAC, Switzerland)

The Medical Commission played an instrumental role in the organisation of the International Mountain Sports Training Course with several of its members involved in the running of the event and giving presentations. A full report will be published shortly.

Towards the close of 2023, the MedCom members contributed to the publication of several new papers dedicated to women at altitude. Further details can be found here. A summary of these papers, intended for the general public rather than for medical experts, will be released shortly. This topic was also the subject of the most recent episode of the UIAA podcast, Mountain Voices.

Another MedCom working group has been particularly active in producing guides to some of the world’s most iconic peaks. Papers published to date include those on Denali, Fuji, Lenin Peak, Kosciuszko and Aconcagua. The next scheduled paper is on Everest.

Greg Moseley (MCSA, South Africa) 

MountCom continues to work on a new paper inspired by the 2002 Tyrol Declaration. An abridged version of the document, in a poster form, was presented at the UIAA General Assembly in October. MountCom hopes to finalise the paper over the coming months. The final publication will address topics such as the UIAA’s stance on ethics in mountaineering.

The Commission has also set up a number of working groups to either revive or launch projects related to the following topics: access, hiking trails and rock climbing.

The subjects of hiking and rock climbing were discussed in detail during the MB meeting, with the future UIAA strategy likely to lean more on the promotion of these activities which are often an entry point for people into climbing and mountaineering.

Members of MountCom featured on a recent UIAA podcast episode dedicated to Everest and the 2024 season.

Mountain Protection
Carolina Adler (NZAC, New Zealand)

As referenced above, the Commission is now under the leadership of Paul Kwakkenbos following Carolina Adler’s end of second term.

Among the projects expected to be delivered over the coming months are the new UIAA Social & Environmental Sustainability Guidelines. These guidelines were first released in 2002 to mark the inaugural International Year of Mountains. A decision to revise the document was made in 2022 to coincide with the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development and the 2023-2027 UN Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions. The new document raises a number of topics and addresses the impact of mountaineering as an activity. Sections are dedicated to the subjects of climate change action and adaptation, waste and pollution, biodiversity and social impacts. As well as addressing issues, the document also seeks to provide guidance, awareness, education and collaboration. For example, it offers advice on how the climbing community can take positive action and how climbers and mountaineers can continue about their activities in a more sustainable and less impactful way and engage in affecting positive change.

The Commission has also published the UIAA Carbon Footprint Reports for 2021 and 2022 with the 2023 analysis imminent.

The MPC highlighted that 2025 is the International Year of Glaciers’ Preservation and invites UIAA members and delegates to submit any expressions of interests for topics.

Lionel Kiener (SAC, Switzerland)

Safety is another Commission producing a valuable amount of work. Its position statement recommendation on avalanche transceivers, published in December 2023, has been well received internationally.

SafeCom is working on a number of new or revised standards including one dedicated to helmet rim impact, which is penned for release by end of the year. A working group has been assigned a project on highly static ropes to complement the existing standard on dynamic ropes. Additionally, research is being committed into the following subjects – via Ferratas, ageing of textile of various materials subjected to humidity, UVs and thermal cycles.

The Commission’s important research into the welding of top anchors continues. This process has included a direct collaboration between the UIAA and manufacturers in terms of enhancing production and quality processes with the aim of reducing the number of recorded voids and cracks. Following the release of its revised Rock Anchor Standard in 2020, the UIAA is happy to see the continued increase in new certificate rock anchors on the market.

The UIAA continues to update its map of known anchor corrosions and is very grateful to climbers who have submitted case studies for the project. The general public can contribute to this research by completing the following online form.

Significant work is being done to improve the outreach of the Safety Label. The UIAA has met with a number of Safety Label Holders and retailers throughout 2024 to develop projects of mutual interest including the promotion of the safety label. Meanwhile, the video guide to the UIAA Safety Label has recently been translated into over 20 languages. Further details here.

The UIAA Safety Commission held its first in-person annual meeting in Padova, Italy in early May. A full report will be published shortly.

Steve Long (BMC, UK)

The new UIAA Training database is live and ready for member associations to use and apply for qualifications to renew qualifications. The database will shortly be synced with a map on the UIAA website which will publicly show the live accreditations. An explainer about the UIAA database can be viewed here:

The revised English version of the UIAA Alpine Handbook is set for a print run before the GA. It will include a number of new visuals. A winter edition is in progress. The UIAA is looking at ways of making the books available to a wider audience through an app or equivalent.

Following the MB meeting, the UIAA Training Commission – led by Steve Long – supported a collaborative course involving two UIAA member associations – FEACH (Chile) and FEDME (Spain). Further details to follow.

Pavlos Georgiades (CMCOF, Cyprus)

Details of four youth camps endorsed by the UIAA Youth Commission can be found on the UIAA website calendar. Application information and course programmes are included. The Commission continues to look at integrating UIAA training certificates and modules to its causes. Future goals including increasing the number of youth camps, and increasing the number outside of Europe.

The next UIAA MB meeting will be held online on Saturday 7 September.

UIAA member associations will be able to receive a further update – and pose questions – during a special online UIAA member federation update to be held on Saturday 25 May from 13:00-14:30.