The UIAA Management Committee (MC) and Commission Presidents met for the first time in 2022 on Saturday 12 February with the primary focus of discussions being the delivery of projects for the coming twelve months.
In addition to updates from UIAA Commissions, one of the most significant developments was confirmation that the UIAA is to create a Climate Change Taskforce.
Climate Change Taskforce
The subject was introduced by UIAA President Peter Muir:
“Thanks to the initiative and expressed interest of many members and the fruitful and broad based discussions held on the topic at the last Management Committee meeting and the 2021 General Assembly, it is the right time to take steps on the well overdue review of the UIAA’s position and operational actions for climate change as advocated for some time by the Mountain Protection Commission. As a result the Executive Board has resolved to create a Climate Change Taskforce and created a terms of reference for said taskforce.”
Muir continued: “Climate change, and its related effects on the human and natural environment, are existential threats and the UIAA must define its role and actions in response, with clarity and as a priority.”
In addition to the UIAA’s own acceptance of its responsibility to take constructive steps, the UIAA, through the Mountain Protection Commission:
- is a signatory to The Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism, signed in November 2021;
- is a signatory to the “Sports for Climate Action Initiative” of the United framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signed in January 2020; and
- is expected to confirm by May 2022 its pledge to the UNFCCC “Sports for Climate Action Initiative” to reach Net Zero by 2040 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.
The Climate Change Taskforce’s initial brief is to:
- Conduct a review of the UIAA’s current carbon footprint including recommendations of defining the included elements and recommending steps to the MC for reducing the footprint to meet the UIAA’s undertakings and reflect its own responsibilities. Based on this analysis, confirm the UIAA’s position in signing the UNFCCC pledge,
- Develop a resource of existing climate plans and environmental guidelines issued by UIAA member federations as foundation for the UIAA’s own use in development and for the information and use of UIAA members,
- Develop a plan of UIAA participation and advocacy strategy in the world climate change dialogue to define when, where, who and how the UIAA will effectively advocate its positions on climate change, and;
- Formulate ideas on how to motivate and assist all UIAA members and commissions to develop action-oriented climate change and sustainability plans.
Further information will be published shortly.
Mountain Protection (MPC)
Carolina Adler (NZAC, New Zealand)
Launch of 2022 Mountain Protection Award
The application process for the annual UIAA Mountain Protection Award partnered by Bally Peak Outlook Foundation will open in March. The related application guidelines and online entry form will be published shortly. The Mountain Protection Commission will also introduce some modifications to the Award incentives including a redistribution of prizemoney. Full details will be communicated in the first week of March.
The MPC continues to work on a complete update to the UIAA sustainability guidelines to coincide with 2022 being the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development. Following on from the publication of these guidelines, the MPC intends on producing a toolkit to assist in their implementation, including a ‘peer to peer’ component to facilitate exchange and collaboration with member federations from 2023.
Lionel Kiener (SAC, Switzerland)
Working to make climbing safer
Over the past six months, SafeCom has published two new Standards: UIAA 130 Load Sharing Devices and UIAA 157 Avalanche Probes plus the update to Standard 123 defining Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC).
The reach of the UIAA Safety Label continues to grow with an increase in requests for labels from manufacturers in Asia and North America. SafeCom is currently working on a video to promote the value and importance of the UIAA Safety Label. Its release is expected in the spring.
Working group progress across the Commission remains impressive despite the reduced opportunity to meet in-person. A few headlines:
- Stress Cracking Corrosion (SCC): the goal is to have the first certified rock anchors in early 2022
- Top anchor corrosion: research and analyses are ongoing, the aim is to draw conclusions from findings later this year. Please continue to submit details related to climbing anchor corrosion here.
Canyoning harnesses: a new test method is being developed to verify the behaviour of textile equipment when exposed to repeated cycles of UV, then humidity, then drying.
Headlights, portable flashlights: decision made to issue a new safety standard.
Helmet rim impact: research is ongoing, the goal is to release a standard to improve safety whether impact occurs in front, back or laterally.
Sharp edge testing on ropes: development of a complementary method to measure cutting resistance of ropes.
Static ropes: creation of a new standard for ropes with almost no elongation.
Urs Hefti (SAC, Switzerland)
Women and children papers in progress
MedCom continues to work at an impressive pace. In terms of its high-altitude recommendations, an update on two significant deliverables was provided:
- Women going to altitude: This paper, spearheaded by an all-female working group, will be finalised later in the year. Contact has been made with an editor about publishing it.
- Children at altitude: An update this paper is planned with a kick-off meeting taking place in March 2022.
Following the popularity of its video released last year on drinking clean water, MedCom is working on a project titled ‘Altitude Illness Presentation & Therapy’. It is due to be published in the spring.
MedCom is also planning on hosting a joint meeting with the Swiss Alpine Club and the ISMM International Society of Mountain Medicine in September 2022, to take place in Engadin, Switzerland. MedCom’s annual meeting will take place in Hathersage, England on 9 June and hosted by the British Mountaineering Council.
Peter Farkas (MHSSz, Hungary)
Spearheading Mountain Worker Initiative
The recently reported progress of the Mountain Worker Initiative (MWI) falls under the umbrella of MountCom. The MWI hopes to collaborate with as many countries as possible to establish national-specific guidelines around the world; its hope being to publicise and spread the proper treatment of mountain workers. If any UIAA member association would like to aid the creation of national-specific guidelines in its country/region, the MWI would welcome collaboration. All finalised guidelines will be published by the MWI and shared internationally. Details can be found here.
Training Panel (TP)
Steve Long (BMC, UK)
Revamping the Alpine Handbook: Summer Skills
Throughout the pandemic, there has been significant challenges in hosting in-person training courses. The TP has increasingly adapted to online work and continues to grant qualifications to courses held on behalf of members worldwide. As of the middle of 2021, the new training database is live and members are encouraged to submit requests for qualifications and courses through the software. The Training Panel is also working closely on a significant revamp of the English language version of the Alpine Summer Skills Handbook. If you like to be contacted when the book is ready for release or pre-order the handbook please click here.
In-person training start again at the beginning of 2022 with a training course in Saudi Arabia. The TP looks forward to hearing from any other member federations desiring training courses or needing to update their certificates. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Legal Experts Working Group (LEWG)
Klara Dvorakova (CMLA, Czech Republic)
Expanding to support UIAA Commissions
The LEWG has recently welcomed members from Argentina, Iran, North Macedonia and South Africa. This has helped bolster its ranks as the UIAA’s legal arm dedicates more resources to supporting UIAA Commissions. Significant time has been spent in providing legal guidance to the MWI and over the coming months, the LEWG will continue to support the UIAA more closely in the area of sustainability and is working on rebooting a MountCom project related to a database of case-law climbing accidents with the aim of making this available to the entire climbing community.
Carlos Teixeira (FCMP, Portugal)
Report from the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour
The 2021-22 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour is underway with the completion of five European Cup events, a highly successful World Championships and World Youth Championships in Saas-Fee as well as the recent North American Championships in Ouray, Colorado.
Unfortunately owing to the prevailing Covid-19 situation, the World Cup rescheduled for Cheongsong, South Korea in early March is postponed. World Cup events in Tyumen and Kirov, both in Russia, are still on schedule.
Looking longer-term UIAA Executive Board, Management Committee and Ice Climbing Commission is currently developing a strategic roadmap for the coming years.
Anti-Doping (ADC)/Clean Climbing
Marija Andjelkovic (PSS, Serbia)
Full WADA compliance continues
The ADC continues to fully comply with the new WADA code introduced in 2021.
The Commission’s online educational test, set up a few years ago, has been recently declared by WADA as mandatory as part of the roll-out of the International Standard for Education 2021.
The UIAA fulfilled all actions required in the implementation of decision rendered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport: CAS 2020/O/6689 World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) versus Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
The main challenges that the ADC faces are twofold – organising out of competition controls from the registered testing pool of athletes and testing at competitions in the current Covid-19 climate.
Lode Beckers (CMBEL, Belgium)
Shaping the post-Omicron reality
The Covid-19 Committee continues to provide support to the UIAA with the next meeting taking place in the coming weeks to focus on the decision of many European authorities to curb restrictions, the impact on climbing tourism and a focus on the situation in all continents. The Committee will also discuss the staging of in-person UIAA meetings.
The next MC meeting is scheduled for 29-30 April in Skopje, North Macedonia. The UIAA will continue to monitor the situation regarding international travel and Covid restrictions. However the current aim is to organise the first in-person UIAA Management Committee meeting since the Covid pandemic began.
Main photo: Swiss Alps, near Saas-Fee
Credit: UIAA/Kaspar Kellerhals