UIAA confirms positive momentum across key projects

Featured, General Assembly, Legal

The UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation – spring meetings were held in Leeds, England in early May. In addition to meetings of the UIAA Management Committee, Commission Presidents, individual Commissions and several workshops, the General Assembly of the European Mountaineering Association (EUMA) took place in parallel. The spring meetings were hosted by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).

Throughout the five-day event, a number of thought-provoking workshops and interactive sessions were held. A number of the case studies that were presented will be detailed on the UIAA website over the coming weeks.

The Management Committee recommended both the UIAA Annual Report (2022) and Financial Reports for approval at October’s General Assembly. The UIAA Strategic Plan (SP) is also on track. The current SP runs into 2024, with its directive to ensure that the UIAA leads, informs and represents the climbing and mountaineering community. In the report below, the progress of the projects defined as important by the SP, are detailed.

UIAA Projects

One of the more important aspects of the Management Committee meeting is the report from UIAA Commission Presidents on the status of their current projects. Below is a snapshot (including videos pre-recorded by UIAA Commission Presidents) on project progress:

Anti-Doping Commission (ADC)
President: Marija Andjelkovic, Serbia (PSS)

The ADC successfully completed all mandatory in-competition and out-of-competition testing during the most recent UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour. Education about doping remains a key objective of the Commission, the UIAA is one of the few international federations to implement a mandatory online programme as part of the athlete’s registration process. Significant work is being undertaken to ensure the ADC meets all of the stages in the updates to WADA’s (World Anti-Doping Agency) Code Compliance. The Commission has continued to closely support UIAA Unit Member, International Skyrunning Federation.

Legal Affairs Commission (LAC)
President: Klara Dvorakova, Czech Republic (CMLA)

Formerly a Working Group, the LAC was created in 2022 to provide legal assistance in support of other UIAA bodies in the delivery of their projects. One of the Commission’s main tasks has been the creation of a legal database of international judgements related to mountain accidents. This will shortly be live on the UIAA website. The LAC has created a template to present cases which includes a synopsis of the judgement detailing the most important takeaways. The LAC calls for all UIAA member associations to contribute to the database. UIAA members will be able to access the database to file their own cases.

Medical Commission (MedCom)
President: Urs Hefti, Switzerland (SAC)

MedCom continues to produce ground-breaking work. One of its working groups is in the process of finalising an update to the paper on Women at Altitude. This is due to be published in the coming weeks. A sister project, Children at Altitude, is continuing to progress with its publication expected next year. MedCom is also revising its existing peak-specific papers and the creation of new ones. These will be published incrementally on the new version of the UIAA website, scheduled for the summer of 2023. MedCom is also planning a major international medical conference, most likely in 2024 adjacent to the UIAA Management Committee meeting in Bariloche, Argentina.

Mountaineering Commission (MountCom)
President: Peter Farkas, Hungary (MHSSz)

Earlier this year, a UIAA Working Group was created to deliver on the UIAA’s commitment to create a database of reports of accidents and near misses worldwide.  This is a cross-Commission WG with the Mountaineering, Safety and the Training Commissions. Other long-term projects include establishing criteria for defining 8000m peaks, a revision to the Tyrol Declaration and the future of the Access Working Group. MountCom is also in discussions with the Italian Alpine Club (CAI) on the subject of hiking and trails.

Mountain Protection Commission (MPC)
President: Carolina Adler, New Zealand (NZAC)

The Commission is closely involved with the UIAA’s Climate Change Taskforce.  With significant work already delivering in focus on reducing emissions and tracking the UIAA’s own impact, the MPC is dedicated to supporting the Taskforce in assessing climate mitigation and adaption and how to adapt to the inevitable changes to mountain regions. The revision to the UIAA’s Environmental Objectives and Guidelines is ongoing. Application for the UIAA’s lighthouse sustainability project, the Mountain Protection Award, closes on 15 May. Members are encouraged to submit applications.

Safety Commission (SafeCom)
President: Lionel Kiener, Switzerland (SAC)

Examining the impact of corrosion remains a core focus of SafeCom. Over the past year, the first examples of equipment certified for the new UIAA standard on rock anchors are on the market. It is not only the corrosion of bolts which interests SafeCom, welding joints are currently being examined. Based on research and results, the Standard may require an update. SafeCom has also deployed a working group to examine canyoning harnesses and textiles. Results are expected this year with the Commission then deciding the best course of action. Other groups are looking at helmet rim impact, an area of the helmet which naturally which offers less protection. The creation of this new Standard will require significant funding and for certified laboratories to invest in new equipment. The working group dedicated to avalanche beacons will enter its testing phase soon. SafeCom held its annual meeting in Leeds with a more comprehensive report coming shortly.

Training Commission (TC)
President: Steve Long, United Kingdom (BMC)

Like Legal Affairs, the Training Commission was created in 2022. While the UIAA does not issue qualifications, it endorses good practices and recognises training schemes of its member federations. To meet UIAA requirements, these schemes must guarantee, good governance, quality assurance and technical competence. They must be delivered outdoors and have a complete course syllabus. A database of approved courses is being finalised and will shortly be available on the UIAA website. The Commission also supports the publication of the UIAA Alpine Skills Handbook, in collaboration with The Petzl Foundation. Details on the new print run for the recently revised version will be available shortly. UIAA member associations will be able to pre-order copies of the English language version. One of the Commission’s significant new developments is the creation of personal skills certifications. Individuals can endorse their skills for a number of areas such as hill walking, weather reading, navigation and more. Further details will be communicated soon with the revamp of the UIAA website. The Commission is currently delivering active training courses in Mongolia (a three-year project with Petzl Foundation), Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, India and Poland.

Youth Commission (YC)
President: Pavlos Georgiades (CMCOF)

The YC continues to find its feet after the impact the Covid-19 years had on the organisation of its events. This year, with the support of a number of UIAA federations, the Commission is targeting the organisation of ten youth events and camps. Details can be found on the UIAA website. The YC is also working towards the creation of more camps outside of Europe. Educational aspects and programmes will become a more important and mandatory part of camps with the YC starting with the creation of four different syllabuses.

Commission Elections

A number of Commission elections were held during the MC meeting. Below are the results of President and Vice President elections only.

Legal Affairs
Jim Moss (AAC, United States) is the Commission’s first Vice President (VP).

Urs Hefti (SAC, Switzerland) was re-elected as President
Lenka Horakova (CMF, Czech Republic) was elected as the new VP.

Greg Moseley (MCSA, South Africa) was elected as President, succeeding Peter Farkas (MHSSz, Hungary)
UIAA Management Committee member Young Hoon Oh (KAF, Korea) was elected as the new VP.

Mountain Protection
Paul Kwakkenbos (NKBV, Netherlands) was elected as new Commission VP

Matjas Serkezi (PZS, Slovenia) was elected as the Commission’s first VP.

Ice Climbing Working Group (ICWG)

In September 2022, the UIAA dissolved its Ice Climbing Commission to create a temporary Working Group to oversee the immediate organisation of the UIAA Ice Climbing events and to provide a recommendation for the future governance of the sport.

The ICWG has recently led the delivery of a very successful UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour which saw 820 athlete event entries across seven events in as many countries and on two continents. Athletes came from 22 UIAA member associations.

The ICWG is currently processing its own findings from the current season as well as integrating athlete feedback. Amongst the priorities will be a revision of rules and regulations, an evaluation of future governance models, close collaboration with athletes and a greater focus on youth development.

The Management Committee agreed to the renaming of the ICWG as the Ice Climbing Governing Group (ICGG). This Group was also given an extension until 2024 to continue its work and to propose definitive recommendations for the future of the sport, to be discussed at subsequent MC meetings and voted on at a future UIAA General Assembly. The ICGG will divide itself into groups of expertise: primarily – athletes, technical and development groups. The ICGG will also expand its membership with the addition of at least two new members including at least one athlete representative.

The next major milestone will be an Ice Climbing Workshop held in Champagny-en-Vanoise, France from 8-10 July, 2023. Led by FFCAM, it will bring together all of the sport’s stakeholders to discuss the future direction of the sport. The programme, to be published later this month, will include training sessions, discussions and workshops.

Climate Change Taskforce

The UIAA is committed to ensuring climate change is front and centre of all of its meetings and workshops. Its impact was discussed in a special access workshop, where presented case studies will be individually detailed on the UIAA website in the coming weeks.

The UIAA will shortly publish its latest Carbon Footprint report (2021) with work on the 2022 and 2023 reports ongoing. The UIAA identified the challenges of compiling such reports, particularly how to treat the impact of the Covid-19 years on statistics and data, and is working towards the creation of a template which will help member federations to track data themselves, alongside defining its own climate action plan.

During the meeting, a number of members identified the challenge of assigning resources to tracking their carbon footprint impact, defining a scope for data collection and reporting, the volume of data which needs to be assessed and how to quantify such data.

On a global level, the UIAA through this Taskforce continues to advocate for climate protection, being represented at conferences and influential in the drawing up of major agreements and treaties. The internal focus is focussed on delivering best practices and sharing experiences, improving awareness and responsibilities, on education and supporting UIAA member associations.

UIAA, EUMA and BMC delegates at the official dinner held in Saltaire, Yorkshire

More specific information, such as detailed case studies presented during the spring meetings, will be published on the UIAA website during May-June.

The digital version of the UIAA Annual Report will be released on the week of 15 May.

Future Meetings

An interim information online meeting will be held on 3 June between the UIAA and member associations. The objective is to provide members with an update on UIAA activities and to provide details on what members can expect at October’s General Assembly.

The UIAA Management Committee will meet next in August (online) and then during the UIAA General Assembly in Trabzon, Turkey in October.

Spring meetings in 2024 will be held in Bariloche, Argentina and organised by FASA (Federación Argentina de Ski y Andinismo).

The UIAA thanks the BMC for its outstanding organisation of the 2023 spring meetings.