Turkey meeting discusses values, training and injury records
30 Oct 2008
The UIAA Mountaineering Commission turned its attention to national training programmes, an update of the Tyrol Declaration, international injury statistics and climbing grades at its recent meeting in Turkey.
Hosted by the Turkish Mountaineering Federation, Türkiye Dağcılık Federasyonu (TDF), the September meeting in Bodrum proved to be very productive covering a number of aspects of international importance.
A key part of the commission’s work is to utilise the skills and experience of countries that have their own national leader training programmes in assisting other countries in developing their own programmes. The value and importance of this work was highlighted at the meeting, with assistance provided to several countries, including the meeting’s host, Turkey, and Nepal.
The latter was carried out in collaboration with the Petzl Foundation to establish a UIAA-approved programme in the South Asian nation. This successful project will now be run by the Nepal Mountaineering Association. A similar project is commencing in India.
Further development of national training programmes, through the sharing and discussion of skills and techniques, has been facilitated through the commission’s very popular training seminars, the most recent of which was held at Plas y Brenin in North Wales. It was agreed that, to further support the Asian members, the next seminar will be held in India. This will be held in conjunction with a Mountaineering Commission meeting so that issues that are of importance to Asian countries can be readily addressed.
The Tyrol Declaration is an internationally respected set of values and maxims which gives guidance on best practice in mountain sports. This was re-assessed by the commission, which updated the wording regarding the use of fixed ropes, performance-enhancing drugs and supplementary oxygen. The Mountaineering Commission is revising the document with a view to presenting it to the UIAA General Assembly for formal approval.
Although many countries compile statistics of climbing and mountaineering injuries, there are no international records. The UIAA Mountaineering Commission is investigating how to record such data, and has started to compile an international list. This will be of particular importance in helping to identify the most dangerous aspects of climbing and mountaineering and how these can be addressed in the future.
Most climbers are aware of the UIAA climbing grades, particularly for mountain routes. These grades are often used as a benchmark for comparison with other grading systems, but these comparisons are often different. This was discussed at the meeting and several changes were agreed that allow a more accurate comparison at lower grades, and expansion to accommodate higher grades, without altering the existing levels of the scale.
Paramount to the success of the UIAA is communication and sharing of knowledge between the members of the different commissions, all of which are voluntary, and between the commissions and the member federations. A number of ways in which this can be further developed, often by utilising new technologies, were agreed and will be implemented.
By Phil Wickens (BMC), Secretary, UIAA Mountaineering Commission