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International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation


International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation

Logo of UIAA

The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, commonly known by its French name Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme (the UIAA, lit. International Union of Alpine Clubs) was founded in August 1932 in Chamonix, France when 20 mountaineering associations met for an alpine congress. Count Charles Egmond d’Arcis, from Switzerland, was chosen as the first president and it was decided by the founding members that the UIAA would be an international federation which would be in charge of the "study and solution of all problems regarding mountaineering".


  • Role 1
  • Safety 2
  • Sustainability 3
  • Competitions 4
  • Presidents 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The UIAA is today the international governing body of climbing and mountaineering and represents millions of climbers and mountaineers around the world on a wide range of issues related to mountain safety, sustainibility and competition sport. Recognized by the International Olympic Committee, the UIAA is also a platform for cultural exchange and the strengthening of friendship among alpinist and mountaineers by bringing climbing and mountaineering associations under one umbrella. Its mission includes the growth and development of mountaineering and climbing worldwide through the practice of safe and ethical mountain practices, responsible access to mountains, cultural and environmental protection, youth participation and promotion of the ideals of the Olympic movement.


The UIAA Safety Commission develops and maintains safety standards for climbing equipment. These standards are implemented world-wide by the manufacturers who also participate in annual Safety Commission meetings. The Commission works with nearly 60 manufacturers world-wide and has 1,861 products certified.

Safety label

The UIAA Safety Commission works to minimise accidents in mountaineering and climbing by developing and revising technical safety standards for equipment. The UIAA Safety Standards are used by many of the biggest manufacturers of mountaineering equipment and is recognised by climbers all over the world . Equipment which has been tested to our standards carries the UIAA Safety Label symbol which as been adopted by the European Union. The Safety Commission constantly review mountaineering and climbing accidents to determine if the standards are at a high enough level and change them if necessary. The group also accredits laboratories which test the equipment and gives climbers advice how to treat their equipment, and how best to use it to avoid accidents.

Climbing grading

The UIAA grading system is mostly used for short rock routes in Western Germany, Austria and Switzerland and most countries in Eastern Europe. On long routes it is often used in the Alps and Himalayas. Using Roman numerals, it was originally intended to run from I (easiest) to VI (hardest), but improvements to climbing standards have led to the system being open-ended. An optional + or − may be used to further differentiate difficulty. As of 2004, the hardest climbs were XII−.

Training standards

The UIAA Training Standards is an internationally recognized accreditation and certification scheme which examines and evaluates the training and assessment programs of our member federations. The process includes an independent assessment of the training provided to voluntary leaders and instructors by a UIAA expert which is then endorsed by an international panel of experts.

The Model Training Standards for Voluntary Leaders and Instructors managed by members of the Training Standards Panel makes it possible for mountaineers from different countries to recognise each other’s qualifications. UIAA standards cover seven areas: Mountain Walking and Trekking (summer), Winter Mountain Walking, Snowshoeing, Sport Climbing (indoor and outdoor), Rock Climbing (leader placed protection), Ice Climbing, Alpine Climbing and Ski Mountaineering.

Member associations have discretion to use or not use the Training Standards in their own country. They alone have the responsibility for training and assessing their national leaders and instructors.

Medical advice

Through its experts on the Medical Commission, the UIAA provides up-to-date and reliable information on medical issues. The commission conducts research, sets standards for training and provides forums where experts meet to discuss which recommendations to make. The advice and recommendations section includes a comprehensive list of advice papers. Issues included acute mountain sickness, nutrition and water disinfection. The work of translating these pages continues under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Küpper, of the Institute of Occupational & Social Medicine, Aachen Technical University in Germany and are available in English, Greek, Polish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Japanese, Spanish and Persian.

Mountain Medicine Diploma

Together with the International Society of Mountain Medicine (ISMM) and the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR), the UIAA Medical Commission has established and developed a joint Diploma in Mountain Medicine that establishes minimal requirements for courses in mountain medicine in August 1997 (Interlaken,Switzerland). Many course organizers adopted these standards and the Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM) has become a widely respected qualification.

The Medical Commission was founded in 1981. Its history dates back to an earlier time when there were only a few doctors representing the largest mountaineering federations. The commission has grown to include 22 delegated doctors from 18 different mountaineering federations, as well as 16 corresponding members from all over the world. The UIAA Medical Commission has worked very closely with the Medical Commission of the International Commission for Alpine Rescue (ICAR). The current presidents of the UIAA Medical commission and the MedCom ICAR are always on the advisory board of the ISMM.


UIAA Mountain Protection Award

The UIAA is committed to preserving and protecting the mountain ecosystem and cultures around the world. It recognizes outstanding projects in mountain protection presented by non-profit organizations, associations or companies every year through the $10,000 UIAA Mountain Protection Award. The results are announced mid-October. The priority areas presented to contest are: wildlife and flora protection, resources / energy consumption, waste management and disposal, education, biodiversity conservation and mitigation of climate change effects.

Access and expedition

UIAA understands that access rights must be balanced by responsibility and care for the mountain landscape, bio- and geo-diversity and the cultures and people of the mountains. This is why the Access Commission works with international associations, and supports UIAA’s member federations and others to facilitate access to mountain areas for the general public while being sensitive to environmental, social, legal and other considerations.


The UIAA is the world governing body for ice climbing competitions. The annual World Cup circuit and the bi annual World Championship and Youth World Championship are organised on different continents with athletes from over 30 countries participating.

Ice climbing

The UIAA is the world governing body for ice climbing competitions. The annual UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup circuit and the bi annual World Championship and Youth World Championship are organized in different continents with athletes from over 30 countries participating.

There are two ice climbing disciplines, Speed and Lead. In Speed, athletes race up an ice face for the best time. In Lead competitions the climbers' ability to master a difficult route in a given time is tested.

Anti-Doping Commission

The UIAA is committed to fair play, doping free sport and the principles of the Code. The UIAA has adopted the World Anti-Doping Code (2014); this includes the mandatory articles of the Code and all relevant International Standards. The commission also oversees the anti-doping testing of athletes who participate in UIAA ice climbing competitions.

Global Youth Summit

The Global Youth Summit is a series of UIAA youth events where young mountaineers from around the world come together to climb, promote peace and cooperation between countries and work on the protection of the environment. First implemented ten years ago, it consists of a series of expeditions and camps offered by UIAA member federations to other UIAA member federations and their members.

All UIAA Global Youth Summit events are organised and undertaken in strict accordance with the relevant Federation’s regulations and UIAA Youth Commission Handbook & UIAA Youth Commission criteria and recommendations governing such events. Once approved the National Federation or event organiser and their designated leaders have responsibility for the event. The UIAA Youth Commission and UIAA Office may on occasion appoint other responsible persons such as trainers, event organisers and partners.


  • 1932–1964: Count Charles Egmond d'Arcis
  • 1964–1968: Eduard Wyss-Dunant
  • 1968–1972: Albert Eggler[1]
  • 1972–1976: Jean Juge[2]
  • 1976–1984: Pierre Bossus
  • 1984–1990: Carlo Sganzini
  • 1990–1995: Pietro Segantini
  • 1995–2004: Ian McNaught-Davis
  • 2004–2005: Alan Blackshaw
  • 2005–2012: Mike Mortimer[3]
  • 2012–: Frits Vrijlandt[4]


  1. ^ Obituary: Albert Eggler – Arts and Entertainment. The Independent (10 September 1998).
  2. ^
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ grough — Frits Vrijlandt elected UIAA president after no-confidence vote in former head. (19 October 2012).

External links

  • UIAA website
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