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Mountaineering Ethics will help protect the Mountain Environment.

Mountaineering Ethics will help protect the Mountain Environment. Source: Flickr by dino_olivieri.

To coincide with International Mountain Day 2009, the UIAA International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation released their new code of Mountaineering and Climbing Ethics.

The UIAA’s bold summary encompasses the thinking behind the declaration:

Stretch Your Limits, Lift Your Spirits, Aim for the Top!

The mountaineering and climbing ethics code encompasses the following twelve points, which I have summarised below:

  1. Individual Responsibility – Be responsible for yourself, for others and for the environment.
  2. Team Spirit – Support and encourage your climbing team members.
  3. Climbing and Mountaineering Community – Treat every person in the mountains with respect.
  4. Visiting Foreign Countries – Respect your hosts, show consideration for their culture, their holy mountains and sacred places. Try to bring benefits to local people and their economy.
  5. Responsibilities of Mountain Guides and Other Leaders – respect the freedom and rights of other groups and individuals.
  6. Emergencies, Dying and Death – Understand the risks and hazards in the mountain environment. Have suitable knowledge, skills and equipment. Be prepared to help others in emergency situations, even if it means sacrificing your own goals.
  7. Access and Conservation – Practice mountaineering and climbing with respect for the environment, be proactive in preserving nature. Freedom of access is a fundamental right but respect restrictions agreed with conservation organisations and authorities.
  8. Style – Succeeding is not as important as creative problem solving and experience. Strive to leave no trace on the rock face or mountainside.
  9. First Ascents – Should be completed in the style appropriate to the region, or better, and should be reported exactly.
  10. Sponsorship, Advertising and Public Relations – Relationships between climbers or mountaineers and sponsors should be professional. The mountain sports’ community should educate the media and the public.
  11. Use of Supplementary Oxygen in Mountaineering – Medical reasons for using oxygen at high altitude should outweigh other considerations. Ethical reasons for using or not using oxygen should be left up to individual climbers. Oxygen bottles must not be left on the mountain.
  12. High Altitude Guided Commercial Expeditions – Commercial Operators should recognise the limitations of their clients in their care. Clients should be warned that their plans may be altered in order to assist others in mountain emergencies.

The declaration has taken a long time and a lot of effort to prepare. It has been endorsed by more than 40 mountaineering federations worldwide. Please try to adhere to its recommendations to help further the good name of climbing and mountaineering, ultimately it will also help to bring you a better experience in the mountains. The full text pdf file can be found on the UIAA website.

The UIAA is an international federation which represents climbers and mountaineers from across the globe. To find out more about the UIAA and what they do, why not read our exclusive interview with Judith Safford, Executive Director of the UIAA.

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