How Climbing Gear Works

Testing Climbing Gear

Climbing equipment is tested and certified by the International Federation of Mountaineering Associations, or UIAA. The UIAA works closely with the industry to develop standards to minimize accidents caused by equipment failure. Most manufacturers follow the standards determined by this organization, although laws requiring certification vary from country to country.

The UIAA first started to test ropes in 1960. Its main testing criteria includes the number of falls a rope can hold before breaking, how much impact it can withstand, the static elongation, or how much stretch results when a 176-pound (80.2-kilogram) weight hangs from it, and the dynamic elongation that results in the length of a rope after a fall.

Today, the UIAA has standards for 20 different categories of equipment, including helmets, harnesses and crampons. Climbing gear such as slings and carabiners are strength tested by UIAA, the manufacturer or an independent testing agency. Strength tests evaluate the load or force that will cause the equipment to break, but they don't consider whether the equipment is being used correctly by the climber or the strength of the rock. For this reason, it's extremely important for every climber to understand how to use climbing gear properly and use good judgment when out in the field.

Always look for equipment that passes the UIAA tests to help ensure a safe climb and long-lasting, durable equipment.

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