BASIC MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR MOUNTAINEERING
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BASIC MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR MOUNTAINEERING

Mountaineering is an activity for which Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) through powers vested in it by the Government of India, looks after mountaineering and allied sports in India.

1.1 Mountaineering is an activity for which Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) through powers vested in it by the Government of India, looks after mountaineering and allied sports in India. All tour operators must keep abreast of the guidelines given by IMF from time to time. These Basic Minimum Standards will apply specifically to commercial expeditions attempting 6000m or other comparable peaks.

Guides/Instructors

1.2 Lead guides and instructors who are leading mountaineering activities should, as a minimum, hold valid certificates for the following;

a) A minimum 16 hour (2 day) first aid course provided by a recognised and qualified provider.

b) The Advance Mountaineering Course and preferably also Method of Instruction and Search and Rescue from any of the National Mountaineering Institutes and carry a certificate duly authenticated by an IMF recognized body OR MOT accredited tour operator stating that the individual “has experience of 3 years in assisting mountaineering expeditions at altitudes of 6000m and above and is independently capable of guiding mountaineering groups and carrying out rescue operations”.

Maintain a log book containing authenticated records of mountaineering experience .

Equipment

1.3 The correct use and proper maintenance of climbing equipment is essential for conducting mountaineering activities and should be taken very seriously.

1.4 Equipment, specially safety equipment should be certified and approved by an international body like CE or UIAA.

1.5 Ropes – There are many different types of ropes. The operator and leader must have a sound knowledge of specifically designed rope, including types and applications. Climbing rope comes in different diameters and specifications but the basics are dynamic, semi static and static. A safe working load of 25KN (2.5 tons) and CE approval is the internationally recognised standard for climbing rope. Ropes of Indian manufacturers should be avoided unless they are duly certified.

1.6 Hardware (karabiners, belay devices etc.) – There is a wide range of climbing aids and devices and the operator and instructor must have a complete and sound knowledge of their applications including which devices are necessary to conduct mountaineering activities safely. These devices are also a “link” in the safety chain. As per all other climbing equipment items a safe working load of 25KN (2.5 tons) and CE approval is the internationally recognised standard for climbing hardware and devices. Belay device like stitch plates and giri giri and belay techniques are changing every year. One must keep abreast of latest climbing and belay standards in practice around the world.

1.7 All equipment is subject to wear and tear and must be checked before every use. Incorrect storage, use and monitoring of rated and approved equipment is usually the cause of equipment failure. Operators and leaders must have a sound knowledge of this and have systems in place in order to control and manage their equipment. Maintaining equipment logs that are current and equipment specific is a recommended exercise.
Inspection and maintenance procedures

1.8 Inspections and maintenance require a sound knowledge of the systems and equipment themselves and therefore must be carried out by qualified persons as a minimum the inspector must be qualified to be a guide/instructor. Basic inspections must be carried out before every use with complete and detailed inspections carried out on a regular basis in accordance with their operations procedures and risk assessments.
SOP’s and operating instructions

1.9 All Mountaineering Tour Operators must maintain and update a Standard Operating Procedure for their operations and get the same vetted from IMF from time to time.

1.10 Besides covering the methodologies that are adopted by the agency in organizing the expedition, such as assessing of members qualification, medical condition and experience, procedures for obtaining of various permissions, travel to the mountain, maintenance of base camp including hygiene, avoidance of high altitude sickness, safety precautions, communication, weather reports, procedure for emergencies, casualty evacuation, incident and accident reporting, feedback mechanism the following must be included in the SOPS:

a) The guiding and porter staff on the mountain and the material supplied must be adequate for the aims of the party and stated level of service offered.

b) An experienced doctor in the party is desirable but at the very least advance arrangements must be known for medical help. Advance arrangements must also be made for evacuation assistance in case of emergency.

c) Advertising must give a true picture of all the difficulties and dangers involved, and avoid promising the impossible. If an expedition is commercially launched by an operator, then the Biographical information about the guiding team should be included.

d) The client must truthfully reveal his experience, supported by documentation/photograph, medical history etc to the organizer so that the organizer can make an informed choice about the potential client.

e) Information supplied in advance will include a clear statement of the guiding, porterage and equipment which will be supplied by the organizer, together with details of the clothing and equipment to be supplied by the client. This is not in context of the operators assisting expeditions with logistics alone.

In case the expedition is organized by an overseas adventure tour operator then the Indian operator duly recognized by I.M.F. must ensure that he above points are complied with.

Documentation

1.11 The tour operator must maintain, at the minimum the following documentation:

a) Details of all Guides and Instructors including, copies of certifications, record of expedition experience and feedback from clients.

b) Copies of all Permits and Permissions of current expeditions.

c) Copies of identification documents, Insurance cover and details of next of kin for all participants, guides and instructors.\

d) Copy of SOP.

e) Current list of emergency contact numbers

f) Copy of insurance document of the client with Indian contact in case of emergency.

Risk mitigation

1.12 In order to mitigate the risk of high altitude, the following is advised:

a) To get participants medically examined before starting on the journey.

b) To ensure that at least one or two members of the expedition have experience of high altitude climbing.

c) To provide wireless sets or take on hire from IMF, for communication between camps on the mountain and the base camp.

d) To bring radio receiving sets in case weather forecasts by the All India Radio are required to be arranged by the IMF.

e) To ensure that environment safeguards are implemented in their programme so that the area and peak visited by them suffers no damage, and is left clean for subsequent expeditions.

Emergencies and rescues

1.13 In addition;

a) Adequate first aid medical equipment must be available on site

b) Evacuation routes must identified and known to participants, guides and instructors.

c) A detailed and documented evacuation/emergency procedure must be available at the base camp along with closest available emergency services which can be called upon as required