UIAA and CE certifications can be found on most climbing gear. They refer to the certifying bodies for equipment standards and are usually followed by a technical standard number reference.
The UIAA fall rating displayed on rope labels shows how many falls a dynamic rope can stand during a standardized UIAA test. It is also listed as a percentage of the core/sheath.
UIAA certification indicates that a rope such as Tendon dynamic rope meets specific safety standards and can be used for mountaineering and climbing. This mark is significant to look for when purchasing equipment as it ensures that a reputable lab has tested the rope.
Unlike CE, which is a mark that certifies gear for use within the European Union, UIAA testing is done by independent labs around the world. This gives the UIAA a more global view of the industry and a better understanding of the safety needs of climbers from all over.
UIAA fall ratings are listed on ropes, indicating the number of standardized UIAA test falls a single-use dynamic rope can withstand before breaking. However, this number does not necessarily reflect how many real-world falls a rope can handle and is only one part of the overall force-absorbing capacity of a rope.
The other critical statistic is impact force, which measures how much energy is put on a falling climber and their belayer during the standard UIAA test fall. A low-impact force is essential to reduce the chance of injury.
It is essential to be cautious about buying second-hand equipment, especially UIAA-certified items. To the untrained eye, counterfeit products may closely resemble actual UIAA-certified equipment and be sold at low prices. In addition, there have been documented cases of UIAA-certified logos being copied by unscrupulous manufacturers to appear to be a well-known climbing gear brand.
The UIAA is a not-for-profit organization that invests money to develop climbing safety standards. The European Union then adopts these as CE certifications; you’ll see them on many climbing-related items.
The UIAA doesn’t test the climbing ropes, but they created the rules that independent labs follow to verify their compliance. So, a rope can only get the UIAA mark if it passes the standardized EN 892 and UIAA 101 tests. This means a single rope must pass five consecutive factor 1.77 falls, and a twin rope must pass 12 successive falls.
The UIAA’s safety standards are more stringent than the CE standards, and many reputable manufacturers only test their equipment to UIAA specifications. The UIAA also has the advantage of having its board made up of people from around the world and is, therefore, more in tune with climbing and mountaineering safety needs.
UIAA fall ratings on a rope will tell you how many falls it can sustain under the UIAA standard before it breaks. This number does not include sheath slippage, however, which can significantly decrease the lifespan of a rope.
Dynamic elongation is another important statistic to look at on a rope. This is how much a rope will stretch under an 80kg weight dynamically falling on it during the UIAA drop test. Most ropes can achieve upwards of 40% dynamic elongation, which is suitable for making falls feel softer and minimizing the forces exerted on anchors. Just be aware that the UIAA drop test simulates a severe fall factor and is not directly transferrable to real-world use.
The UIAA is the international mountaineering and climbing federation that creates safety standards for all climbing equipment. These standards must be adhered to by all climbing ropes, and independent labs are responsible for the testing. All the dynamic ropes REI carries have passed these tests.
UIAA testing results, including static and dynamic elongation, are shown on the rope’s packaging. These numbers are significant when selecting a rope, as they affect how it performs daily and what type of climbing it is most appropriate for.
The UIAA lists the number of simulated falls a rope will withstand before breaking. This metric needs to be more accurate, however, as lab-simulated falls create much greater forces than most real-world climbs, and therefore, it does not give a precise picture of how a rope will perform in the field.