Climb mountains safely, thanks to EN 893:2019!  

The history of mountaineering equipment standards follows the history of alpinism. In 1864, the first standard was developed by The Alpine Club in the United Kingdom for mountaineering ropes when ropes were the only equipment to protect against fall from height. In 1932, the worldwide UIAA (Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme/International mountaineering and climbing federation) takes over the safety issues for mountaineers and his Safety Commission published a first standard “B” for rope (“A” standard was “General rules”). All the safety gear panoply for mountaineers had standards until the letter S for crampons. In the 90’s, the CEN started the standardisation work in order to support the presumption of conformity to the directive 89/686 CEE for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) with the support of the CEN/TC 136 WG5 “Mountaineering and climbing equipment” whose Secretariat is held by DIN, the German National Standardization Body. The new European standards were based on the former UIAA standards.

EN 893:2019 “Mountaineering equipment - Crampons - Safety requirements and test methods” covers the safety requirements and test methods for crampons intended to prevent the user from slipping when used in mountaineering on snow and ice including climbing mixed terrain. It falls under the PPE category 2 classification for the prevention of falls due to slipping. Over two millions of mountaineers use crampons in Europe, including the alpine troops from armies.

There are a lot of reasons to carry out a revision of a standard: systematic review, evolution of the state of the art, or accident data highlighting a lack of safety. The reason for the revision of EN 893 on crampons was unusual. The starting point was in 2016 when the testing by the Swiss market surveillance authorities has shown that the test method may lead to inconsistent test results on the bending strength test on spikes. A key point for the quality of a standard is the test reproducibility between different notified bodies. If the standard text is not clear enough, the door is open to various interpretations. The only way to check the reproducibility is to carry out a round robin test between notified bodies. Unfortunately, the lack of time or resources permits rarely the validation with this method before the publication of the standard. The Swiss control has shown that the notified body which made the CE certification and the notified body which carried out the control used different ways of testing though applying the same standard. The danger when experts work together is to consider a test method obvious while a non expert needs more explanations.

The CEN/TC 136 W5, led by the Convenor Denis Pivot, high mountain guide, with 54 experts representing 12 countries, worked to avoid ambiguous wording with the support of all the stakeholders: notified bodies, alpine clubs, manufacturers and institutional delegates. Figures were modified to be more precise. Ultimately, no new requirement were added but the revised test method is now understandable identically for all.

The revised standard is expected to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union under the PPE Regulation (EU 2016/425).

EN 893:2019 was developed by CEN/TC 136/WG 5 ‘Mountaineering and climbing equipment’, the secretariat of which is held by DIN, the German Standardization Organisation.

For more information, please contact Claire DALIER.