The European Union of Mountaineering Associations (EUMA) was established in Munich last month to jointly represent the interests of this activity around Europe, and to tackle issues around safety, infrastructure and protection of the environment.

The founding assembly brought together representatives from 23 national associations representing about 2.5 million climbers and mountaineers. It came after several years of exchanges, which led to the creation of a working group for the launch of a European association. The German, Austrian and Italian alpine associations were strongly involved in this process and Josef Klenner, president of the German Alpenverein, led the EUMA's founding assembly.

A notable absentee in the new organization is the Swiss Alpine Club. A spokeswoman explained that the association was unable to attend the inaugural assembly due to constraints in terms of schedule, and that the Swiss would wait to find out more about the EUMA and its activities before joining the group. 

Held at the Alpine Museum of the German Alpenverein in Munich, the assembly elected Roland Stierle as the European group's president and a five-strong board was appointed to finalize the creation of the EUMA. This includes its registration in Brussels, to make sure that its voice is heard on Europe-wide issues such as access to mountains. The registration is to be completed in January, and by then the association should also have its own website. Along with Stierle, the board consists of the deputy Jan Bloudek from the Czech Mountaineering Association, Ingrid Hayek from Austria, Bojan Rotovnik from Slovenia and Juan Jesús Ibáñez Martín from Spain.

Members of the EUMA are already part of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), which boasts that it represents over 3 million climbers and mountaineers from 92 member organizations. It has quite a few more participants than the EUMA in Europe, with 57 member organizations from this continent alone – stretching much further east with countries such as the Ukraine and Russia.