It is a pleasure for me to write the foreword to the online mountain sports commentary, as the legal issues related to mountain sports directly concern me in many ways:
For more than 20 years, as a mountain guide, I have been confronted with the fact that a serious accident can occur even with careful risk management. Although our knowledge of alpine dangers is constantly being refined and the material is becoming better and better, there are still residual risks to which we mountain guides and alpinists remain exposed. Unfortunately, it cannot be completely ruled out that one of my guests will have a serious accident and that I will be held criminally and civilly responsible for it.
For about 10 years I have been the president of the Expert Group for Mountain Accidents FEB and I provide alpine technical expert reports to public prosecutors, courts and insurance companies. The goal is that the decision makers understand the accident mechanism and know the relevant alpine technical standards. In doing so, I observe that the criminal and civil processing of mountain accidents is usually successful. I am concerned about the development of the legal consequences of mountain accidents in terms of accident insurance. It seems to me that reductions in benefits due to risk are becoming more frequent.
I have been president of the Swiss Mountain Guides Association ( SBV) for a little over a year. In this role, I am committed to ensuring that we alpinists continue to have reasonable free access to the mountains in the future. The SBV recognizes that access restrictions and steering measures are justified to protect sensitive and endangered species and ecosystems, even in the face of ever-increasing flows of outdoor tourists. We come to terms with the existing restrictions in the hunting bans, wildlife rest areas and nature reserves, but we are examining new restrictions very critically.
At the SBV, I am also involved in the further development and enforcement of the legislation on mountain guiding and the offering of other risk activities. The SBV regularly comments on new developments in the outdoor market for the attention of the BASPO and advises the SBFI in connection with the question of the equivalence of foreign training courses. And unfortunately, the SBV also has to file charges from time to time against people who lead risk activities without recognized training and without a permit, thus endangering the safety of their guests.
I am convinced that the Mountain Sports Commentary provides a valuable overview and interesting background information for all these - and other - legal areas. To my knowledge, there is no source available so far which would deal with all legal questions concerning mountain sports in a substantiated way. I am pleased that this commentary fills the gap and that the research results are available free of charge to all interested parties. I thank all those involved for their commitment.