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Alpine mountain

Alpine Style of Climbing

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Climbing embodies the thrill that comes from testing courage, ingenuity, cunning, strength, skill, and endurance to the limit in situations of inherent risk. More than any other sport, mountaineering is a group activity, with each member assisting and supporting the group’s performance at every stage. However, as it will be explained in the alpine climbing method, each person relies on their own abilities and equipment as much as possible.  When done right the physical and mental satisfaction that comes from personal effort, ever-increasing skill, and exposure to the magnificence of nature. Perhaps one of the Main defining differences between mountaineering and many of the other outdoor sports, is that in mountaineering, nature solely provides the playing field and offers almost every challenge to its participants. In a sense, no man-made rules have to be followed here except for the rules of nature. Having said this is still vital to be aware of the techniques and principles of mountaineering for a safe and successful climb.

Alpine Climbing

The Alps, Alaskan, Sierra Nevada, and South American mountains were the first to be breached by axes and crampons. The early days of mountaineering were driven by a curiosity about the natural environment and a desire to travel to the undiscovered territory. Antoine de Ville performed the first documented technical ascent of a mountain in 1492, the same year that Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain. Although indigenous peoples have been ascending mountains for a very long time in pursuit of the divine, these ascents are mainly unrecorded.

By the 1950s, the Himalayas and their tall peaks became the center of attention. Alpinism started to give way to siege strategies and a will to win at any cost. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay forced their way to the top of Everest in 1953 using porters and constructed safety ropes. The world’s largest mountain is still being scaled by hundreds of boots stomping on fixed ladders and gloved hands “climbing” chains of fixed ropes. However, alpinists vehemently disagree with this approach. They claim that conga lines of patrons leave rubbish behind, and disregard and disrespect the mountain and its nature.

In the alpine or light climbing method, climbers carry all the tools and food with them, and there is no turning back in the climbing process. Except for some prominent climbs in the Himalayan mountain range, this method is mostly used at altitudes below 6000 meters.

The lightweight or alpine method in mountaineering (often in Himalayan climbing) refers to a technique in which the climber climbs only relying on his or her abilities, carrying all personal equipment, food, tents, etc. with him. At the opposite point is the expedition-style or siege method, where there are several pre-arranged camps that the climber can use when necessary.

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In addition, in the lightweight method, the mountaineer does not use a fixed rope, auxiliary oxygen, height carrier, or a support group. Unlike the encirclement method, in which air conditioning is done while setting up camps and installing fixed ropes, in this method, going back and forth from the route is not done and the climber climbs to the top all at once. For this reason, the acclimatization steps must be done before the final climb.

The alpine climbing method is used in remote and high places. Using the alpine climbing method in high climbs requires extraordinary preparation and special climbing exercises, and if the climber is not prepared, it can be very dangerous.

Many consider alpine/lightweight climbing to be the purest climbing method that climbers should follow. This method became famous with the ascent of Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler to the summit of Gasherbrum 1 in 1975, although this method had been used in many ascents for years. Today, most first-class climbers climb the Himalayas with this method.

Advantages of the Alpine Climbing Method

One of the most significant advantages of the Alpine method is spending less time on the road and thus reducing risks such as avalanches and storms. This factor can be very decisive when there is a risk of avalanches or rocks. The lightweight method is usually cheaper and faster and is suitable for those who are financially strapped.

It is cheaper because less equipment is needed, the help of porters is not used, and overall less time is spent in the area. This method is suitable for small and fast groups, unlike the siege method, where the number of team members is usually very large.

Mount Damavand with the highest peak in western Asia, is one popular destination for alpine climbing in Iran. Check out our Damavand tours for more information.

Disadvantages of the Alpine Climbing Method

The disadvantages of this method include not having a support group and the possibility of not getting enough air, due to spending less time at high altitudes. Also, since there is no fixed rope or pre-established camps that can be used to return in critical situations, the climber who climbs with this method must be highly prepared.

Climbers who climb this way should consider another option to return if they are unable to continue their route for any reason, such as an emergency overnight stay (possibly without proper equipment), or emergency descent (leaving the workshop and possibly technical equipment). or additionally going to a different route from the point they are at (probably without having enough information about the return route).

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