Alpinism

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Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Bertrand Delapierre, 2018

Alpinism is the art of climbing up summits and walls in high mountains, in all seasons, in rocky or icy terrain. It involves physical, technical and intellectual abilities, using appropriate techniques, equipment and highly specific tools such as axes and crampons. Alpinism is a traditional, physical practice characterized by a shared culture made up of knowledge of the high-mountain environment, the history of the practice and associated values, and specific skills. Knowledge about the natural environment, changing weather conditions, and natural hazards is also essential. Alpinism is also based on aesthetic aspects: alpinists strive for elegant climbing motions, contemplation of the landscape, and harmony with the natural environment. The practice mobilizes ethical principles based on each individual’s commitment, such as leaving no lasting traces behind, and assuming the duty to provide assistance among practitioners. Another essential part of the alpinist mindset is the sense of team spirit, as represented by the rope connecting the alpinists. Most community members belong to alpine clubs, which spread alpine practices worldwide. The clubs organize group outings, disseminate practical information and contribute to various publications, acting as a driving force for alpinist culture. Since the 20th century, alpine clubs in all three countries have cultivated relationships through frequent bilateral or trilateral meetings at various levels.

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