Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 14.COM 10.B.12

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that France, Italy and Switzerland have nominated Alpinism (No. 01471) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

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.

  1. Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   Alpinism plays a central role in fostering social interaction between practitioners and helps cultivate mutual respect between rope team-mates, who are more than just climbing partners. Alpinists consider their practice to be a very intense experience where lasting relationships are built that cross social, generational and national barriers. The element is seen as an important example of intangible cultural heritage related to the knowledge of nature.

R.2:   The inscription of Alpinism would stress the close relationship between intangible cultural heritage and the environment and sustainable development. It would also strengthen the shared responsibility for the maintenance and restoration of important social spaces – high-mountain refuges – and increase awareness about the existence of shared history and values among the submitting States Parties. The inscription may also revive and deepen the existing dialogue among alpinist communities, creating new platforms for information-sharing. The practice relies on resourceful cooperation based on creative solutions to difficult situations.

R.3:   The proposed safeguarding measures include: awareness-raising actions aimed at new audiences; protecting alpinists from the risks of jeopardizing their activity; preventing risks related to the trivialization of the practices and places of practice; and strengthening preventive monitoring of environmental threats. The communities, where gender diversity is the norm, have been involved in planning the proposed safeguarding measures throughout, particularly through alpine clubs, which are widely representative of the communities.

R.4:   The nomination was prepared by various alpinist communities – members of alpine clubs, high-mountain guides – researchers and local mayors that formed a steering committee. The file was discussed during many meetings of this committee and its content was also debated within a wide community of alpinists. During the meetings, attended by both men and women, participants defined the content of the file and the safeguarding measures.

R.5:   The element is included in inventories of the three States Parties. It was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of France in 2015, the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage / 2003 UNESCO Convention of Italy in 2018 and the List of Living Traditions in Switzerland in 2017. The inventory-making and updating processes are carried out primarily by the communities, who also undertake the updating whenever necessary.

  1. Decides to inscribe Alpinism on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the States Parties for preparing a high-quality multinational file that testifies to active networking among the communities in the preparation of the nomination and in the overall safeguarding of the element;
  3. Further commends the States Parties for submitting a file that underlines the importance of traditional knowledge about nature and the universe and offers a positive example of the sustainable relationship between human beings and their environment.