Alpine Climbing Information

This section contains every thing you need to know about Ice Climbing. This informative site will introduce you to Ice Climbing basics, help you get started with the sport, guide you in learning the different skills and techniques, teach you the essential pieces of gear and equipment, and inform you about the safety guidelines.

There are two main styles of mountaineering: Expedition style and Alpine style.

A mountaineer who adopts Alpine style is referred to as an Alpine Mountaineer. Alpine Mountaineers are typically found climbing in medium-sized glaciated mountain areas such as the Alps or Rocky Mountains. Medium-sized generally refers to altitudes in the intermediate altitude (7,000' to 12,000') and first half of high altitude (12,000' to 18,000') ranges. However, alpine style ascents have been done throughout history on extreme altitude (18,000' to 29,000') peaks also, albeit in lower volume to expedition style ascents. Alpine style refers to a particular style of mountain climbing that involves a mixture of snow climbing, ice climbing, rock climbing, and glacier travel, where climbers generally single carry their loads between camps, in a single push for the summit. Light and fast is the mantra of the Alpine Mountaineer.

The term alpine style contrasts with expedition style (as commonly undertaken in the Himalayan region or other large ranges of the world), which could be viewed as slow and heavy, where climbers may use porters, pack animals, glacier airplanes, cooks, multiple carries between camps, usage of fixed lines etc. A mountaineer who adopts this style of climbing is referred to as an Expedition Mountaineer. Expedition mountaineers still employ the skill sets of the alpine mountaineer, except they have to deal with even higher altitudes, expanded time scale, longer routes, foreign logistics, more severe weather, and additional skills unique to expeditionary climbing. The prevalence of expedition style climbing in the Himalaya is largely a function of the nature of the mountains in the region. Because Himalayan base camps can take days or weeks to trek to, and Himalayan mountains can take weeks or perhaps even months to climb, a large number of personnel and amount of supplies are necessary. This is why expedition style climbing is frequently used on large and isolated peaks in the Himalaya. In Europe and North America there is less of a need for expedition style climbing on most medium-sized mountains. These mountains can often be easily accessed by car or air, are at a lower altitude and can be climbed in a shorter time scale. Expedition style mountaineering can be found in the larger high altitude and extreme altitude North American ranges such as the Alaska Range and Saint Elias Mountains. These remote mountaineering destinations can require up to a 2 week trek by foot, just to make it to base camp. Most expeditions in these regions choose a glacier flight to basecamp. Route length in days from basecamp can vary in these regions, typically from 10 days to 1 month during the climbing season. Winter mountaineering on major peaks in these ranges can generally consume between 30 to 60 days depending on the route, and can generally only be tackled via expedition style mountaineering during this season.

The differences between, and advantages and disadvantages of, the two kinds of climbing are as follows:

Expedition style

  • uses multiple trips between camps to carry supplies up to higher camps
  • group sizes are often larger than alpine style climbs because more supplies are carried between camps
  • fixed lines are often used to minimize the danger involved in continually moving between camps
  • supplemental oxygen is frequently used
  • higher margin of safety in relation to equipment, food, time, and ability to wait out storms at high camps
  • avoidance of being trapped in storms at high altitudes and being forced to descend in treacherous avalanche conditions
  • possible higher exposure to objective hazards such as avalanches or rockfall, due to slower travel times between camps
  • higher capital expenditures
  • longer time scale

Alpine style

  • climbers only climb the route once because they do not continually climb up and down between camps with supplies
  • fewer supplies are used on the climb therefore fewer personnel are needed
  • alpine style ascents do not leave the climber exposed to objective hazards as long as an expedition style climb does; however, because of the speed of the ascent relative to an expedition style climb there is less time for acclimatization
  • supplemental oxygen is not used
  • danger of being trapped at high altitude due to storms, potentially being exposed to HAPE or HACE
  • lower capital expenditures
  • shorter time scale

Alpine Climbing Basics & Background Information

Alpine Climbing Basics & Background Information. What is Alpine Climbing? Why do people do it? What is its History? This is an ideal starting point for beginning climbers.

Alpine Climbing - Getting Started

As a beginner, there are many things that you need to know about Alpine Climbing before you can actually take your first climb. Keep yourself equipped with the necessary information to ensure safety.

Alpine Climbing Styles

Alpine Climbing comes in various types, each having its own features and requirements. Learn the different styles of Climbing in this section.

Alpine Climbing Techniques, Skills, & Training

Know some of Alpine Climbing's essentials: Alpine Climbing Techniques, Styles & Variations, and Alpine Climbing Training. Know the different Climbing Moves.

Alpine Climbing Knots

This section covers several knots that are used in Alpine Climbing. There are easy-to-follow steps and animations for many knots so you will be able to learn how to tie knots easily.

Alpine Climbing Equipment & Gear Overview

Various devices are necessary in Alpine Climbing. This is an overview on the different gear and equipment included in the typical gear list of an Alpine climber.

Alpine Climbing Safety & Guidelines

Safety should be one of the important concerns in Alpine Climbing. Learn what to do in emergency situations. Likewise, know how to deal with hazards.

Popular Alpine Climbing Routes & Spots

Know where to go on your next adventure. There are countless Alpine climbing spots all over the world. We will help you discover them one by one.

In general, Alpine Climbing is a potentially dangerous activity. It is therefore imperative to be knowledgeable on the ins and outs of Alpine Climbing before taking your first climb. Familiarize yourself with the different Alpine Climbing Techniques, Skills, Styles, and Variations, as well as the features and proper uses of different Gear and Equipment. Since this activity is both challenging and physically-demanding, you need to have a customized Alpine Climbing Training. These are just some of the many things you need to know about Alpine Climbing. With adequate knowledge and training acquired from qualified climbers, you will be on the right track.

Note: The sections on this site are intended for informational purposes only. It is still wise to learn the essentials of Rock Climbing from qualified and experienced climbers. The information provided here cannot be a substitute to a formal training in Rock Climbing.
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