An alpenstock (German : Alpen- "alpine" + Stock "stick, staff") is a long wooden pole with an iron spike tip, used by shepherds for travel on snowfields and glaciers in the Alps since the Middle Ages. It is the antecedent of the modern ice axe.
French-speaking climbers called this item a "baton". Josias Simler, a Swiss professor of theology at what later became the University of Zurich, published the first treatise on the Alps, entitled De Alpibus commentarius. T. Graham Brown described Simler's observations on gear for travel over ice and snow in the mountains: "In 1574, Simler published a commentary on the Alps which is remarkable for its description of the technique of glacier travel and for its proof that Simler himself had practical experience. He describes the alpenstock, crampons, the use of the rope, the necessity of protecting the eyes on snow by veils or spectacles; and he mentions that the leader on snow covered glaciers sounds for hidden crevasses with a pole."
Yvon Chouinard quotes Simler as writing, "To counteract the slipperiness of the ice, they firmly attach to their feet shoes resembling the shoes of horses, with three sharp spikes in them, so that they may be able to stand firmly. In some places they use sticks tipped with iron, by leaning upon which they climb steep slopes. These are called alpine sticks, and are principally in use among the shepherds."
On August 8, 1786, Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard made the first ascent of Mont Blanc. Balmat, a chamois hunter and crystal collector, had experience with high mountain travel, and Paccard had made previous attempts to climb the peak. Illustrations show Balmat carrying two separate tools (whose respective functions would later be re-assigned to the ice axe): an alpenstock (or baton), and a small axe that could be used to chop steps on icy slopes.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, seeing that the traditional but unwieldy alpenstock might be a useful aid to climb steep slopes of snow or ice, Victorian alpinists fastened a sharpened blade (the pick) to the top of the alpenstock; this was used to provide stability. On the opposite end, a flattened blade was placed (the adze), which was used for cutting steps in the snow or ice, an essential technique for moving over steep icy slopes before the advent of the crampon. Gradually, the alpenstock evolved into the ice axe.
Most of the people, both male and female, are in walking costume, and carry alpenstocks. Evidently, it is not considered safe to go about in Switzerland, even in town, without an alpenstock. If the tourist forgets and comes down to breakfast without his alpenstock, he goes back and gets it, and stands it up in the corner. When his touring in Switzerland is finished, he does not throw that broomstick away, but lugs it home with him, to the far corners of the earth, although this costs him more trouble and bother than a baby or a courier could. You see, the alpenstock is his trophy; his name is burned upon it; and if he has climbed a hill, or jumped a brook, or traversed a brickyard with it, he has the names of those places burned upon it, too.
Thus it is his regimental flag, so to speak, and bears the record of his achievements. It is worth three francs when he buys it, but a bonanza could not purchase it after his great deeds have been inscribed upon it. There are artisans all about Switzerland whose trade it is to burn these things upon the alpenstock of the tourist. And observe, a man is respected in Switzerland according to his alpenstock. I found I could get no attention there, while I carried an unbranded one. However, branding is not expensive, so I soon remedied that. The effect upon the next detachment of tourists was very marked. I felt repaid for my trouble.
The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies entirely in Europe, stretching approximately 1,200 km (750 mi) across eight Alpine countries : France, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. The Alpine arch generally extends from Nice on the western Mediterranean to Trieste on the Adriatic and Vienna at the beginning of the Pannonian basin. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, and at 4,809 m (15,778 ft) is the highest mountain in the Alps. The Alpine region area contains 128 peaks higher than 4,000 m (13,000 ft).
Mountaineering, or alpinism, is the set of activities that involves ascending mountains. Mountaineering-related activities include traditional outdoor climbing, skiing, and traversing via ferratas. Indoor climbing, sport climbing and bouldering are also considered mountaineering by some.
A crampon is a traction device that is attached to footwear to improve mobility on snow and ice during ice climbing. Besides ice climbing, crampons are also used for secure travel on snow and ice, such as crossing glaciers, snowfields and icefields, ascending snow slopes, and scaling ice-covered rock. There are three main attachment systems for footwear: step-in, hybrid, and strap bindings. The first two require boots with welts, as a tension lever attaches the crampon to the heel. The last type are more versatile and can adapt to virtually any boot or shoe, but often do not fit as precisely as the other two types.
An ice axe is a multi-purpose hiking and climbing tool used by mountaineers in both the ascent and descent of routes that involve frozen conditions with snow or ice. An ice axe can be held and employed in a number of different ways, depending on the terrain encountered. In its simplest role, the ice axe is used like a walking stick in the uphill hand, the mountaineer holding the head in the center. It can also be buried pick down, the rope tied around the shaft to form a secure anchor on which to bring up a second climber, or buried vertically to form a stomp belay. The adze is used to cut footsteps, as well as scoop/bucket seats in the hillside and trenches to bury an ice axe belay. The long-handled alpenstock was a predecessor to the modern ice axe.
Ice climbing is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations. Usually, ice climbing refers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water. For the purposes of climbing, ice can be broadly divided into two spheres, alpine ice and water ice. Alpine ice is found in a mountain environment, usually requires an approach to reach, and is often climbed in an attempt to summit a mountain. Water ice is usually found on a cliff or other outcropping beneath water flows. Alpine ice is frozen precipitation whereas water ice is a frozen liquid flow of water. Most alpine ice is generally one component of a longer route and often less technical, having more in common with standard glacier travel, while water ice is selected largely for its technical challenge. Technical grade is, however, independent of ice type and both types of ice vary greatly in consistency according to weather conditions. Ice can be soft, hard, brittle or tough. Mixed climbing is ascent involving both ice climbing and rock climbing.
The Eiger is a 3,967-metre (13,015 ft) mountain of the Bernese Alps, overlooking Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, just north of the main watershed and border with Valais. It is the easternmost peak of a ridge crest that extends across the Mönch to the Jungfrau at 4,158 m (13,642 ft), constituting one of the most emblematic sights of the Swiss Alps. While the northern side of the mountain rises more than 3,000 m (10,000 ft) above the two valleys of Grindelwald and Lauterbrunnen, the southern side faces the large glaciers of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area, the most glaciated region in the Alps. The most notable feature of the Eiger is its nearly 1,800-metre-high (5,900 ft) north face of rock and ice, named Eiger-Nordwand, Eigerwand or just Nordwand, which is the biggest north face in the Alps. This huge face towers over the resort of Kleine Scheidegg at its base, on the homonymous pass connecting the two valleys.
The Haute Route, is the name given to a route undertaken on foot or by ski touring between the Mont Blanc Chamonix in France, and the Matterhorn Zermatt in Switzerland.
Dry-tooling is a form of rock climbing in which ice axes are used to climb rock that is not covered in snow or ice. It has its origins in mixed climbing, ice climbing and more recently sport climbing. Dry tooling is controversial among many climbers. Some favour it as a new and exciting kind of climbing, while others dislike it for its nontraditional methods and the permanent damage it can cause to certain, generally softer, rock formations.
The Dufourspitze is the highest peak of Monte Rosa, a huge ice-covered mountain massif in the Alps. Dufourspitze is the highest mountain peak of both Switzerland and the Pennine Alps and is also the second-highest mountain of the Alps and Western Europe, after Mont Blanc. It is located between Switzerland and Italy.
Yvon Chouinard is an American rock climber, environmentalist, and outdoor industry billionaire businessman. His company, Patagonia, is known for its environmental focus.
The Barre des Écrins is a mountain in the French Alps with a peak at 4102m altitude. It is the highest peak of the Massif des Écrins and the Dauphiné Alps and the most southerly alpine peak in Europe that is higher than 4,000 m. It is the only 4,000 m mountain in France that lies outside the Mont Blanc Massif. Before the annexation of Savoy in 1860 it was the highest mountain in France.
Jacques Balmat, called Balmat du Mont Blanc (1762–1834) was a mountaineer, a Savoyard mountain guide, born in the Chamonix valley in Savoy, at this time part of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
The 1922 British Mount Everest expedition was the first mountaineering expedition with the express aim of making the first ascent of Mount Everest. This was also the first expedition that attempted to climb Everest using bottled oxygen. The expedition would attempt to climb Everest from the northern side out of Tibet. At the time, Everest could not be attempted from the south out of Nepal as the country was closed to Western foreigners.
The Hintertux Glacier is the tourist name for the glaciers of the Gefrorene-Wand-Kees, also called the Tuxer Ferner, and the nearby Riepenkees at the top of the Tuxertal, a side valley of the Zillertal in the Austrian state of Tyrol. Both glaciers are accessed by gondola and chair lifts and is one of only two ski resorts in the world offering skiing 365 days a year. At its highest point the ski region reaches a height of 3,250 m (10,660 ft) in the saddle between the peaks of the Gefrorene-Wand-Spitzen. Hintertux glacier is one of the most popular glaciers in Austria. It is open all year round with skiing in the winter, and hiking activities in the summer.
Glacier hiking involves walking on a glacier with special equipment, such as crampons, rope, climbing harness, helmet and ice axe, so that to some degree it resembles mountaineering.
The so-called Top of the Mont Blanc is an inappropriately-named collection piece on display in the Oval Room of Teylers Museum. The specimen was supposedly cut off from the highest findable piece of exposed rock of the Rocher de la Tournette, 4,677 metres (15,344 ft) high on the snow covered summit ridge of the Mont Blanc on 3 August 1787, during one of the first climbs of the mountain by the Swiss scientific pioneer Horace Bénédict de Saussure.
Henri Cordier or Henry Cordier was a French mountaineer. In his short two-year career, he became the first Frenchman to reach the level of the English members of the Alpine Club, in the silver age of alpinism in the second half of the 19th century, which was dominated by the development of mountaineering in the Alps. With some of the Alpine Club's mountain guides and mountaineers, he led significant first ascents in the Mont Blanc massif and in the Dauphiné Alps.
The Alpine companies were specialized mountain infantry troops that were part of the Austro-Hungarian land forces during the First World War.
A Mummery tent is a small, lightweight tent designed and used by Albert Frederick Mummery in the 1880s and named after him. Fred Mummery (1855–1895) was an English pioneer in alpine climbing, making many first ascents, and he developed this type of tent for his lightweight expeditions.
Peter Kaufmann was a Swiss mountain guide during the Silver Age of Alpinism (1865-1882) and the early twentieth century, who guided amateurs, experienced climbers, and several notables across glaciers, over mountain passes, and to the summits in the Swiss Alps, the Canadian Rockies, and the Selkirks.
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Thus it is his regimental flag, so to speak, and bears the record of his achievements. It is worth three francs when he buys it, but a bonanza could not purchase it after his great deeds have been inscribed upon it. There are artisans all about Switzerland whose trade it is to burn these things upon the alpenstock of the tourist. And observe, a man is respected in Switzerland according to his alpenstock. I found I could get no attention there, while I carried an unbranded one.