Alpine Style Climbing

Alpine style refers to mountaineering in a self-sufficient manner. It entails carrying all of one’s food, shelter, equipment etc. as one climbs, as opposed to expedition style mountaineering which involves setting up a fixed line of stocked camps on the mountain which can be accessed at one’s leisure. In addition alpine style means the refusal of fixed ropes, high altitude porters and the use of supplementary oxygen.

Alpine style is considered by many mountaineers to be the purest form of mountaineering. It was Hermann Buhl’s idea to demonstrate Alpine style in the Karakoram at the successful Austrian Broad Peak expedition in 1957, in pure Alpine style.  Reinhold Messner,further popularised this style, when he and Peter Habeler climbed Gasherbrum I without oxygen equipment in 1975.

The benefits of alpine style are that, generally, much less time is spent on the route, reducing objective dangers such as avalanches or blizzards. While the problems encountered in this style of climbing are related to lack of support. There are no fixed ropes to retreat down in case of emergency, or a lower camp to return to.  However, alpine style often is cheaper and faster for those on a budget.

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