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MOUNTAINEERING TERMINOLOGY | A reference glossary

Starting this week, we have decided to compile a glossary of the most common terms used in mountaineering, to provide a precise reference with description and correlations and to help understanding our reports and articles.

Mountaineering - the term refers to the discipline that has as its purpose the ascent on mountain walls and slopes, overcoming the difficulties related to the terrain, through the use of specific climbing and ascending techniques. It can be performed with the aid of specific tools such as ice axes, boots, clothing and accessories designed for the safety of the mountaineer. Depending on the difficulty of ascent, mountaineering is classified by degrees of difficulty that follow different scales depending on the characteristics of the route taken.

Via Ferrata - set of structures and artificial security systems placed on an access road of a rocky wall or particularly steep trail, in order to simplify and make safer the ascent of the route by the hiker. The lack of this equipment on the way would require climbing with knowledge of climbing technique or freestyle. The first via ferrata of the history was built on the south-west ridge of Großglockner, the highest peak in Austria, in 1869.

Via Normale/Normal Route - indicates the easiest way to reach the top of a mountain, and often identifies with the first route followed to conquer the summit. It is distinguished from the other routes followed for the ascent (direttissima, via ferrata, climbing route) of a mountain for the degree of difficulty. To ascend a mountain, more than one normal route can be used; this is due to the fact that these differ for the starting point, usually located in different valleys at the foot of the summit (eg normal French route of Mont Blanc and normal Italian route).

Direttissima - way of ascent to a mountain that stands out from the normal route because it aims to reach the top using a more "direct" way, without avoiding sections with extreme difficulties or difficult to overcome. The term was coined by the famous Italian mountaineer Emilio Comici and is also used internationally in Italian.

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