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MOUNTAINEERING TERMINOLOGY | Glossary n. 3

Alpine style. Particular type of alpine expedition that does not allow the use of high altitude carriers, fixed ropes, oxygen and pre-installed camps, and requires that the ascent must be carried out in a single attempt, making this style of ascension particularly difficult and complicated. All the material beyond the base camp is transported directly by the expedition mountaineers, who must therefore take care of the equipment to the minimum detail to avoid heavy loads. The term derives from the definition given by the great alpinist Hermann Buhl after his conquest of Broad Peak without the help of carriers, with a technique similar to that practiced in the Alps.

Crampons. Tools used by the climber for progression on ice and frozen snow and ice climbing. There are three types of crampons: automatic, characterized by a double attachment on the front (metal) and rear (adjustable lever), which are the most used for expeditions and steep walls, on particularly rigid boots that prevent the release with specific plastic inserts on toe and heel; semi-automatic, with rear attachment equal to the automatic ones and no frontal one, replaced by a plastic weave or by laces, more suitable for easier routes and for ski mountaineering. Finally, the universal crampons, which have a system of attachment to the boot with straps and laces of plastic or nylon and are the less performing crampons, ideal for those approaching the world of mountaineering.

Thermal insulation. A necessary and fundamental condition for the success of an alpine expedition and to avoid the onset of hypothermia, the excessive lowering of body temperature that brings symptoms similar to high fever and can lead to death if not treated in time. The thermal insulation of the mountaineer starts from the feet, through the use of boots with special types of insulating lining and membrane, and a heat-reflecting insole (with an aluminum foil, usually). All the clothing then has to satisfy this condition, without however increasing the weight of the equipment excessively: therefore heat-reflecting and insulating materials are used at the same time, which aim to build a barrier against the cold and retain the heat of the body inside of the clothing.

Drytooling. Climbing discipline that involves the progression on a rock wall using the techniques and equipment (crampons and ice axes) of ice climbing. The tools are used on the handles or fixed on the slots; for this reason, since the discipline is particularly destructive for the rock, the dry tooling routes are different from those of ice climbing. The difficulty of a dry tooling wall is measured with the letter M followed by a number from 1 to 15; recently an M16 grade was proposed for one route considered the most difficult in the world (Storm Giant).

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