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MOUNTAINEERING TERMINOLOGY | Glossary n°2

We continue this week also the analysis and description of the terms of alpinism with our specific glossary.

Degree of difficulty - scale of assessment of the difficulty represented by a climbing or mountaineering route. There are different systems for assessing the degree of difficulty, but mainly two of them are generally used: the UIAA scale, which classifies the degree using Roman numerals, and the French scale, which associates a number from 3 to 9 with the first 4 letters of the alphabet. Respectively, the most difficult climbs are classified as X, XI in the first case, 9a-9b in the second.

Pitch - a piece of climbing that starts from the ground or from a rest and leads, through a traced path, to a stop on the wall. The shot can be only one, and so we talk about single-pitch, or with more rope segments, in which case the route is more complicated to deal with and must be performed with great caution by the leader.

Roped Party - a group of two or more climbers attempting to ascend a route. The number of members of the team affects the speed and the way of ascending the route; usually, on a wall the group proceeds by pitches, with each one facing the way while the others wait, while in the alpine and on easier ways the group proceeds in preservation, that is with the simultaneous movement of the whole group.

Acclimatization - protocol put into practice by the mountaineer in order to avoid the onset of complications related to altitude sickness (above all, pulmonary and cerebral edema) which consists in gradually accustoming the organism to the lack of oxygen in the air, typical situation of high and very high altitude, due to the lowering of atmospheric pressure with increasing altitude. This practice is of crucial importance in the Himalayan expeditions, where the technique of frequent displacement among the various fields on the slopes of the eight thousand peaks is used, with frequent stops even at night.

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