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The Sport of Traditional Alpine Mountaineering

People ask why we have an interest in the sport of traditional alpine mountaineering. I usually tell them that it is exciting and fun to stand on the summit of an interesting mountain and to return safely. What do you tell your friends?

The shared adventure is what I really like about mountaineering. Our friend Ian Wade, a President of The American Alpine Club, expressed it best when he said, “It is not the route or the summit that I remember, it’s the shared companionship of the climb”.

Earning the companionship of the Sierra Club’s Sierra Peaks and Desert Peaks sections was challenging for me many years ago. Before participating in major climbs, a new member had to learn a lot of things: the goals and traditional responsibilities of a climbing adventure, the experience and conditioning required and the developing safety techniques. Do you have a copy of "The Freedom of the Hills"?

TraditionalMountaineering is founded on the premise that "He who knows naught, knows not that he knows naught", that exploring the hills and summitting peaks have dangers that are hidden to the un-informed and that these inherent risks can be in part identified and mitigated by information, training, interesting gear and knowledge gained through the experiences of others. Who are your mentors?

Alpine mountaineering is basically an aerobic sport. Climbing, jogging, running, hiking the hills, backpacking, mountain biking, back country skiing, snowshoeing, telemark skiing and similar sports all act together to improve aerobic capacity, strength, balance and athleticism. Some of my companions were born with these gifts; I had to work hard at improving my abilities and to climb well. What training workouts are you challenging?

Mountaineering is about the mitigation of the risk of injury or death through traditional practices and the practiced use of finely designed equipment. I really liked that part! Controlling the risk is part of the adventure. Will you participate in our free clinics?

Traditional mountaineering includes climbing Classes One through Six: hiking on the trail, exploring off the trail with mountain travel and Leave-no-Trace light-weight bivy and backpacking, technical travel over steep snow, rock and ice and glaciers and a little technical rock climbing on the way to the summit. A fundamental component of mountaineering is risk and risk accompanies every mountain traveler, even on the trail. Mountaineers need never confront their fears of falling through space or need to use a rope or ice axe to experience risk.. At every level, don't you truly enjoy controlled risk?

My wife of more than 62 years hiked and backpacked with us but never sought the summits. Tommie still loves the preparations and the lightweight gear but she does not now continue as our “advanced base camp manager”. She still participates in our planning and loves to share the companionship and our photos of the summit. There is a place for everyone in Traditional Mountaineering. With whom do you share your adventures?

TraditionalMountaineering provides information and instruction about mountain climbing safety skills and gear, light and fast climbing, off trail hiking and light weight backpacking, all illustrated through photographs and descriptions of actual mountaineering adventures. Can we be your mentor?

--On Belay! Bob Speik
Copyright© 1995-2015 by Robert Speik. All Rights Reserved.




Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can in part, be mitigated

Read more . . .

  About Alpine Mountaineering:
  The Sport of Alpine Mountaineering
  Climbing Together
  Following the Leader
  The Mountaineers' Rope
  Basic Responsibilities       Cuatro Responsabiliades Basicas de Quienes Salen al Campo
  The Ten Essential Systems         Los Diez Sistemas Esenciales