Alpinism is a term commonly used in European languages for the sport of mountaineering. In addition to mastering the techniques to negotiate mountain terrain without marked paths, the alpinist must be able to respond appropriately to dangers such as rockfalls and crevasses. Alpinism differs considerably from hiking on well-maintained paths or alpine skiing on protected slopes. Alpinism is characterised by a culture of sharing experience and skills, from a knowledge of the alpine environment, the history of alpinism and related values on the one hand, to the mastery of alpine climbing techniques and the use of ropes, the ice axe and crampons on the other. This culture is associated with aesthetic ideas and sensations that relate to the beauty of the routes, the elegance of climbing techniques and the enjoyment of the landscape. Various associations contribute to the tradition of alpinism by providing training courses. Alpinism had its first heyday under British influence in the middle of the 19th century, and has since evolved into a number of different sports. At the same time, alpinism has become the subject of an artistic dialectic, particularly in the literary and visual arts. Conflicts of interest among the various interest groups in the mountain region and global warming are the major challenges facing alpinism in the early 21st century.


Social practices


Detailed description


Thomas Antonietti et al.: In Fels und Firn: Bergführer und Bergsteiger in Geschichte und Gegenwart / Entre rocs et glaces : alpinistes et guides de montagne autrefois et aujourd'hui. Ed. Werner Bellwald, Kippel: Lötschentaler Museum, 1994

Peter Grupp: Faszination Berg. Die Geschichte des Alpinismus. Wien, 2008

Helvetia Club. 150 Jahre Schweizer Alpen-Club SAC 1863-2013. Ed. Daniel Anker. Bern, 2013

Ludwig Hohl: Bergfahrt. Frankfurt am Main, 2004 (1. Auflage 1975)

Andrea Hungerbühler: «Könige der Alpen». Zur Kultur des Bergführerberufs. Bielefeld, 2013

Leslie Stephen: The Playground of Europe. Oxford, 1946 (Erstausgabe 1871)

Tanja Wirz: Gipfelstürmerinnen. Eine Geschlechtergeschichte des Alpinismus in der Schweiz 1840-1940. Baden, 2007

Paul Meinherz: Alpinismus. In: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz. Bern, 2008 (

Matthias Affolter (Regie): Berge im Kopf. Dokumentarfilm, 2014 (DVD)

Amman, Jean et Loretan, Erhard. Les 8000 rugissants, La Sarine, 1996

Aymon, Benoît. et Hiroz Pierre-Antoine. Profession : guide de montagne (2003), La haute route d'été (2006), La haute route d'hiver (2009)



Association Suisse des Guides de Montagne
Secrétaire Général
Monbijoustrasse 61
3000 Bern 14
Phone +41 31 370 18 19

Club Alpin Suisse CAS
Président Commission de la Culture du CAS
Monbijoustrasse 61
3000 Bern 14
Phone +41 31 370 18 18

Print contact