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What the hell is alpine climbing?

Original Post
Short Fall Sean · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 5

As suggested elsewhere, we need to figure this out! I'm sure this thread will reach a peaceful and definitive consensus.

I'll start by positing that alpine climbing:

1) Takes place in gross cold, snowy mountains (elevation is not important as long as conditions are atrocious)
2) Requires using ice tools at some point.
3) Involves an elevated risk of death beyond that found in rock climbing
4) What else?

Just because you walked across a glacier with a cane, are in the backcountry, or are at elevation, does not mean you are alpine climbing! Climbing rock in the summer in the sierra is not alpine climbing!

*Important: please note that I have never and will never alpine climb. So I have no idea what I'm talking about.

bagel bagels · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2019 · Points: 0

If I have trouble breathing it’s alpine, so like 1000 feet.

Daniel Kay · · Boulder, CO · Joined Sep 2014 · Points: 30

Climbing longer, more committing routes in the mountains.

Don’t make this harder than it needs to be.

Kief Manning · · Elgin, AZ · Joined Dec 2017 · Points: 0

Requires incredibly expensive gear and clothing
And a bushy beard 

Jeremy R · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 25

I don't know the exact definition of alpine climbing, but I know it when I see it.

Mike Womack · · Sherman Oaks, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 1,974

Climbing … but in the alpine

Vaughn · · Colorado · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 50
Alpine climbing wiki
Apparently there is also such a thing as alpine sport climbing. Who knew?
Gumby the White · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2019 · Points: 55

this should be fun.

what if you have a 3-5 pitch crag and during the summer it is shirts off weather, but in the winter it is snowy and stormy - does this classify as alpine climbing?

Brian ~+~+~+ · · Oceanside · Joined Aug 2017 · Points: 0

Sleeping in hand built snow caves and using ice screws a lot. Trench foot a plus. 

Norm Larson · · Wilson, Wy. · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 55

No Gumby that's maybe alpine like conditions but not alpine climbing.
Daniel Kay has it right.

GDodds dodds · · Portland Maine · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 0

Hiking past gym climbers and above the trees, it’s wild 

Gumby the White · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2019 · Points: 55
Norm Larson wrote: No Gumby that's maybe alpine like conditions but not alpine climbing.
Daniel Kay has it right.

ok so call it a 10-15 pitch route - then its alpine, this is very murky gray area we are talking. 3-5 pitch routes are very committing for me especially in "alpine conditions and I usually take at least one ice tool, so I am going to call them alpine climbs.

Deven Lewis · · Idaho falls · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 65

In my mind I think alpine climbing is mixed climbing with ice alpine or waterfall and you reach a summit. I there fore have never alpine climbed.
 I don't think altitude should constitute it because you broaden a already broad state ment lots of crags are above 5000 feet.
I've done  a lil bit of ski mountaineering. But consider this mountaineering. Not alpine climbing.
I have also climbed  route that were multi pitch rock climbs classified as alpine routes. But didnt feel any different than routes at non alpine place. Maybe a little bit longer approach. 
Plus I always enjoy myself when I go climbing or mountaineering. Alot of people that alpine climb say how they are suffering. Maybe if we change the name they'll stop complaining

Nathan Sullivan · · Fort Collins, CO · Joined Sep 2018 · Points: 0

Climbing above treeline.

Deven Lewis · · Idaho falls · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 65
also why do they call it alpine skiing if its done at a resort?
Short Fall Sean · · Flagstaff, AZ · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 5

Oh wow, these definitions are even more effed than I expected. Mark Twight is rolling over in the grave he somehow avoided despite a life of alpine climbing.

I think Deven is the only one on the right track.

PNW Choss · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2019 · Points: 0

Climbing in lederhosen, clogs, and a gamsbart while using an alpenstock and hemp rope is the only true alpine climbing. Also I assume yodeling is required at the summit.

Andrew Rational · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2018 · Points: 10
Kief Manning wrote: Requires incredibly expensive gear and clothing
And a bushy beard 

Eh, I’ve got a mediocre beard and wear a lot of wool and leather.

Edit: Seriously, I think high altitude and long approaches, and maybe mixed climbing, make it “alpine”.
F Loyd · · Kennewick, WA · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 526

I can't explain it, but I know it when I see it.

climber pat · · Las Cruces NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 241

Climbing in the Alps. 

Dallin Carey · · Missoula · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 192

For me, an alpine climb is one that involves the following elements: rock, waterfall/alpine ice, steep snow. Such routes are always found in the mountains, but as stated above, elevation is not a factor. Such climbing is usually done in temperatures between approx. freezing and 'its so cold I want my mom.' Modern alpine climbs require the use of two ice tools, crampons (sometimes rock shoes too), usually end at a summit or high point on a ridge, and are done in a light and fast style.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

General Climbing
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