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High-alpine mountaineering:
Aim high with the new Elevation System!
 

Hiking, trail running, alpine climbing, high-alpine mountaineering or an expedition – mountain sports have many different facets. What exactly do we mean by high-alpine mountaineering or an alpine tour? What is the difference from “normal” alpine climbing? What demands do high-alpine tours place on mountain athletes? And what special equipment does DYNAFIT offer for these kinds of mountain sports? We have the answers for you! 

What is high-alpine mountaineering? 

The simplest way to travel on foot in the mountains is the traditional mountain hike. The paths are well marked, the terrain varies from forestry roads to well-developed footpaths to steeper, narrow climbs. In comparison, conditions are somewhat more demanding when it comes to mountain climbing. Alpine terrain, sometimes exposed, often without marked paths, is common. In general, you will be above the treeline, and you will frequentlyencounter sections where you need to use your hands, including steeper climbs and even via ferrata. 

 

Alpine tours or high-alpine mountaineering are special forms of mountain climbing that are significantly more challenging and technical. Glacier crossings, ice, firn ridges and exposed summits are all everyday features that are typical at an elevation above 3,000 meters. An alpine tour is therefore something that is undertaken in groups roped together to offer protection to each member of the party. As a result, ropes, ice axes and crampons are essential equipment. 

 

Classic alpine tours in the Alps with a relatively low difficulty grade include the Similaun (3,599 meters), Piz Buin (3,312 meters), the Wildspitze (3,770 meters) or the Großvenediger (3,657 meters). Among the four-thousanders, the Breithorn (4,164 meters), Allalinhorn (4,027 meters) or the Vincentpyramide (4,215 meters) have the reputation of being technically less challenging. And if you seek something more challenging, anything is possible from the challenge of the Matterhorn or Eiger to multi-day alpine crossings such as the legendary Spaghetti Tour. 

 

By the way, above an elevation of 7,000 meters, the term “alpine tour” is no longer used – it would be referred to as an expedition. 

The demands of high-alpine mountaineering 

All high-altitude tours pose enormous demands on the athletes as well as the equipment. A high-altitude tour is never "easy," but rather exclusively for experienced mountaineers.

 

Clothing and footwear 

The right clothing is a basic requirement for any mountain tour. At higher elevations, weather conditions tend to be more challenging – temperatures are lower and wind speeds are higher. The clothing used on alpine tours must be functional and designed for performance to provide protection and a degree of comfort in a wide range of conditions. A warm insulated jacket is an essential in your pack, along with a durable hardshell jacket, plus cap, gloves and the like. It’s important that the clothing is breathable and does not restrict movement. 

Footwear should be rugged and at a minimum compatible with lightweight crampons so that they can be easily attached when needed. 

 

Technical equipment 

A safe alpine tour is not possible without an ice axe, harness, rope, and crampons. It’s also essential to practice with the equipment before a tour to become familiar with its use – this is also true for the gear necessary for safety and for crevasse rescues, including ice screws, carabiners, rope clips, slings, and accessory cords. Depending on the type and type of terrain, a helmet should also be included. 

Physical fitness requirements 

A high level of fitness is also a basic requirement, given that alpine tours place significant physical demands on participants. Being sure-footed and having a head for heights are also essential, as are good climbing skills – even on climbing sections that might be regarded as straightforward. If your experience is primarily in less difficult environments, you should take the time to practice mountain climbing skills and techniques in rocky terrain before venturing into higher elevations. 

 

Mindset 

It’s not uncommon for an alpine tour to take an entire day. This requires stamina and a positive mindset, especially in exposed terrain where full concentration is necessary over a prolonged period. The longer and more challenging an alpine tour is, the more important psychological strength becomes. A good attitude, a focus on achieving your goal, and the ability to grit your teeth and push onwards are key to success. At the same time, the ability to realistically evaluate your situation is essential. If you do not have sufficient reserves of strength, you must know when to turn back – not doing so can place you and other members of the rope team in danger. 

 

Specific skills and knowledge 

For those who would like to take on the challenge of an alpine tour and who want to do so responsibly and independently, there is a lot to learn. Fundamental rope and knot skills, as well as knowledge of basic safety procedures and rescue techniques are obligatory for each member of a rope team, particularly if the tour takes place without a mountain guide. Additionally, good orientation and navigation skills, an understanding of the dangers of the alpine environment and avalanches, and an ability to read the weather are crucial. 

Features of the DYNAFIT Elevation collection

The DYNAFIT Elevation collection was developed to meet the specific demands of high-alpine mountaineering. Speed is part of its DNA. Ascending from a valley to the snow-covered summit of a 4,000-meter peak and returning safely to the valley in the space of a single day – that is DYNAFIT Elevation. The focus is on protection, performance, and reliability, but weight is an important criterion, too, so mountaineers can move easily and freely even in challenging terrain. 

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Elevation WP Shoe 

A highlight of the collection is the new Elevation WP Shoe. It is the lightest crampon-compatible mountain shoe on the market – as agile as a trail running shoe but with the protection of a mountain boot. This mountaineering shoe was developed in close partnership with speed mountaineer and mountain guide Andy Steindl. Find out more about the shoe here: 

From hilly to high-alpine: Discover the products of the DYNAFIT Mountaineering Collection and get the most from your days on the mountain! 

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More Mountains in a Day 

From a minimalist warm down jacket to a rugged alpine touring pant, to an intelligentlydesigned backpack with alpine features and a comfortable fit, the Elevation collection offers a broad range of technically advanced products that allows alpine athletes to really show what they are made of.