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Mountaineering recognized as world cultural heritage

Feb 05, 2020 / alpMedia
Unesco now lists alpinism as an intangible world cultural heritage. Alpine associations from France, Switzerland and Italy submitted the application.
Image caption:
The rope team is symbolic of the team spirit in alpinism.

Kyrgyz hats, Norwegian dances and now also alpinism: on the International Mountain Day, 11 December 2019, Unesco listed alpine mountaineering as an intangible World Heritage Site for the first time. At first glance, this seems strange, as the list contains mainly rare traditions and customs that are in need of protection. Unesco defines alpinism as "the art of climbing peaks and rock faces in high mountains - in all seasons, whether on rocky or icy ground". Apart from the necessary technical and intellectual skills, it also emphasises the ethical and aesthetic aspects of the mountaineering tradition that has developed in the Alps. This includes the principle of rope teamwork as a symbol of team spirit as well as mutual assistance and personal responsibility - but also not leaving any traces on the mountain.

Between idealism and appropriation

Again and again, mountaineering is taken up by tourist offers such as heliskiing. In addition, competition and competitive thinking is also spreading in the alpine scene. Katharina Conradin, President of CIPRA International, welcomes the fact that Unesco's definition of alpinism differs from this and above all emphasises values of togetherness and the responsible treatment of nature: "We support the recognition of alpinism, which has developed in the Alps, as a cultural asset. More importantly, however, would be for these values to take on greater significance in tourism too. The aim must not be to make every corner of the Alps accessible for tourism and mountain sports and to adapt them to our needs". In general, the tourist exploitation of the Unesco awards by the tourism industry leads to problems such as in the Dolomites/I, where the actual protection award is literally exploited by tourists. Here it is also up to Unesco to attach greater importance to the objectives of protection and sustainable development in the management plans, said Conradin.

Conference on sustainability in outdoor sports

A conference on 25 and 26 May 2020 in Prien am Chiemsee/DE will also address sustainability in alpinism and outdoor sports. It is being organised by CIPRA International and the Alliance in the Alps network of municipalities within the framework of the Alpine Convention and on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

More information can be found under: (de, fr, it, sl)


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