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Bivouac (from French bivouac , field camp, night camp, from German Beiwache ) refers to an outdoor camp , but also in tents or huts , especially for soldiers or mountaineers .

Bivouac as a field camp

Depiction of an 18th century bivouac by Antoine Watteau (bivouac - camp volant, oil on canvas, probably 1709, State Pushkin Museum in Moscow); the soldiers have made themselves comfortable by the fire with various women, smoke or play cards.
Re-enacted bivouac camp on the Petersberg Citadel on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Erfurt Princely Congress

Originally there were in fortified towns and fortresses a main station located within the walls and on the Glacis , so the free, shot field granted space in front of the wall, located In wake. As a building for the main guard today u. a. the Neue Wache in Berlin, the Frankfurter Hauptwache and the Dresden Schinkelwache are still preserved. The task of the guard was to identify an enemy approaching at night early on and to give the alarm or to deal with late arrivals. Since there were no buildings on the glacis, the guard had to camp in tents. The term ' Beiwache' / Biwake 'was borrowed from Dutch in France, where it was soon used as' Bivoque ', ' Bivouac ' or something similar to describe any camping of soldiers in the open field. This expansion of the concept may well also therefore move that the French relatively early the fortifications of the French domestic cities dragged and was thus no longer found a regular fortress operating in the French hinterland. As early as the First World War, bivouac equipment included a tent sheet, a woolen blanket, later a sleeping bag, and sometimes from the 1940s a bivouac sack, as well as eating and cooking utensils with an Esbit cooker.

The word bivouac in the broader sense was borrowed back into German, often without knowing that it was actually a corrupt German word. As such, in a broader sense the word is still used, could therefore its true, with the razing survive the lost of most fortifications in the 19th century, historical context. The meanwhile common extension, also to non-soldiers, may be based on the wide spread of the word, which was caused by the general conscription and thus the contact of large circles of the male population with the soldier "bivouac".

In the Bundeswehr , bivouac is understood to mean setting up and operating an outdoor tent camp, which is often combined with field training - similar to other armies. The hiding place serves as a camouflaged bivouac away from the enemy's lines of movement in individual combat training , in troop training for hunting combat and when deployed behind enemy lines .


The Rhineland-Palatinate Bivouac on the Mainzer Höhenweg
Bivouac in a rock face in Yosemite National Park
Bivouac on the Benediktenwand .

In the alpine sense, the term bivouac stands for either makeshift or spartan equipped, also covered accommodation in the high mountains (i.e. for the sleeping place itself, see the picture opposite and the article bivouac box ) or for the act of sleeping in the open air. Voluntary bivouacs in the mountains are carried out for the sake of a particularly intense experience of nature, involuntary ones often due to an alpine emergency or the unfortunate situation that one is surprised by the onset of night or a change in weather and is forced to a spontaneous bivouac due to the difficulty of the terrain or its exhaustion ( Emergency bivouac).

Unplanned emergency bivouacs usually only happen with a wind- and waterproof bivouac sack as the only comfort. For planned bivouacs, however, mountaineers usually carry a few other things with them that make the night outdoors more bearable, such as: B. Sleeping mat, sleeping bag and stove. A special case of the planned bivouacs is the summit bivouac, in which the night is spent directly on or just below the highest point of a mountain. The intensity and abundance of nature experiences (sunrise, sunset, possibly moonrise and moonset, starry sky, falling stars, seas of lights in the villages and towns in the valley), but also the degree of exposure are particularly high in this form of bivouacking.

More extensive cave expeditions over several days make it necessary to spend the night in the mountain. These bivouacs are usually made in particularly suitable places that are more or less flat, offer protection from the cave wind and are close to water points. Participation in such a bivouac requires a lot of material, but people are also subject to high physical and mental demands.

The highest bivouac ever carried out was an emergency bivouac on the southern summit of Mount Everest , to which Doug Scott and Dougal Haston were forced in 1975. They had previously climbed the west face of the mountain for the first time and could no longer descend quickly enough via the south route when the night surprised them. Despite the extreme cold and severe hallucinations, the two climbers, who had dug themselves into the snow, were able to continue their descent the next morning and reached the valley unharmed.

Bivouac place

In Poland and Scandinavia , a very simple camping site is called a bivouac site ( Polish : pole biwakowe ). Some of these are only designated areas where tents are allowed, some are private or community-run small tent sites with the simplest of facilities (dry toilet, fresh water connection). Such bivouacs are often located on water hiking routes or hiking trails. They are always very cheap, sometimes they are even with an honesty box fitted into which one a small mite interjects. In Scandinavia, there are often small weather shelters (windskyet) open to one side in which you can spend the night. The mandatory bivouacs in the national parks in the USA are also equipped with shelters that are open on one side. With a reservation system, the valet service prevents too many hikers on the one hand and polluting nature, and on the other hand enables Americans to trek without expensive bivouac equipment.


Reference to a boofe (free overnight stay) in Saxon Switzerland

In Saxon Switzerland ( Elbe Sandstone Mountains ), mountaineers refer to spending the night in the great outdoors as Boofen . This free overnight accommodation usually consists of an overhang on the sandstone rock ( Abri ) or a rock cave, the so-called Boofe . These are often already built with a place to sleep and a fireplace.

In the Saxon Switzerland National Park , boiling is only allowed in marked places and only in connection with climbing, whereby it is generally forbidden to make a fire.

The colloquial Saxon word boofen was derived from pofen (= deep and sound sleep). The purpose of boofing is, on the one hand, to have cheap accommodation for a good night's sleep before or after climbing the mountain (ascent) and, on the other hand, to experience and enjoy nature.

Individual evidence

  1. Announcement of the Saxon State Ministry for Environment and Agriculture on the maintenance and development plan for the Saxon Switzerland National Park / part of mountain sports conception, section free overnight stay, Ref .: 63-8842.28, dated August 12, 2002 (accessed on November 6, 2011; PDF; 19 kB).

See also

Web links

Commons : Bivouac  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Bivouac  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations