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The term height meter ( often abbreviated: Hm ) generally describes the difference between two points in the terrain in the vertical direction , the height difference , e.g. B. "Between the base camp and the high camp there were 1000 meters of altitude". The unit of an altitude meter is that of the terrain heights , i.e. usually the meter . The height of the terrain itself is given as the height above sea level .

Alternatively, it is also used to denote the absolute sum of all positive and negative terrain height differences that have to be overcome when coping with a certain driving or hiking route or another movement in the form of upward or downward movements (totaled height differences).

Specifying the altitude difference is intended to quantify the degree of difficulty of a driving or hiking route, especially in sport. The more (positive) vertical meters a hike has, the more the hiker has to work against gravity. Since the descent is exhausting on foot, even negative altitude meters make a tour challenging.


The term "height meter" (possible abbreviations: hm, HM, mH) is used as a unit of measurement , especially in sport . It should be noted that the abbreviation “hm” is not confused with the SI unithectometer = 100 meters ”.

The interpretation is not uniform and can vary depending on the sport and specialty:

  • In running and mountain sports , the altitude meters for a defined route are either given with a simple number of meters (e.g. 300 meters in altitude) or with a number of meters with the prefix '±' (e.g. ± 500 meters in altitude). The first form of writing only indicates the meters in altitude to be run upwards. The indication of the altitude meters with '±', on the other hand, denotes the sum of the altitude meters on the route in a certain direction.
  • In cycling as well as in other sports where the downward movements are considerably less important in terms of force than the upward movements, the term “meters in altitude” is generally only understood to mean the sum of the differences in height to be overcome in an upward movement.

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Wiktionary: Altitude meter  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations