Ski mountaineering

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Getting on with touring skis
Descent in powder snow

Under Ski mountaineering or ski touring is the process of climbing mountains and pastures on skis and the subsequent descent away from prepared slopes .

The first ski tours were taken at the end of the 19th century. At that time there were no ski lifts .


Ski carrying passage on the Silvrettahorn

In 1890 Karl Otto made the first winter ascent of the 1790  m high Heimgarten on skis in the Bavarian Prealps . In Austria in 1892, the 1782  m high Stuhleck was climbed on skis, in 1893 the Rax ( 2007  m ) and in 1899 the Galzig ( 2185  m ). On March 23, 1898, Oscar Schuster climbed the Dufourspitze on skis ; this is considered the first ski tour on a four-thousand-meter peak. The Swiss mountain guide Josef Lochmatter traveled to Norway around 1900 to improve his skiing technique .


In Germany, ski mountaineering is more likely to be associated with competition; in popular sports, the term “ski touring” is often used. In Austrian the term is ski mountaineering (ski touring), in Switzerland the term ski mountaineering is more common.

Equipment for ski touring

Part of ski touring equipment: shovel, probe, map, buried victim locator, climbing skins - and avalanche bulletin for preparation

The equipment of ski tourers usually includes:

  • Touring skis which - compared to alpine skis - are built lighter
  • Touring ski binding with which the boot is only attached to the tip by a hinge during the ascent and can also be attached to the heel for the descent
  • Ski skins made of mohair or synthetic fiber ("adhesive skins"), formerly seal skins with strap attachment , if necessary anti-stick material
  • Safety set for avalanches (see below)
  • Weatherproof clothing (see mountaineering ), map / compass and emergency provisions, if necessary a headlamp
  • Crampons in steep terrain with hard snow, especially spring tours
  • adjustable telescopic poles

Tourers also use equipment from classic mountaineering (such as ice ax etc.).

Ski boots (ski boots) in lightweight construction with joints and tread soles make walking easier, even on steep or rocky terrain, because the skis sometimes have to be carried. The binding must be adapted to the increased friction. Such shoes are only suitable for touring bindings. Normal ski bindings do not offer any safety with these shoes (lack of controlled release values).

The skis should have ski stoppers . Safety straps prevent the skis from disappearing in deep snow or sliding down the slope in the event of a fall, but they imply a risk of injury on fast descents. In the event of an avalanche, they can make it more difficult to loosen the skis and thus prevent the avalanche victim from "swimming" on the surface of the snow masses.

Avalanche danger and orientation

Ski tourers on the ascent
Ski touring group in a column of one on the ascent to the Breithorn (2019)

Avalanches are the greatest danger for ski tourists. If there is an increased avalanche danger (already from level 2 "moderate" in the official avalanche report from the avalanche warning services ), precautionary measures (e.g. safety distances, self-restriction on routes with the corresponding slope direction and inclination, etc.) are necessary. Bringing an avalanche search device (“avalanche peep”), an avalanche shovel and an avalanche probe (each per person) is standard on every ski tour. There is further safety equipment that makes it easier to find the buried subject ( avalanche ball , avalanche airbag ), helps avoid a complete burial (avalanche airbag) or is intended to increase the probability of survival as a buried subject (AvaLung). Nevertheless, an avalanche burial is always a fatal danger; Avoiding them through considered and defensive behavior is the top priority.

Sufficient knowledge of avalanche science, the appropriate application of decision-making strategies and the regularly practiced search for buried subjects are prerequisites for tours in unsecured alpine winter mountain sports.

Alpine clubs, mountain schools and ski associations (e.g. German Ski Association , Austrian Ski Association ) offer courses.

A map with a topographical representation of the terrain (scale 1: 25,000 or smaller) is required for tour planning in order to be able to adequately estimate the exposure and steepness of the terrain and the risks of the planned tour. In poor visibility, GPS satellite receivers and an altimeter make it easier to find your way around the terrain.


Many prefer spring for ski tours - on the one hand because of the granular snow ( firn ), on the other hand because of the usually lower avalanche danger, which can increase due to the warming of the day (see avalanche report ). Particularly in the typical spring conditions with cold, clear nights and warm days and the prevailing firn, the conditions are often safe - when the crust cover (hard snow) is still stable, so you are out early enough. On long tours this can mean leaving before sunrise.

At the end of the ski touring season, some mountaineers take their short firn gliders (“Figl”) or microski with them in their rucksacks, which enable short descents in the last remaining snow fields.


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The history of ski racing or the Wettkampfskibergsteigens goes back to originally from the military discharged competitions. So-called "military patrols" served as a test of strength and for the physical training of the participating teams. Since the 1920s, civil races have also been held. B. the "May race" in Gosau, the "Geierlauf" in the Wattentaler Lizum and the "Wildsaurennen" in Praxmar .

Start of the Patrouille des Glaciers 2006

Military patrol, in which ski mountaineering was combined with scoring shooting, was an Olympic discipline at the 1924 Winter Olympics . The teams in these runs each consisted of four participants who were active soldiers at the time of the Olympic Games. However, this discipline did not arouse the expected interest from the audience, so that the military patrol discipline was declared a demonstration competition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1926 . As such, the military patrol run was held three more times as part of the 1928, 1936 and 1948 Winter Olympics. The Olympic military patrols are considered to be the forerunners of the Olympic discipline of biathlon . The Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme (UIAA) planned to include the sport of ski mountaineering at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games . However, the IOC announced on February 15, 2018 that ski mountaineering would not be Olympic in 2022 either. His Olympic debut is there at the Youth Olympic Winter Games in 2020 from Lausanne enter.

After the Second World War, countries in which ski races had survived in the high mountains organized competitions based on their traditions. In the 1970s, new competition races were launched in some Alpine countries; so z. B. from 1965 by Riccardo Cassin and the CAI Lecco the three-day rally Scialpinistico di Lecco. At the beginning of the 1990s, ski mountaineers from France, Italy, Spain, Andorra, Slovakia and Switzerland founded the Comité International du Ski-Alpinisme de Compétition (CISAC), in 1992 the first European Cup and also the first European Championship .

The competitive version of ski touring is now internationally summarized in the International Council for Ski Mountaineering Competitions (ISCM) under the umbrella of the UIAA in Switzerland. In 2008, 34 nations belonged to the association. The most important competitions in the Alps include the Patrouille des Glaciers and the Trophée du Muveran in Switzerland, the Trofeo Mezzalama in Italy and the Pierra Menta in France. In 2008 there were around 500 competitions worldwide. There have been official world championships every two years since 2002, and a World Cup since 2004. The 2002 World Cup was held in the French Alps, in Spain in 2004 , in Italy in 2006 and in Switzerland in 2008 .

During the competitions, the climbs are made with climbing skins . The ski runs mostly lead away from the slopes through open ski terrain. The route profiles also contain passages that can only be conquered on foot or with crampons . The skis are carried on the shoulder or attached to the backpack. The competitions generally offer the disciplines of individual run, team run, relay run and vertical race , sometimes also a race over the so-called "long distance".

The Swiss national team was formed in 1999 . Since 2001, the German Alpine Association (DAV) has also been practicing ski mountaineering as a competitive sport, organizes the German Ski Touring Cup and sets up the German national ski mountaineering team . Although Austria has a sufficient number of top ski mountaineers, until 2007 it was the only Alpine country that did not have a national team in this sport. With the founding and admission to the ISMC of the Austrian ski mountaineering association ASKIMO in October 2007, Austrian athletes will also be able to take part in international competitions as part of the Austrian national team in competitive ski mountaineering . In 2008 the first national championship took place in Austria. In addition to the individual, team and relay disciplines that are now common at the World Cup, a long distance race was held for the first time in 2008, in which the Italians Guido Giacomelli and Francesca Martinelli each achieved first place.

International competitions are held in the age groups seniors (from 24 years), cadets (16-18 years), juniors (19-20 years) and espoirs (21-23 years).

Ski tours on slopes

Ski tours are also undertaken near or on the ski slopes (piste tour) . Occasionally, the interests of ski mountaineers and ski area operators collided. This problem was particularly discussed in winters with little snow (e.g. 2011/12, 2013/14 and 2015/16). There is a risk both between ski tourers ascending at the edge of the piste and the piste skiers as well as on night tours after closing time when descending with the piste maintenance staff, especially when preparing the ropes with snow groomers .

The German Alpine Association has drawn up 10 rules for ski touring on slopes. Furthermore, separate regulations have been negotiated for all Bavarian ski areas between the DAV and the cable car operators. Similar regulations also exist for Austria (recommendations of the Austrian Board of Trustees for Alpine Safety ). and Switzerland.

A model case with regard to an express ban on ski touring on a slope is a conflict in the classic ski area of ​​the Zugspitzbahn in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria. Tourers filed a lawsuit there in 2011. Despite compromise proposals, the matter was settled. The Munich Administrative Court declared the ban on slopes to be inadmissible. The Bavarian Administrative Court decided on appeal in 2013 analog, because right of access applies, groomed ski slopes lose In Austria there are "not in spite of the strong change through structural measures, technical facilities and safeguards its character as a part of nature." - below the tree line - no fundamental Freedom of movement ; the landowners must expressly give their consent (route within the meaning of § 1319a ABGB ). Here, individual ski areas opt for prohibition, tolerance or an explicit invitation, for example for a small fee for maintaining an ascent track. The greater Innsbruck area, for example, is a model region. (Tyrolean piste tour model).

facts and figures

In Austria there are around 350,000 (source: Austrian cable cars) to 650,000 (source: Austrian Alpine Association) ski tourers. Competitions are held in 36 registered countries around the world.


  • Rudi Mair , Patrick Nairz: Avalanche. Recognize the 10 key hazard patterns. Practice manual, Tyrolia-Verlag, Innsbruck 2010, ISBN 978-3-7022-3086-9 .
  • Christian Schneeweiß, Bernd Ritschel: Ski touring. The practical book for beginners and advanced users. Bruckmann Verlag, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-7654-5500-1 .

See also

Web links

Commons : Ski Mountaineering  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Christian Imboden: Mountains: Profession, Vocation, Fate. Rotten Verlag , Visp 2013, ISBN 978-3-907624-48-7 , beginnings of mountaineering in winter as well as skiing , p. 93 .
  2. Joachim Schindler: Oscar Schuster (1873–1917) - mountaineer, alpinist, developer, doctor, publicist . Dresden 2013, p. 213.
  3. Christian Imboden: Mountains: Profession, Vocation, Fate . Rotten Verlag, Visp 2013, ISBN 978-3-907624-48-7 , ski guide , p. 92 .
  4. The sport of ski mountaineering in the article Dachstein Xtreme 2008: Route changes decided ,, March 2008.
  5. Bergwelten: Ski mountaineering will not be Olympic for the time being
  6. White Paper 1970 on the security of the Federal Republic of Germany and the armed forces, Press and Information Service of the Federal Government, p 195
  7. Claude Défago: The history of ski mountaineering ( Memento of July 7, 2011 in the Internet Archive )
  8. World Cup ski mountaineering 2008: Italians also win at the end ( memento from July 6, 2008 in the Internet Archive ),, March 2008.
  9. A question of time before there are dead., February 19, 2015.
  10. ^ DAV rules for ski tours on slopes ,, December 7, 2012.
  11. Ski touring regulations for the Bavarian Alpine ski areas ,, December 7, 2012.
  12. a b Ski tours on slopes - safe and fair! Recommendations of the Alpine Association for a togetherness without conflicts., December 6, 2015.
  13. Confrontation instead of consensus - ski tourers complain against a ban on slopes in Garmisch., reproduced on, January 31, 2011, accessed February 4, 2016.
  14. Ski touring on slopes in Garmisch-Partenkirchen - DAV welcomes the compromise proposal from the Zugspitzbahn AG., January 5, 2012, accessed February 4, 2016.
  15. Processes: Administrative Court: Ski tourers are allowed to use the slopes. In: Focus online, November 21, 2013, accessed February 4, 2016.
  16. Quoted in Bavaria allows ski tourers on slopes . In: Salzburger Nachrichten . February 3, 2016, local section Stadt und Land , p. 10 .
  17. cf. about Some ski resorts tolerate tourers - On Loser they are welcome. In: Oberösterreichische Nachrichten online, February 24, 2015;
    Tourers prohibited . In: Salzburger Nachrichten: Salzburgwiki . (with a discussion of contrary viewpoints).
  18. Piste tours safe & fair!
  19. The state of Tyrol has also developed a similar model for the conflict between mountaineers and mountain bikers : Tiroler Mountainbikemodell 2.0 ( Memento of the original from February 5, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . (as of February 2016).