Alpenland is the name given by the Germans to describe the part of Europe surrounding the Alps: 22.000 square kilometres with a population of 18 million. The area covers about 2% of the whole of Europe and contains territory belonging to seven different countries: Austria 28%, Italy 26%, France 25%, Switzerland 13%, Germany 3%, Slovenia 3%, and Lichtenstein 2%. There are 82 mountains higher than 4000 metres.
The first traces of Man in the Alps go back to less than one hundred thousand years ago: the plateaus of Vercours in France, Coira in Switzerland and Monfenera at the entrance of the Sesia Valley in Italy. The Pleistocene glacial era virtually cancelled out all traces of human settlement up until the fourth and last glacial expansion, the “Wurmian”, 8-12 thousand years ago when Man reappeared in the Alps in the form of the hunter Homo sapiens.
Alpenland has evolved its own specific culture over the centuries, adapting to the problems of altitude, cold and snow that beset the inhabitants of mountains. For centuries, Europe, birthplace of western culture ignored its mountainous belly button, considering it an obstacle to travel between one place and another. The Enlightment and Romanticism were to radically change this attitude as the faraway peaks and terrifying precipices became considered places of beauty and leisure. Here is where Alpinism was born, its very name comes from the Alps and it is here in the Alps that we want to stay, maintaining our traditions, keeping in touch with the mountains and the men who challenge them.
Advantageous economic conditions can’t possibly justify destroying an experience that has been created slowly, nourished by snowy peaks and shaping the hands and intellect of men for generations; men whose first thoughts in the morning flew to the mountains and last thoughts before falling asleep in the evenings to the tools to challenge them. In short: we will not trade our soul for profit or lose it by transferring it to another country. We know full well that our soul can’t be moved to a place where you can’t see Mont Blanc, where people you meet are unable to understand the difficulties in the mountains, who consider climbing to be a waste of time. There’s certainly no other place that can produce such inspirational tools and where progress can lead us to pursue new challenges.