Stretch your limits, lift your spirits and aim for the top

Tyrol Declaration

The congress ‘Future of Mountain Sports’ organised by the German and Austrian Alpine Clubs reached a stirring climax in a passionate address by Chris Bonington when he delivered The Tyrol Declaration in Innsbruck on September 8. The working congress was made up of over 100 experts, official representatives, and world class climbers and mountaineers. The congress had been opened with a series of short addresses including Reinhold Messner who invoked the spirit of Mallory by reminding the congress about climbing ‘by fair means’. Messner stressed the need for self reliance for safety and self restraint to protect the heritage of mountain sports.
Etienne Gross speaking on behalf of the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) stressed the need for an open mind for the new forms of mountain sports which the SAC believed is a fundamental and that the „…most comprehensive approach possible to the mountains (should be taken)“.
All the opening speakers stressed the need to protect the freedom of mountain sports through self regulation but Yosemite veteran Tom Frost put it most succinctly by clearly describing the dichotomy that exists between the ethos of ‘leave no trace’ and the freedom to ‘do whatever you want’. Frost highlighted the need to properly identify the problem, the cause, a solution and a means of implementation which gave valuable guidance to the five working groups.
On the first day of the congress and speaking just before an inspirational multi-vision world premiere of a ‘Symphony of the Mountains’ with Heinz Zak’s incredible photography and the European Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Peter Jan Marthe, Alex Huber said:
„Mountain sports have a future, but they also have a history…today climbs are being done in the ‘plaisir’ style, but old routes from earlier epochs are being retro bolted under the disguise of redevelopment. This shows a lack of respect both for the accomplishment of the first ascentionist and for the diversity inherent in mountain climbing - and it causes a rift in the climbing community.“
The five working groups and congress plenum meetings set about the task of agreeing what constitutes best practice in mountain sports and Chris Bonington closed the congress with the following summary report:
The aim of the Tyrol Declaration on mountain sports is to protect the freedom of participants and promote social development, cultural understanding and environmental awareness. To this end, the Tyrol Declaration follows the traditional unwritten values and codes of conduct inherent in mountain sports and expands on these to meet the demands of our times. These proposals for best practice in mountain sports are addressed to all lovers of the mountains world-wide - whether they be hikers and trekkers, adventure or sport climbers, or mountaineers seeking to push their limits at high altitude. With these proposals we especially hope to reach young people, for they are the future of mountain sports.
The Tyrol Declaration is based on a set of values and maxims to give guidance on best practice in mountain sports. These values and maxims are not rules or detailed instructions, rather they:

  1. Define today’s fundamental values in mountain sports;
  2. Contain principles and standards of conduct;
  3. Formulate the ethical criteria for decision making and uncertain situations;
  4. Present the ethical principles by which the public can judge mountain sports;
  5. Introduce beginners to the values and moral principles relevant to their sport.

The Tyrol Declaration Appeal from the congress Future of Mountain Sports, Innsbruck, 8th September 2002 is to:
Stretch your limits, lift your spirits and aim for the top.

The Articles of the Tyrol Declaration agreed at the congress Future of Mountain Sports, Innsbruck, 7-8 September 2002:

Article 1 - Individual Responsibility

Mountaineers and climbers practice their sport in situations where there is risk of accidents and outside help may not be available. With this in mind, they pursue this activity at their own responsibility and are accountable for their own safety. The individual’s actions should not endanger those around them nor the environment.

Article 2 - Team Spirit

Members of the team should be prepared to make compromises in order to balance the interests and abilities of all the group.

Article 3 - Climbing & Mountaineering Community

We owe every person we meet in the mountains or on the rocks an equal measure of respect. Even in isolated conditions and stressful situations, we should not forget to treat others as we want to be treated ourselves.

Article 4 - Visiting Foreign Countries

As guests in foreign cultures, we should always conduct ourselves politely and with restraint towards the people there - our hosts. We respect holy mountains and places and seek to benefit and assist the local economy and people. Understanding of foreign cultures is part of the complete climbing experience.

Article 5 - Responsibilities of groups and guided parties

Professional mountain guides other leaders and groups should understand their respective roles and respect the freedoms and rights of other groups and individuals. So they are prepared the leaders and groups should:

Article 6 - Emergencies

To be prepared for emergencies:

Article 7 - Access and Conservation

We consider freedom of access to mountains a fundamental right. Nevertheless, we should always practice our activities in an environmentally sensitive way and be proactive in preserving nature. We respect access restrictions and regulations agreed by climbers and mountaineers with nature conservation organisations and authorities.

Article 8 - Style

The quality of the experience and how we solve a problem is more important than whether we solve it. We strive to leave no trace.

Article 9 - First Ascents

The first ascent of a route or a mountain is a creative act, but it should be done in at least as good a style as the traditions of the region and show responsibility toward the needs of future climbers.

Article 10 - Sponsorship & Advertising

The co-operation between sponsors and athletes must be a professional relationship that serves the best interests of mountain sports.

Article 11 - Public Relations & Mountain Sports

It is the responsibility of the mountain sports community in all its aspects to educate and inform both the media and pubic in a proactive manner. The organisers will be publishing a fuller report and inviting the widest possible discussion about the issues addressed in the Tyrol Declaration.

September 9, 2002

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