Maurizio Gallo, a highly regarded European alpinist, and a product and safety consultant for Grivel, recently reflected on a UIAA (international mountaineering and climbing federation) Q and A, on safety and mountaineering. Gallo wrote about an emerging movement in mountaineering, “Slow Mountain”, the new movement encourages climbers to rely less on technological progress as a means of safety. “Slow Mountain”, like “Slow food,” an organization founded in Italy in the mid eighties that promotes traditional cuisine, in opposition to industrial food production.
Gallo emphasizes that “preventative paths should be developed rather than “terror” approaches mainly for beginner and occasional mountaineers.” In the climbing community today speed records and bold solo climbs are often treated as the most sought after ascent of a route. Many climbers today forget that a “terror” approach is not the only way to climb a route or enjoy the mountains. Gallo is a major advocate of modern safety mechanisms such as avalanche beacons, and helmets. “The mountain is always the same, but we have certainly reduced the level of risk. But on the other hand we have also raised it because we are now facing the mountain with less knowledge and awareness. We
cannot and should not stop the development if they are properly guided.” With new technology less experienced climbers are attempting goals that may not have been attainable without the aid of a cell phone or strong rescue network. A strong advocate of alpinism as a lifestyle of connection between the climber and the outdoors, he remembers the great climbs of Walter Bonatti, when alpinists were heroes and key figures in all climbing circles. As the climbing community as a whole becomes more results based, the quality of the climb becomes a less important aspect. Gallo says “In this way accidents in the mountains have become headlines. Never before have the words mountain and safety been farther apart.”