The term mountaineering describes the sport of mountain climbing, including ski mountaineering.[2] Hiking in the mountains can also be a simple form of mountaineering when it involves scrambling, or short stretches of the more basic grades of rock climbing, as well as crossing glaciers. While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed big mountains it has branched into specializations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists of three (3) areas: rock-craft, snow-craft, and skiing, depending on whether the route chosen is over rock, snow or ice. All require experience, athletic ability, and technical knowledge to maintain safety.[3] Mountaineering is often called Alpinism, especially in European languages, which implies climbing with difficulty such high mountains as the Alps. A mountaineer with such great skill is called an Alpinist. The word alpinism was born in the 19th century to refer to climbing for the purpose of enjoying climbing itself as a sport or recreation, distinct from merely climbing while hunting or as a religious pilgrimage that had been done generally at that time.[4] The UIAA or Union Internationale des Associations d'Alpinisme is the world governing body in mountaineering and climbing, addressing issues like access, medical, mountain protection, safety, youth and ice climbing.


Historically, many cultures have harbored superstitions about mountains, which they often regarded as sacred due to their proximity with heaven, such as Mount Olympus for the Ancient Greeks. In 1492, Antoine de Ville, lord of Domjulien and Beaupré, was the first to ascend the Mont Aiguille, in France, with a little team, using ladders and ropes. It appears to be the first recorded climb of any technical difficulty, and has been said to mark the beginning of mountaineering. In 1573 Francesco De Marchi and Francesco Di Domenico ascended Corno Grande, the highest peak in the Apennine Mountains. During the Enlightenment, as a product of the new spirit of curiosity for the natural world, many mountain summits were surmounted for the first time. Richard Pococke and William Windham made a historic visit to Chamonix in 1741. In 1760, the Swiss scientist, Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, offered a reward for the first person to ascend Mont Blanc in France, which was claimed in 1786. By the early 19th century many of the alpine peaks were reached; the Grossglockner in 1800, the Ortler in 1804, the Jungfrau in 1811, the Finsteraarhorn in 1812, and the Breithorn in 1813.