NEUALP HISTORY – ALPINE CLUB AND MOUNTAINEERING TRADITION
In the Vogtland, NEUALP’s home region, climbing and mountaineering have a long tradition. The German Alpine Club has been in the area for almost 150 years.
The German Alpine Club, founded in Munich, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Today, counting 1.3 million members, it is the world's largest alpine club. Also in the Vogtland, NEUALP’s home, the alpine club can look back on a long tradition of almost 150 years.
On May 17, 1874, 145 years ago, the "Section Erzgebirge-Voigtland" (Section Ore Mountains-Vogtland) of the German and Austrian Alpine Club was founded in Zwickau. This section became the parent of the later independent section "Vogtland", established on November 14, 1882 in Plauen, today’s section "Plauen-Vogtland".
Then as now, mountains were a place of longing for many people. On the other side of the Atlantic John Muir wrote his famous quote “Going to the mountains is going home”. The fact that the alpine club was established early in the Vogtland, was certainly no coincidence, since mountain climbing in the region can be traced back as far as to the early 1830s, as records show.
Since 1888, the local rocks of the Steinicht Valley, only a few minutes away from NEUALP and today a protected landscape, had served Richard Kunstmann and Johannes Münckner from Plauen as a place to prepare for difficult high mountain tours in the Alps. They and other mountaineers from the region made important contributions to the exploration of the Alps. In 1875, Curt Victorin Facilides, one of the founders of the Alpine Club in Plauen and its first chairman, together with mountain guides succeeded in the first ascent of the so called "Facilides Rinne" of the Grossglockner.
In 1898, the section began with the construction of an alpine hut in the Zillertal Alps at an altitude of 2,364 meters. On 19 July 1899, the "Plauener Hütte" (“Plauen Hut”) was inaugurated.
120 years later, in August 2018, we were at the Plauen Hut to test our first product, the NEUALP ASCENTEC ONE Jacket, in the mountains of the Zillertal Alps. Equipped with ropes, crampons and ice axes, we field-tested the new jacket on an ascent toward the 3,303 meter high Reichenspitze. Rocks, ice and snow along with changeable weather conditions provided the ideal environment for intensive tests in real-life conditions.
Due to the two world wars and the partition of Germany after the Second World War, the Plauen Hut can look back at an eventful history. But thanks to the dedication and commitment of many members of the alpine club, the Plauen Hut is in an excellent condition today. In 2017, after an intensive renovation and modernization program, it received the environmental seal of approval awarded by the alpine clubs of South Tyrol, Austria and Germany as part of a joint initiative.
But let us return to the Vogtland. Here, near Schoeneck at an altitude of 748 meters, there is another mountain hut of the alpine club. The section Plauen-Vogtland, which, like the German Alpine Club in general, was banned in East Germany and therefore awaited in West German exile its return to the Vogtland, is today the largest association in the Vogtland. Its mission is to educate people in mountain training courses, to develop and restore climbing routes in the region and to organize tours for mountaineering, hiking and skiing. And, of course, the protection of the environment is virtually part of the alpine club’s DNA.
We would like to thank Michael Frotscher, the chronicler of the section Plauen-Vogtland, for providing these very rare historical images and the information on the history and long tradtion of mountain sports and the German Alpine Club in the Vogtland region.
In one of our next blog posts we will introduce the Steinicht Valley, the climbing area right on our doorstep, in the so called Vogtland Switzerland.