If you’re climbing in Germany, you’re bound to come across the Deutscher Alpenverein, or DAV. But what is it and why should you join?
- Discounted gym membership
- Courses and guided trips/climbs
- Free guidebook and super cheap gear rental
- Access to “Huetten” or mountain huts around the country
- DAV magazine subscription
- Rescue insurance
A brief overview of the DAV:
First of all, let’s translate it. The Deutscher Alpenverein, or DAV (pronounced “day ah fau”), means German Alpine Club and is one of the largest organizations in the country. While the word “alpine” is part of the name, it is better thought of as generally rock and mountain related as they also offer information about skiing and mountain biking. However, the DAV and the bulk of its information, activities and focus are on climbing whether rock, ice, alpine or mountaineering.
The DAV was founded in 1869 in Munich with the goal of developing the German alps for tourism (history in German here). This included building trails and mountain huts. Over time, it has expanded to include environmental work, conservation, education and training, guided trips, insurance, and climbing gyms. As that short and incomplete list suggests, the DAV is the club to join for climbing in Germany.
Luckily, they’ve started adding an English version of their site but it’s limited. The DAV itself is actually a national umbrella organization consisting of hundreds of local chapters. So first off, you’ll need to find the local one where you live.
Let’s take an example. I’m a member of the Sektion Schwaben which runs my local gym, offers numerous courses and has a library full of free book rental as well as very cheap gear rental. DAV membership means discounted entrance to the gym (and is required for yearly membership). Now, let’s say I want to climb Zugspitze. I can go rent crampons and an ice axe for just few Euros as well as borrow maps and guidebooks free! And if I somehow bungle the entire thing and need to get rescued, DAV climbing insurance has my back.
Moreover, they also offer classes throughout the year on climbing, ice climbing, alpine climbing, skiing, mountaineering and more. They are for beginner and intermediate climbers and of course taught in German. These include both instructional classes at local gyms to week long course in the Alps on alpine skills to mountaineering.
Despite the dearth of English-language material on their website, joining the DAV is a no-brainer for climbers. It’s far more advanced than most Anglosphere equivalents and offers everything a climber needs. The current cost (which can differ between sections) is around 65 EUR per year. If you’re German isn’t great, have no fear! Find your local chapter’s office, walk in and join. They’ll be happy to help and will almost certainly speak English.