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Who climbs the most? Suunto World Vertical Week 2018 big data is here

SuuntoRun — 12 марта 2018

The third annual Suunto World Vertical Week is over and the results didn’t reveal big surprises: the same nation still leads the country ranking and the same activity still has the highest average ascent. However, there were some interesting surprises in the activity details!



Which country climbed the most during Suunto World Vertical Week?


No big surprises here. The Austrians took the top spot again by a clear margin: on average they climbed almost a hundred meters higher than any other nation. Congratulations!


Also Switzerland was once again very strong: they have placed in the top three in the World Vertical Week ranking every year.


Overall the top four was dominated by people living in countries with the Alps. The popularity of ski touring, once again the activity with the most average ascent, surely contributes to these countries’ ranking.


Which country climbs the most? (average ascent per activity, top 20 countries)

  1. Austria 472 m
  2. Switzerland 375 m
  3. Italy 360 m
  4. Slovenia 338 m
  5. Slovakia 281 m
  6. Spain 263 m
  7. Norway 255 m
  8. France 250 m
  9. Portugal 229 m
  10. Germany 222 m
  11. The Czech Republic 210 m
  12. Mexico 189 m
  13. South Africa 177 m
  14. Singapore 176 m
  15. Canada 170 m
  16. New Zealand 169 m
  17. The United States 167 m
  18. Hungary 161 m
  19. Republic of Korea 151 m
  20. Sweden 150 m






We tracked all human-powered outdoor sports and looked at eight of them more closely: running, trail running, trekking, mountaineering, cycling, mountain biking, ski touring and cross-country skiing. A special shout-out goes to Japan and Italy: they both were on top in two different activity rankings. Italy even managed to get six top fives out of eight possible ones.


Who climbed the most during Suunto World Vertical Week?


Skiers climbed away from the others also this year with the highest average ascent per activity (867 m). Also the number two, mountaineering with 688 m on average, kept its spot. Trail running (380 m) defended its third spot even though the trail runners didn’t reach the 400-meter mark this year.


To keep the playing field level, we were only comparing averages. A cumulative number of ascent meters per country or activity would not have made sense as the population and number of Suunto members varies from nation to nation.





The biggest surprise this year was the winner in ski touring category: the skiers from the Netherlands toured the biggest average ascents! It seems you don’t need mountains to enjoy big ascents. The highest point of their country rises only to 322 meters.


However, it is hard to believe that the Dutch would have collected all that vert back at home. One explanation for their success is that they didn’t actually tour at home, but had mostly traveled on a holiday to bigger hills and had had time to really record some vert. The same must be partly true to Great Britain that took the second spot in the ski touring ranking.


Countries like Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France had tens of times more ski touring activities during the week than the Dutch or the Brits but their averages were still lower. It seems that it is hard to beat someone enjoying a holiday even if you have mountains in your backyard. More dawn patrols and headlamp tours will be needed for the locals if they wish to beat their guests next year!


This analysis is not meant to take anything away from the Dutch and the Brits. There seems to be an active ski touring community in both countries that know that you need to go out during the World Vertical Week! Good job!


Ski touring (average 867 m)

  1. The Netherlands 1160 m
  2. Great Britain 1130 m
  3. Switzerland 996 m
  4. Spain 953 m
  5. Italy 951 m





Japanese mountaineers recorded the highest average ascents during the week-long event. They added about 150 meters to their last year’s average and went from fifth to first. Well done!


Mountaineering (average 688 m)

  1. Japan 846 m
  2. Switzerland 799 m
  3. Italy 765 m
  4. Austria 746 m
  5. France 743 m




It has been clear every year that Asia is strong in trail running and the same trend continues also this time around: The crown for the most average trail running ascent goes to Japan! That’s a strong performance considering the Japanese were number one also in mountaineering. Top spots in mountaineering and trail running, activities with the second and the third biggest average ascents, is an excellent demonstration that the Japanese are really strong in the uphill.


Winter in the mountainous regions in Europe and North America may limit the trail running ascents but never the less the Japanese and Chinese runners were very strong.


Trail running (average 380 m)

  1. Japan 731 m
  2. China 653 m
  3. Portugal 547 m
  4. Italy 523 m
  5. Spain 508 m



Mountain biking (average 323 m)

  1. Italy 482 m
  2. Spain 479 m
  3. South Africa 382 m
  4. New Zealand 378 m
  5. Brazil 377 m


Trekking (average 315 m)

  1. Italy 436 m
  2. Austria 426 m
  3. France 357 m
  4. Spain 354 m
  5. USA 246 m


Cycling (average 214 m)

  1. Spain 411 m
  2. Italy 363 m
  3. South Africa 328 m
  4. France 301 m
  5. Austria 264 m


Cross-country skiing (average 199 m)

  1. The Czech Republic 374 m
  2. France 316 m
  3. Norway 259 m
  4. Austria 219 m
  5. Sweden 213 m


Running (average 103 m)

  1. Slovenia 192 m
  2. Norway 151 m
  3. Switzerland 146 m
  4. Croatia 142 m
  5. Portugal 139 m