Time Period Mountaineering
Outdoor Gear
Companies and
Historical Events
and Inventions
Pre 1800

First ascent of Mont Blanc (4807m) by Dr Michel Paccard and Jacques Balmat both from Chamonix.


Late 18th and early 19th century – The Napoleonic wars saw several innovations – the first known use of a safety rope; Napoleon offered a prize for a means of preserving food and the result was bottled fruit.

In 1798 the 2 shoulder strap rucksack was ordered to be carried by English soldiers. The 2 strap pack became standardised throughout all European armies, and usually with a front opening, i.e. not top opening, a concept thought to have been born in the 1970s with the rise in the travel market.

1679 – France. Pressure cooker invented by Denis Papin

1701 – UK Jethro Tull invented the mechanical seed drill, beginning the mechanisation of agricultural production.

1712 –  UK Thomas Newcomen built the first effective steam (atmospheric) engine.

1714 – Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit invented a practicable thermometer and his temperature scale.

1769 – UK James Watt patented a significant improvement to the efficiency of the steam engine – the separate condenser. UK Richard Arkwright’s waterframe cotton spinning machine patented. F A de Garsault supposed to have produced the first paper clothing patterns.

1776-1783 – USA – American War of Independence resulting in split from UK.

1781 – UK James Watt invented the means of converting reciprocating into rotary motion so steam engines could drive machinery.

1789 – France – French Revolution.

1789-1815 – France Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

1791 – Claude Chappe invented semaphore.


1811 – Brothers Johann Rudolf and Hieronymus Meyer from the Oberland climbed the Jungfrau with Valais chamois hunters Alois Volker and Josef Bortis.

1810 – UK Precision screw-cutting lathe invented by  Henry Maudsley – made nuts and bolts with perfect threads and enabled many subsequent engineering developments.

1811 – UK Canning process patented using lead (metal) to create airtight seal.


1838 Henriette d’Angeville climbed Mont Blanc with guides and porters.

First tourist ascent of Vignemale (3298m – Pyrenees) by Anne Lister with Pierre Charles, Jean-Pierre Sanjou and Henri Cazaux who had climbed it the previous year.

1830 UK Opening of world’s first passenger railway from Liverpool to Manchester.

1830s Practical form of electric telegraph developed.

1837 Samuel Morse invented Morse code.

1837 UK Queen Victoria crowned queen of Britain.


1842 U K Rowland Hill introduced postage stamps.

1844 Charles Goodyear and Thomas Hancock simultaneously discover the process of vulcanising rubber, a process which stabilised rubber in hot and cold conditions and was key to the industrialisation of rubber manufacture.

1846 First patent for sewing machine by Elias Howe.


1851 Albert Smith’s ascent of Mont Blanc and subsequent highly publicised lectures in London helped to popularise the Alps. The presentation itself was using innovative methods for projecting images onto a screen.

1854-1865 : The Golden Age of Mountaineering – 180 First ascents in the Alps, almost half by British climbers and the era of climbing with elite guides. Notable climbs included :

1854 Mrs Hamilton first English woman to climb Mont Blanc.

1857 John Ball, first climber to ascend a major peak in the Dolomites when he climbed Pelmo in the Ampezzo group

1. 1st ascent of the Eiger (3970m)

1865 First ascent of the Matterhorn (4477m) by Whymper and accident on the descent. This marked the end of the Golden Age.

1855 UK – The waterproof jacket developed by Charles Macintosh reached a highly refined stage. The fabric was rubber coated and the finished garment weighed 5 1/2 oz and could be “fitted into a cigar box”.

1857 UK/Italy – The first recorded customisation of climbing boots/nails –on the first ascent of Mt Pelmo in the Dolomites by John Ball. He stopped for half an hour, the others ‘waiting whilst he screwed in his points’.

1859 UK Tuckett’s ‘Russian Furnace’ (stove) developed and first used.

1856 Thomas Burberry founded an outfitters shop in Basingstoke, UK

1857 Alpine Club founded, with its headquarters in London.

1851 UK – The Great Exhibition in Hyde Park London.

1852 India/Nepal Everest identified as the world’s highest mountain by the (British) ‘Survey of India’.

1858 Discovery of K2, world’s second highest mountain; in the Karakorum, now located within Pakistan.

1859 First oil well drilled by Edwin Drake in Pennsylvania.


1865 A.W Moore, George Mathews and the Walkers, father and son, climbed the Brenva Spur (Mont Blanc) with Melchoir and Jakob Anderegg, one of the first serious ice climbs.

1860s to early 1870s Rev Arthur Girdlestone pioneered the move to guideless climbing.

1869 John Muir –as a shepherd- first saw Yosemite (California).

1862-5 UK – Whymper developed ‘A’ pole tent concept, a hanging stove and pan set, ‘sky hook’ and the first basic descending method using a ring and thin secondary cord –

1861-3 UK – Development of Tuckett’s blanket sleeping bag.

1860s USA The first known commercial production and sale of ski waxes began among gold miners in Sierra Nevada, USA. They needed to get to work!

1864 UK – Alpine Club defined first standards for mountaineering ropes and axes with radius curved picks (but not crampons which were not important items at that time).

1868 Norway – Sondre Nordheim broke all the records at a Nordic tournament in Christiana (Oslo) using a new shaped ski and binding

1862 Austrian Alpine Club formed.

1865 A.W Moore, George Mathews and the Walkers, father and son, climbed the Brenva Spur (Mont Blanc) with Melchoir and Jakob Anderegg, one of the first serious ice climbs.

1860s to early 1870s Rev Arthur Girdlestone pioneered the move to guideless climbing.

1869 John Muir –as a shepherd- first saw Yosemite (California).


1871 Lucy Walker first woman to climb the Matterhorn with Melchior Anderegg.

1874 First winter ascent of Wetterhorn ((Oberland) by Miss Brevoort and W.A.B. Coolidge with Christian and Ulrich Almer and 3 porters.

1877 First ascent of the main summit of the Meije (3983m – Dauphiné) by the Baron Emmanuel Boileau de Castelnau (aged 20) with Pierre Gaspard and son, the last great virgin summit in the Alps.

Mid 1870s Growing need for technical rock climbing gear – first in Eastern Alps and also in Western as mountaineering shifted from endurance to athleticism – beginning of technical equipment.

1879 France – Jean Esteril Charlet (1840-1925) perfected the use of the rope descending technique ‘rappel’ or abseil.

1879 UK – trademark for Burberry self-ventilating cloth registered, it was to provide polar explorers and mountaineers with protection for the next 50 years

1877 Helly Juell Hansen began making protective clothing for seafaring

1871 UK First publication of Edward Whymper’s Scrambles in the Alps one of the most successful books on mountaineering.

1874 UK Liverpool YMCA Rambling Club formed.

1876 USA Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.

1878 UK Bicycle Touring Club formed, forerunner of the Cycle Touring Club, and had 60,449 members by 1899.


1880 Edward Whymper climbed Chimborazo (6,267) in the Andes with his Italian guides J.A. and L. Carrel. He was effectively the father of the large scale meticulously planned expedition.

1880s Beginning of the ‘Silver Age’ of mountaineering and guideless climbing by Dent, Mummery (although experimented with by others earlier, not least Girdlestone).

1883 W.W. Graham visited the Indian Himalaya with two Swiss guides . This was the first sport climbing (as opposed to scientific) expedition to the Himalayas

1884 A long distance ski race was held in Huseby, Norway. The winners, from Lapland, covered 200km in 21 hrs in very wet snow. See product biographies for technical details of ski waxes used.

1886 Haskett Smith made the first ascent of Napes Needle – birth of British rock climbing.

1887 F.E. Younghusband, crossed the Karakoram mountains from China, discovered the Shaksgam valley and crossed the old Muztagh Pass into the Baltoro.

1880-1913 Extensive exploration of the Causacus

Mummery with the guide Heinrich Zurfluh visited the Caucasus where he climbed Dych Tau.

1889 Kilimanjaro (5892m) climbed by the German/Austrian pair Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller.

1885 Invention of the ‘Rover’ by John Kemp Starley, the configuration we know and recognise today as a bicycle – .

1888 John Boyd Dunlop, an Irish vet, developed the inflatable tyre, opening the way to fast comfortable riding with the safety bicycle design.

1888 UK Acetylene (a gas produced by adding water to calcium carbide) lamps became available for bicycles.

1888 Nansen crossed Greenland, using snow-shoes and skis

1890. Nansen published his book ”The First Crossing of Greenland” (and 2 years later in German) which introduced the ski to alpine Europeans for the first time and created ”ski- fever” throughout the Alpine areas.

1880 UK Manchester YMCA Rambling Club formed.

1885 Germany – Carl Benz produced petrol driven carriage.

1886 Germany – First commercially viable method of smelting aluminium by electrolysis.

1887 UK – Alpine Club Equipment Exhibition.

1889 UK – Foundation of Scottish Mountaineering Club.


1892 W.M. Conway expedition to Karakoram climbing Pioneer peak which, at 6890m set the world altitude record.

1895 Mummery killed on Nanga Parbat

1896 Sir Martin Conway’s first crossing of Spitzbergen.

1896 Mrs Le Blond led first all women’s rope on the traverse of Piz Palu with Lady Evelyn McDonnel.

1898 Raeburn”s ascent of the gully on Lochnagar (Scotland) that now bears his name marked the beginning of serious Scottish winter climbing.

1898 First solo ascent of the Matterhorn by Wilhelm Paulcke.

1898 Oscar Schuster and Heinrich Moser made the first ski ascent of a 4000 m peak, Monte Rosa/Dufourspitze, 4634m.

1890 Italy – Excelsior Folding Lantern – developed by the Italian Alpine Club – became commercially available. .

1892 Sweden- Primus stoves manufactured for the first time by the Swedish company J.V Svensons Foténkööksfabric. This constituted a breakthrough in expedition logistics – .

1891-2 UK Mummery designed lightweight tent, which bears his name.

1892 UK First recorded use of eiderdown sleeping bags, based on a pattern from Heals and Co Tottenham Court Road, London.

1892 UK – Whymper and Mummery tents first appeared in the Benjamin Edgington catalogue.

1892 ??? UK – First mention of pitons in Alpine Journal article by J.H. Gibson ‘The Eastern Arete of the Meije.’

1890s UK – First appearance of aluminium cooking equipment for camping – advantage of light weight.

1898 UK – Thomas Hiram Holding undertook a cycle camping tour in Connemara Ireland, creating all the bicycle luggage pieces that we know today, handlebar bag, front and rear panniers, rack pack, seat pack.

1898 First successful use of sealskins for ski mountaineering by the Madlener Brothers in Allgau, Germany.

1894 John Barbour and Sons founded in South Sheilds for making workwear for sailors

1890 – Nansen ( Norway) published ‘The First Crossing of Greenland’ in 2 volumes. This illustrated book introduced the wider world to the ski which was unknown in Alpine areas. German version was same date. see our ‘Great Innovators: Nansen.

1891 UK -Sir Hugh Munro published his Tables of Heights over 3000 feet listing 283 Scottish peaks.

1892 UK -Scottish Ramblers’ Alliance formed

1892 UK- Alpine Club Special Committee report on equipment published.

1892 USA -John Muir founded Sierra Club which was concerned with both climbing and conservation.

1893 UK- Co-operative Holidays Association formed with membership of 268 [1911 13,719]

1893 UK- Cairngorm Club formed.

1893 UK – Glasgow Socialist Rambling Club formed.

1894 UK – Clarion Cycling Club ( 75 Clubs with 2000 + members by 1897; 1905 120 clubs; 1908 182 clubs; 1913 8000 members ( peak)

1894 UK National Trust established.

1896 UK – Guglielmo Marconi patented wireless telegraphy (aka radio).

1897 Fridtjof Nansen lectured on Polar exploration in London to promote his book ‘Farthest North’.

1899 UK Alpine Club Equipment Exhibition.


Early 1900s Development of new abseil techniques – the Dülfersitz.

1902 Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley made first attempt on K2 (8611m).

1907 Ascent of Trisul (7120m) by Tom Longstaff, the Brocherel brothers and a Gurkha, Karbir – the first “seven-thousander” to be climbed.

1906 First ascent of Pinnacle Peak (6957m) in Kashmir by Mrs Fanny Bullock Workman and and a porter.

1900/07 Improved techniques for safe glacier crossings, leading to the development of the climbing harness.

1. The Duke of the Abruzzi brought a large expedition up the Baltoro glacier to attempt K2. They also reached 7500m on Chogolisa, or “Bride Peak”, a height record.

1909 Robert Peary claimed to have reached the North Pole, largely discredited.

1900 The first British mention of pitons in Alpine Journal 1892 article by J.H. Gibson ‘The Eastern Arete of the Meije’ For details of these early ‘picture hook’ pitons, see product biographies.

1902 The bicycle was adapted very rapidly for use in the alpine regions – .

1907 Germany – The folding canoe, a breakthrough in portability, was invented by Alfred Heurich – .

1908/12 Oscar Eckenstein (Brit) designed a new 10 point crampon ( made by Grivel) enabling them to be used without step cutting and providing the foundation for all crampon technique to follow.

1900 UK Sheffield Clarion Rambling Club formed.

1901 UK British Holidays Association formed.

1901 UK Association of Cycle Campers founded by Thomas Holding – later merges to become Camping Club of Great Britain.

1903 USA 1st powered aeroplane flight by the Wright brothers.

1904 1st radar system patented – followed by major developments during World War 2.

1904 1st colour pictures produced by Lumiere brothers, based on principles established by James Maxwell in 1861.

1905 1st synthetic plastic invented by Leo Baekeland – called bakelite.

1905 UK – Federation of Rambling Clubs established.

1907 UK – Formation in London of the Ladies’ Alpine Club, the first all women’s mountaineering club.

1907 USA Alva Fisher invented the electric washing machine

1908 UK – Boy Scout movement formed.


1910 1st ascent of Central Buttress on Scafell – resulting in rock climbing being seen as an art and a sport in its own right.

1. Winthrop Young’s ascent of the East face of the Grépon – an elegant end to an elegant era.

1911 15th December, Raold Amundsen reached South Pole.

1912 Hans Dülfer ascended the Fleischbank Ost Wand, Kaisergebirge.

1912 Fanny Bullock Workmen achieved the women”s world altitude record, this year visited the Siachen Glacier, crossing the Bilafond La.

1913 First ascent of Mount McKinley in Alaska, highest point in North America (6194m), by H. Stuck, H. Carstens and R. and W. Harper.

1910 Pitons had evolved to include a welded ring, through which the rope was passed – .

1911 Pitons used for first time on a big alpine face when Angelo Dibona led Guido and Max Mayer up the north face of Laliderer in Karwendel, Bavaria.

1912 Dülfer and Schaarschmidt succeeded on the Fleischbank Ost Wand, Kaisergebirge, Austria, by the first combined use of pitons, karabiners and double rope, involving the pendulum technique for crossing ‘blank’ rock. (A drill was taken but not used).

1911 Burberry windproof cloth used for tents on Amundsen expedition.

1912. Félix Genecand designed a new type of boot nail (‘Tricouni’) and nailing system which was a performance breakthrough – .

1914/15 The first commercial appearance of rock boots was in the 1914/15 Sporthaus Schuster catalogue – .

1915 The Saxons in the Elbesandstein made an overhand knot in rope slings so that the knot could be jammed in cracks and the loop used as a runner.

1913  UK Holiday Fellowship established.

1913   Gideon Sundback invented the 1st machine to make practicable zip fasteners.

1914-18  First World War.

1919  UK Manchester Ramblers’ Council set up.

1919  UK Camping Club of Great Britain formed by merger of existing clubs –  6000 members by 1933.


1920’s Improved rope techniques and the start of ‘artificial’ climbing – .

1921 1st (reconnaissance) expedition to Everest (8848m) led by Lt Col C.K. Howard Bury. Mallory, Bullock and Wheeler reached North Col.

1922 First basic attempts to protect the head from stone fall. A loden felt hat was recommended, the alternative would have been a steel soldier’s helmet, quite unsuitable.

1922 2nd British Everest expedition led by Brigadier General C.G. Bruce. 8326m reached by George Finch and Geoffrey Bruce using oxygen.

1924 3rd British Everest Expedition led by Brigadier General C.G. Bruce to be replaced by Lt Col E.F. Norton. . Norton reaches 28,120 feet (8580m) without oxygen not bettered until Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler climbed Everest without oxygen in 1978. George Mallory and Andrew Irvine are last seen at 27,600 feet (8450m) before disappearing.

1920-1 Meade tent, an adapted Whymper, is designed and used for first time on 1922 Everest expedition.

1922 Everest expedition. G.I. Finch modified paraffin pressure stove for use at altitude and became technically and medically convinced of need for oxygen at altitude. Eiderdown suit designed to his specification was the first use of down for mountaineering clothing.– .

1922 Willo Welzenbach and his partner Fritz Rigele invented the first ice pitons, used on the first ascent of the Grosse Wiesbachhorn. This was the breakthrough which took the newly developed rope/karabiner/piton protection techniques on to the steep ice faces of the Western Alps.

1923 Haythornthwaite’s of Burnley Lancashire produced the first batch of a new windproof but breathable fabric – known as Grenfell. . Grenfell fabric for Sir Wilfred Grenfell, (a missionary working in Labrador). By the 1930’s Grenfell cloth becomes the leading wind/waterproof cotton fabric, supplying all major expeditions and taking over the lead from Burberry.

1924 Sandy Irvine purchased a number of zips for fitting into his garments for the 1924 Everest expedition.

1. First ice pitons used

1927 First record of a chockstone being placed deliberately – on Pigott”s climb (N. Wales). ‘Natural’ protection begins to emerge in the UK.

1921 UK – Workers’ Travel Association formed.

1922 UK – Ramblers Federation , Manchester District established.

1923 UK British Workers’ Sports Association ( taken over by Communist Party in 1928)

1925 Woodcraft Folk set up.

1926 UK – Council for the Preservation of Rural England established.

1929 UK – National Parks Committee set up.

1929 UK – National Council of Ramblers’ Federations established.

1929, Ellis Brigham opened a bootmaking shop in Manchester

1922 First use of the word ‘anorak’ in the English language, origin Inuit and though to have emerged via Denmark.

1924 France – First winter Olympic Games, Chamonix, France. Nordic disciplines only.

1924 Clarence Birdseye patented his system for producing frozen food.

1925 UK BBC was established to broadcast radio programmes. The earliest radio broadcasts were in the USA in the 1900s.


1930 UK – Youth Hostels Association formed – 16,000 members initially.

1931 UK National Council of Ramblers’ federations set up.

1931 UK – Scottish Youth Hostels Association formed.

1932 France- Union Internationale des Association d’Alpinisme (UIAA) was formed in Chamonix with 18 nations participating.

1932 UK Mass trespass on Kinder Scout (Peak District)

1935 UK Central Council of Recreative Physical Training set up – became Central Council for Physical Recreation in 1944.

1935 UK Standing Committee on National Parks established.

1935 UK Ramblers’ Association created (1200 members).

1935 UK -Tom Stephenson first mooted the idea of the Long Distance Footpath – Pennine Way – not opened until 1965.

1939 UK Access to Mountains Act

1939 UK YHA has 83,417 members.

1930’s Austrian climbers experimented with making crampons rigid along their length to enhance performance, but it was not commercialised.

1930 Neoprene (a synthetic coating which was superior to rubber) discovered – .

1931 Dr Karl Prusik of Vienna introduces a method of ascending the rope itself – .

1932 Laurent Grivel introduced the first 12-point crampons – .

1933 First Everest expedition to use:

(i) boots designed and made by Robert Lawrie Alpine bootmaker of Burnley:

(ii) Grenfell suits rather than Burberry.

(iii) Howard Flint’s eiderdown suits.

1933 Pierre Allain, France, designed and produced warm bivouac items – ‘La Grande cagoule’ and the ‘pied d’elephant’ or elephant’s foot. 1934 Discovery of nylon polyamide fibres – .

1935 Robert Burns supplied eiderdown shorts and coats for the Everest expedition.

1935 Robert Lawrie, Alpine bootmaker of Burnley, moved to London.

1936. USA innovator Eddy Bauer developed the concept known as ‘box quilting’ , resulting in much lighter sleeping bags and garments. .

1938 Pierre Allain of France designed and developed the first aluminium karabiner, followed closely by (but unaware of each other) Raffi Bedayne in the USA.

1938 The beginnings of Teflon® at Du Pont – subsequently leading to Gore-Tex. .

1930’s The technology of controlling the oscillations of a compass needle was important for hand held use. The world first liquid dampened orienteering compass was invented by Gunnar Tillander, and Silva Sweden AB was established to develop this invention.

1937-39 Vitale Bramani developed, in conjunction with Pirelli, the first rubber sole moulded to imitate the shape of nails.

Late 1930s Otto Bayer of IG Farben did pioneering work on polyurethane – see

1930 UK – Youth Hostels Association formed – 16,000 members initially.

1931 UK National Council of Ramblers’ federations set up.

1931 UK – Scottish Youth Hostels Association formed.

1932 France- Union Internationale des Association d’Alpinisme (UIAA) was formed in Chamonix with 18 nations participating.

1932 UK Mass trespass on Kinder Scout (Peak District)

1935 UK Central Council of Recreative Physical Training set up – became Central Council for Physical Recreation in 1944.

1935 UK Standing Committee on National Parks established.

1935 UK Ramblers’ Association created (1200 members).

1935 UK -Tom Stephenson first mooted the idea of the Long Distance Footpath – Pennine Way – not opened until 1965.

1939 UK Access to Mountains Act

1939 UK YHA has 83,417 members.

1930 UK Frank Whittle patented the jet engine.

1936 UK- BBC inaugurates television service from Alexandra Palace in London.

1936 1st practicable helicopter designed by Professor Heinrich Focke.

1938 UK Holidays with Pay Act


1940 Eddie Bauer received Design Patent Number 119,122 for a down jacket

1941 UK – Aberdovey Outward Bound School set up.

1943 UK CCPR’s outdoor Activities Advisory Committee formed.

1944 UK – BMC British Mountaineering Council set up at the initiative of Alpine Club/Geoffrey Winthrop Young as president.

1946 Karrimor Bag Company founded, becoming Karrimor Weathertite Products in 1952 and Karrimor International in 1975

1946 UK Brathay Hall Trust established by Francis Scott.

1946 UK Sponsorship by BMC of Barford, J.E.Q (1946) Climbing in Britain (London : Penguin) it sold more than 100,000 copies and was eventually replaced in 1968 by Alan Blackshaw : Mountaineering

1946 UK BMC instituted first qualifications for British mountain guides.

1947 UK -Mountaineering Association set up by Jerry Wright. Over the next 20 years it trained 15,000 in rock and Alpine skills – absorbed into YHA in 1968.

1948 UK- Glenmore Lodge established as Scottish Centre of Outdoor Training.

1949 UK – National Parks and Access to Countryside Act.

1949 UK Outward Bound Trust set up.

1946 Microwave cooker patented.

1948 UK 1st programmable computer built at Manchester University.


1950 1st ascent of an 8000m peak – Maurice Herzog and Louis Lechenal climbed Annapurna (8091m). By 1964 all 14 of the world’s 8000m peaks had been climbed – this period coming almost exactly a century after the Golden Age of Alpine 1st ascents.

1951 British Everest reconnaissance expedition led by Eric Shipton.

1952 Swiss reconnaissance expedition led by Wyss-Dunant (Spring assault) and G. Chevalley (Post Monsoon) .

1953 First ascent of Everest, by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, expedition leader Colonel H.C.J. Hunt.

1954 Dechrocheur Allain technique (see Product Innovations column 1945) first used in the Alps on the West face of the Aiguille de Blatière by Joe Brown and Don Whillans.

1. Scottish ice climbing was undergoing a period of development. Zero Gully on Ben Nevis was climbed by Tom Patey, Hamish Maclnnes and Graeme Nicol. This pursuit of steep gullies was to lead a decade later to new techniques of ice axe design and use.

2. Warren Harding, George Whitmore, Wayne Merry and Allen Steck ascended the Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite

Early 1950s Down clothing and ‘pied d’elephant’ ( a short sleeping bag invented by PA ( Pierre Allain see our Great Innovators: Pierre Allain ) came into general use in the Alps.

1950’s UK Practice of stiffening nylon slings ( for easier passing around chockstones) by boiling in sugar solution. Also many climbers worked in engineering workshops and collected engineering nuts from work (or even from the Snowdon mountain railway line!).

1951 Switzerland – George de Mestral invented Velcro – the hook and loop fastener. .

1952 French company ‘Pile Wonder’ produced first ever battery operated headlamp.

1953 Innovations associated with the successful 1953 Everest expedition included:

i. logistics and planning;

ii. a new clothing and tent fabric which was a mixture of nylon cotton.

iii. the new SATRA boot. which was a significant leap forward.


1954 An inserted rock fragment for use as a thread belay was first used in the Alps on the West face of the Aiguille de Blaitière by Joe Brown and Don Whillans.

1956-58 Ice screws take a small step forward with the Marwa screw thread ‘bottle opener’ type – .

1958 First Karrimor rucksack.

1958 W.L. Gore established.

1958 American Velcro Inc., opened in Manchester NH, where many textile workers lived. Hook and loop were manufactured on shuttle looms.

Late 1950s Duvets –down jackets and Pied d’elephants brought home by British climbers.

1950 UK Outward Bound Eskdale opened.

1950 UK – Whitehall, the 1st local education authority outdoor centre, opened by Jack Longland, then Deputy Director of Education for Derbyshire.

1951 UK – Peak District National Park – the first UK national park.

1951-2 UK Further national parks set up – Lake District, Snowdonia, Dartmoor, Pembrokeshire coast and North York Moors.

1952 UK Moray Sea Outward Bound. School opened.

1954 UK – Yorkshire Dales and Exmoor national parks established.

1955 UK – John Hunt became chairman of the national outdoor centre at Plas-y-Brenin, established by the Central Council of Physical Recreation. John Disley the first chief instructor.

1955 UK Outward Bound Ullswater opened.

1956-7 UK -Northumberland and Brecon Beacons national parks set up.

1956 UK Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme arose directly out of successful first ascent of Everest and had John Hunt as first Director.

1959 Outward Bound Devon opened.


1961 Toni Heibeler, Walter Almberger, Toni Kinshofer and Anderl Mannhardt first winter ascent of North Face of the Eiger

1963 South face of the Fou on Mont Blanc climbed by Tom Frost, Stewart Fulton, John Harlin and Gary Hemming.

1966 Eiger Direct – a new North Face climb in winter demanded siege tactics over 38 days and ultimately brought success to Anglo-American-German climbers, but only after John Harlin (USA), one of the leaders, had been killed. Now known as the Harlin Route.

1. The combined technique of using a pair of axes with curved picks, together with rigid 12-point crampons was born of USA, Scottish, and English parents. From here it transferred to the Alps. As a result of this Scotland subsequently became known as the birthplace of modern ice climbing, but gave the technique no specific name – ‘piolet traction’ was the French, ‘Zug Technik’ the German.

2. Wally Herbert and 3 others dog sledged to the North Pole.


1960 First Kernmantel construction ropes become available in Germany.

1961 The first manufactured nut was called the Acorn and was designed and made by John Brailsford and sold by Roger Turner Mountain Sports, Nottingham.

1961 The development of continuous filament nylon fibre led first to the innovation of a synthetic fur, called Furleen, and then to “pile” fabric – by Helly Hansen of Norway. .

Early 1960s Tanky harness the first British climbing harness.

1961-2 Invention and initial production of climbing ‘nuts’

1962 First fibreglass helmet, designed by Swiss climber Paul Hubel from the aluminium test model. Sold by Schuster, Munich.

1962 An improved abseil device, the ‘abseilachter’ or ‘figure of eight,’ was developed. .

1962 Hermann Huber of Salewa Germany achieved a design breakthrough by producing the first easily adjustable crampons, also with increased strength for front pointing technique. .

1962 First tubular ice screw developed by Huber of Salewa – .

1963 Henri Strzelecki – a keen sailor- founded Henri Lloyd .

1964 First commercially produced chockstones – .

1965 Closed cell ‘evazote’ foam mats (Karrimats) introduced by Karrimor.

1965 Tony Howard designed one of Britain’s first safety harnesses – .

1965 Development of mechanical prusik devices

1965 Helly Hansen introduced a range of polypropylene underwear (LIFA®) designed to move moisture away from the skin. .

1966 Use of ‘nuts’ extends to USA and formation of Clog company to produce ‘state of the art’ nuts. .

1966 Chouinard experimented with axe shapes and persuaded Charlet to make him an axe with a curved pick, and just as controversial, a shaft as short as 55cm.

1967 The Italian hitch was introduced as an alternative to the figure 8. .

1967 Berghaus set up as wholesale distributors of Scarpa boots.

1967 Merger between Blacks and Benjamin Edgington.

1967 Blacks floated on the Stock Exchange.

1967 First Karrimor exports.

1967 First Karrimor experiments with nylon rucksack.

1967 Vango Force 10 tent introduced.

1967-68 Development of two different types of chest harness in Germany – .

1968 Formation of the DAV safety commission for equipment and methods, under Pit Schubert

1968 Karrimat, (closed cell foam mat) becomes commercially available.

1969- innovations with nylon webbing –

1968-69 First rigid crampons introduced – .

1968 Initial use of plastic in mountain footwear with the development of plastic ski boots.

1968 A new adhesive was developed to enable climbing skins for skis to be taken off and on during the day.( previously the first glued skins had been semi permanent)

1961 Origins of Mountain Equipment founded by Pete Hutchinson and Pete Crew

1962 Graham Tiso opened his first shop in Edinburgh .

1963 UK – Formation of South Ribble Orienteering Club, established by Gerry Charnley.

1964 UK – Under Sir Jack Longland’s chairmanship Central Council of Physical Recreation set up the Mountain Leadership Training Board.

1964 1st Himalayan trekking company (Mountain Travel) set up by Jimmy Roberts.

1965 UK Sports Council formed.

1965 UK Meeting between Walter Winterbottom (Sports Council) and the BMC’s Sir John Hunt and Hilary Sinclair to discuss the future of mountaineering led to government funding for the BMC.

1966 LD Mountain Centre set up by Peter Lockey and Gordon Davison. (precursor of Berghaus)

1967 UK British Orienteering Federation set up.

1967 Vango an anagram of Govan set up.

1969 UK – Long Distance Walkers’ Association formed to further the interests of those who enjoy long distance walking.

1961 Russia Yuri Gagarin makes 1st manned space flight.

1962 UK First issue of Climber magazine.

1965 Official opening of Pennine Way.

1965 Centenary of Whymper’s first ascent of Matterhorn – BBC film live broadcast on the Hornli ridge and mountaineering becomes a spectator sport.

1967 UK Live TV coverage of Ascent of Old Man of Hoy watched by millions.

1968 UK – What became the Karrimor International Mountain Marathon first conceived by Gerry Charnley and run at Muker in Swaledale.

1969 Nepal opens its borders (closed in 1965) and a restricted list of ‘permitted peaks’.

1969 UK – First issue of Mountain – the English speaking world has its first international journal of mountaineering.

1969 UK – BMC estimates 45,000 climbers in Britain and 500,000 walkers.

1969 France – Massive upsurge in popularity of Alpinism in Europe – 30 parties bivouac on Walker Spur.


1970s Dramatic improvement in British rock climbing standards due to equipment developments and systematic physical training, including the early use of indoor climbing walls for practice.

1970 In a 26-day epic Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell put up a new route, Wall of the Early Morning Light in Yosemite Valley, California. They sat out a 4-day storm in a new bivouac style single point of suspension tent, which they appropriately named the “bat”

1970 Annapurna south face expedition led by Chris Bonington – captured imaginations through TV and other media coverage and had a profound impact upon those firms which supplied it.

1975 1st successful ascent of the south-west face of Everest – led by Chris Bonington.

1978 Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler were first to climb Everest without oxygen

1970 First microfibre product launched in 1970 by Toray Industries – Japan.

1970 USA – In a 26-day epic Warren Harding and Dean Caldwell put up a new route, Wall of the Early Morning Light in Yosemite Valley, California. They sat out a 4-day storm in a new bivouac style single point of suspension tent, which they appropriately named the “bat”

1970 UK expedition – The Annapurna South Face expedition resulted in several innovations:

i. The Whillans box 2nd generation.

ii. The Whillans’ nylon webbing climbing harness by Troll.

iii. Whillans down suit.

iv. Neoprene overboots for the (still single) leather boots.

v. The Karrimat received its first real high altitude test.


1970 New bivi style single point of suspension tent developed, named the “bat” – .

1971 Chouinard Equipment Company founded.

1972 First non pack frame ie climbing pack with an integrated hip belt introduced by Karrimor as Haston/Vallot. The forerunner of all packs today which have a hip belt.

1972 Berghaus began manufacturing rucksacks.

1972 Karrimor began distribution of Trangia stoves.

1972 Paul and Sarah Howcroft set up Rohan in Skipton to produce alternatives to tweed breeches and woollen shirts for walkers and mountaineers.

1972 W.L. Gore began experimenting with what became Gore-Tex.

1973 Coating technology for nylon fabrics achieved a major breakthrough with Karrimor’s introduction of KS-100e.

1973 Cechinel and Jaeger climbed the north couloir of the Petit Dru using the new drooped pick ice tools produced by Simond of Chamonix.

1. Mitchells ( founded 1847) and Vango merged with Blacks and Edgington.

1975 Karrimor distribution of Salewa ice climbing gear.

1971-77 Development of Gore-Tex material by W L Gore – .

1976 Berghaus began to work with Gore-Tex.

1977 First advertisement for the Mistral jacket by Berghaus, made in Gore-Tex.

1977 Ken Ledward began researching the K.L.E.T.S. sole.

1. Yvon Chouinard founded Patagonia

1977 Bruce Hamilton of The North Face company located in Berkeley California, got together with Buckminster Fuller and designed the Geodesic Dome. This lightweight tent had lower wind resistance and heat loss than conventional designs and transformed tent design

1978 Wild Country introduced the first camming device

1978 Plastic shelled mountain boots introduced by Koflach of Austria. First available with felt inners and then later with closed cell foam inners called after the foam itself, Alveolit. This was a process for chemically blown foam as distinct form the pressure chamber blown version used on the Karrimat.


2. Wild Country UK produced the first nuts that were radiused in 4 different directions – named ‘rocks.’

1979 Yeti gaiters were developed by Berghaus, UK the first successful gaiter which totally enclosed and protected the boot from water ingress.

1979 Introduction of Fibrepile. Created using a Helly Hansen patented double-face knitting process which improved flexibility and made it long lasting and durable for work wear applications.

1979 Hamish Hamilton began making sleeping bags at Buffalo.

1979 KS 100e introduced for Karrimor packs and cycle bags.

1979 First batch of Pertex manufactured by Perseverance Mills – patent registered 1980

1970 Tony Howard, Alan Waterhouse and Paul Seddon formed Troll.

1972 Young Explorer’s Trust set up.

1972 UK Formation of the Backpacker’s Club by Peter Lumley.

1972 Graham Tiso joins Bonington’s South West Face of Everest expedition as Equipment Officer.

1975 Dave Clark of Centresport in Leeds joined the successful Bonington South West Face Expedition.

1975 Paul and Sarah Howcroft set up Rohan in Skipton to produce alternatives to tweed breeches and woollen shirts for walkers and mountaineers.

1977 UK – British Mountain Guides accepted within the alpine guides organisation, UIAGM after extensive negotiations by John Brailsford and Peter Boardman.

1977 Nikwax first made as a commercial product by Nick Brown


Ken Ledward Equipment Testing Service established.

1971 First year in which Karrimor International Mountain Marathon gained full Karrimor sponsorship.

1972 Mountain Life replaced Mountaineering and ran for 4 years to be incorporated in Climber and Rambler.

1972 Ordnance Survey Publish first outdoor leisure map covering the Peak District.

1973 Global Positioning System GPS, originated in 1973 But only reached ‘Initial Operational Capability’by late 1993.

1975 UK Publication of the Hunt report on mountain (leadership) training.

1975 USA 1st personal computer developed.

1978 UK First issue of The Great Outdoors, the first commercially produced magazine devoted to walking.

1978 1st cellular mobile phone system introduced in Chicago.


1986 Reinhold Messner first man to climb all the 8000m peaks

1986 Roger Mear ‘Footsteps of Scott’ expedition to the South Pole

1. 1980 Rohan Bags launched and started lightweight travel revolution, in production ever since.
KSB with KLETS sole launched by Karrimor at Harrogate Trade show became commercially available in 1981. .

1980s and 1990s Massachusetts textile manufacturers Malden Mills launched Polarfleece® and Polartec® fabrics.

1981 Malden Mills approached Patagonia who launched a range of clothing – Synchilla – using Polartec fleece.

1982 2nd Generation Gore-Tex introduced.

1984 Waterproof and breathable, Helly Tech ®– a unique coating that simultaneously released perspiration moisture, while preventing external moisture penetrating the material – was introduced.

1984 Mitchells, Vango and Blacks of Greenock withdraw from Blacks and Edgington to form AMG Leisure.

1. First use of Pertex in outdoor gear by Buffalo for the Gemini sleeping bag which combined Pile and Pertex, this was launched at the 1985 Harrogate Show. Buffalo patented Pertex/Pile Bags.

Mid 1980s Introduction of trekking poles by Lekki

1986 Buffalo announced a line of pile/Pertex clothing.

1988 Footfangs, a rigid crampon version produced with the steel strip on its edge, increasing rigidity were introduced by Lowe/Camp.

1989 First all terrain mountain bike by American Charles Kelly and Gary Fisher.

1989 Páramo Directional Clothing Systems set up

1981 The Black family founded Regatta

1989 The first hand-held GPS receivers were manufactured by Magellan

1989 -1991 Tim Berners-Lee invents World Wide Web which, as it spreads dramatically widens internet usage


1990s Rise of global tourism and mountaineering. During this decade the number of ascents of Everest rose from c300 to c1300, with a number of commercial companies leading clients on the mountain.

1995 Alison Hargreaves first woman to climb Everest without Oxygen

1995 Malden Mills Fire interrupted supply of Polartec fleece

1997 Walking (trekking) poles begin to sell in UK,.

1994 Paramo becomes separate from Nikwax

1990s UK – Sustrans – the campaign for sustainable transport – had 36000 members by 1998. With Millennium Fund money it began development of a national cycle network in the UK.


2000 UK – Countryside and Rights of Way Act – a major step in improving access to open countryside in .England and Wales.

2000 UK – National Parks (Scotland) Act introduced national parks for Scotland. Plans follow for the first 2 parks –Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, to be followed by the Cairngorms.

2001 UK – The National Mountaineering Exhibition – Britain’s 1st mountaineering museum – opened at Rheged in Cumbria.