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When Kaspar Tanner opened a small rope factory in Dintikon, a small village near Lake Hallwil in Switzerland, in 1862 after completing his apprenticeship, he probably could not have imagined what this business would one day become. A few decades later, the company was given a name: Mammut. What started out as a small rope factory is now, in 2018, a globally active outdoor group with a turnover of almost 254 million Swiss francs (about 227 million euros). The company still makes ropes. What was at the beginning of the company's history more than 150 years ago is still one of its core competencies today.
The Mammut Logo
In 1943, the company logo, that we are all familiar with today was borne: Mammut. That prehistoric creature that symbolises strength and robustness was to also become symbolic of the brand. The 1950s saw Mammut involved in revolutionising mountain and climbing ropes. 1952, for example, saw the first nylon yarn rope to hit the market, a material that was much more resistant to tearing and safer than its predecessors. A good ten years later, in 1964, the Mammut Dynamic was the first single climbing rope ever to be certified by the Union Internationale des Associations d’Alpinisme (UIAA). Since then a lot has happened in the world of ropes, they have become more robust and have been adapted for specific applications. Something has still remained the same: Mammut alpine and climbing ropes are still among the best that can be found on the market today and Mammut ropes can still be found being produced in Switzerland. Meanwhile, The rope works moved to Seon in 1992, where the company headquarters can also be located.
From rope maker to outdoor outfitter
The term “rope-making” for Mammut, no longer applies today, for two reasons: On the one hand, rope production today is a high-tech product, produced with complex procedures, hardly comparable to how it was done back in 1862. On the other hand, the Mammut brand has developed way beyond the title of rope maker, has continuously expanded its assortment since the 1970s, into rain jackets, rain pants, softshell pants, fleece jackets, backpacks and carabiners and much more. The turn of the millennium saw the acquisition of Ajungilak and Raichle, extending Mammut’s know-how into the world of sleeping bags, insulation, down jackets and shoes. Today, the label’s alpine range includes a vast spectrum of ropes, alpine apparel, right up to mountaineering hardware of all varieties.
“… 152 years of mountaineering …”
In recent years, Mammut has drawn attention by two of its prime actions. The first was through a spectacular promotion – the light installation displayed for the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn. At this point in time, Mammut was reflecting on its own history. The company was celebrating its founding at the same time: “We are now into our 152nd year of supplying and making mountaineering gear” Rolf Schmid, CEO of Mammut Sports Group mentions. “Against the backdrop of Matterhorn is where we want to pay homage to this mountain and the alpine actions that have surrounded it.”
Even before the years of spectacular attention-seeking promotions such as the “Biggest Peak Project in History”- 150 teams climbing 150 peaks within 15 months, even before all this, there have still been many impressive images and stories that emphasise what Mammut, the brand stands for today: The highest quality and reliability in all outdoor alpine domains for mountaineering, ski touring or climbing.
Responsibility for outdoors
The second development is not so upfront. For approximately ten years, the company has been increasingly focusing on sustainability. The aim is, says Rolf Schmid, a “sustainable, value-oriented growth, not short-term profit”. The corporate policy of recent years underlines that: Since 2008, rope production is carried out with carbon-neutral material and clothing is quality controlled according to the criteria of the Fair Wear Foundation. Since 2011, the range has been converted gradually to the bluesign® standard – strict criteria for environmentally friendly production. There are also high standards for down (no live-plucking or force-fed), the collection and recycling of disused outdoor equipment, the increased use of recycled materials and the substitution of polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
What does the Mammut brand stand for?
So what do I get when I buy Mammut equipment today? A high-tech product, which has been designed for outdoor use with years of experience. The range extends from a waterproof jacket that can be worn as urban protection through to a classic ski jacket up to the Eiger Extreme Series for extreme conditions. Emergency headlamps, hiking boots to backpacks for all demands. Softshell jackets, such as the Ultimate Hoody are as popular today as they were over 10 years ago, just as Mammut’s stylish t-shirts, caps and backpacks, not to mention their ropes are.
For all products, one priority stands at the forefront: “Safety. Central to everything we do, it has an impact on our quality standards and the demands for that quality. There is no compromise on rope quality and that has set the bar high for all other product forms.” declares Mammut CEO Rolf Schmid: “Let’s suppose that my jacket isn’t waterproof and I begin to freeze. This could potentially rob me of my strength, the same strength that I need to make a safe descent, increasing the risk of accident occurrence.” Mammut’s approach is not only to sell a product but to also experience it as well. The brand’s own mountain school – Mammut Alpine School shows how to put purchased equipment into practice.
In the coming years, the range will expand to the increasingly popular areas of freeride and trail running. After freeriding, remains alpine – this segment is still as important to Mammut today as it was when it started out.