Product Safety

On icy crags and cliffs

You can’t go on an expedition without their equipment: climbers use crampons, carabiners, and ice axes from Grivel, a company with a long tradition. The Italian outfitters from the Aosta Valley have been our customers for 25 years. A journey into the history of mountaineering, at the foot of Mont Blanc. 

Text Verena Hoefert Photo Ph Lorenzo Belfrond

Leaving the small village of Courmayeur in the Italian Alps and rounding the first bend, it suddenly opens up: the view of the snow-capped summit of Mont Blanc. Simply breathtaking. “This is the first place you can see it. That’s why Grivel’s company building was built precisely here 200 years ago,” says Gioachino Gobbi. He’s the owner of the company that is world-renowned for its products such as ice axes, helmets, carabiner hooks, expedition backpacks, and crampons. The founders of the company were blacksmiths. Over open fires, they forged tools such as hooks made of iron, which the first mountaineers commissioned at the end of the 19th century. After all, it is here, in this tranquil little village, that alpine tourism has its origins. “Everything started here. And we were here from the very beginning,” says Gobbi in his softly Italian-inflected English. Today, more than two centuries later, Grivel exports 90 percent of its products to more than 35 countries around the world, including even the U.S. and China.

The lifesaver in your pack

Whether touring the high mountains or on the side of a glacier: “Our products have something I call logical intelligence. They have the minimum functional weight. The climber or mountaineer can use them intuitively, and they always work. No instruction manual needed!” explains Gioachino. Because when the storm is raging against the rock face, they have to do their duty, come what may. “When darkness falls, when cold or exhaustion comes, it is about life or death for the person on the mountain. There is no room for faulty equipment as you are approaching the peak, and the safety of the mountaineer is paramount to us,” he continues. How could Grivel survive on the market for so long? Volker Kron, who has been responsible for the company in Aosta Valley for 25 years, knows what the secret to its success is. “With experience and new ideas, Grivel has made its products the world’s best again and again. There are hardly any expeditions that set forth without their products. Quality and innovation from the mountains, for the mountains. We are a good fit as a partner,” says the expert from TÜV SÜD Product Service. At the test laboratory in Garching near Munich, ice screws, ice axes, and crampons are tested for their resilience. “It’s not enough to manufacture premium products. You have to stand out from the others,” explains Gobbi. That’s why Grivel turned to TÜV SÜD in the 1990s. “We’re a trustworthy and reputable partner for mountaineering, and we want to show that with the GS symbol,” says Gobbi.