I will come again and conquer you because as a Mountain you cannot grow but as a human, I can. – Edmund Hillary

We all know Edmund Hillary. It’s not really easy to forget the names of the first people who stood atop the world’s highest mountain.

This is a great story that made its climbers worldwide heroes overnight. Looking back to the 50’s, when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay claimed their first ascent of Mt. Everest, it was an era of heavy cotton tents and rustic equipment. That clearly didn’t stop them from “knocking the bastard off,” as they’d like to call it.

history of simond

Today with advanced and high-tech mountaineering gear, making a similar ascent is, if not easy but definitely easier compared to what they did 60 years ago. It is then therefore interesting to look at two aspects. What was their driving force and what equipment were they using to make such a difficult expedition successful considering the number of failures and deaths on Mt Everest even today?

“I realized that the ridge, instead of rising ahead, now dropped sharply away. I looked upward to see a narrow ridge running up to a sharp point. A few more whacks of the ice axe and we stood on the summit.” Sir Edmund said.

We find ourself particularly interested with the Ice Axe and crampons that accompanied them on their expedition because they were from Simond, our Climbing, and Mountaineering brand. Mountaineering axes have changed very little in terms of design from 1953, but they’ve become substantially lighter.

history of simond

 The original Simond Ice Axe still remains in Auckland War Museum. Click here to see the details. 

history of simond

The Simond Ice Axe preserved in Auckland War Museum

Here’s another interesting story that we’d like to share with you.

At this revelation, the first point that may crop up in your mind is that Decathlon didn’t exist back then. True, we didn’t have Decathlon but we did have Simond.

The History of Simond goes back to the 1820’s and is closely linked to the history of Mountaineering. The Simond brothers were all blacksmiths and crystal hunters. They worked with wood and iron, in a forge on the banks of the Arve making agricultural implements and bells as well as tools for their crystal hunting. The first adventurers looking to explore the Mont Blanc massif found in the Simond brothers just the men they needed to make their tools for the mountains. By 1860 more and more visitors were coming to the valley and the brothers divided up the work at the forge, with François Simond taking on the manufacture of mountain equipment: axes, crampons, toboggans, skis etc.

At this time François had a small forge at the foot of the Bossons glacier that had an electric generator. All the ingredients were now in place: he had the expertise (for working iron and wood), the technology (the forge and electricity) and the customers (explorers).

And it was all in Chamonix, which was on its way to becoming the world capital of mountaineering. If something remains the same even today, it’s that all our Simond products are imagined, designed and manufactured in Chamonix before being distributed around the world. Products basically designed by climbers, for climbers.

history of simond

A rare picture of Edmund Hillary and François Simond

Through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, Simond grew into a brand that worked with the greatest climbers in the world who in turn contributed to what François Simond first started back in 1860.

In 2008 Simond joined the Decathlon network, expanding the latter’s product range to include high-quality technical ice axes, crampons, carabiners.

This special relationship with the other members of the Decathlon network has allowed Simond to develop other product ranges, such as ropes, harnesses, rock shoes and clothing, to serve an even greater number of climbers across the world.

history of simond

History of Simond

Edmund Hillary with his Simond Ice Axe at the age of 88. Source traditionalmountaineering.org

It is written that neither man, Edmund Hillary nor Tenzing Norgay anticipated how much, in the wake of their success, the appeal for climbing would grow.

“Both Tenzing and I thought that once we’d climbed the mountain, it was unlikely anyone would ever make another attempt.”

Sir Edmund admits today. “We couldn’t have been more wrong.”

All Mountaineers today are examples that they couldn’t be more wrong. Everest draws a very diverse group – climbers, mountaineers, explorers, dreamers, trophy hunters, madmen. Motivations can be eclectic so whatever be the cause, it’s the attempt that matters.

history of simond

“I am a lucky man. I have had a dream and it has come true, and that is not a thing that happens often to men.” – Edmund Hillary

Click here to see our range of Simond Gear and Equipment