THE HISTORY OF SIMOND
A HISTORY FULL OF CHALLENGES
The history of Simond is closely linked to the history of mountaineering.
There were several brothers in the Simond family in the early 1820s, 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…
François’s son Claudius started work in the forge in 1925 and improved on the infrastructure he inherited from his father. Used by climbers both on the first ascents of the highest mountains in the world and groundbreaking new Alpine climbs, Simond became known across the world as the leading manufacturer of mountaineering equipment. Simond has always combined the latest technologies with climbers’ requirements to meet the changing demands of the time: providing the best possible equipment for climbers on the hardest routes around. In 1948 Claudius introduced the first lightweight carabiner, which would allow climbers to broaden their already expanding horizons.
In 1960 François’s grandson Ludger improved the family recipe just at a time when mountaineering and rock climbing were taking off in a big way. Climbers’ attitudes were changing in tandem with technological developments and once again Simond evolved with them. This was the era of front points, free climbing and ascents made in ever more lightweight style. Ludger was able to respond to climbers’ needs, providing them with the gear they needed. No doubt this has allowed Simond to retain its role as a world leader in its field, especially in terms of innovation. Simond now brought out: the first ergonomic carabiner (the Cliff), the first curved pick (the Chacal), the first rigid crampons (Makalu) and the first drop handle axe (the Scud)… In 1988 Ludger built bigger and more modern premises right at the foot of Mont Blanc in order to meet the growing demand for the brand. Today Simond works with some of the greatest climbers in the world who in turn contribute to what François Simond first started back in 1860.
In 2004 Ludger Simond sold the company to Wichard, a French blacksmithing company and world leader in marine fittings. Ludger Simond has been in happy and active retirement since 2004. He remains in regular contact with Simond teams and is Simond's most exacting and strongest supporter.
After four years of collaboration, Wichard looked to refocus on its marine fittings business. 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.
INNOVATION IN THE SERVICE OF EXPLORATION
Simond products have always accompanied major exploits in the worlds of rock climbing and mountaineering.
First tubular carabiner.
First ascent of Annapurna, first 8000er to be climbed.
First axe with hammer and interchangeable picks – Magnone.
First ascent of Fitz Roy.
First ascent of Everest – 8848m (Hillary & Tensing).
First ascent of Huascaran – 6768m (Paragot, Seigneur, Jaccoux, Payot).
First entirely metal ice axe – Metallic 720.
First ascent of the N couloir of the Drus – (Jager).
First ascent of W pillar of Makalu – 8470m.
Mont Blanc – Grand Pilier d’Angle – N face – first direct (Cecchinel, Nominé).
First 100% asymmetric rigid crampon – Makalu.
Drus – central couloir on N face – first integral and first winter ascent (Cecchinel, Jager).
First axe with hammer and curved pick – Chacal.
Grande Rocheuse – N face – new direct route (Gabarrou, Marin).
First carabiner with monobloc gate – 3000.
Grandes Jorasses – first winter ascent of E face – (Marmier, Rudolf).
Kangchenjunga – solo ascent of S-W face – (Beghin).
Free ascent of the American direct on the Drus – (Renaud, Profit, Escoffier, Etienne).
First crampons with tool-free adjustment – Jorasses.
Mont-Blanc – Intégrale de Peuterey – first winter and first solo ascent, 32 hours (Profit).
N face of the Grandes Jorasses – first winter ascent in 13 hours – (Escoffié).
First ergonomically shaped Zicral carabiner – Cliff.
First sit harness with ventilated heat-molded back panel.
Everest – to summit and back in 22hrs 29mins (Batard).
Christophe Profit & Pierre Beghin reach summit of K2 via NW ridge – FFME (French Rock Climbing and Mountaineering Federation) Cristal award 1991.
First grade 7 on ice ‘La Dame du Lac’ (Renaud).
Chantal Mauduit reaches summit of K2 without bottled oxygen – Cristal FFME award 1992.
First F9a – ‘Hugh’ (Fred Rouhling).
Collection of climbs in the Pamir-Alai mountains by a French team from the CAF (French Alpine Club) – Piolet d’Or 1993.
François Marsigny & Andy Parkin on Cerro Torre's 'Col de l'Espérance' – Piolet d’Or 1994.
Fred Rouhling claims first F9b (‘Akira’).
François Marsigny & Jean–Marc Clerc link series of routes in the Dolomites – FFME Cristal award 1995.
First axe with integrated head – Naja.
Team of young climbers from FFME on Alaska’s Mt Wake – FFME Cristal award 1996.
First (repeat?) ascent of ‘No Siesta’ (Marsigny, Larios).
First carabiner with dynamic locking (patented monobloc system) – Spider.
First climbing helmet with visor – Bumper.
Jérôme Thinière and team on Pakistan's Chushubalstering – FFME Cristal award 1999.
First axe with drop handle – Scud.
François Lombart becomes World Champion at the Ice World Cup.
Valery Babanov solos Meru in India – Piolet d’Or 2001.
First ascent of ‘Crime of the Century’ on S face of Mt Dickey, Alaska (ED+, 1550m, F6c/A4, Romain Wagner, Guillaume Avrisani, Yann Bonneville, Cedric Cruaud and Paul Robach).
First curved and tapering Carving shaft – Anaconda cup.
First repeat ascent of Isis Face on McKinley (Pellissier/Guy).
Valery Babanov and partner climb S pillar of Nuptse – Piolet d’or 2003.
2nd repeat ascent of ‘Les délinquants de l’inutile’ on N face of Vignemale (ED+, 750 m, VI/5/5b/A3/M, Romain Wagner, Pierre Bogino).
2nd French repeat ascent of ‘Aurora’ on El Capitan in 7 days (700m, ED+/A4, Romain Wagner).
First belay device with integrated system for giving slack when rope under tension – Toucan.
Left-hand direct on N face of Olan with Damien Astoul. ED, F6B/6C, V, 1100m
N face direct of Meije in winter with Mathieu Maynadier and Cyril Dupeyré. TD+, V, 800m
First axe with titanium head – Metallic 820.
Repeat ascent of ‘No siesta’ on N face of the Grandes Jorasses (Seb Ratel/Stéphane Benoist and Damien Tomasi/Patrick Pessi/Basile Ferran and Romain Wagner/Pierre Labbre, 1000m, ED+, M7, 90°).
First skied descent of W face of Yanapaccha (Antoine Bletton, 5460m, 5.3, E2). Skied descent of SE face of Artesonraju (Antoine Bletton, 6015m, 5.5, E4) and S ridge of Chopicalqui (Antoine Bletton, 6354m, 5.4, E4).
Repeat ascent of ‘Gousseault-Desmaison’ (1st free ascent) on N face of Grandes Jorasses (Romain Wagner, 1100 m, ED+, F6b/M6/90°)
1st repeat ascent of Pilier de la Rééducation on N face of Ailefroide, with FFCAM Groupe Excellence. ED, V, 1100m
Carabiner with directional system – BLC.
Interface for helicopter rescue developed in partnership with the PGHM.
2nd repeat ascent of SE pillar of Mt Dickey (Seb Ratel/Frédéric Gentet/François Delas/Damien Tomasi, 1800m, ED, F6b, A3)
First ascent of ‘Move your ass and your mind will follow’ on Mt Dickey, Alaska, with FFCAM Groupe Excellence. ED, 1600m
Perestroika Crack on Russian Tower, Kyrgyzstan (Aksu valley) with Gaspard Petiot. ED,
Winter ascent of ‘Gousseault-Desmaison’ on N face of Grandes Jorasses (Seb Ratel/Sébastien Bohin/Didier Jourdain, 1200m, ED, M6)
3rd winter ascent of Rhem-Vimal route on N face of Droites (Damien Tomasi/Benjamin Guigonnet/Eric Doiseau).
Benoît Heintz finishes 6th overall in Coupe de France de Bloc (bouldering).
3rd winter ascent of ‘Manitua’ on N face of Grandes Jorasses (Seb Ratel/Cédric Périllat/Seb Bohin, 1000m, ED+, F6b, A3+)
First ascent of ‘Sorcière blanche’, Sixt Fer à Cheval (Seb Ratel/Nicolas Beauquis, 350m, 6+)
First ascent of ‘Close the door’ on Lunag (6810m), Nepal (Seb Ratel/Mathieu Détrie/Mathieu Maynadier/Max Belleville, 1200m, TD+, 90°, F5c), nominated for Piolet d'or.
First skied descent of W face of ‘Kahiltna Queen’ (Antoine Bletton, 3830m, 5.5, E4). First skied descent of Mt Foraker’s Sultanaridge (Antoine Bletton, 5240m, 4.3, E4).
First winter ascent of ‘Ecaille Epique’ on N face of Droites (Seb Ratel/Patrick Pessi/Rémy Sfilio, 1000m, ED+, M6, A2)
First traverse of the Darwin Cordillera by the GMHM, 30 days completely unaided
First onsight ascent of ‘Story about dancing dogs’ on Mt Poi, Kenya (Antoine Bletton, 600m, F7c+, ABO-)
First ascent of ‘Chauve qui peut’ on N face of Olan, with Pierre Labbre. ED+, V, F6c+/A1, 1100m.
First ascent of ‘Théorème de la Peine’ on Latok 2 (7020m), Pakistan (Seb Ratel/Mathieu Maynadier/Antoine Bletton/Pierre Labbre, 2000m, ED-, M5, 90°)
First ascent of ‘Spicy Game’ on Kamet (7763m), India (Seb Ratel/Seb Bohin/Seb Moatti/Didier Jourdain, 2000m, ED-, 90°)
First ascent of ‘Le plaisir est dans la tente’ on Mt Daogu (5466m), China (Damien Tomasi/Jérôme Para, 700m, TD+)
‘Despertaferro’ and ‘Ksur u laina’ on Paroi d’Aragon, Montrebei (Romain Wagner and Charles Noirot, 500m, ABO-, F7b/A1)
First repeat of the ‘Directissime des Potes’, N face of Meije, with Max Bonniot. ED+, V, F6b/c/A2/F7c/M5, 1000m.
First ascent of ‘Coup de barre, j'Ecrins le pire’ on Barre des Ecrins, with Pierre Labbre and Max Bonniot. ED+, VI, F6b/M6/6, 1200m
Olivier Hequin finishes 4th in French bouldering cup