Forget about starting a company with a product— Mountain Safety Research began as a crusade.
Lifelong mountaineer Larry Penberthy formed MSR with a single purpose: to improve the safety of climbing equipment. It was the 1960s, and the Seattle engineer’s independent field tests had revealed that gear was often failing at loads far lower that its advertised specs.
Fired up, Penberthy set out to change the industry.
That one-man crusade grew into a pioneering gear company known for its cutting-edge engineering. Today, many MSR inventions are ubiquitous—remote-burner camp stoves, pit zips on outerwear, cycling helmets. But more important are the historic expeditions and outdoor adventures they’ve helped unlock around the globe.
MSR began in 1969 as a newsletter committed to improving mountaineering safety. Our founder, Larry Penberthy, was an engineer, professional inventor and lifelong mountaineer who dedicated himself to making the backcountry safer.
At first Penberthy set out to meet this challenge under a committee of The Mountaineers. He spent more than eighteen months testing stove fuels, the elongation of ropes, the holding power of pitons, the strength of ice axes and a whole list of other important but generally neglected issues. As time went on, the scope of the project stretched far beyond what the organization, and Penberthy, could afford.
Climbers who subscribed to the Mountain Safety Research newsletter were asked to donate $3 to cover printing and mailing costs. The first edition offered an ice axe reinforcement kit, snow flukes, an auto belay device, climbing rope, cold weather gloves, carabiners, webbing and a snow saw. It also included detailed instructions for building igloos.