Himalaya Fall 2019: Mountain Hardwear is Getting Serious About Mountaineering Again

Mountain Hardwear has long been a brand that was respected, and even revered, by mountaineers, explorers, and dedicated outdoor enthusiasts alike. After all, the company is famous for making some of the most burly, dependable, and efficient outdoor gear on the market. But in recent years the company has faced some challenges, with some critics saying that it has strayed away from its core-market and lost sight on what it takes to innovate. To rectify that, the Mountain Hardwear leadership has come up with a novel way to try to get back on track – send its president to Everest for a fall climb.

As we already know, there are teams currently in the Himalaya who are making their way towards various Base Camps across Nepal and Tibet. One of the most high profile of those teams is Madison Mountaineering, which is leading the only commercial expedition to Everest this fall. Amongst the climbers in that 10-person group is none other than Joe Vernachio, who has been serving as Mountain Hardwear’s President since April of 2017. When he took over the company, Joe’s expressed mission was to take the company back to its roots and tap into the market that it was always intended for – mountain athletes and climbers who are pushing the limits of what we believe is possible in high alpine spaces.

To that end, the company has launched a website to allow us to follow along with the expedition, which has just arrived in BC over the weekend and is now getting settled in place. On that website you’ll not only find a profile of Vernachio himself, but Garrett Madison – the owner of Madison Mountaineering – who is leading the group, as well as climber Tim Emmett, who is a long-time sponsored athlete fo Mountain Hardwear. You’ll also find several other employees of the company who have made the trek to Everest Base Camp as part of the operation as well. The webpage includes some photos from the journey so far, as well as a video explaining why MH has committed itself to making this journey.

While it is not expressly stated in Mountain Hardwear’s promotional info, it seems likely that the team is testing some new gear and equipment while in the Khumbu Valley and on Everest itself. But more importantly, if you read through the website and watch the video above, it seems the employees, starting with Vernachio himself, see this as such a necessary endeavor that the entire fate of the company hinges on what they accomplish in the Himalaya during the fall of 2019.

There are obviously expeditions and climbers who are aiming to do big things in the Himalaya this fall. Nims Purja is looking to close out his Project Possible initiative, Sergi Mingote is going for a summit of Dhaulagiri without oxygen, Carlos Soria is hoping to finally climb that mountain after his tenth try, and Andrzej Bargiel will ski down Everest. Compared to those climbs, what the team at MH is doing on Everest doesn’t seem all that ground breaking. But you have to respect and admire their dedication to getting back to making great gear and delivering what their customers want out of the products they use in the outdoors. I know I’m cheering for them, not just on Everest but in business too, and I can’t wait to see what they do next, both on and off the mountain.

Right now, according to dispatches from the expedition, the trekkers have completed their journey to EBC and are now headed back down the Khumbu Valley. Meanwhile, the climbers who remain in Base Camp were suppose to head up to the Khumbu Icefall to have a look around, but heavy snow has kept them in place. They’ll put of their inspection until tomorrow and decide their strategy and schedule after that. An autumn Everest expedition is a fairly rare thing, so this should be a real treat to follow.

Good luck to the Mountain Hardwear team and everyone on the Madison Mountaineering squad.

Kraig Becker