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Blast from the Past #2 – Mountain Equipment

The small town of Hyde sits on the edge of the Greater Manchester conurbation, curiously close to Derbyshire, geographically in Cheshire. Mancunian in heritage Hyde has been made both famous and infamous in recent years. We won’t dwell on it being the home of the UK’s most prolific serial killer and instead we’ll focus on it being the home of popular boxer Ricky Hatton. Oh and Mountain Equipment.

Founded in 1961 by Pete Hutchison, initially in nearby Glossop, Mountain Equipment shares similar characteristics as its most celebrated contemporaries. It began because someone wanted to make some gear and when that gear worked well, others asked for some and Hutchison became a reluctant businessman.

Having originally run a shop in Manchester called The Mountaineer, he found himself well-networked with the pioneering climbers of the day, names like Don Whillans and Doug Scott. Initially it was climbing pegs he applied his problem solving eye to, with some success. Indeed a certain Yvon Chouinard paid him a visit after hearing he may have competition here in the UK.

Mountain Equipment continued to grow and in doing so became further and further away from what Pete Hutchison started it of as. The size of the company, increased competition and tough trading conditions meant Mountain Equipment fell on tough times. Pete stepped away, returning to the made-to-order vision of his youth, while Mountain Equipment continued to make winning outerwear. While it never chased lifestyle customers, like many brands with heritage and function at their core, it found an appreciative audience away from the elevated arena of mountains and hills.

Hutchison’s legacy comes in the form of both Mountain Equipment and his own PHD brand. Though he sadly passed away in 2018, his impact on the British climbing scene and his progressive, problem solving approach continues to resonate today.

Check out these ads anyway, they’re from a time before the internet made things easy.

I had pizza for tea.

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