Sebastian Ring
Author:
Sebastian Ring

Major challenge at minus 40 degrees Celsius

Mammut Eiger Extreme: crucial athlete test at Lake Baikal

Since 1995, Eiger Extreme has been the premium clothing line of the Swiss outdoor manufacturer Mammut. It is designed for high-alpine expeditions and missions in the most challenging conditions. Climbing star Dani Arnold was involved in the development of the latest generation of this mountaineering collection and put it through its paces at Lake Baikal in winter.

Dani Arnold: Climbing above the deepest lake on the planet

It is the depths of winter in Siberia, with severe frost and strong winds at the deepest lake in the world. Dani Arnold travels from island to island in a hovercraft across the frozen Lake Baikal. The ice cracks and pops, but holds. And on Olkohn Island, Arnold finds what he has been looking for: uncharted ice formations to climb. In the course of his expedition, the Swiss pro climber opens ten new routes.

In these hostile conditions, Dani Arnold relies on the latest generation of the Eiger Extreme collection. This high-end clothing line by Swiss mountain sports specialist Mammut gives him full freedom of movement to ice climb to the best of his ability, it is warm and durable enough to withstand the tough conditions on the ice.

“The idea behind the collection is to offer ambitious mountaineers the best products for their adventures,” explains Alfred Stoppacher, Head of Mountain Apparel at Mammut. “We develop and test these products with our athletes and the mountain guides of the Mammut Alpine School. In this way, we ensure that the gear passes the toughest alpine requirements in terms of weather protection, durability, and functionality, making the clothes an excellent choice not only for professionals, but also for aspiring amateur mountaineers.”

The benchmark in mountaineering for 25 years

The Eiger Extreme collection was introduced in 1995. Dani Arnold as well as Mammut pro athletes Caro North, Stefan Siegrist, Nicolas Hojac, and Marek Holeček were involved in the extensive development of the latest, fifth-generation collection. No detail is left to chance in the collection, which is identifiable by its characteristic orange-blue color scheme. The outcome of this design process are products that set the very highest standards. The collection includes the “Eigerjoch Pro In Hooded” insulation jacket, the “Nordwand Pro HS Hooded” hardshell jacket, the “Nordwand Pro HS” hardshell pants, the “Nordwand Knit Hight GTX®” mountain boots and the “Nordwand MIPS” climbing helmet.

“For 25 years, the goal of the Eiger collection was to develop the best products for mountaineers so that they can fully concentrate on the experience itself when climbing north faces, walking over firn ridges or clinging to their ice tools,” explains Alfred Stoppacher. His team only worked with highly functional and durable materials to create this collection: “We try to design the products in a way that they provide the best possible support for athletes and the way they move, for as long as possible,” he says.   

Adventure in Siberia: Well secured, Dani Arnold feels his way across the frozen Lake Baikal.

Diligence instead of fast pace

What makes Eiger Extreme so special is its long product cycle: Mammut launches a new generation of the collection every five years, an eternity in the fast-moving apparel business. But there’s a good reason for that: “The products in the Eiger Extreme collection have been among the best the market has to offer in this segment for decades,” says Stoppacher. “Our special focus is on the superior durability of the products.” Thousands of hours of development and product testing are behind the collection. Some of the product concepts have been used since 1995 and have been gradually perfected over the years.

This fifth generation is therefore more developed than most brand new collections, “and we were able to decisively improve every product in the collection,” states Alfred Stoppacher. The developers talked intensively with the athletes to find out whether the previous products had any particular “pinch points”. They also had fourth-generation Eiger products, which the mountain guides of the Mammut Alpine School had used daily for years, brought to the office and they meticulously examined these products to find out where the materials were stressed during frequent use. “This allowed us to gain some additional experience and implement improvements in the new Eiger generation,” says Stoppacher.

Stoppacher is proud of the fact that the complete collection has made a progressive step forward. “We have succeeded especially well in integrating the new Gore-Tex Pro technology with its three material classes,” he states. Stoppacher also highlights the visual appearance of the line: “The collection bears a clear signature through its concise color scheme as well as the many small details which revive the visual identity of Eiger Extreme.”

In February 2020, Mammut Pro Team athlete Dani Arnold set off on a challenging expedition to Lake Baikal - a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and, at 1642 meters, the deepest, at more than 25 million years the oldest, and with a volume of more than 23,000 km³ the freshwater lake with the most water on earth. The Siberian winter provided fascinating conditions for this extraordinary trip. The pictures speak for themselves ...

The Mammut Pro athletes provided valuable input

Dani Arnold and the other athletes were involved in the creation of the line from the very start. At the beginning of the redesign, they met with the development team in the mountains and signposted the direction in which the new collection should go. And as the process continued they gave steady feedback on the tested prototypes. “Dani shows no mercy on our products and really puts them through their paces,” Stoppacher laughs. Specifically, he remembers the development of the gaiters for the Eiger pants: “With the previous products, he was a little dissatisfied regarding fit, function and wear. Together we were able to solve the problems. The new gaiters are much better in terms of function and durability.”

The collection received its ultimate baptism of fire during Dani Arnold’s challenging expedition to Lake Baikal. At temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius, he conquered ten new ice climbing routes on Olkohn Island, right above the frozen waters. An outstanding film documents the expedition, which the Eiger Extreme collection also passed with flying colors.

What happens now that the fifth generation has been successfully launched? “The majority of the collection should be able to survive in the market for several years without any problems,” Alfred Stoppacher states. “But as much as Eiger Extreme stands for something permanent, we still have to remain agile with this collection because climbers and mountaineering are constantly evolving.” Now, it’s time to take a breather: A date for the sixth generation has not yet been set.

Sebastian Ring
Author:
Sebastian Ring
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