Outdoor: Did you hear?…

Mammut's Rudi Ehret passes away; Salewa recalls two crampons; Confluence hits big time on History Channel; Indigo Equipment beefs up capacity; Winter Feels Good forms speakers' bureau; Kneissl & Friends works on comeback; American Bouldering Series 5 kicks off; plus much more.

Mammut and the outdoor world lost a dynamic and charming man last week — Rudi Ehret, who only a few weeks ago returned to Europe to take over as the Mammut brand manager at Mammut headquarters in Seon, Switzerland. Ehret collapsed in his office the afternoon of Oct. 6 and passed away early the next day. Ehret, 42, suffered a brain hemorrhage that was irrecoverable. He is survived by his wife and two children, ages 8 and 10. Ehret had worked for several years at the Salomon Design Center in Boulder, Colo., and although his mother tongue was German, he told SNEWS when we met him at the Mammut offices he was actually more comfortable doing business in English after his years in the states. After moving to Switzerland for the job, he immediately grabbed with gusto the role, which had been empty for more than a year after Flaviano Medici took a sabbatical. Ehret’s eyes sparkled; his energy was contagious; his enthusiasm for what he could do for the brand left those around him upbeat. SNEWS could see he was going to help guide Mammut to greater heights. Ehret will be greatly missed.

Salewa has recalled two models of crampons, the DRU Walk and the DRU Kombi after discovering that the front section can break apart. Laboratory tests determined the steel had been tempered too much, making it susceptible to breaking under constant use. The production lot number 0103 is embossed on every joint bar on the lower part of the crampon between the CE logo and the Salewa logo. The crampons were available both at stores and direct from Salewa. “Despite the highest of quality control and care, such things can happen,” said Salewa in the announcement that requested all customers stop using the crampons and contact the company although breaks have only happened in less than 0.5 percent of models.

Confluence Watersports will be the focus of an upcoming History Channel TV show profiling the history and manufacturing process of kayaks. The episode is scheduled to air Nov. 15 at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The episode, which was filmed at the Confluence Watersports headquarters in Trinity, N.C., late last month, will lead viewers through the history of kayak construction to today’s technologically advanced methods. The show will also highlight the Confluence Watersports operation, including canoe assembly and composite construction.

On the athletic performance front: Topher Gaylord, general manager of The North Face in Europe, won second place in the tough Ultra-Trail-Tour-du-Mont-Blanc, a 150-kilometer race with elevation gains of 7,500 meters. “Respect,” said Germany’s consumer trade pub Outdoor magazine about his accomplishment. It took the American-in-Germany 22 hours and 12 minutes (but who’s splitting hairs?) to complete the course that navigates some of Europe’s highest passes and peaks, including Mont Blanc and 10 passes from Chamonix in France to Courmayeur in Italy, and Champex-Lac in Switzerland. Whew, we’re tired writing about it.

Indigo Equipment has responded to growth by investing in a larger warehouse, dedicated shipping/receiving staff and new inventory tracking and shipping software. The move allows Indigo’s founders to focus on core activities rather than on taping up boxes. Indigo’s new 1,500-square-foot warehouse space — which doubles Indigo’s inventory capacity — is located in Grand Junction, Colo., along Interstate 70 for easy access to trucking and rail routes. The company’s new software system offers more reliable inventory control, which means that retailers and sales reps now have access to real-time information. Indigo Equipment officially launched in the summer of 2002, with a line of backcountry ski packs and poles. The company now distributes its products in seven countries on three continents, including 70 specialty outdoor retail outlets in North America. Indigo currently offers a full line of backpacks, ski poles, avalanche shovels, telemark ski bindings and gloves.

According to Euro sources, this year’s Eurobike grew. Some 19 percent more exhibitors and more than 15 percent more attendees came to the show in Friedrichshafen from August 28-30. Total attendees included 23,500 trade visitors and 20,000 cycling enthusiasts. (As is common in Europe, trade shows are often opened for consumer visits on one or two days.) For more, click on

Winter Feels Good (WFG), a national consumer awareness initiative showcasing the fitness benefits of winter sports, has formed a speakers’ bureau. The WFG speakers’ bureau consists of U.S. Ski and Snowboard team members, medical experts, educators and professionals who have expertise in how winter sports can help America stay healthy. Members of the speakers’ bureau become ambassadors of the WFG program by incorporating the program’s messages into clinics, interviews, speeches, appearances and promotions. For more information, go to

Kneissl & Friends is attempting a comeback after selling off its Raichle boot brand to Mammut and Dynafit to Salewa in the last year and making it through the equivalent of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A group of five Austrian businessmen have taken over the brand, now Kneissl Tirol, and will leave it in Kufstein, Austria. The group includes Fritz Unterberger, Richard Labek, Anton Pletzer, Fritz Obholzer and Karl Handl, who hope to reinvigorate the brand. SNEWS sources in Europe say manufacturing is going to be closed, and the company will continue to market high-end Fischer skis under the Kneissl name. Florian Brunner remains in his position as CEO. The strategy is to produce around 15,000 pairs of high-end performance skis, we were told. According to European press, the company hopes “to reconnect with its past successes” to regain recognition in the market and find its way back to the ski race arena.

The American Bouldering Series 5 (ABS5) kicks off this month with competitions at gyms across the country. ABS5 features 140 grassroots bouldering competitions at gyms in 37 states and provinces, including a ranking system and three National Championship events that determine the 2004 U.S. Bouldering team. According to Climbing magazine, one of the event sponsors, “ABS competitions are designed to be low-key, user-friendly events that emphasize a fun and rewarding climbing experience for participants along with the chance to win gear and clothing from the sponsors.” Over $120,000 in prizes will be distributed to competitors in ABS5. In the three Nationals, competitors vie for a $5,000 purse at each event. Climbing publishes the ABS5 Program and Competitor Handbook and hosts an ABS page at

Meijer Inc., a family-owned grocery and general merchandise retailer with stores throughout Michigan and many other states, recently celebrated three years of participation in a special program offered by Grabber Warmers to benefit families in need of affordable housing. Grabber presented a check to Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, Mich., on behalf of Meijer. Grabber has been an active supporter of Habitat for Humanity for a decade. Through the “Share the Warmth” package program, Grabber retail partners purchase specially designated Hand Warmers and offer them to consumers next to other Grabber Warmers. Grabber donates a portion of the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity for every package sold, in the name of the participating retailer. For more information about this program, contact Grabber at 800-423-1233 or email

Rock River Pure Adventure Footwear has launched a new and improved website that boasts easier navigation and complete product information. In addition, website visitors will soon have the ability to search the database for a dealer nearest them and purchase Rock River footwear online at

As we reported last week in our story on Mountainsmith changes, Kelty has officially announced the company has tapped Gail Ross as its new backpack product manager. Ross joins Kelty from her post as director of development for Mountainsmith and 105 Meridian, and brings nearly 20 years of relevant experience to the position. In her new role, Ross will oversee design, production and product development for Kelty’s largest, best-known and most established line. Ross’ background includes product development, production and design work with Mountain Hardwear, Sierra Designs, The North Face, Title 9 Sports, Erickson Outdoors, 3M, Hard Corps Sports and others.