Petzl & the Technology of Exploration

Exploration has always driven technology. From ancient Egyptian mariners on down, embarking into terra incognita has required vision, craft and innovation. One of the final terrestrial frontiers—deep caves—is no exception. French caver Fernand Petzl and his friend Pierre Chevalier began innovating in the 1940s, introducing new techniques for nylon ropes, and inventing the climbing pole and the ascender a few years later.

 

 

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In the ’50s, Petzl led an international expedition to the Berger Cavern in the Vercors region of France. After three years, Petzl and team had set a new descent record of -1122 metres. Over the years he and his growing company continued to improve the ascender, then the descender in the ‘70s, eventually allowing ropes to replace ladders.

 

 

In 1970, with his sons Pierre and Paul, Petzl expanded his production to include mountaineering gear. After inventing lighting systems for caving, the team soon created the first mass-produced headlamp. It used an incandescent bulb, while the battery (compact for the time) sat on the back of the head.

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The first Petzl headlamp, 1970s.

 

 

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Petzl Tikka Classic, 2016.

 

Today, the Tikka Classic is the entry-point headlamp in the Petzl lineup. The first LED headlamp made by Petzl, it has undergone lots of upgrades and illuminated many campsites and kms of dusky trail. The lightweight, compact and value-priced Classic has two modes of brightness and a glow-in-the-dark reflector to help you find it in the dark. Light dims gradually over the burn time rather than suddenly dimming and going dark. Check the full lineup of headlamps here.

 

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