High in the Tyrolean Alps of western Austria is a group so dedicated to Merino wool they’re willing to trust their lives to it.
The Bergrettung Tirol is the mountain rescue service of the Tyrolean Mountains in Austria. Often, they are faced with some of the harshest mountain conditions in Europe. They risk their lives to save those in need – injured mountaineers, hikers and hunters.
Working in an environment with conditions as harsh as these the choice of equipment can literally be a matter of life and death. Confidence and trust in equipment – from ropes to socks – can be of utmost importance, especially in challenging terrain where there is a high-risk of severe weather such as snow blizzards. Merino wool is helping protect the rescue team members whilst they protect those in need.
The team’s full-time trainer Christian Eder stressed the importance of clothing when working in sub-zero conditions.
“My clothes are really important; I need to wear high performance outdoor clothing. I’m a really big fan of Merino wool for outdoor gear; all of us at Tirol Mountain Rescue use it,” he said. “It’s important that our clothes wick sweat away, both in summer and winter. And Merino wool is excellent at doing that.
“Also, wool doesn’t pick up much odour, and it’s lightweight. So even if you’ve been out for several days you don’t end up smelling horribly of stale sweat. That’s the really good thing about Merino wool.”
There are about 4300 people who make up the Bergrettung Tirol mountain rescue team, and Pete Veider has been part of the family for 30 years. Starting out as a young mountain rescuer, he has all his Alpine qualifications having also worked as a ski instructor and mountain guide. Since 2004 he has been the director of the Bergrettung Tirol, organising all aspects of the group – from marketing to training courses, equipment and of course clothing.
“I make sure our clothing is as high performance as possible, the mountains are a popular tourist destination so it’s crucial to do things properly and be able to respond quickly.
“At Tyrol mountain rescue we’ve been using Merino wool for about 20 years. We use a lot of Merino wool zip-up base layers and Merino wool thermal underwear. We can’t really imagine being without it anymore. I think that every one of our 4300 mountain rescuers has at least one item of Merino wool clothing. Everyone knows what it is and why it is so good.
“It’s perfect for the mountains and for when it’s on the chilly side. It’s ideal for when I’m out on a mission and have to be able to work for a long period of time. Merino wool has all the qualities that we need a material to have. Up on the mountain people rely on us; and we rely on Merino wool.”
The Woolmark Company has partnered with the Bergrettung Tirol to help spread the fact that Merino wool is indeed the high performance fibre used by professionals and those in the know.
“When it comes to clothing, the most important thing is that it adapts to, and functions in, every situation,” The Woolmark Company’s Global Category Manager for Sports and Outdoor Lars Ulvesund said. “For these rescuers, Merino wool is the only thing that works for them, whether they are climbing cliff faces, sitting on a mountain’s peak in sub-zero temperatures, or supporting the victim and keeping them dry and warm.
“For The Woolmark Company, this group represents the pinnacle of endorsements for the fibre in this sector. They recommend Merino wool apparel to other avid mountaineers and outdoorspeople, both for safety and next-to-skin comfort.
“Bergrettung Tirol director Peter Veider came with us earlier this year to the ISPO sports and outdoor trade show in Germany. He will join us again at the 2014 show to talk to buyers and the press about wool’s natural high performance benefits.
“We see them as the ultimate partner who knows just how superior the Merino fibre is. They wear it because it’s the best.”
To find out more about the benefits of Merino wool is sports and outdoor apparel click here.