160 years of EDELRID –
Climbing history made in Germany

We have manufactured climbing ropes and mountaineering equipment in Isny im Allgäu for 160 years. This has meant 160 years of ups and downs, successes and disasters. We wanted to find out more about our history so delved into the archives, interviewed witnesses from through the years, and conducted research both within and beyond Germany. Discover all about the former cord and braid factory from 1863 and how EDELRID has developed over the many years. All of the findings will be exhibited in the city museum in Isny until July 16, 2023.


Date of foundation:
June 13, 1863

‘Schachenmayer & Cie’, braid and cord factory

Wilhelm Schachenmayer

Wilhelm Schachenmayer (1830–1874) registers the company in the Isny commercial register. There is no clear evidence as to the identity of the other shareholders of the ‘& Cie’ (company). Carl Ridder (as an engineer) and Julius Edelmann (as a businessman) were presumably also registered. The company has its beginnings by the Sauweiher.


Edelmann & Ridder purchase the company with its eight factory buildings for 20,000 guilders. Wilhelm Schachenmayer terminates his partnership and dedicates himself to his family. He dies in Kempten in 1877.


EDELRID launches its first braided fishing lines in Berlin. Together with laces and braided bookmarks, these make up the company’s core area of business.


Carl Ridder retires and passes the company down to his son Clemens Ridder.

During the First and Second World Wars, production at Edelmann & Ridder regularly comes to a standstill.

Mattäus Benk is conscripted to the army from 1914 to 1918. His wife continues to sell shoelaces under difficult conditions. The four Benk brothers are drafted during the Second World War. All of them return unscathed.

The children of the Benk family play at the Sauweiher hospital in around 1917. The tent built by their father Mattäus Benk is in front of the former Edelmann & Ridder residential and commercial building. On the right is the oldest brother, Carl.


Carl Benk takes over the company as general partner. Helene Benk retains a share as a limited partner until her death.

In the same year, Edelmann & Ridder develops the first marketable kernmantle rope for mountain sports, thereby revolutionizing safety in the mountains.

23. April 1959

The first fire (by the Sauweiher) completely destroys the production facilities.


An emergency facility is set up at the railway station a few days later. A few months on, the company moves into the newly constructed building on Achener Weg.


Carl Benk develops and patents the bi-color rope. The invention proves itself on many expeditions.

EDELRID is successfully registered as a trademark.


Edelmann & Ridder launches the first energy rope, also known as a multi-fall rope. The dynamic mountain rope as we know it today is born.


The company presents the first harness—initially only for the chest—and in parallel develops the sit harness, which paves the way for new approaches in the field of climbing in the 1970s.


Quickdraw sling: Claus Benk, the owner of EDELRID at the time, launches the first sewn quickdraw sling.


The twin strand technology developed by EDELRID is used as standard for rope production worldwide.

3. Juli 1973

The company burns down for the second time.


Claus Benk falls off a horse and is paralyzed from the neck down. His brother Axel Benk takes over the business.


The breakthrough of canyoning as an adventure sport. EDELRID consequently develops the floating rope.


EDELRID launches an indoor climbing rope that meets the demands of continuous use in climbing gyms. Germany’s first climbing gym opens in Seltmanns, not far from Isny.


The rope production developers bring out the 9.8 mm DYNALON rope—the thinnest single rope on the market at the time.


The history of the family-run business draws to an end with the company’s sale to the then largest rope manufacturer in the world The Rope Company Ltd in the UK.


EDELRID is taken over by Albrecht von Dewitz, founder of VAUDE.

Edelmann & Ridder GmbH is renamed EDELRID GmbH & Co. KG.


EDELRID presents the first folding climbing helmet: the MADILLO.


EDELRID is the first rope manufacturing company to meet the bluesign® environmental standard.


The US branch is founded in Redmond, Oregon.


EDELRID introduces the OHM belay system, revolutionizing climbing in rope teams with weight differences. The production, workshop, and laboratory facilities in Isny are expanded.


Merger with the climbing shoe brand Red Chili, which continues operation under the EDELRID umbrella.


The first part of the new administrative building at the company’s site in Isny is completed.

The second new administrative building is completed in line with the latest ecological standards.

Purchase of ABS:

EDELRID takes over the brand ABS, an avalanche backpack manufacturer. This expands the group’s portfolio into winter sports.

Digitale Veränderung: EDELRID richtet mit einem Webshop für Endkunden einen direkten Zugang zu den Produkten ein. Die Marke Red Chili wird modernisiert.

And what does the future hold?

“We want to take what we’ve built over the last 160 years and carry it forward into a sustainable future. EDELRID should be synonymous with knowledge and responsibility when climbing and offer added value to all those who move in the vertical world.”—Vitus Wuhrer, Managing Director.

Women at EDELRID

For many years, it was primarily women who kept EDELRID’s production lines running. Over 80 percent of the workforce in the stitching room, the finishing room, and the office was female. Many of these women worked part-time and with flexible hours. Managing Director Maria Benk had great understanding for women who needed to balance their work life with their family life.

For many years, climbing was a male-dominated sport. This makes it all the more astounding that over 100 years ago, Theresia Benk used to head out with the mountain lovers from Isny as the only woman—always wearing a skirt, even when in the mountains.

Theresia Maria Ridder (1844 to 1897, née Edelmann)

The connection—the private life of ‘Edelmann & Ridder’

She is Julius Edelmann’s sister and becomes Karl Ferdinand Ridder’s wife. This creates a family connection between the two business partners, who are also great friends. Sadly, she dies aged 53 during the birth of her 5th child (Theresia Ridder).


Theresia Benk (1879 to 1958, née Ridder)

The hard worker—the ‘factory wife’ of the company

Following the death of her brother Clemens, the youngest daughter in the family should take over the factory. At the time, however, only a man was allowed to do this. She therefore marries Mattäus Benk, who she has never even met and who actually wants to become a monk at the time. The couple have five children. Theresia keeps the business going through the war years with low sales figures. The ‘factory wife’ remains on the top floor of the company until well into her old age and divides the shoelaces into batches for sale.


Maria Benk (1910 to 1998, née Krauss)

The authoritative one—a born boss

The daughter of a liquor dealer is still a minor when her mother dies. The self-confident young lady (with a high school diploma and a driving license) falls in love with the company owner’s son Carl Benk. She marries the ‘bum’ against her father’s will and manages the company by his side for over 50 years and through multiple crises: the production facilities burn down in 1959 and the entire company in 1973. Her husband dies of laryngeal cancer at the age of 57 and her oldest son has a riding accident, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. Maria Benk is ‘the boss’ from her first day in the office and the company. She injects all of her energy into the company for decades and maintains order and discipline in the office with the support of her husband and her two sons Claus and Axel.


Helene Benk (1911–2009, unmarried)

The silent force—in the background

She lives by the Sauweiher all her life and experiences all the ups and downs of the company as a relative, office worker, and partner. The hard-working woman and sister of Carl Benk is very religious and finds happiness as an organist in the Catholic church.


Helga Benk (1939, née Staudacher)

The brave companion—to the end

The linguistically talented wife of Managing Director Claus Benk (1938 to 2021) works in payroll accounting and supports her husband on international trips. She relieves the strain on the father of four daughters. Her greatest achievement is after 1992 when Claus Benk falls off a horse and is left paralyzed from the neck down. She cares for him at home for 29 years until his death.


The history of the mountaineering rope

Climbing is a relatively young sport compared to wrestling, polo, or hockey.

Mountains used to only be climbed very rarely and for religious or political reasons. It was not until around 1850 that a British group developed an interest in the Alps from a sporting perspective. In 1857, the first Alpine club was founded (in London). Over ten years later, the Austrian doctor and mountaineer Emil Zsigmondy stated:

“Ropes are the most important form of protection against all objective and subjective risks in the Alps.”

Early Alpinists used hemp ropes for rappelling, belaying, and traversing. Previously, for example during the first ascent of Mont Blanc in 1786, ropes were primarily used to transport gear. The use of fixed mountaineering ropes was only mentioned for the first time 14 years later during the first ascent of the Großglockner.

Mountain guides only started belaying their customers with ropes in the late 19th century. Mountaineers used some adventurous constructions when rappelling. Wall hooks were conceived and supposedly made lead climbing safer.

The problem: hemp was brittle, rotted from the inside, became rigid when cold, and did not stretch.

Even Julius Edelmann experimented with natural fibers but didn’t come up with any usable results. The first twisted nylon ropes from America arrived in Europe in around 1940. Shortly afterwards, the cord and braid factory ‘Edelmann und Ridder’ commenced production of them. The exact year in which this occurred is unknown.

What is certain is that Carl Benk bought braiding machines from a very early stage and produced the first Perlon mountaineering ropes in the factory by the Sauweiher. His strength: talking to both athletes and engineers. In 1953, he developed the first kernmantle rope for mountaineering, a groundbreaking development that heralded a new era for safety in the field.

The principle: the sheath protects the core against cold, moisture, and friction caused by sharp edges. With the development of the dynamic multi-fall rope (1964), the amount the body is jolted when falling (impact force) was reduced to a tolerable level.

The trick: twisted, robust polyamide threads in the core absorb the fall energy. Over the following years, the company developed ever-better versions, worked on impregnations, and became involved with test seals and legal standards.

Ausbildung bei EDELRID

Unsere Azubis Chiara, Mehrdad und Lukas erzählen, was die Ausbildung bei EDELRID ausmacht. Neben spannenden und abwechslungsreichen Aufgaben ist es vor allem der besondere Teamspirit, der unsere Nachwuchstalente begeistert. Folgende Ausbildungsberufe kannst du bei EDELRID erlernen: 

  • Industriekaufmann*frau (mit Zusatzqualifikation)
  • Fachinformatiker*in Systemintegration
  • Industriemechaniker*in
  • Seiler*in

Du hast Lust auf eine Ausbildung bei EDELRID?