was only 17 years old in the 1930s when he discovered his passion for caving. Along with his friend, Pierre Chevalier, Fernand Petzl became recognised as a world leading caving specialist. Thanks to their creativity and imagination, they developed the original vertical progression techniques and perfected new equipment (climbing poles, nylon ropes). They were behind many exploits and major discoveries, like the Gouffre Berger in the Vercors Massif. At the same time, they were actively involved in creating associations and institutions that oversee caving and rescue. Fernand Petzl, followed his grandfather into engineering but his one true passion was caving. In 1933, with Pierre Chevalier, he explored 17 kilometres of the Dent de Crolles network. From 1952, he headed the Gouffre Berger expedition, which in 1956 reached a depth of one thousand metres, a world record at the time. In 1933, Fernand began using his engineering skills to producing climbing tools. Petzl’s expertise stems partly from caving - the activity that defines the company’s history. The constraints encountered underground are significant; mud, sand, humidity, and absence of light. Other constraints are activity-related. While exploring a cave, it is not unusual to use fixed ropes that were first installed many years before.
In 1968 the first "Petzl" products were sold. Rope clamps and descenders allowed ropes to permanently replace ladders. This new type of "single rope" technique revolutionised caving. Throughout the last 30 years, Petzl has gained a level of experience that is unanimously recognised in the field of verticality, be it underground, in the mountains or in the construction industry.