Bogong Staff Training Night:
Renowned Wild Country Product Designer, 
Steve Foster, introduces Bogong staffers to 
some remarkable new Friends.
Tuesday April 12th 2011, Melbourne, Australia.


Update: Helium Friends now available at Bogong and on our webstore. Click here to see the range.

Those in the climbing community both here and abroad have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Wild Country's new friends. We're not talking any ordinary friend here. We're talking about the rebirth of the cam, a process Wild Country claim is thirty-three years in the making. The resultant WC Helium Friend has already garnered a swag of solid reviews and the admiration of devoted followers throughout the climbing community.

  Wild Country Helium Friend 

And who better to espouse the virtues of this design innovation to our excited Bogong staffers than one of Wild Country's own, Steve Foster, Product Designer, Marketing Director and living legend. 

In town to promote the new product and barely off the plane from the UK, we could hardly believe Steve Foster was in our midst, and yet here he was, talking the design evolution of the famous Friend and outlining the remarkable history of this remarkable product. So how did this all begin?...

"Wild Country came about as the brainchild of a UK based climber Mark Vallance and was set up to manufacture what was to become the most famous climbing tool of all time, the Friend. Friends were the brainchild of US climber Ray Jardine who Mark had met in the USA a few years earlier. Then when Ray couldn’t find a partner in the US to develop and produce his revolutionary new unit Mark and he joined forces and Wild Country was born. Founded in 1977, at a tiny factory in a village in the heart of the UK's Peak district, Wild Country went from strength to strength on the back of this revolutionary tool and became a name synonymous with hard climbing everywhere." source:  2011

Not surprisingly there are a number of technical processes that go into the evolution of such a revolutionary device. Steve talked the Bogong staffers through all the complexities of the manufacturing process, explaining the hot-forged and extrusion processes, through to the 3 Sigma batch testing regime.

And the end result for the Friend? A leaner, more versatile unit that has still retained all the best features of the original.

"Significantly, Helium Friends have got a more concise and ordered range - trimming the number of units to nine - while at the same time each Friend’s individual range has increased and importantly so has the overlap between units, both adjacent and alternate. Simply put, this means there’s a better chance the unit either side of the one you need, but don’t have, will fit the placement you need it to - more placements with less units! The slick external overhaul also brings big benefits with a new stem/thumb loop making smoother triggering and giving a longer reach per unit, meaning deep placements are easier to place and remove and the new sling should mean less need to extend. However, not scrapping all that went before has also left lots of well tested features, instilling this new unit with an instant confidence and familiarity in the hand and creating a unit with an unrivalled combination of utility, durability and ergonomics." source:  2011

Steve went on to further explained Wild Country's manufacturing philosophy and quality control system across a range of other product including helmets and harnesses. To round off the night he then answered a range of questions put to him by our staff, a number of climbers amongst them. Thus concluded another staff training night. And as one of our staffers was heard to mention: although not a climber herself, it was great to have been given such a detailed insight into one of the many quality products we sell.

Bogong regularly conducts staff training nights, in conjunction with our suppliers.The intention of these nights is to ensure that staff have access to the latest technical information and product innovation direct from our suppliers. Says Bogong owner, Neil Blundy, "It's important to us that our staff are able to provide quality information to our customers about the full range of product we sell. It's something we believe sets us apart and it's just another way we walk our talk.".


The new Wild Country Helium Friends are now available! Click here.