Winter’s are grey and the landscape dreary, but the industrial areas of northern Italy still have spirit and a craft business history reaching back to the 14th century. The food is pretty good too. I covered my Montebelluna and Asolo boot manufacturing tourism in a few WildSnow posts last winter, but I never got around to giving you the goods from the famous Museo Dello Scarpone (Museum of the Boot). So here goes the story in pictures.During the First World War, Montebelluna craft shops supplied shoes to the troops, which led to the making of quality leather climbing boots beginning in the 1920s. Ski boot manufacturing increased in the 1950s, with Montebelluna ski shoes in use by Olympic champions such as Toni Sailer. Ski boot production exploded in the 1960s, from 180,000 pairs in 1963 to 700,000 pairs in 1969. During that period, Nordica took notice of American innovator Bob Lang’s plastic boots (some or all of which were, I believe, eventually made in the Montebelluna region), and subsequently figured out methods of mass producing composite ski boots. Since then, nearly all the ski boots sold worldwide have been made in this region of Italy, including nearly all backcountry skiing boots (with more and more being made in China over recent years).
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.