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About Us

On April 1, 1973. Gary Neptune first opened the doors to his little shop in the university town of Boulder, Colorado. In the beginning, the shop primarily repaired climbing and ski boots, and also installed edges on wooden skis and re-shafted ice axes. Today, he no longer repairs footwear, but he still does what he loves the most – ski and climb.

Gary surrounded himself with a staff of fellow adventurers fueled by the same passions and set about creating a shop run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. Gary filled his shop with artifacts of his related passion for climbing and skiing history. The Neptune Mountaineering museum began to take shape in the late 1970′s and, through the efforts of Gary and numerous friends, has become one of the most extensive collections of its kind in the country.

In January, 2013, Gary decided it was time to ski and climb a bit more, and sold Neptune Mountaineering to Backwoods Retail, Inc, an Austin, Texas based, family owned regional chain of outdoor stores. Ironically, the two companies were both founded in 1973 and share much of the same industry history. "Preserving the strengths of Neptune and respecting its' storied history is critical to its success moving forward. Where we can add value, we will." said Jen Mull, CEO of the combined entity.

The staff at Neptune continue to seek out perfect rock, fresh snow and dizzying heights all around the world. Gary’s easy going and informal approach attracted many fellow enthusiasts over the years, and that culture continues. Hands-on experience is important and playtime a necessity. And sharing that passion for "all things outdoor" with new adventurers or fellow enthusiasts is what the staff LOVES doing!

As we play together, we kind of become like family, maybe like the Addams family, but ‘family is family’. This section is dedicated to the hardworking Über humans who in fact are the guts, muscle and sinew of Neptune Mountaineering. ALSO: We salute the Neptune Alumni. Oh yeah, “Hi Mom!

HISTORY
The museum began to take shape in the late 1970's and through the efforts of Gary and his friends has become the most extensive collection of its kind in the country.

The museum houses various climbing and skiing equipment, mainly from the most significant period of mountain and polar exploration - the mid 1800's to the last half of the 20th century. There is also a large collection of photographs from this important period.

Groups, most often students, visit and are welcome in the museum. Gary usually meets with these groups so it's best to call ahead and schedule a tour.

LECTURES
In addition to the museum, Neptune Mountaineering offers lectures by world famous mountaineers, rock climbers and skiers at the least possible cost to the public. We hosted the first public lecture in the United States by Reinhold Messner. Other distinguished lecturers we have hosted include Peter Habeler, Sir Chris Bonington, Kurt Diemberger, Catherine Destivelle, Dick Durrance, Lynn Hill, Peter Croft, Mike Banks, Joe Simpson, George Band, Warren Harding and Royal Robbins - to name just a few! Many of our guest lecturers have also donated items to our museum.

Just a few of the people and firms who have helped make the museum possible include: Peter Aschenbrenner • Paul Petzoldt • Elizabeth Knowlton • Jennifer Jordan • Dave Morison • Sir Edmund Hillary • Sibylle Hechtel • Anatoli Boukreev • Jeff Rhoads • Stubai • Serge Rivory • Vermont Tubbs • Peter Habeler • Friedl Wallner • Tom Hornbein • Paul Petzl • John Sherman • Sir Chris Bonington • Pat Ament • Clyde Soles • Gino Pisoni • Jack Fralick • Dick Bass • Frank Wells • Kurt Diemberger • Anderl Heckmair • Jim Glendenning • Mike O’Brian • Conrad Anker • Rolando Garibotti • Yvon Chouinard • Joe Simpson • Robert Schauer • Bob Ader • Charlet-Moser • Black Diamond • Jack Durrance • Dick Durrance • Rune Gjeldnes • Dick Pownall • Jeff Lowe • Åsnes Ski Norway • Simond • Pete Schoening • Gioachino Gobbi • Bergans Norway/USA • Tom Frost

EVEREST AND THE HIGH PEAKS
Our Everest collection includes original boots and crampons from the first ascent of Mount Everest - not Hillary's but signed by Hillary. Also included is Peter Habeler's down suit, worn on his historic ascent of Everest with Reinhold Messner in 1978 - the first without bottled oxygen.

Boots, crampons, an ice axe and clothing from Gary Neptune's ascent of Everest in 1983 and his ascents of Makalu (1987), Ama Dablam (1981) and Gasherbrum II (1997) may also be seen.

Gary was fortunate to have known three members of the 1932 Nanga Parbat Expedition. After pioneering the route in 1932 "Himalaya Peter" Aschenbrenner very nearly climbed it in 1934 with Erwin Schneider. Not many years ago Peter signed one of his earliest ice axes for Gary. His design with small modifications was produced for over thirty years.

EARLY CLIMBING: THE ALPS
Over 200 different antique alpenstocks, ice axes and crampons are included in our Alps collection, some of which are over 100 years old. For over 40 years Gary has been traveling the world - climbing, skiing and collecting historic equipment.

Anderl Heckmair (who led the first ascent of the North Face of the Eiger in 1938) donated pitons and a carabiner from that famous climb.

SKIING
Our museum specializes in ski equipment primarily used for touring, both Alpine and Nordic. There is an array of "Alpine" touring bindings that spans over 100 years of history and a collection of Rottefella bindings from about 1930 with 6-pins to the present.

Vintage ski clothing, ski boots, poles, bindings, early adhesive (with wax) seal skins and a waxing torch. In 1907 Abel Rossignol brought back a pair of skis from Norway and subsequently began producing skis at his spindle factory in Voiron, France (Val d’Isère). The pair of skis in the right of this case were among the first produced.

POLAR EXPLORATION
Gary's interest in the polar regions began with his trip as a geologist to Antarctica in 1967 - 1968. While there, he had the opportunity to do the first ascent of Mt. Andrus in the Ames Range of Marie Byrd Land.

The collection includes memorabilia from his trip to Antarctica, Tubbs skis and snowshoes from the early 1900's, seal skins, a hakapik (for killing seals), and some Sami skis.