George Lamb: Alp Sport and Camp 7

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George Lamb, outdoor industry pioneer[This story follows Leroy and Alice Holubar:  Holubar.
And all about Camp 7 here.]

As the Holubars were winding down ownership of their business, another member of the group of Boulder outdoor pioneers of the ‘50s and ‘60s, designer and sewing ace George Lamb, was ramping up yet another new outdoor gear and apparel venture.

Lamb’s interest in design and manufacturing dated back to childhood when he made a pair of holsters for his new cap pistols. In the process of turning out his first product, he ruined his mother’s sewing machine but gained valuable experience.

From shooting cap pistols, Lamb progressed to dreaming about climbing, but there weren’t many climbing opportunities for a kid living in Indiana. That changed when his parents died and he went to live with an uncle in Oklahoma and attended summer school at the University of Colorado.

Eventually, he enrolled at the University in 1951. “After three or four years of rock climbing in Colorado. “ he noted in an interview 15 years ago, “I got more interested in mountaineering. There wasn’t any good gear available unless you waited months to get it from overseas, so I started building my own. That’s how the first Eiger pack came into being.”

Upon graduating from the university, he joined the Army’s Mountain Training Command (MTC), which replaced the 10th Mountain Division after the war. “1 skied, climbed, instructed.... It was terrific,’’ he told us.


Terrific, but the fun was cut short by a skiing accident that saw him reassigned first to run the craft shop at Fort Carson, Colorado, and then to the bigger MTC craft shop at Camp Hale, Colorado. At Camp Hale, Lamb used the large craft shop indus­trial sewing machine to make packs for the Holubars.

Discharged from the Army, he supervised the sewing line at  Gerry, but soon became discontent and went back to school on the Gl Bill. In his spare time, he started Alp Sport.

“Alp Sport started in 1960, and when I graduated in 1964, I faced the choice of finding a job or making Alp Sport grow. So I gave myself $75 a week and opened an Alp Sport shop,” he said.

Alp Sport’s unique products, like the Normal parka, the first down-filled ski parka with no stitches in the smooth outer shell, were immediate successes.

The Normal parka’s success got the attention of Massachusetts-based Alps Sportswear, who asked Lamb to change his company name. He did. Alpine Designs became his apparel label, and Alp Sport remained as his hardgoods label. 

After selling his company in 1969 to General Recreation, Lamb stayed on as a consultant but eventually left to form yet another company, Camp 7, in July 1971.

Camp 7 had a mete­oric  rise,  netting $4 million in sales in its first year in business. Over half of the sales were to the Japanese market, but when that market suddenly dried up,  it  left  Lamb in debt and forced him to close the company down.

Looking back at that time, Lamb noted in 1991 that he still saw a lot of people wearing Alp Sport and Camp 7 down jackets. “We produced great products designed to last a lifetime.”

 

 

This Story is part of a Series...

[This story follows Leroy and Alice Holubar:  Holubar.And all about Camp 7 here.] As the Holubars... Read Story
I've been getting comments from Camp 7 customers (still using the gear decades after purchase) and... Read Story

Comments

John Aanderes (not verified)
I was the MW resp between 71
I was the MW resp between 71/72 - 76. I remember Leroy well, a really great guy!
David (not verified)
Mom bought a Camp 7 down
Mom bought a Camp 7 down parka in 1979 for a ski trip to Tahoe. I wore it all through college, '90-94. Just pulled it out for a trip up Mt Shasta. It's as good as it ever was - it may outlive me!
Offline
Joined: 03/11/18
In 1976 I passed my
In 1976 I passed my Baccalauréat and my dad rewarded me with a Camp 7 down jacket in preparation for the summer in the Parc National des Ecrins ! The jacket is still in good condition 42 years later !
Roman G. Martin, Jr (not verified)
I have two hooded jackets
I have two hooded jackets that I purchased at A.E.Staley Mfg. Co in Decatur IL Can they be washed or should they be dry cleaned. One has a serial number of 175635, the other serial number if 177213. Don't get a chance to wear in AZ. They have an embroidered company logo on the right dside. they have 4 zippered pickets and two open pockets.
John M (not verified)
A lifetime indeed. I have an
A lifetime indeed. I have an Alpine Designs/ Alp Sport down ski jacket I bought around 1971. Still in good condition, still warm and still looks great closing in on 50 years later!
Mike Sennett (not verified)
Leave a Comment. (Please,
I bought a thinsulate vest and a hooded jacket at a close out sale in Longmont in March 1980. Best vest I ever owned. I wonder if that was where the factory was and if that was the finale for the company?
Joe S (not verified)
I bought three Camp 7 down
I bought three Camp 7 down parkas - one for Mom, one for my brother and one for me (Dad wore Filson wool coats) - from a sporting goods store in Klamath Falls, Oregon when they first came out back in the early 70s or so. Mine was stolen after the company went out of business and I could never find another one, but my brother left me his when he moved to a warmer climate and my wife ended up with Mom's after she passed away and they are just as comfortable and just as warm after countless machine washings nearly 50 years later. It's very hard, if not impossible, to find quality like that anymore, and if you do find it it's very expensive.
Judy (not verified)
Just bought 2 Camp 7 down
Just bought 2 Camp 7 down sleeping bags at the Goodwill Bin store for $1.29 pound so total cost for both probably about $7-8. Came home to research this brand and found this site. I had no idea these bags were vintage, they are like brand new. I could tell they were incredible quality which is why I bought them. Will be washing them and probably using for the next 20 years! Do a lot of winter camping at a cabin and these will be perfect for our family.
Dale Toepfer (not verified)
Leave a Comment. (Please,
I just had my first issue with a Camp 7 bag that saw its first trip in 1973, on the back of a Honda 450 with my new wife and 5400 miles. I still use it, it's been a staple all along, but the habitual overpacking finally left about 4" of seam ripped out. I'll repair it, and keep using it. It's International Orange, made a good rear bag for the bike, though a bit faded now.
Robert Kenny (not verified)
I worked at Alp Sport in 60's
I worked at Alp Sport in 60's cutting fabric for jackets and tents, and keeping the down cage working. George was great boss, and we made incredible stuff. Helped make equipment for first winter ascent of McKinley, I still use the prototype coat here in Black Forest

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Story Copyright
03/20/18