In 1935, Vitale Bramani led an expedition into the Italian Alps. The climbers used heavy, hobnailed boots for the approach, but then switched to thin-soled rock climbing boots for the assault. These climbing boots proved fatal when the expedition was hit by thick fog and a blizzard. Six climbers died from frostbite and exposure.
It was this tragic experience that drove Bramani to create an all-purpose climbing sole; lightweight, long-wearing and flexible. He developed rubber compounds with excellent traction and high abrasion resistance. He designed a new lug sole and called it Vibram, after his own name.