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Pigeon Mountain Industries may seem like an unlikely name for a rope company - unless you have reason to know just how much rope Pigeon Mountain has consumed in its time.
PMI (the rope company) is actually named for what is perhaps the premier vertical caving area here in the United States: Pigeon Mountain in Northwest Georgia. Pigeon Mountain takes its name from the Passenger Pigeon, which was native to the area before its extinction. Pigeon Mountain is in the heart of the renowned TAG caving area of the USA, and is home to numerous caves including the two of the deepest natural pit caves in the USA.
When PMI President Steve Hudson first took up the sport of caving at the ripe old age of 18, what he had on his mind was pretty much the same as most 18 year old boys: exploration, challenge, and having fun. He learned to use the same equipment as everyone else was using in those days, applying it on rope that was borrowed from other industries - sailing rope, commodity rope, etc. Life safety rope could then be defined then as "any rope that saved your life".
Steve soon found, along with other cavers of his genre, that there were some limitations to the ropes they were using for caving. The ropes were not as consistent as perhaps the cavers and climbers might have wished, they wore very quickly, and the quality was occasionally in question. You could say that growing up with the problem put Steve in a perfect position to create an answer some 9 years later.
Before he left college, Steve had begun to dabble in ropes. By 1976 he had teamed up with three other caving families, bought a rope braider, incorporated PMI and began in earnest the application of his skills and knowledge to kernmantle ropemaking.
Life safety rope, reasoned the founders of PMI, must be strong, consistent, high quality, long wearing, and easy to handle. Above all, given the frugality of most cavers, it must be inexpensive to buy. PMI has grown in the past 25 years to become a leading life safety rope manufacturer, supplying life safety rope to cavers, climbers, mountaineers, rescuers, rappellers, and military. PMI ropes are renowned across the globe and can be found in use on the summit of Mt Everest, in the caves of China, through the dark reaches of Antarctica, inside Asian industrial plants, by municipal rescue squads, in the European Alps, and right here in our own American back yard.
PMI's commitment to providing high quality rope at reasonable prices has remained steady. As a company of rope users -climbers, cavers, and rescuers - PMI has good reason to hold the people who use their rope in high esteem. By understanding the needs of the rope user PMI has been able to help define and drive the quality and production of life safety ropes that meet the needs of those who use them.
An important priority of PMI is wrapped up in standards development - creation and implementation of standards that help to maintain the integrity of life safety ropes and keep the user of the ropes safe. PMI actively participates in the rope related standards efforts of the Cordage Institute as well as ANSI, ASTM, NFPA and UIAA, and is engaged in safety programs with several trade organizations and industry peers.
As for Steve Hudson - he is still caving, still rappelling, and still searching for ways to make the world of life safety rope a better place.