Movember Mustache Study

For centuries scientists have been trying to determine if there was a correlation between great explorers and great mustaches. Recently, the American Alpine Club Library was able to assist researchers from the Institute of Modern Mustaches (IMM) as they set out to try to establish if such correlation exists and discover how mustaches may enhance exploratory potential in humans. The library was able to assist in this research by providing access to our extensive historical resources of journals, books, diaries, photographs and lantern slides. Earlier this month the IMM shared some preliminary findings with us and in honor of “Movember” we would like to share those findings and some of the photographs and lantern slides that were used for this research.

This photograph from 1925 is an example of the variety of mustaches that exist in nature.

This photograph from 1925 is an example of the variety of mustaches that exist in nature.

Mustaches have adorned the faces of terrestrial and nautical explorers for centuries. Many sailors have stated that a good mustache can enhance dead reckoning abilities; while others when sporting a full mustache felt so confident that they wouldn't even bother to bring their sextant along for the voyage.

Mustaches have adorned the faces of terrestrial and nautical explorers for centuries. Many sailors have stated that a good mustache can enhance dead reckoning abilities; while others when sporting a full mustache felt so confident that they wouldn't even bother to bring their sextant along for the voyage.

While examining our collection, Dr. Schnurrbart, head researcher at the IMM, was quick to realize that many mustachioed mountaineers in our photos were accompanied by an ice axe and set out to test a theory that the two items, mustaches and ice axes, enhanced mountaineering performance. "After a series of tests, we began to notice that subjects with a mustache and using a piolet outperformed their counterparts by more than the sum advantage of only a mustache or a piolet. There appears to be some currently unexplainable phenomenon in which they work in tandem to increase mental performance and decrease physical fatigue," noted Dr. Schnurrbart.

Early analysis of the data gathered seems to support the idea that mustaches improve outdoor effectiveness. "What we have seen thus far is that the mustachioed explorer has consistently out performed his/her non-mustachioed counterpart or at the very least performed better than their pre-expedition preparations would have led us to believe they were capable of," said Dr. Schnurrbart.

The above chart is a preliminary dataset from the Institute of Modern Mustaches that charts the amount of significant exploratory achievements accomplished over the past two centuries. This includes but not limited to polar, nautical and alpine achievements.

The above chart is a preliminary dataset from the Institute of Modern Mustaches that charts the amount of significant exploratory achievements accomplished over the past two centuries. This includes but not limited to polar, nautical and alpine achievements.

Surveys and interviews conducted by the IMM revealed that climbers and alpinists also felt more comfortable when being belayed by a mustachioed belayer. One interviewee commented, "When my belayer has a mustache I feel like I can really push my limits, you know? I'm not thinking about what happens if I come off the wall because I know my belayer has me."

Dr. Schnurrbart is excited about their early findings but was quick to add, "We are still very early in our research. Though the results seem to support our hypothesis that mustaches have a positive effect on performance in the outdoors there are still many variables to test. Tweed for example was very prevalent when many of humankind's greatest exploratory achievements took place. So that's something we must look into."

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***Disclaimer: the above study is fictional and was created as a backdrop to share some of our photos, lantern slides, and nitrate film negatives with you. To the AAC Library's knowledge there is no correlation between having a mustache and outdoor performance. Do not trust someone to be a good belayer just because they have a mustache.