Assistance Needed Identifying Old Chouinard-Frost Piolet

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RK

climber
Santa Cruz, CA.
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 10, 2010 - 11:41am PT
I was cleaning my attic and found a variety of old gear. In particular I pulled out my old Chouinard-Frost piolet which was still in good condition after 30+ years of retirement. I photographed it and was initially thinking of putting it and the other items up for sale, but I am having second thoughts and may just keep it.

Regardless (and to the point) can someone help identify the wood in the shaft? (See photos) There were various materials used for the shaft over the years and I am not good at identifying wood.

Any assistance is appreciated.

Thanks.

Credit: RK
Credit: RK
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jun 10, 2010 - 11:56am PT
Hickory, doesn't look like bamboo although it could be, I'm no expert either.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 10, 2010 - 12:27pm PT
Looks like bamboo to me.

The pick has two sets of teeth. My recollection is that it's more common to see different wood shafts on the older C-F's that only had the one set of teeth by the end of the pick.

Darn clean lookin' tool.

Keep that thing!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jun 10, 2010 - 01:03pm PT
I think I'm going with "Rexilon shaft." Here's photos of a "slightly newer-Vintage 1978" Chouinard axe from the "double-notch" series: that I know is bamboo shaft.

Credit: Fritz

Credit: Fritz


The 1975-76 Chouinard cataog mentions the Piolet is available in both bamboo and Rexilon-(18-laminates of wood). The Rexilon shafts were stronger than bamboo, but slightly heavier. Bamboo axe was $60.00 and Rexilon was $55.00.



Here is a link to 2009 ST thread on the subject. http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=762638
Edge

Trad climber
New Durham, NH
Jun 10, 2010 - 01:13pm PT
That definitely looks laminated to me. There would almost certainly be some variation in the width of the annular rings if it were natural wood.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 10, 2010 - 01:34pm PT
The 1975-76 Chouinard cataog mentions the Piolet is available in both bamboo and Rexilon-(18-laminates of wood). The Rexilon shafts were stronger than bamboo, but slightly heavier. Bamboo axe was $60.00 and Rexilon was $55.00.

I thought by 75/76, the axes were just marked "Chouinard" and had dropped "Frost" since he was no longer with the them?

Might count more than 18 laminates in that tool?

I have one that is very similar looking but I don't think it has the double teeth. Have to check the inventory.

Pretty sure I have an old hickory shaft one too, and, doesn't look anything like that. Seems like bamboo will color and look like that, though?

-Brian in SLC
Berk

Mountain climber
USA
Jun 10, 2010 - 01:40pm PT
You should definitely get rid of it........like sell it to me.

EdBannister

Mountain climber
CA
Jun 10, 2010 - 01:49pm PT
I have the same vintage axe, but mine does not look like yours!
Yours is collector quality condition!! The slightly darkened tone is perhaps from being oiled once or twice? That was a common practice, my axe is dented dinged, and way darker from oil. If you sell it, I'll bid 100 bucks right here... but you would be nuts to sell it, coolest piece of mountaineering gear that can go up on a wall, and you have the classic, of classics, even before the great expansion of the Yvonego, back when he was still giving credit where credit was due, to the designer, Tom Frost.

here is part of the story on your axe:
http://www.bradleyalpinist.com/cart/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=28

What was not reported here, is that CAMP had some left over heads with the "Frost" still on them, that were sold dark market in parts of Europe
less known to the Diamond C marketing machine, wait, no i did not say that,
but i did hear it directly from a Codega with six or so drinks in him over dinner in Munich.
the article is worth the read and will get you informed about the piolet.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 10, 2010 - 01:56pm PT
Some other information that might be useful (or not!)...

Weight and length.

Also, how many rivets hold the head to the shaft (should be three?)?
EdBannister

Mountain climber
CA
Jun 10, 2010 - 02:06pm PT
Brian, not sure why you need to know, or why it makes a difference, but that is a 70, you can tell from the pic.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jun 10, 2010 - 02:31pm PT
Brian: My assertion that the info on Rexilon came from the 1975-76 Chouinard catalog is based mainly on "the history of Chouinard Firsts" on page 5 of the catalog, since the catalog does not have a publish date. The Chouinard Firsts only goes up to 1975, whereas my 1978-dated Chouinard catalog does go up to 1978 and shows the addition of Mode Zero & North Wall Hammer in 1976.

Here's photos.

Cover of Chouinard 1975-76 catalog.
Cover of Chouinard 1975-76 catalog.
Credit: Fritz

Piolet description from 1975-76 Chouinard catalog.  My original and we...
Piolet description from 1975-76 Chouinard catalog. My original and well-used bamboo shaft at left of photo.
Credit: Fritz
Ain't no flatlander

climber
Jun 10, 2010 - 02:44pm PT
Yep, that is definitely a Rexilon shaft from about '76. Identical to mine, except for the condition.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jun 10, 2010 - 02:46pm PT
Brian, not sure why you need to know, or why it makes a difference, but that is a 70, you can tell from the pic.


Supposed to be a fair weight difference between bamboo and rexilon. Compared to the same length, or, a length per weight ratio, might be easy to tell what material the shaft is made from.

Fritz, good reference. Thanks!

Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jun 10, 2010 - 02:47pm PT
Ed: Thanks for your post and the link to the Chouinard Piolet article in Bradley Alpinest. Unfortunately I didn't see it until I posted my last photos.

I agree with all Bradley Alpinest has to say, except:
the shaft material changed again, first to a laminated hickory, then laminated ash for a short time, and eventually a synthetic called Rexilon in 1979, after the UIAA began to raise concerns with the integrity of "wooden" axe shafts.

Per my previous posts: Rexilon was available in 1975 or 1976.
Barbarian

Trad climber
The great white north, eh?
Jun 10, 2010 - 03:05pm PT
I want!
SGropp

Mountain climber
Eastsound, Wa
Jun 10, 2010 - 03:21pm PT
It looks like a laminated shaft, but not bamboo.
I have a axe just like that with a hickory shaft that I got in 72.
Mine has the second set of teeth near the shaft, but I filed them in myself.
rockermike

Trad climber
Berkeley
Jun 10, 2010 - 04:02pm PT
I had one that looked exactly like that; it was made of laminated Hickory. I'm pretty damn sure that's what you got there.
scuffy b

climber
Eastern Salinia
Jun 10, 2010 - 04:16pm PT
If that shaft is Hickory, then the grain is going the wrong way.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 10, 2010 - 04:23pm PT
in 1979, after the UIAA began to raise concerns with the integrity of "wooden" axe shafts
About ten years after Larry Penberthy and MSR did. The MSR Thunderbird might not have been pretty, but it sure was a durable axe - and not just for chopping ice.
EdBannister

Mountain climber
CA
Jun 10, 2010 - 04:26pm PT
just a little unpublished minutia.
the actual maker of the axe is CAMP in Premana, a very little town on the side of a hill in Italy.
The Codegas are wonderful, warm, happy people, and the town is so small they have better than good relations with the host City, the Mayor, Claudio Villa, is the International Sales Manager, and also a great guy,
who responds to Claudio, or Mr. Mayor, with a smile.
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