Who invented modern reverse-curve pick Ice tools?

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McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 19, 2013 - 12:05am PT
They made it so much easier to remove the pick. I've spent enough time trying to find out. Was it Grivel? Charlet? Chouinard? Lowe?......... I saw an old Forrest hammer with a reverse curve pick (below) at Mtn Project but don't know if it has been modified.
Credit: McHale's Navy
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Feb 19, 2013 - 12:37am PT
A little while ago I posted up this early review of the then new banana pick tools from Mountain Magazine 1n 1988.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2064009&msg=2064009#msg2064009

While it doesn't, (I think) opine who thought of the reverse pick, it's a start point!

Regards,

Steve
duncan

climber
London, UK
Feb 19, 2013 - 12:41am PT
Simond's Chacal hammer was the first modular, reverse curve tool I saw on the east side of the pond.

The Simond website says this was developed in 1975 though I don't remember them in widespread use 'til around 1982-3.




Chacal from 1978


deuce4

climber
Hobart, Australia
Feb 19, 2013 - 01:10am PT
Great Scot!

I reckon the Macinnes Terrodactyl predates all the other reverse curve picks. Late 60's/early 70's, I believe. Took a while to catch on, but known to be the tool of choice on thin steep ice. Back in the late 70's, I had one Terrordactyl and one Snowdon Curver (a beautiful work of art), with a Chouinard ice hammer in a holster for placing warthogs. Tubular ice screws were just coming in around then, but were quite pricey. We also had these corkscrew type screws which were known to bend and rip out in falls, but we used them anyway (but mostly for opening wine at basecamp).
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Feb 19, 2013 - 01:47am PT
Deuce4,

The Terror was a straight drop pick though, rather than a banana. I used them BITD.

I don't know the answer, but there must be a functional advantage offered by the reverse curve, or everyone would be using a pick like the terror
(macerated knuckles aside!)

You're an engineer ain'tcha you should know? ;-)

Steve
wivanoff

Trad climber
CT
Feb 19, 2013 - 05:06am PT
I saw an old Forrest hammer with a reverse curve pick (below) at Mtn Project but don't know if it has been modified.

No it was not modified. IIRC, the Forrest Mjoillner hammer had four different picks available: 1) The reverse curve and 2) the steep straight pick shown in your photo. Also available were 3) a regular curved pick and 4) a "Tube" pick which was kind of like an ice screw but had open slots in the bottom of the tube.

The hammer handle was originally straight. Later, a curved "hatchet" handle was added. Both are shown in your photo.

I still have a Mjollner hammer somewhere in my basement.

EDIT: I thought of another one. I think there was a short pick that resembled the pick on a "Yosemite Hammer" and another pick that resembled a nut tool. Going from memory here, though.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Feb 19, 2013 - 08:32am PT
In January, 1983 I bought a Forrest Lifetime ice axe with three interchangeable picks, one of which was the reverse curve. But I don't think it was a 'brand new' idea at the time.

The straight tubular pick was definitely ice climbing theory!
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Feb 19, 2013 - 08:51am PT
http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewArticle.asp?id=38143
Certain aspects of ice axe development are interesting to note, one of them being the gradual increase of the pickís curve, since although many pick blades had long used tooth-like serrations on their undersides, almost all early ice axe picks had been straight and more or less perpendicular to the shaft of the axe. This seemingly small refinement was a major improvement, since it greatly enhanced the ability of a climber to self-arrest and hold himself on a steep slope after a fall. In terms of the specialized and highly technical ice-climbing tools that developed in the 70s, Simondís use of a reverse-curve pick in 1975 is generally recognised as being a major step forward in the development of pure steep angle ice tools. From that time onward, the trend in these highly specialised items developed to fabricate ice tools with modular components, using replaceable and selectable picks, adzes, and spikes that could be combined to suit the given conditions.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2013 - 10:40am PT
Thanks Philo. I found that page yesterday but missed that reference. 1975 takes it back aways! It probably took awhile for the tools to get over to the USA. Still would like to know the evolution, like if it started with Hammish or if it was a parallel developement. I'm thinking it could have been accidental. Did Forrest, for instance make the reverse curve to accomplish something other than pick removal, and then it got discovered inadvertently, perhaps elsewhere. I remember my first use of the reverse pic bouldering at Big Four ice caves and I was pretty amazed.
nah000

Mountain climber
canuckistan
Feb 19, 2013 - 09:28pm PT
this is an interesting question. there seems to be a fair bit of misinformation out and about on the net. the following aren't all primary sources, so there still could be more to the story than what follows. but my google-fu came up with the following:

mid 1800's: grivel? = claims modification of workman's pick axe results in first "piolet".
1969: chouinard piolet = claims to be the first with a curved pick. another source. [prototype was first created in 1966 according to p. 27 of Chouinard's Climbing Ice. there are also reports of other curved picks dating back to possibly the 1930's]
1971: macinnes terrordactyl = seems to be the first with a straight drop pick [prototype first used in 1970 on the eiger].
1975: forrest mjollnir = seems to be effectively tied with the chacal's as the first ice tool with exchangeable picks. another source.
1975: simond chacal = likely tied for first in producing ice tools with exchangeable picks. simond's site mentioned by duncan.
1978: simond chacal = first tool with a reverse curve pick as documented by supertopo history written by gordon smith
1979: i.c.e. eboc = first bent shaft tool. a patent was filed in 1979 and issued in 1982.
1986: grivel rambo = claims to be first production ice tool with curved shaft. given the existence of the eboc was more likely the first widely distributed ice tool with a curved shaft
2002: petzl ergo = claims first leashless ice axe with angled grip.

and if you're looking for more discussion of ice tool development and history here are a couple of real good threads covering some of the same ground:

Steve Grossman's Classic Ice Primer - Chouinard Catalog 1968
RDB's Chouinard Alpine hammer and Piolet questions?

the above timeline was edited to reflect some of the information that has come to light in this thread.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2013 - 10:00pm PT
Thanks. I like the Simond link. It goes to a Robbins book review that captures his writing style in the story he wrote about Tis-sa-ack - right at the end anyway. What was that title? Maybe it wa just Tis-sa-ack. That was classic. I'd like to read it agsin.
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Feb 19, 2013 - 10:25pm PT
I remember making a tremendous lateral curve out of a Terrordactyl pick on a climb in the mid-1970s. The innovative/on the spot design seemed not to catch on...
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2013 - 10:30pm PT
What do you mean? How could you modify a pick on a climb?
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Feb 19, 2013 - 10:37pm PT
It freekin bent sideways and was the dickens to use for the rest of the route. Not a comforting sight, but innovative design work nonetheless.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 19, 2013 - 11:12pm PT
Oh, that kind of mod! We'll have to get you into the reverse-curve invention chronology. That would have been a dead-end on one of the evolution tree limbs, but still merit worthy.
Ken

Trad climber
Arroyo Grande
Feb 19, 2013 - 11:12pm PT
http://www.supertopo.com/inc/photo_view.php?dpid=PDg6NDs5KCEr

Porter made a few of these after visiting Scotland and copying what he saw there (I got this story and axe from Russ Mclean who would be a better info. source).

Maybe early '70s, from his Utah shop? Called them the Hammerdactyl.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Feb 20, 2013 - 08:30am PT
Todd, same thing happened to my friends pick on an early Rupel. He bent it 70 degrees to starbord on a climb. We thought it was just because he was monstrously burly.
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 20, 2013 - 10:45am PT
Charlies impliment looks like something I'd make. Have drill-press - will travel. I'll bet the pick is a tine off a field-plow. Nice! Would be tough as nails of course.

How about a thread where we show stuff we've drill holes into?
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Feb 20, 2013 - 10:52am PT
Don't forget the Pemberthy Ice Hooks, A-1 the whole time!
McHale's Navy

Trad climber
Panorama City, California & living in Seattle
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 20, 2013 - 11:11am PT
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=762638&tn=40

Dane, what axe were you referring to? In any case, a discussion about ice tools would not be complete without mentioning the Pemberthy Ice Hooks. I saw some in use and was skeptical then; I remain so.

got a pic?

Anybody here that can do us an effective patent search on the reverse-curve concept? My guess is that if it's not patented it all came about by accident.
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