CHOUINARD, GREAT PACIFIC IRONWORKS & Other Gear Threads

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Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 16, 2016 - 05:18pm PT
There's a number of threads on ST that share details about old Chouinard/Great Pacific Ironworks gear. I suspect they might be somewhat confusing to a would-be gear historian. Hereís the most popular threads with a comment by me on each.

Chouinard Carabiner Timeline & Identification thread. (This thread has most of the carabiner ID & timeline information in the first two pages.)
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1327553/Chouinard-carabiner-Timeline-Identification-Guide-1968-89

Chouinard Gear mystery questions (Marty does a great job of explaining the timeline of Chouinard pitons, nuts, & hammers, & again most of the key information is in the first few pages.)
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/2420372/Chouinard-Gear-Mystery-Questions

MARTY KARABIN'S MESSAGE TO ALL CLIMBERS (Another great thread by Marty, but some page turning is required.)
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1547699/MARTY-KARABINS-MESSAGE-TO-ALL-CLIMBERS

Scans of the pages & some thoughts on Chouinard's legendary 1972 catalog, which, with minor changes each year, was also his 1973-74 catalog. Although the thread calls this a 1972 edition catalog, the price list page names it as a 1973 catalog, & the inclusion of the Doug Robinson designed Ultimate Thule soft pack, instead of the Jensen pack in earlier editions, pegs this catalog to late 1973.
http://climbaz.com/chouinard72/chouinard.html

A complete page by page scan of the Chouinard/Great Pacific Iron Works 1975 catalog, which with minor changes was also their 1976-77 catalog. Much thanks to Ed Hartouni for doing all the scanning & posting on ST.
http://www.edhartouni.net/great-pacific-ironworks-1975.html

Chouinard ice axe thread: (Unfortunately a lot of the original photos have disappeared from this thread, but there is still good information on Chouinard axes & hammers.)
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/762638/Chouinard-Alpine-hammer-and-Piolet-questions

Classic Ice Primer- Chouinard Catalog 1968 (Unfortunately a lot of the original photos have disappeared from this thread, but there is still good information on Chouinard axes & hammers & some great ice climbing history.)
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=382806

Assistance Needed Identifying Old Chouinard-Frost Piolet (This thread wanders around a bit, but has some good information in it.)
http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1191047/Assistance-Needed-Identifying-Old-Chouinard-Frost-Piolet


Hereís a brief Chouinard gear history & a link to Chouinardís Lost Arrow official history page.

In the mid-1950ís, Chouinard likely was inspired to make pitons with tough, steel allow by Yosemite climber, John Salathť, inventor of the modern piton. Unlike the European soft-iron pitons, they would not bend or come out of the rock if a climber fell. Chouinard learned blacksmithing from a book, and began making his own pitons out of chrome-molybdenum steel. He made them on a portable coal forge, and sold them from his car at various favorite rock climbing sites.

In 1957 Chouinard borrowed a little over $800 from his parents and bought a forging die. He set himself up in a shed behind his parents' house in Burbank and manufactured aluminum carabiners. This backyard venture became Chouinard Equipment.

Chouinard Equipment's first mail-order catalog came out in 1964. It was only a one-page list of equipment and prices, with advice not to expect speedy delivery during the climbing season. As demand for his climbing equipment grew, Chouinard moved his workshop to a shed near the beach in Ventura, California (because Chouinard was also fond of surfing), and he took on a partner, Thomas Frost. Frost was also an avid climber, and he had a degree in aeronautical engineering. Frost's expertise allowed the company to take on more complicated designs, and to make more pieces by machine.

Sales in the first few years were only several thousand dollars, and Chouinard and his employees took off frequently to climb. But the company grew in spite of itself. The quality of Chouinard's products was clearly better than that made in Europe, and even though the cost was substantially more, climbers were happy to pay.

Sales doubled each year from 1966 to 1972, and the 1972 catalog became more impressive. The catalog was full of climbing instructions, discussions of the ethics of removing your pitons from the rock versus leaving them in, quotations from diverse sages, and in-depth descriptions of each piece of equipment. It resembled a book more than a commercial catalog, and the 1972 catalog was even reviewed in The American Alpine Journal book review section, because it was considered the finest literature available on climbing.


His climbing hardware company became The Great Pacific Ironworks in 1973 after Chouinard incorporated his company. His clothing first shows up in the 1972 catalog & became named Patagonia in 1977, showing up with its own section in the 1978 Great Pacific Ironworks catalog


By fall 1981, Patagonia sales were much larger than Chouinard gear sales & the single catalog split into separate Patagonia & Chouinard Equipment catalogs.


With a growing concern about product liability lawsuits, Chouinard Equipment went voluntarily bankrupt in 1989 and disappeared as a brand.

Former Chouinard employees bought Chouinardís gear inventory & hardgoods manufacturing machinery & started Black Diamond. Black Diamond continued to catalog and sell some Chouinard branded gear through the early 1990ís while phasing in their own branded gear.

Chouinardís clothing brand Patagonia continues to prosper.

Hereís a link to a more detailed history of Chouinardís various companies.
http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/history2/48/Lost-Arrow-Inc.html

Does anyone have information links they want to share for other extinct climbing gear brands like Dolt, Longware, etc?
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Nov 16, 2016 - 05:31pm PT
thanks Fritz.
F10

Trad climber
Bishop
Nov 17, 2016 - 03:33am PT
Good stuff
Gunkie

Trad climber
Valles Marineris
Nov 17, 2016 - 05:02am PT
A <C> #5 stopper is still on my rack.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2016 - 07:26am PT
Gunkie! Sigh. Yep.

All my wired stoppers are still 1971-74 vintage Chouinard gear. I bought a new set of colored & curved Black Diamond wired stoppers a couple years back & I couldn't force myself to toss the old ones & learn to use the new. I did replace my Chouinard Hexes with Camalots.

steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Nov 17, 2016 - 01:15pm PT
Mark Force

Trad climber
Ashland, Oregon
Nov 17, 2016 - 02:17pm PT
I have a bunch of Chouinard stuff that I'm selling. It was a fun hobby to collect it, but I'm not opening a museum. So anything I'm not actually going to use is up for sale. It's fun to collect that stuff. Almost got every item on the 72 catalog.

Let me know if interested.

Also, made copies of a Chouinard window decal original I got off eBay. Let me know if you're interested in one of those.

Thanks for keeping the flame alive, Fritz!
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 17, 2016 - 07:29pm PT
Around 1975 Chouinard moved his hand-forged Lost Arrow piton manufacturing from Ventura to Italy & although the Italian pitons worked great they lost a lot of soul. Those later Lost Arrows were marked Italy & Lost Arrow and are just another mass-produced climbing tool, vs the early hand-forged by American climbers, Lost Arrows.


Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 25, 2016 - 12:32pm PT
The Chouinard/Frost wood-shaft Piolet ice-axe, manufactured by Camp in Italy, hit the market in 1969, & helped to revolutionize ice climbing with its curved drooped-pick design.


By the late 70ís, other manufacturerís were stealing market share with synthetic-shaft axes & it was finally time for Chouinard to move on.

The MODEL ZERO Ice Axe & North Wall Hammer, with 55 Cm. laminated bamboo shafts, were introduced in the Chouinard Great Pacific Iron Works 1976 catalog. Wood shafts were discontinued on Chouinard axes in early 1979 in favor of synthetic blue shafts.







By the 1980 catalog, the classic Piolet head design is also gone, replaced by an entirely American-made axe with an ugly welded head, that lacked aesthetics, but worked just fine.



The Aesthetic axe & the ugly axe posing together.

The last model of the wood-shaft Piolet. Laminated bamboo shaft, inner notches on the pick, for thin ice over water, waterfall climbing & only Chouinard, not Chouinard Frost, was engraved on the pick, next to the blue-shafted future of Chouinard ice axes.


karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Dec 5, 2016 - 07:21am PT



Fritz - Awesome stuff!!!!



Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 5, 2016 - 06:31pm PT
Marty! Thank you!

You have done so much research & Chouinard Gear history & I owe you for much of what I know!

Currently, Chouinard gear history is scattered around Supertopo. I have hopes that other folks might post climbing gear history threads here, & I will paste them up into the first page of this thread to help in future research.

I finally constructed a large display cabinet in late November, & the first drawer to be organized is my collection of Chouinard Biners & pitons.




Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 5, 2016 - 09:21pm PT
Much Thanks to Ed Hartouni for all his work on updating his GPIW 1975 thread on Supertopo, by once again posting his 1975 catalog scan!

I added it to the first post on this thread!

A complete page by page scan of the Chouinard/Great Pacific Iron Works 1975 catalog, which with minor changes was also their 1976-77 catalog. Much thanks to Ed Hartouni for doing all the scanning & posting on ST.
http://www.edhartouni.net/great-pacific-ironworks-1975.html

Does anyone else have old gear threads that they would like linked to this update/catalog thread?

Post up!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Dec 5, 2016 - 09:29pm PT
a link to the 1972 Chouinard catalog:
http://climbaz.com/chouinard72/chouinard.html
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Dec 5, 2016 - 09:48pm PT
Wow. Ed, you did a really nice job on that 1975 catalog!
Visually such a pleasure, given how you organized it.

Great idea for a thread, Fritz.
Superlative effort on that carabiner & piton collection, BTW.

So many of our old threads now have broken links for photographs.
All it takes is for someone unknowingly to reorganize their folders in photo bucket and: poof ... gone!

Anybody ever try to use the way back machine to access pictures no longer present in supertopo threads due to dead photo accounts?
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2016 - 07:32am PT
Ed! I added the 1972 Chouinard catalog scan link you dug up to the first post on this thread. Thanks for sharing that.

Tar! Great to hear from you & Thank you. Re your comment on lost photos due to broken links. I was one of those guilty of that on Steve Grossman's
Classic Ice Primer- Chouinard Catalog 1968
thread, when I "screwed the pooch" by reorganizing my Photobucket photos. Little did I know, that those photos then would not link to ST. I hate Photobucket anyway & consider the ST photo links far easier to work with. However, I can't edit those old ST posts to add the photos again.
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Dec 8, 2016 - 06:40pm PT

Fritz - You have done great! You have twice as many Chouinard carabiners than I have in the Karabin museum. When people come to visit you and you whip out that display cabinet Chouinard drawer, you better keep some smelling salts near by!!!

I am curious what items you will have in the many other drawers in your display cabinet.

I listed my three 1957-1960 Chouinard carabiners "Model I, II, III," probably because of the Chouinard Model III mention in the 1960 Dolt catalog.

Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 9, 2016 - 08:19am PT
Marty: Mostly the display cabinet holds my mineral specimens.

But I do have a drawer of ice & misc gear & a drawer of nuts.



My main gear collecting focus has been Chouinard biners & pins, although I confess to a minor sickness for his wood-shafted axes.

I have stayed with the Chouinard History of Firsts Timeline, which only shows one new carabiner until the introduction of their 1968 Model D.

Happy Cowboy

Social climber
Boz MT
Dec 9, 2016 - 12:12pm PT
Beautiful Mineral cabinet Fritz! and your not shabby at all gear holdings! here's my homage (finding temporary home in a kitchen project)
Very impressive array of gear Fritz. So nice to meet you and Heidi at COR.
Fritz

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 9, 2016 - 07:05pm PT
Happy Cowboy! It was great meeting you & those fine women-friends of yours too.

Nice winter gear-drawer.

I'm amazed we both hung onto our late 1960's/early 1970's red Edelrid Avalanche Cords. Those are pretty rare these days, I suspect. They worked like a charm for me & my friends, and none of us ever got avalanched while using one.
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Dec 10, 2016 - 08:25am PT


Fritz - Your collection of Chouinard woods is amazing!


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