Royal Robbins: “This importing business is a real can of ---

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Tami

Social climber
Canada
Oct 24, 2010 - 01:07pm PT
Just a note from the cartoonist here but "avalanche cord" was the inspiration for "Roger's Useless Avalanche Safety Devices" ( in my 2nd book )

.....which included the "avalanche helmut" ( dayglo pink or lemon yellow flags attached to a helmet announcing "victim" - and an accompanying arrow - and "dig here". )

Also included the disposable avalanche poodle.

Long live hilarious safety devices!!!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 24, 2010 - 01:33pm PT
Tami:
We used to joke that the correct procedure with the Avalanche Cords: was to keep them in a bundle and shake them at approaching avalanches.

My pal Stein was the weakest skier in a group skiing off a steep ridge, below a peak, in the Sawtooths back in the early 70’s. Of course they all had 60 lb packs too.

Stein fell, and was trying to reattach a ski: when a sizeable slough of snow came down at him.

All he could do was shake his ski at it.

Worked like a charm.
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Oct 24, 2010 - 01:51pm PT
I particularly liked the high-tech avalanche cords. The ones with a metal swage every 5 metres or so, with a little arrow pointing toward the person to which it was tied. Assuming you tied on the right end, that is.

Was anyone ever successfully found and rescued through use of an avalanche cord?
Rokjox

Trad climber
Boys I'dunno
Oct 24, 2010 - 01:58pm PT
I remember those. Colorado Outward Bound made us drag those on steep ski traverses back in 69 (?); ours had little knots in them, No tags, just knots pointing the way. One knot, two knots, three knots, skier!

Fifty feet long ... talk about your desperate and undependable methods...

They were useful when making camp.

Always need string for camping.

Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 13, 2010 - 05:32pm PT
Keeter: I clicked with your photo of the Alpelit Ice axe! Acquired this one recently. I had previously only vaguely connected Alpelit with Mountain Paraphernalia.

Was the photo you show: also from the 1978 Mountain Paraphernalia catalog?

The other question on Alpelit is from noting that the pick is stamped: R Desmasion. I have read that there was a Desmasion model of Laparade axe. Was the Alpelit axe also made by Laprade?

Here's photos of my nearly-unused Alpelit.
Alpelit axe from 1978???
Alpelit axe from 1978???
Credit: Fritz
Shaft of Alpelit axe.  Nice pad over the aluminum.
Shaft of Alpelit axe. Nice pad over the aluminum.
Credit: Fritz
Pick on Alpelit axe.  Stamped R Desmasion
Pick on Alpelit axe. Stamped R Desmasion
Credit: Fritz

Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Nov 13, 2010 - 08:12pm PT
Pretty sure I still have my Edelrid avvy cord. Used it on occassion although
on none of the three occassions I should have used it. Wait, make that
two as the third occassion I guess I would have had to find myself by myself -
I guess that was why I didn't use it that time.
Never did find that one ski pole - a small price to pay I suppose.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Nov 13, 2010 - 11:26pm PT
Here's a weird tangent- My mom and aunt worked for Tompkins and Esprit way back when.

It seems all these sewing companies were related back in the 70's in the Bay Area.

When I was a kid, I used to back pack with a prototype internal frame pack. There were to tube shaped pouches against the body that you were supposed to stuff with your sleeping bag to get the stiffness into the pack. It didn't work very well, but I can see the idea.

Anyway, my mom and my aunt started making teddy bears, another sewn item, back in the seventies. That company became Basic Brown Bears, well loved by many school children in the Bay Area until the late 90's when the entire company was ripped off by Build A Bear.

The build a bear folks came in and offered to buy the company, they learned how it all worked, signed non disclosure agreements, then stole everything. They even told their investors that they were the president of our company.

It was my first experience with corporate America. They are all thieves, and they have enough money to make their crimes legal. We sued, settled when legal fees added up to high, and later went out of business competing with a company that was essentially our own.

BTW- I loved the RR auto biography. I can't wait for the next part.
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Nov 14, 2010 - 04:14pm PT
Fritz
The Alpelit ax was not from LaPrade. The Desmaison imprint was wide spread at the time. Rene was one of the most well-known guides of the era (like Rebuffat before him) and his name was also on the Galibier Super Guide. Hence, he was sometimes called the Super Guide, although I think it was not something he enjoyed.
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Nov 14, 2010 - 04:19pm PT
Tom, the pack you're referring to was eventually named the Ultima Thule and was produced by Rivendell in an old church in Driggs, Idaho. The body was three tubes with the center one being triangular in section. The bottom of the pack was a horizontal pocket as is still common. If stuffed properly and firmly, the load produced the stiffness. Most models which followed used parallel aluminum stays or crossed stays, not that much different from today. The connection through Esprit and the Thompkins' was for factory and fabric sourcing. Both Chouinard and Robbins worked closely with Esprit's manufacturing agents to produce their canvas shirts, pants and shorts. I attended several Esprit sales meetings to learn more about the apparel business at the time.
hooblie

climber
from where the anecdotes roam
Nov 14, 2010 - 07:05pm PT
i always thought an avalanche cord might have some merit if it was deployed
as a tether for a helium balloon. wind and trees might be a problem
during the ascent, but on a calm day it would surely offset
the weight of the lawn chair
Jim Brennan

Trad climber
Vancouver Canada
Nov 14, 2010 - 08:29pm PT
Laprade carabiners made a short guest appearance at MEC in the early 80's. Incredibly affordable and cool looking, they suffered from flexing under body weight enough that the gate would be caught shut. Cheap aid climbers had to look elsewhere for snaplinks.
tom woods

Gym climber
Bishop, CA
Nov 14, 2010 - 08:58pm PT
Thanks Keeter. Small world, eh? I didn't know how my parents got the pack, only that it was a prototype. You even had to stuff the waist strap.

Now that I think about it, I may have seen a Rivendell pack, probably here on supertopo.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2010 - 10:45pm PT
Keeter & all: Thanks for posting up! All input is good on this great historical thread (except lawyers & bickering).

My latest history project is trying to give dates for carabiner production from Chouinard & Robbins.

Clint C. has been a great help on this for Chouinard biners, but I am not able to do much to show production dates for the two models of Robbins/Salewa carabiners.

I think they were both introduced in 1978, based on the Salewa ad I showed earlier in this thread.

Salewa ad from Mountain Magazine: Jan 1978.
Salewa ad from Mountain Magazine: Jan 1978.
Credit: Fritz

Any more ads or info to share???

Robbins sold the hollow Salewa biner shown in the above ad and a solid biner, that was (I think) a little more popular.

R. Robbins side of both Robbins/Salewa carabiners.
R. Robbins side of both Robbins/Salewa carabiners.
Credit: Fritz
Salewa side of Robbins carabiners.
Salewa side of Robbins carabiners.
Credit: Fritz

Any heros with ads or stories on either carabiner out there???

No problem---any other Robbins/Mountain Paraphernalia stories or photos are welcome!
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Nov 14, 2010 - 11:21pm PT
I remember buying the Robbins carabiners in 1976, and still have a few of them.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 14, 2010 - 11:26pm PT
Mighty Hiker! Cool!! Please dig those Robbins binners out and share which model you have. I suspect the solid one came first!

Much Thanks! Fritz
Thorgon

Big Wall climber
Sedro Woolley, WA
Nov 15, 2010 - 04:13am PT
Fritz,

I still have my PA's from way back! They were way better than Chucky Taylor high tops! LOL


Thor
Keeter

Mountain climber
Durango, CO
Nov 15, 2010 - 12:21pm PT
I still have a near rack full of the hollow (tubular) RR biner by Salewa. At the time, Salewa was imported by both MP and Chouinard. The RR version was a straight oval (carabiner rappels were still the norm) and the C version was the now classic Chouinard D shape.

LaPrade carabiners came in a few models with variations on the D shape and different strengths. The lightest and cheapest was flexy under body weight as pointed out above, but the burly ones where the strongest of their time. They were more money however. Imported goods at the time were rocketing up in price due to the rampant inflation of the Carter years. We were borrowing money at 18% !!!! Mountaineering boots went from $75 to $190 during that period.
sowr

Trad climber
CA
Apr 11, 2011 - 10:12pm PT
Chris don't you still use that gear though?
Benjamin

Boulder climber
Denver, CO
Nov 9, 2011 - 02:18am PT
I am interested in purchasing back issues of Off Belay Magazine, and seeing as how in this thread many people mention their collections I was wondering if anyone was willing to sell.

My dad started subscribing to Off Belay after the first year it was out and always mentions how he wishes he had that first year's worth of issues. I thought it would make a wonderful Christmas present for this year.

Please let me know:

benjamin@benjaminthomas.org
crunch

Social climber
CO
Nov 9, 2011 - 12:02pm PT

The Wonder headlamp: "I WONDER why it's not working today?"
The Wonder headlamp: "I WONDER why it's not working today?"
Credit: crunch

What a great thread.

Love this pic of the old Achille Wonder headlamp. Owned several, back in the late 70s.

We used to joke, "The Wonder headlamp: I WONDER why it's not working this time?" as they were so unreliable. Something would always be loose, detached, shorted out. Or the clunky switch turned on by accident and the battery dead. Maddening!

A 100% reliable source of light, after sundown, is taken for granted now, yet, really, it's a modern luxury. And a really big deal, in midwinter, far from the trailhead. A huge thanks to Petzl for driving modern development!



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