Assistance Needed Identifying Old Chouinard-Frost Piolet

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Messages 61 - 80 of total 122 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 14, 2010 - 12:26pm PT
Yeah, that axe was really a fitting tool for Northwest bumbly snow sloggers. No offense -- in the least -- to those of you from the NW who actually climbed.

Larry's stove irked me too.

It was a good design, though: solid footing, fairly light, burned common fuels and was/is a white hot boiler. Clever roll-up windscreen, too.

But cranking one up in the gentle quiet of a mountain morning shattered the calm with all the subtlety of a jet engine.

I've always burned propane.
RDB

Social climber
way out there
Jun 14, 2010 - 12:28pm PT
Hey, you promised not to mention anything in public about "sleeping with my tools".

But Doug, seriously.

Rexilon = laminated hickory? Or was there Rexilon and a laminated hickory production? How about the laminated ash?

Anyone we could actually ask the would know the background?
Mighty Hiker

climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jun 14, 2010 - 12:29pm PT
The MSR Thunderbird was sturdy and reliable, unlike anything else on the market in the early 1970s that was affordable. (If I remember rightly, the T-Bird cost about half what the Chouinard-Frost axe did.) It was one of the first axes the shaft of which didn't often break. The T-Bird was made for real mountains, where it was as likely to be used for chopping wood, bush, or a tent platform as it was for chopping snow or ice. It was also properly designed for self-arrest, one of the first axes with that attribute.

Yes, they were endearingly ugly, and yes, Larry Penberthy had some
interesting ideas - one of which was that reliable climbing equipment was as much an engineering as a design problem. But they were very functional.

As for MSR stoves. Well, they had interesting innovations, e.g. pressurized fuel reservoir that was separate from the burner, windscreen. But the burner itself wasn't anything new.

Must post a photo of my own Chouinard-Frost axe.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 14, 2010 - 12:33pm PT
Yes, they were endearingly ugly

I love your wit, Anders.

And yeah, the esthetics of YC's tools even then strained a dirtbag budget. Though a couple of years of swinging one of Penberthy's clanking, dayglo monsters -- even for chopping roots out of a tent platform -- was enough to encourage stepping up to the expense of a real tool, finely crafted.

Worked for you, right?




Edit: Oops, sorry Dane.
RDB

Social climber
way out there
Jun 14, 2010 - 12:46pm PT
Hey I just left a call for YC but he is out till Nov. But did get someone there looking for a reliable and quotable source on shaft materials that actually did make production on the piolet. Likely they will be calling DR!

Also left a message @ Tom Frost's new business phone asking the same.

I'd like to see the questions on shaft materials used put to rest once and for all.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jun 14, 2010 - 12:47pm PT
I think the name Rexilon is itself the red herring here. It sounds so techno-resin. It also sounds more Euro than named here. And I recall other brands of Euro axes (Grivel maybe, I'm thinking? A delicately-forged head, very light.) that had Rexilon shafts before Chouinard's Piolet did.

The layers of hickory are remarkably thin in those shafts. Which means that the glue used to laminate them became a significant portion of the overall shaft. I'm thinking the laminating glue was actually a resin of some kind, just from the handling qualities of the resulting axe, which were quite good.

BTW, in that narrow-side view of the shaft, we're looking at a rounded cut of a single lamination, hence the grain.

As for laminated ash: I'm stumped on that one.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 29, 2013 - 11:59am PT
I'm currently selling an extra (excess?) Chouinard Piolet on E-Bay. The axe is only marked Chouinard and has the numeral 2 stamped on the shaft.

Note the 2 stamped into the shaft.
Note the 2 stamped into the shaft.
Credit: Fritz

I have memories that the very last bamboo shafts did have numbers stamped on them, but it is argued that the 2 means the product was a second.

Anyone have memories, or better yet a photo of a wood shaft Piolet with a different numberal on it?

In search of an answer, I contacted the original Chouinard rep for the Northwest. He worked the territory from around 1973 to the early 1980's and does not wish to have his name quoted on the internet.

He writes:

Hello Ray,
The ice axes came from Inter Alp in large wooden shipping boxes.
The axes were individually packaged in a zip lock bag.
The boxes were lined with a waxed shipping paper to prevent moisture from entering them
The lids were removed and the inventory was stored in those boxes for shipment.
There was no inspection of the axes in the US.
They were shipped to the retailer or mail order customer as is.
There were two models in two sizes, Rexalon and Bamboo, 60 and 70 cm.
The ice axe in the image is the second generation with the additional set of teeth near the handle for frozen waterfalls climbing.
There were no seconds produced or sold ( intentionally).
I do not know about the stamp mark.
D.

I do appreciate memories from 1978 are suspect, so I would love a photo of your axe with a numeral on the shaft.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jan 29, 2013 - 12:07pm PT
Y'all don't know sh!t - the Thunderbird was for chopping wood, yo. Or prying boulders.
The venerable jet engine/stove is a paradigm of dependability. My '76 model stills roars
at Mach 1 and I've never done a thing to it, yo.

And, yes, Larry was weird. But what genius isn't?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 29, 2013 - 01:26pm PT
Funny what passes for sh#t these days...

The MSR Thunderbird was designed specifically for self arrest on ice, as unlikely a prospect as that may seem to mainstream ice climbers. Other than that it was made not to break catastrophically in belay applications.

Larry Penberthy wasn't the first to concern himself with catastrophic ice axe failure but he was the first to address the lack of pick performance during self arrest.

As an active Search and Rescue expert, Hamish MacInnes got disgusted with the death toll from axe shaft failures while belaying and was the first that I know of to turn to metal shafts resulting in the MacInnes-Massey axe.


The Fox of Glencoe fiddling in his shop from John Cleare's Mountains. MacInnes-Massey axe in the lower foreground.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 30, 2013 - 06:36pm PT
That Bradley Alpinist site is pretty definitive...

I was going to give Tom a call but it doesn't seem necessary with that clear progression.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:03pm PT
Here are my old relics.
Very tarnished, Whats the best way to clean em up?
Tad
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Credit: T Hocking
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Credit: T Hocking
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:13pm PT
ScotchBrite abrasive pads used carefully in line with the grain of the metal finishing. Start with fine and some elbow grease and watch the shine come back out. Use more abrasive pads if the need arises to clear off any stubborn rust but work into it cautiously.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:18pm PT
Thanks Steve, I'll give that a try.
I'll post an after pic if successful.
Tad
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:48pm PT
Steve. Re your mention:
That Bradley Alpinist site is pretty definitive...


RDB & I both know they are absolutely wrong in dating the Rexilon shafts to 1979:

and eventually a synthetic called Rexilon in 1979, after the UIAA began to raise concerns with the integrity of "wooden" axe shafts.

These photos are out of Chouinard's 1975-77 catalog series. Clearly Rexilon Piolets were in their line at that time.
copy from Chouinard 1975-77 catalog, from the Piolet page.
copy from Chouinard 1975-77 catalog, from the Piolet page.
Credit: Fritz
Ice-climbing prices from Chouinard's 1975-77 catalog.
Ice-climbing prices from Chouinard's 1975-77 catalog.
Credit: Fritz

T Hocking! A little Bar Tenders Friend Powder on a Scothbrite helps with the heavy levels of Corrosion. You do have a lot of work in front of you.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 30, 2013 - 07:53pm PT
Thanks for the clarification on errors in fact.

Unfortunately, with Tom leaving in 1975 my easy information source doesn't extend past that date.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 30, 2013 - 10:44pm PT
Those MacInnes Massey ice axes were brutes!

MACINNES MASSEY ice axe w/ wood shaft
MACINNES MASSEY ice axe w/ wood shaft
Credit: Brian in SLC
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 30, 2013 - 11:08pm PT
OK! Brian. Once again you have a climbing item I've never seen or imagined.

Your MacInnes Massey ice axe with a wood shaft doesn't come up in the first page of Google Seaches on the subject. As we know; MacInnes was all about replacing wood shafts with metal, after doing a rescue of stiffs following the failure of a wood ice-axe shaft belay.

Here's the link to the article in The Scottish Mountaineering Journal, and the gist of it. http://www.smhc.co.uk/objects_item.asp?item_id=31980

April 9th - P.Knap (29), Birmingham, A.Beanland (31,__ Bradford, and M.Morgan (26), Qldbury, left Glen Nevis Camp to climb on Ben and failed to return that night. Rescuers did not know where to look. H.McInnes was out searching next night. Bodies found at 1pm on 11th April, roped together at foot of Zero Gully".

This stark and rather chilling account is extracted from the official Scottish Mountain Rescue Accident Reports for 1959, and unusually has a foot-note. "Leader fell from 3rd pitch and dragged others down. Both their axes snapped off and stumps were still embedded in the snow".

For Hamish Mclnnes, who had been involved in the rescue, this accident had a fairly profound effect. It was customary at that time to belay by driving the axe into the snow and taking turns around it with the rope. The deaths on Zero Gully proved this method to be woefully inadequate, as the then universal wooden shafted axes simply broke. A metal/alloy shafted axe was the answer so


Brian!
More photos of that wood axe please!!
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Jan 30, 2013 - 11:18pm PT
from the '72 GPIW catalog: http://www.climbaz.com/chouinard72/chouinard.html

page 34 from the '72 Great Pacific Iron Works catalog
page 34 from the '72 Great Pacific Iron Works catalog
Credit: Ed Hartouni

and the previously posted '75 catalog: http://home.comcast.net/~e.hartouni/GPIW/GPIW.html

page 40 from the '75 Great Pacific Iron Works catalog
page 40 from the '75 Great Pacific Iron Works catalog
Credit: Ed Hartouni

page 41 from the '75 Great Pacific Ironworks catalog
page 41 from the '75 Great Pacific Ironworks catalog
Credit: Ed Hartouni
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Jan 31, 2013 - 12:08am PT
Full frontal...

MacInnes Massey ice axe
MacInnes Massey ice axe
Credit: Brian in SLC

The only thing that doesn't look vintage is the rivets holding the bottom spike on the shaft. Could be someone took a M-M axe and just added on a wood shaft. Well done though, and, the aging of the shaft seems to match the rest of the tool well. Orange paint still visible on the under side of the adze. No label on the reverse side of the head.

Couple more for fun:

USHBA Mountain Works  "A Bob Culp Design"
USHBA Mountain Works "A Bob Culp Design"
Credit: Brian in SLC

Always really liked the USHBA Culp designed ice axe. Nice swing/balance. Light and solid.

Camp Interalp Bernina ice axe
Camp Interalp Bernina ice axe
Credit: Brian in SLC

Slot is for nesting the axes together (adze fits)?

From whence they came:

Premana Italy
Premana Italy
Credit: Brian in SLC

Skinny little roads especially from the north side of Como. Up from Lecco not so bad.
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 31, 2013 - 12:19am PT
Brian! I am truly----not just impressed, but astounded by that:


MacInnes Massey


WOOD-SHAFT!!

ice axe
Credit: Brian

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