North Face Catalog # 1- circa 1968


Discussion Topic

Return to Forum List
This thread has been locked
Messages 1 - 51 of total 51 in this topic

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Original Post - Sep 14, 2011 - 12:27am PT
Voila-After two nights of scanning, one crashed computer, mucho cerevezas, beaucoup vino and some nostalgic visions of the past I finally got most of this classic catalog onto ST. This is the first North Face Catalog, probably circa 1968 and design wise it was way ahead of the class. Look for some of your old friends in here, Terray, Rebuffat ............ Three pages missing-later.

Think Tet Offensive, My Lai Massacre, Chicago Convention, Martin Luther King, Bobbie Kennedy, a most pivotal year in old Americaca. Where were you in 68?


Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Sep 14, 2011 - 12:40am PT
Oh my. Why do so many of those items look familiar? Scary. Thanks...what a lot of work!


Trad climber
Sep 14, 2011 - 12:53am PT
very cool. It looks like the North Face must have had a soul once. Why does all that old gear have more sex appeal then the new stuff?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 14, 2011 - 12:57am PT
Cool, Guido! Luv the Ghastly Rubberfat shot.

Where were you in 68?

On the USS Okinawa for my summer midshipman 'cruise'. What fun, really!
They even let me stand Mail Buoy watch! Never did see the damn buoy.
I really learned a lot hanging out at the North Island Officers' Club.
All bar drinks were 25 cents and you got your money's worth for sure!
I didn't know it then but I learned what a 'cougar' was. Some of those
wimmen were, like, 24 or 25! Whoa!

Then I went fishing in the Wind Rivers with my roomie and his dad.
Then I took that fateful rock climbing course with the Sierra Club at
Devil's Lake. The rest is history. Sordid, but history.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Sep 14, 2011 - 01:12am PT
Really enjoyed that. Thx G man!

Pinnacles Guide for !! $2.00 !! WOT!!! That's a bargain, unless it was the Hammack guide that sold for .50, then it's a rip off. ;)

In 68, I didn't exist in corporeal form.
Though 68 was definitely a transformative time in the Western world.

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Sep 14, 2011 - 01:43am PT
That's a really great post. I have searched high and low for one of these early NF catalogs in my boxes of junk, and I never have found one - like the one with the scraggly bum on the front. I fondly recognize the great artwork in this one. The earliest I can find is Sierra Designs 1971. But, the NF ones are the real classics.

em kn0t

Trad climber
isle of wyde
Sep 14, 2011 - 03:39am PT
Guido, thanks so much for posting this - gorgeous design and illustrations. Couldn't find the artist credit -- do you know? (looks like John Svenson's AAc Journal illustrations???)

Where were you in 68?

1968 UC Berzerkly
1969 heading for the High Sierra, with my first pair of Pivetta Spiders bought at the Mountain Shop off Union Square, SF

seems like a lifetime ago, and just yesterday...

chewing the rubberfat at the old climbers home
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 14, 2011 - 03:57am PT
Cool catalog; I'd never seen it before (like the Dolt Hut one). Looks like the later Chouinard catalogs were modelled on it. Thanks for sharing.

Trad climber
Sep 14, 2011 - 07:01am PT
I was in Vietnam.

I can't believe how much of that stuff I still have! I gave the tent away last year to the Haiti relief drive.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Sep 14, 2011 - 08:56am PT
Was it the 2nd (1969?) North Face catalog that prominently featured their Half Dome ascent, and the origin of that now-famous Half Dome NW face logo?

That's the catalog I first read, over and over until I knew and wanted every item.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Sep 14, 2011 - 09:50am PT
Guido: Thank you soooo much for taking the time to scan and post that catalog. I have never seen it. I still own a NF Unimog bag that I believe was made in 1969. It was their semi-rectagular design and is not shown in this catalog.

The details on Chouinard pitons are great too. I was not aware Chouinard made solid aluminum Bongs. Mine are all drilled.

I wasn't doing technical climbing until summer 1969. In 68 I was a Forestry Major at U of Idaho.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 14, 2011 - 10:15am PT
Nice Guido! We were young once and...........well, had to climb in Kronhofers for one.

edit: I was three years out of the army and a year away from camp 4.

Gym climber
Sep 14, 2011 - 10:38am PT
That is bitchen!

Love the one photograph, that is really an amazing shot (the balance of light and all).

Looks like that guy is doing Leany Meany in boots w/ a pack. Awesome.

Sep 14, 2011 - 11:03am PT
Guido, you rule. We can't get enough of the Steve Grossman historical posts and it's nice to see it coming in from other folks as well. Thanks for hanging in and getting this done just for us, I feel pretty special right now:-)


Jesse, love to see it if you ever scan it in.
The earliest I can find is Sierra Designs 1971. But, the NF ones are the real classics.
scuffy b

dissected alluvial deposits, late Pleistocene
Sep 14, 2011 - 11:18am PT
Wonderful, Guido.
It really is a beautiful piece.
I must have picked up the 3rd catalog.
It had a little bit about the NA Wall.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 14, 2011 - 11:21am PT
Good job Joe!

What a classic catalog!

Thanks for taking the time to scan it!

I wonder who made their angle pitons?

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 14, 2011 - 11:25am PT
which one has the the photo of a bearded guy in a Down Jacket sitting on a curb in Berkeley.
scuffy b

dissected alluvial deposits, late Pleistocene
Sep 14, 2011 - 11:48am PT
Good Luck finding replacement gaskets for those Leroux boots, too!

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Sep 14, 2011 - 11:59am PT
I remember one classic Sierra Designs catalog from the early 70's. It was shot in the ghost town of Bodie. I am sorry I ever let that one get away.


Social climber
Sep 14, 2011 - 12:05pm PT
*SIGH* Thanks for posting that catalog. Brings back many memories. I worked for The North Face factory in Berkley a few years after that catalog, just after the next wave of technology was taking off. I remember walking past the main factory, back lot, on my way to lunch. The designers had some geodesic tents and shelters set up. I'll be darned if Buckminster Fuller wasn't there checking them out. I missed lunch, standing on the fringes trying to hear what was going on without getting in trouble or chased off.

Yes, TNF still had a soul in those days, The Prez, Happ Klopp, was very approachable although his circle certainly was not. All things change, though. Thanks again!
Peter Haan

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
Sep 14, 2011 - 01:58pm PT
Thanks Joe. Huge contribution, although I shudder to think how many cervezas had to die to get this think posted. There is always a dreaded cost, isn't there.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Sep 14, 2011 - 02:05pm PT
Dood, I've still got my 1970 NF sleeping bag. Just dry cleaned it, in fact -- still fluffy.

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Sep 14, 2011 - 02:07pm PT
Super cool Guido!!

Way to scan bro. It's a lot of work and unfortunately underappreciated around here.

Thanks for posting up a classic.

Now do that a hundred more times and you'll be giving Grossman a run for his money!!

Trad climber
Santa Cruz/New Zealand/South Pacific
Topic Author's Reply - Sep 14, 2011 - 03:34pm PT
"Art and layout by Jim Berryhill.
All softgoods in the catalog, except those indicated are manufactured exclusively for us to our specification by Sierra Designs, Pt Richmond California."

During the 60s in the Bay Area there was a great deal of sharing in design talent, manufacturing and marketing between the key players of The Ski Hut, North Face and Sierra Design. That was before the competition heated up and things got weird.

Ah, the Golden Era of the Rag Trade. lol

Missing pages:


Trad climber
It ain't El Cap, Oregon
Sep 14, 2011 - 05:40pm PT
The NF Ibex... I had one of those for many, many years. Started to smell but always warm.

Trad climber
Sep 14, 2011 - 07:54pm PT
speaking of old gear, my mother still has my old North Face Sierra tent. From the early '70s at the latest (goes well with her original issue Kelty pack). 10 guy lines to stake that tent out. Really fun in the wind and snow high on Mt. Hood in the winter (one of my first outings with it) ha Men were men back then. The gear didn't function worth sh#t (compared to new stuff), and weighed a ton. But some people got stuff done in spite.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Sep 14, 2011 - 08:01pm PT
In 1968 I was in the middle of things at Bezerkley - the known center of the world for that era! Going to school and working and typing up the first draft of a budding scientist's physics dissertation - and peace demonstrating a little on the side.

When I climbed it was in Kronhofers and I still have most of the rest of the stuff in the catalog. Not only has it survived the years but being drug all over Nepal and back. They made stuff to last in those days.

Thanks for all your hard work Guido. I owe you some additional refreshments if we ever end up in the same place again!

Social climber
eldorado springs
Sep 14, 2011 - 08:22pm PT
I loved those Le Phoques. Best boots I've ever owned except for a pair of Val D'Ors from about the same time. We carried both brands for a while at the Gerry's store on 17th Street in downtown Denver. Both pair were stolen by a hard luck transient who slept in my basement one night. I've always wondered where they ended up. I suspect she sold them to someone in Boulder the next day on her way out of town.

Northern California, living abroad
Sep 14, 2011 - 08:25pm PT
What a beaut! The hand-drawn lines and headers give the whole thing a very crafted feel, along with those great watercolors. Not many companies put this kind of effort into their catalogs anymore. Was this originally in black and white? Would have loved to see the original colors of those drawings.

Man, those Summit shoes look like some serious wingtips for the up and coming white collar climber. From the boardroom straight to the mountaintops!

I wasn't even a blip on the radar in 1968, but thanks for sharing this little piece of climbing history with us young'uns.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Sep 14, 2011 - 08:38pm PT
This thread needs to stay on page 1 for a while.

North Face Elephant's Foot? I have one from about 1973.

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Sep 14, 2011 - 08:56pm PT
Those NF triangular day packs, they must have been among the first. Holubar made one kind of like it but that was a knockoff with leather straps.

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 15, 2011 - 12:14am PT


What a blast from the past, especially the boots. I could have sworn that they started in Berkeley, but I guess not (even according to Wiki). Now where is the first Sierra Designs catalog?

Sep 15, 2011 - 12:56am PT
Wow, I want the down beenie!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 24, 2011 - 01:13pm PT
Holiday Guido Bump!

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Dec 24, 2011 - 04:31pm PT
Thanks for the post Guido:

Those 'Cortina' boots look like a fore runner to the RR blue suedes.
I wonder if they were made by Galibier?


What ever happened to the 'Cagoule'?
I had a Patagonia FoamBack cagoule I loved for ice climbing.
It didn't breath at all so I never wore it on approach only once on a climb.
I would roll it all up like a pullover while climbing, then unroll it and camp out under my foam circus tent at belays.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 26, 2012 - 09:13pm PT
Bump for the unmistakable smell of Funky Foamback!

It really should be a Patagonia Fragrance! Along with Teton Troutslime and Flaming Forge! LOL

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Jan 26, 2012 - 09:14pm PT
back in a simpler time

Trad climber
Jan 26, 2012 - 09:33pm PT
Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Seems like it was only yesterday I was a nine year old kid ogling that catalog.

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 26, 2012 - 10:20pm PT
Now, could someone please scan the Stephenson catalog? One of the spicier years?

Social climber
So Cal
Jan 26, 2012 - 11:03pm PT
The Terray's were the best all round boots I ever owned. Resoled about 8-10 times then converted into three pin ski boots for a season or two.

Still have and use a Simond Super D axe.

Trad climber
Jan 26, 2012 - 11:25pm PT
I like how there are only 2 types of carabiners to choose from and none are locking.
mouse from merced

Trad climber
merced, california
Apr 19, 2012 - 05:32pm PT
Guido, so nice to have that oldie to look at. I have so many friggin' tales of retailing to the loyal TNF customers at the "original" North Face Factory Outlet, 1234 5th St, I sh#t you not.
They made me the offer of managing the F.O. in 1975. I hired all kinds of kind souls to work there, where Raffi Bedayn was the landlord for the Italian auto garagistas across the street. Most of us were bored so 5th St. became a Nerf football field, the "showroom" hosted Nerf baseball, and customers were allowed to pinch hit or relieve on the mound. We encouraged fun. Those Eyetye autos were so sweet. It's a good thing we were using Nerf balls!
El Presidente, Hap Klopp, son of a lumber baron, enjoyed his gang. He treated the office help and the super-hard-working customer service gang and many of the rest of us to some pretty swell meals and booze at Trader's and other spots. He drove an Audi and Hap was known as "the man who's always smiling." He was known for his high-handedness, which may have been due to his sense of entitlement, or maybe he really was a business genius, like some said. But there was a time when he told Dorene Frost to go pee up a rope when she sought payment on the Chouinard account, which was payable. Our stores ran out of their products and it was a long time before we were allowed back in the Iron Works fold.

My most memorable sale: a forest green Sierra Parka purchased with an Amex. It was Milos Forman, the director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

My most memorable non-sale: a woman wanted to purchase a Minimog (the duck down version of the Unimog, two, in fact, to zip in with her girl friend. But the girl friend wanted to buy synthetic for lots less. So the fight started and they just had it out in front of us, fists, hair, slaps, kicks, it was a real shocker. They took it outside and around the corner. Hell no we didn't need the Berkeley cops. They'd have ruined the fun.

Our dome tents were inspired by the geometry of RB Fuller, or Bucky. His acolyte was Bruce Hamilton, who got Bucky to visit the factory. I had a photo of myself and him tossing a giant sphere made of aluminum and nylon, and hate the fact that I have lost it.

My favorite visitor to the store was Fred Beckey, who had a slide presentation to give up at the store on Telegraph Ave. He parked on 5th and I provided the wheels. Beckey drove around the loop in Camp 4, when it was still doable legally and my friend Cowboy Larry asked me what I thought of an old guy who cruised the camp in an old station wagon looking for young men. "Not much," I said. "Who is he?" He told me and the next thing I knew he and Bob Romanowicz were on Wawona Dome doing the FA. Larry was not shy. And Fred remembered the pushy red-bearded crazy man from Madera and his tall friend.

My favorite employee: Throwpie, who made a line drawing of "the famous ripstop geese," who were clad in Sierra Parkas.

Randy Hamm was hired at TNF's Telly store, and he notified me that Doug Ross had left and they needed someone. I made the trip from SoCal to Berkeley overnight, got there at ten and had my interview. I dropped Wayne Merry's name, who was featured in the catalog that year, on a ski trip with Ned Gilette over the pipeline route through the Brooks Range, and the job was mine. Thanks, Wayne.

I began the job there in 1973, Jan. I left in 1980, Oct. It was a great ride and I made a lot of friends and got hundreds of postcards from world-traveling customers. I just re-read Roper's Camp 4 again and didn't realize we were both "rental boys," though he worked in downhill and I in cross-country. I left TNF because of domestic strife, primarily, but I didn't like the idea of TNF going into the downhill skiing market. My wife left and the company moved in a different direction. Change is gonna do me good, I felt. And it did.

"Those 'Cortina' boots look like a fore-runner to the RR blue suedes. I wonder if they were made by Galibier?"

I got my Cortinas in Fresno in 1968. They were the best all around I could find for functioning as boots for my job as a houseman at the Lodge and for evenings on Sunnyside Bench or whatever. The boot was much less stiff than the Robbins and the rand was leather, not hard rubber. I am 99% that they were a Galibier product. They were the people who introduced the rubber toe rand, apparently.
I have had Kronhoffers, too, but really, the Cortinas topped any other multi-purpose.
At our Factory Outlet I had access to all the old models of all the boots the Face ever sold. We never had Cortinas in the Telly store when I worked there, beginning in '73.
The manager at that store in '69 was Larry Horton, founder of Rivendell Mtn. Works. He had a pair of RRs that were "windowed," that is to say the rubber rand was (only slightly) separated from the leather, and he laid them on me. We had a connection. I used those on the Salathe. I was of course firmly in the North Face camp after that. This story goes on and on through Altamont and the Bugaboos, so I better lay off.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 18, 2013 - 09:20pm PT
Bump for a new acquaintance who was around BITD and will hopefully join in.
scuffy b

heading slowly NNW
Jan 18, 2013 - 09:53pm PT
Cortinas were by Pivetta (George Rudolph, founder of Ski Hut, strikes
I think by 1973, Mouse, the Pivetta sales were really highly dominated by
the Muir Trail and Pivetta 5. The Cortina was probably discontinued by that time.

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Jan 18, 2013 - 09:54pm PT
All the pitons, angles included, were made by Chouinard.

I loved that catalog, and owned several items from it. Terray Boots (still somewhere in the attic, I think), a Simond axe, several pairs of Spider kletterschue (I was never a Kronhofer fan), Mountain master frame and Refuffat summit packs, original Jumars, and a pair of woolen knickers.

In those days, the company and the catalog had soul. You can see this is in (1) an inclination to find the best one or two items out there, rather than today's mind-boggling arrays of nearly identical offerings; (2) serious, detailed, but to-the-point descriptions of the gear, with not a hint of the now-commonplace shallow trendy ad copy, or of descriptions so vague as to make it impossible to distinguish between the hordes multiple offerings; (3) the artwork and partial hand-lettering, conveying a homespun down-to-earth quality rather than the Wallmart atmosphere of today's mega-outlets.

I think you can detect a good deal how climbing has evolved by comparing that catalog with, say, a modern Mountain Gear catalog.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 1, 2014 - 11:59am PT
Bump for the good ole days...and more stories!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 15, 2017 - 01:39pm PT
Bump in support of Al Rubin's early gear sourcing thread...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Oct 21, 2017 - 06:19pm PT
Classic catalog bump...
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Oct 24, 2018 - 09:49am PT
Needs more sowbell bump.

Mountain climber
Davis, CA
Oct 25, 2018 - 06:03pm PT
ummmm.... seems like 1/2 of my gear is 50 years old....

Trad climber
Spokane, WA
Oct 25, 2018 - 07:57pm PT
I bought a lot of stuff (mostly carabiners and pitons) from the Stanford barn store while still in high school (graduated in 1971). It was one or two pieces at a time, since my income consisted of lawn mowing jobs.

Messages 1 - 51 of total 51 in this topic
Return to Forum List
Our Guidebooks
Check 'em out!
SuperTopo Guidebooks

Try a free sample topo!

SuperTopo on the Web

Recent Route Beta