North Face Catalog # 1- circa 1968


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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.

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