Curious Scribblings on Bill Thompson design Chouinard Poster


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Trad climber
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 4, 2011 - 11:30am PT
No chance of climbing here in the North of England today, the weather is attrocious, so was just about to frame my Bill Thompson designed "Chouinard Equipment for Alpinists" poster, when I remembered there were some curious pencil drawings and detailed comparisons on the reverse side.
Can't quite remember how I came by this poster but thought those of you interested in the design and development of modern equipment might appreciate some of the scribblings and technical drawings - apologies in advance for the poor resolution images.
The Top Left has a detailed drawings of what I can only presume is a Chouinard Alpine Hammer(version? year?) highlighting the dimensions, radius and pick widths.
Bottom Left has a drawing of what I recognise as the R.U.R.P minus the lightening and cable holes. Some detail including the radius of the R.U.R.P blade.
The Top Right has two tables detailing the Pick Widths, Depth and Draft, I can only presume this relates to the Alpine Hammer.
The Bottom Right has some very interesting profile drawings and a table highlighting the dimensions of Moac, Troll & Clog Passive Chocks. One of the pencil drawings details a Hexagonal profile of one of the chocks, rather than Hexcentric, does this give us a clue as to the likely date?
Like I said apologies for the relatively poor quality images (wasn't sure how big a pic I could upload!) but hopefully you'll be able to see most of the details!
Is there a chance this could have been the handywork of YC or TF?
Were there other people reviewing competitors products (Moac, Troll & Clog Passive Chocks) in the offices of Chouinard?
Unfortunately there is no means of identifying the author/draftsman of these details and sketches - maybe someone out there remembers or knows more about this?

Trad climber
Orange County
Dec 4, 2011 - 12:17pm PT
Two things suggest this is the Crag Hammer.

1. No teeth are shown in the drawing.
2. The chock weights suggest the possible target for the hammer.

The Crag Hammer was introduced shortly after the California chock revolution in the early 70's. It's intended purpose as a "Clean Climbing Hammer" was for removing stuck chocks ( hence the reference to chocks and weights ?) and as a lite piton hammer.

Based on the high quality of the drawings, I think you may have a lost treasure.

Trad climber
Dec 4, 2011 - 12:54pm PT
Maybe get Yvon to sign it, then you really got something!

Social climber
Butterfly Town
Dec 4, 2011 - 01:10pm PT
I'm thinking that it might be Tom Frost's drawings as he did much of the techinical drawings during the period he partnered with Yvon.

I wonder how much of S.G.'s book about Frost will highlight all the different aspects of Tom's genius... I can hardly wait!

Trad climber
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 4, 2011 - 02:01pm PT
In reply to gf:
Like I said, I can't remember but have all sorts of goodies, both given to me and purchased over the last 15 years or so!
Mainly Chouinard - brochures, lots of "blue print" drawings, a proto/mock up of plastic resin hexcentric, early Chouinard biners, hand forged pitons, very early Chouinard Frost axes, Zero Axe and Hammer, wall hammers, Vasque Chouinard shoes etc.
Also have Dolt brochure and Tru Nuts, Forrest brochures....and lots of UK and Continental stuff too.
Nowhere near the collection some of you guys are happy to photograph and share though.
Just thought someone could shed some light on who was the likely draftsman/author of this work?

Trad climber
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 4, 2011 - 02:48pm PT
Hi gf! No worries!
In my limited knowledge of the development of climbing ethics and equipment across the globe, I believe Robbins, Chouinard, Barber et all were "influenced" by the UK scene during their visits.
I guess it would make sense that some of the Moac/Troll/Clog products were purchased, taken back to the US and assessed and scrutinised in the Chouinard HQ?


Trad climber
Dec 4, 2011 - 07:12pm PT
tx for the post.

tom frost is still around. if you contact him, he may be able to tell you if it is something he (or someone else in the shop then) did.

it would display best if mounted in archival glass on both sides. but pencil lead/graphite is prone to uv deterioration (even in what passes for sunshine in yorkshire), so exposing that side of the poster is going to shorten its lifespan.

i'd put it in glass anyway. but i would suggest two cautionary measures: first, i'd do decent photos of it that you save in a decent digital format (not jpeg); and i'd hang it in a place that doesn't get direct or heavy sun.

very nice piece.

Trad climber
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 5, 2011 - 04:56am PT
In reply to klk:
The sun does shine here in West Yorkshire, occasionally! The temperature has dropped recently and the grit season has definitely started!
Good call on taking the digital image, I'll try to get a professional high res scan before hanging.
The poster was due to be displayed in my study in the loft with no direct sunlight but was planning on using conservation glass / UV protection.
Does anyone know how I could contact Tom Frost - I know there is a snailmail address on the Frost Works Climbing Pages but is that the only option?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 5, 2011 - 11:02am PT
PM me and I can hook you up!

Trad climber
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 5, 2011 - 11:24am PT
In reply to SG:
Hi Steve,
Have sent message, thanks for your offer of help!
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Dec 6, 2011 - 12:22am PT
dustyrat - Super cool!
Since MOAC is mentioned that suggests that the drawings are no earlier than 1969.
You mentioned that you have many other items. I would love to see a photo of the Chouinard plastic chock you mentioned.
I am seeking 1960s Chouinard catalogs info especially pre 1966. I have almost every Chouinard catalog 1972 to present.
Any Dolt info is major info I seek. Do you have any Dolt catalogs or brochures?
What other old catalogs do you have?
I also seek any info on Chouinard hammers and Climaxes.

please show and tell!!!

Rock on! Marty

Mudcat Spire
Dec 6, 2011 - 12:56am PT
TF's handwriting.


Trad climber
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2011 - 03:57am PT
In reply to Marty:
Most of the items are safely stored away however I'll try and get a few things scanned/photographed and upload to site.
Possibly most has already featured on the site in the vintage/historic/Dolt gear posts.

Trad climber
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 6, 2011 - 03:58am PT
In reply to Yo:
Hi Yo,
Do you mind me asking how you are so sure?

Social climber
Dec 8, 2014 - 10:01pm PT
The axe drawing got my attention. Not so much the axe.

Crag hammers were generally just alpine hammers with the end lopped off. So less curve and length. Picture here is an original alpine hammer imo. Just no teeth added. 1st shot at the Crag hammer?

Have to wonder if you don't have a bunch of TF's original drawings by the look of it.

You mention here you have an alpine hammer..check the wood compared to your early axe for material used on the handles. Hickory or ash?

Wall hammers, alpine and crag hammers all used hickory.

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Dec 8, 2014 - 11:01pm PT

Trad climber
Leeds, West Yorkshire
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 9, 2014 - 04:00am PT

Apologies I neglected to update the post and should have shared with the group....

Back in Jan 2012 with Steve G's help, I sent Tom high resolution copies of the drawings I found on the reverse side of the poster along with copies of Chouinard engineering blueprints on a memory stick.

In Feb 2012, I received a hand written letter from Tom, confirming that these sketches were indeed his studies of UK passive protection, penned pre Annapurna "probably about 1969" he'd caught the vision and was indeed "checking out what the other folks were doing"

As you can probably appreciate, I was taken aback by Tom's hand written letter, confirming that the sketches predated the start of the clean climbing movement in the US and the wider acceptance of passive protection, so eloquently promoted by Doug Robinson's The Whole Natural Art of Protection, printed in the iconic 1972 Chouinard Brochure.


Trad climber
Dec 9, 2014 - 09:31am PT
This is why I keep coming back to the Taco.

Does anyone have a similar photo lineup of the evolution of the hammer chronologically. That would be neat to see how they evolved over time even in just the chouinard line.

Mountain climber
Tustin, CA
Dec 9, 2014 - 12:49pm PT
Great find! I think UV glass would work just fine for the 'sandwich' framing. In addition, the drawings would spend most of their time facing a wall.

Very nice.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Dec 9, 2014 - 01:17pm PT
One of Tom's photos from the Chouinard days shows him examining a MOAC nut while conjuring up what would become the Stopper. Tom and Yvon did for clean climbing exactly what they did for hammered hardware by providing a comprehensive range of sizes for the crack fitter to employ.

In 1970 Tom caught the vision that Royal and John Stannard had already embraced when he went climbing hammerless in England on a rack given him by Bonington after the Annapurna South Face expedition. Unimpressed by the state of the art chocks that he was using on that occasion, Tom turned his exquisite design sense towards doing better in terms of functional shape and size range with granite placements in mind.

The drawings that Chris has shared with us here show that process clearly.
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