Classic Ice Primer- Chouinard Catalog 1968

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 4, 2009 - 04:23pm PT
Ricky-Yours is the sort of drift that STers are more than happy to faceplant in! This thread is a keeper. Spindrift on!
More Air

Big Wall climber
S.L.C.
Jan 4, 2009 - 04:48pm PT


Here are the tools we used for an early (1978) ascent of Provo Canyon's Stairway to Heaven.

From L to R...Lowe Hummingbird, Roosterhead, Hummingbird, Forrest Molner III, Stubi Hidden Peak, Porterdactyl & MSR ice ax.




Jim Dockery leading the last (5th) pitch
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 4, 2009 - 06:41pm PT
Nice shot!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jan 4, 2009 - 07:07pm PT
RE. my Mt. Deborah Timeline. Dane Burns is right! We were there in May 1976, The North(Northwest)Ridge was climbed in July of 1976 (Article in 1977 AAJ) and the awsome North Face in early May 1977. Its ascent is described in the first article in the 1978 AAJ. I have also corrected my original post timeline.

I forgot to mention that the Jensen pack fit very closely and well for climbing, even with a heavy load. Photo is me on Cascade Couloir, by Baniff, in 1974. Ultimate Helmet?, Chouinard Piolet and Alpine hammer, Chouinard Foamback Anorak, Dbl-boots, and Chouinard crampons.
TwistedCrank

climber
Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day
Jan 4, 2009 - 07:15pm PT
And, it appears, Dachstein mitts. Don't forget the Dachsteins.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Jan 4, 2009 - 07:22pm PT
Still have a pair of Dashteins. Any ideas on where to find replacements? And, the Jensen pack has been along on every 14er in CA.

Metal hardware replaced with lighter plastic though. The unwailed cordoroy back was a bad idea, but otherwise the perfect climbing pack.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Jan 4, 2009 - 07:40pm PT
A bit more on Deborah. Came back from a quick trip to Nepal in '77. To make some cash I took a job for the summer with US Borax in SE Alaska.

Typical mining camp in the middle of no where we were flown into.

Couple of weeks after being there you get to know each other pretty well. One of the locals tells me a new guy in camp had just done Deborah...."sure he did I say". "No, really, guy's name is Carl and I think he did the NW ridge you guys tried."

Fook me running...who the hell had even heard of Deborah in '77?

It turns out Carl Tobin had just started working in camp and had indeed just done Deborah. His stories of watching the guys finish the N. Face route as caped aliens was hilarious. No typo, "caped aliens." I'll let Dr. Carl retell that story.

I'm not at home to look it up but didn't Carl go back and be the first to finally get up Jensen's climb on the East ridge on Deborah in '83 with Cheesemond? Tells you some about were Jensen and Roberts were at in 1964......1964!

But back to Chouinard gear and catalogs?

How about some comments by Jack Roberts, Dale Bard, John Bouchard or some more from Rick? Just to name a few. That b/w catalog shot of Tobin on the Eiger direct with a short axe and alpine hammer was awe inspiring. Gordon Smith has written up his GJ climb with Tobin in a couple of places. Done with Smith's Terros and a borrowed set of Chouinard tools and hinged 'pons.

more here:
http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=990

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=267108&v=1#x4023891
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jan 4, 2009 - 09:27pm PT
Jack Roberts & Jim Donini post up some here on the forum as does ..... um,
Some ice climber dude named Jeff Lowe; they should blow it wide open!

I have to say the Dane Burns/Accomazzo/Fritz triumvirate + MoreAir contributions have really skyrocketed this thread well past gold to platinum status.

It will only be available on vinyl however, because that was the favored tool for savoring music in the bad old days.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jan 4, 2009 - 09:42pm PT
Dachstein Mitts! Also in the Chouinard 2002 catalog! Sorry for the oversight. Kept my hands warm summer and winter in the mountains. My understanding was: they were knitted oversize of 100% wool and then boiled down, in Austria. 1972 Chouinard catalog more-or-less says this as well. However the mitts were not "near waterproof", as the catalog asserts.

Retreated off Chouinard Route on Mt. Fay in the Canadian Rockies in a snowstorm in about August 1978. The ex-wife and I then down-climbed 3/4 Couloir in a driving rainstorm (was that the beginning of the end of our relationship??) and amazingly made it to the moraine without being hit by rockfall.

I strongly remember walking down the moraine shaking lots of water out of my Dachsteins for about 10 minutes. Hands were still warm! Fritz:)
TwistedCrank

climber
Ideeho-dee-do-dah-day
Jan 4, 2009 - 09:59pm PT
I pull the Dachsteins out of that pack on the occasional BC adventure much to the chagrin of my youthful partners. They laugh until I let em know how happy my fingers are.

And about those wet Dachsteins - there are few odors so distinctive.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jan 4, 2009 - 10:05pm PT
Still got 'em ........

RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Jan 4, 2009 - 10:12pm PT
Nice shot of Rick again taken by some guy named Jack in '77 on the N face of the Droites. Whillians harness, Jensen pack, Chouinard and super gaiters?

Rick said:
"Yep. We had state of the art stuff then: Jenson Rivendell pack, Chouinard rigid crampons, (the kind that had an alarming tendency during that era to break), Chouinard ice hammers, and a Whillans harness. I had worn out my bamboo Chouinard ice ax pounding rock the previous summer, so I was using a new, Royal Robbins, all metal, orange model, as seen in this shot of me as Jack and I reached the Argentiere Hut. The Chouinard ice axes we used then also broke frequently. Later that summer, Tobin and I took to carrying an exra ice tool in the pack in the likely event of failure of a Chouinard ice tool."



Amazing the jewels hidden away here!

And something similar (gear wise not difficulty) from '75/'76 with two terro on Canadian ice.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 4, 2009 - 10:18pm PT
We used to stitch our initials on our Dachsteins, so we knew whose were whose. More for backcountry skiing - put a bunch of mitts in the drying rack and they're peas in a pod. And quite early on (1975?) we were sewing overmitts out of nylon, which helped keep them drier. As seen below - orange somethings (probably pack cloth) over Dachsteins.


There's something of a wool revival happening, in Norway anyway, for outdoor activities. Especially if it still has lanolin, it's quite water-repellent.

I have no good memories of thawing out ice screws inside my clothing. As though we weren't usually wet and cold enough already.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jan 4, 2009 - 11:16pm PT
The photos and accounts from Alaska,Canada and Utah are great. Love to hear more.

Back to the equipment of the day and the inspirational catalogue:

Here is a another shot of Tobin on the Dru. This shows his Chouinard supergaitors and Salewa crampons. He climbed pretty well in those flexible things!



As to the 1977 season, I did only one route with Tobin that summer. He then went on to do an amazing series of ascents, including four of the Alpsí great North Walls. I just finished writing a rather long and detailed account of Tobinís time in the Alps and submitted it to Alpinist just prior to its demise. I hope to get it in print somewhere soon.

Rick
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Jan 5, 2009 - 07:41pm PT
I'd gladly pay to read that article!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 5, 2009 - 07:45pm PT
Stonemaster Stories II- the sequel! JL- you pondering the next installment because Ricky already wrote at a couple chapters from the sound of it.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Jan 6, 2009 - 04:03am PT
Hey guys just to continue the conversation...bunch of questions and a few observations. Sorry about the quality of the pics best I can do at the moment. May be Steve can rescan the Graham Tiso article from MT #31 his 2 earlier pieces (#17/#20) on ice gear/tools? Pretty please :)

Doug sez:
"A Climaxe would make a good collector's item, for sure, but they weren't so, uh, "hot" for climbing. Not enough heft, so they kinda wobbled and dinked around.......YC had a Climaxe at his beach shack that came out at low tide and was all scruffy from digging in the sand. He called it the Clam-axe."

Pretty obvious the Climax we all know and love was hand forged, fitted by Camp and a bit light in the head. Although there is a great pic of John Bouchard some where in my stack of CLIMBING mags with him on difficult mixed terrain..with the head or a Climax wrapped and an alpinehammer . I had assumed the wrap was to add weight but never bothered to ask John when I met him years later. I'll dig that pic up if Steve doesn't have time too.

BUT....this one is obviously hand forged and attached the same way as the alpine hammers were (BD wall hammers still are) and has some serious weight behind it. That I might have used if I'd ever seen one. Never did.

Doug were these the first and never marketed to the public?



pic is from MT #32 1974 in a Joe Brown ad.


Next up? Chouinard axe, the Terro and the Curver? History is writen by the guys who write. They aren't always accurate for various reasons.

This is from an ad in MT #18 Nov 1971.



Clearly a ash handled Chouinard Piolet, "finished" Terros and what is obviously a a "Curver" in everything but name, but actually a Nanga Parbat by Stubia. My parner used one for a couple of seasons so I knew it well.

Remember by several accounts 1970 was the "magic" year Terros and the Piolet were introduced to the public.

Chouinard tells of having the Charlet factory make him a 55cm curved pick axe at some point during or after the fall of 1966. His (YC) alpine hammer was introduced commercially in '67 according to the catalog and the Piolet in '69. So my guess is it took awhile for the Charlet factory to come around. Might be a reason Interalp made the Piolet. Bet there is a story there.

Doug sez:
"All these shots show much later and more evolved McInnes tools than the ones I was thinking of from the late 60s. The blades on these look to be about one-third the thickness and of a high alloy. I'd like to swing those tools, and I bet they would work just fine........Certainly by the next catalog the date of introduction of the Piolet is listed as 1969. And by October of that year Yvon delivered to me on the edge of the Palisade Glacier the hickory-handled 70 cm one (and that hand-forged Alpine Hammer) that we put to good use on the V-Notch the next day.......He was very intent on letting me know in no uncertain terms about Scottish primogeniture of the droop. Others listening agreed. May have even said that YC had come through Scotland to take in their development. "

Point to a much later Terro from what I read. Does sound like they were a 70/71 winter introduction. And actual production started in '69 on the piolet.

Someone correct me if I am wrong on this one.



I believe this is either Cecchinel or Jager on the Dru Couloir, DEC '73. If not it is at least suppose to be the tools they used by the MT #33 account. I have both a Simond 720 and the much later Jaguar (see Steve's Simond pic above) and trust me the 720 wasn't much. The Jaguar was good competiton to the already out of poduction Chouinard Piolet. A Chouinard piolet was hard to fine even in Chamonix (none locally in the NW at that time) by the fall of '78. (More on the Simond tools later) The Simond long alpine hammer is light in the head but is long enough to give a good swing and stick in every thing by hard ice. Their Simond Crampons btw were close to the current Grivel G12s design and hinged.

So we know Simond and suspect Charlet weren't making deeply curved axes unless......you believe this:

This from Mike Chessler's web site..
"And if the climbers ice climbed, they used Chouinard Ice Axes and Crampons. Chouinard copied the steep drooping pick of European hand made axes, that planted firmly in hard ice or Neve, and made balance and esthetics primary."

And last one of Tiso's articles.



Ice dagger? The front cover shot of Chouinard in the early catalog shows him using a dagger and an axe. Page 80 and 173 in CLIMBING ICE shows YC in the same or really similar togs. Hickory handled hammer of some type clearly visable on page 173. A ice screw barely showing as are two faily pins on his left side. Looks like the dagger is a long pin to me :)

Doug again:
"Somehow I've always thought the ice pin in YC's hand on that catalog cover was not a warthog but a way old-school one that looks basically like a very long vertical blade pin. Somebody gave me one recently; when I'm posting again, I'll show it off."

I work in metal every day and the history and design of our toys has always interested me. Always figured there was a little more synergistic development of ice tools easrly on but never really bothered ot look into it in any detail.

My guess is that anyone who got a "the steep drooping pick of European hand made axes" was getting it from the Charlet factory based on Chouinard's 1966 design request. But having the tools doesn't mean you have the insight on how to use them.

I think the discussion on the Demasion route '73 via the Walker (done in winter as a rock climb) and Cecchinel's routes on the Dru '73 and Grand Pilier d'Angle '71 show that Europeans were for the most part still trying to "rock" climb. Chouinard on the other hand was well past that by 1966 and thinking "ICE".

And did I mention this kid was the "shit"? 4th ascent of the Harlin route on the Eiger, Oct '77 in 5 days. That is some proud old school stuff in my book.





Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Jan 6, 2009 - 08:24am PT
How about a couple from the first ascent of the Ames Ice Hose (Feb. 1976).


Steve Shea and Lou Dawson (above) and me (below) after spending the night in the woods atop the route. Note Supergaitors, Dachstein mitts and sweater, Foamback.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 6, 2009 - 11:58am PT
Hey Michael! Those were the days of leather and wool and hard work hauling it all around with you! Nice shots. Makes me want to toss a few ice cubes in my drawers while drinking my coffee this morning!
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Jan 6, 2009 - 01:21pm PT
In the mid-70s the Simond and Charlet-Moser tools seemed to work better in the fall and winter ice found around Chamonix than other gear that we frequently used. The Chouinard tools including the recently introduced Zeros were harder to place than the French tools. The French tools had a thinner cross section and were made of harder steel. The Simond tools had slightly less curve than the Chouinards, and the Charlets, a bit more.
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