Classic Ice Primer- Chouinard Catalog 1968

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 3, 2009 - 07:53pm PT
Or crotchcicle....
Captain...or Skully

Trad climber
North of the Owyhees
Jan 3, 2009 - 07:59pm PT
Brrrrrrrrr...........
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jan 4, 2009 - 09:54am PT
Fine reading here. Thanks to DR, Tarbuster and all

DR-

I also disagree with your early comments in this thread on Hamish McInnes’ terrordactyls. Yes, you bashed your knuckles when you used them ( I still have the scars to prove it), but when it came to vertical ice, they were superior to Chouinard tools. The key advantage was that they were easier to remove than the curved picks, and this was welcome in balancy situations. And with a practiced flick of the wrist, you learned to spare the knuckles a bit.

This is me using them on the FA of the Dru Couloir Direct in 1977, photo by Tobin.





Also, there was another reason we moved away from Chouinard picks when I was ice climbing in the seventies and it was mentioned above by Steve. We knew of several instances where Chouinard ice axes (and crampons also) had snapped while in use and this was an unnerving prospect As a result, we sometimes threw an extra ice tool in the pack, just in case.

That being said, Chouinard’s curved picks were excellent, especially on delicate ice. This is the Swiss route on Les Courtes in 1976, which was a very dry, thin year. Chouinard bamboo axe and lightweight ice hammer Photo: Mike Graham.



Also note the Rivendell pack in the last photo.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 4, 2009 - 10:10am PT
Great post Ricky. Would you mind fleshing out that Dru Couloir Direct experience? You may have done so already in the Stonemaster Stories. Big time route to bag!
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Jan 4, 2009 - 10:39am PT
Steve,
I'll do that in another thread some time, so as to keep the drift reasonable.
Rick
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jan 4, 2009 - 11:47am PT
I am nearly overwhelmed by all the recent information posted here. What motivates me to reply: is the incredible number of memory links I have to many of the last 25 or so postings. I have to contribute.

I bought into and eventually owned a climbing, ski, and backpacking shop in Moscow Idaho and was the local gear source and a popular climbing knowledge resource for U of Idaho and Washington State University climbers 1973-83.
I was able to meet and or climb with, through sponsoring “climbing slide shows” or attending trade shows, a fair number of the “big name climbers” of the 1970’s.

Don Jensen: In 1976 in company with recent poster Dane Burns: Gwain Oka, Chris Puchner, & I flew off to Alaska to attempt Mt. Deborah. David Roberts wrote a book about an epic failed adventure on Deborah with Don Jensen; that had helped inspire us. We were going to climb the then unclimbed North Ridge of Deborah. In our cockiness, we were able to look at reports of the 20 or so expeditions that had failed to climb a new route on Deborah since Becky and Harrer did the South Ridge in 1954, and ignore the facts.

We flew in from Talkeetna with our pilot: the legendary Cliff Hudson. He flew us over the steep avalanche-covered canyon that descends under Deborah’s North Face and looked back to say “I wouldn’t go in there if I was you boys”. After climbing 3,700 vertical scary feet up a northern spur peak to get to the start of the North Ridge of Deborah, we retreated. We did push a new very ballsy route up the north side of its neighbor Mt. Hess. From Hess, we got a close look at the dreaded East ridge of Deborah that Don Jensen did not climb. We then had a epic retreat after a storm hit us near the summit of Hess (used up a lot of luck that night). Cliff was a few days late picking us up, food was running low, and we started looking at maps and thinking about walking out. It did not look like a sane alternative. Of course, Don Jensen and David Roberts did walk into and out from the East Ridge.

At the end of the trip, at age 28: I decided I had used up most of my expeditionary luck and tried to stay on safer routes after that. (Dane did not feel unlucky, and went on many more expeditions after Deborah).

Timeline note: the North Ridge of Deborah was climbed in July 1976 and its North Face got climbed the next year-1977. I profoundly respect those very brave (and slightly insane) men!


Chris Puchner, Dane Burns, Ray (Fritz)Brooks, Gwain Oka: in front of Cliff Hudson's plane. N. side Mt. Deborah May 1978



The middle section of the North ridge of Deborah from our high point at 9,700 Ft, on the northern spur peak of Deborah, after an “interesting” day & night of snow, ice and rotten rock climbing.



The upper part of the North Ridge of Deborah.

Jensen Packs. I still have mine from Rivendell Mountain Works, Driggs, Idaho. I climbed with it from 1973 to about 1977----when I replaced it with a Lowe pack. If you packed it carefully----it carried great (even up to 55-60 lbs). Unfortunately, it took a long time to pack carefully and those with Lowe packs were escaping the negative event when I was still packing. I don’t believe the Chouinard rip-off, the Ultimate Thule was nearly as well made.

Haderer leather boots and Chouinard Supergators. The Chouinard Supergators idea was borrowed from Peter Carmen & Rivendell Mountain Works. Based on very positive cold weather experience with Supergators----I wore mine to Alaska in May 1978. I think the other 3 guys took double boots. I remember worrying, but had adequately warm feet. I broke down and bought plastic tele-boots a few year back: otherwise: leather rules.

Chouinard Crampons: I bought a pair in 1971 or 72 and climbed happily on them for years. On the 1978 Deborah trip we climbed a lot of thin crusted snow over ice. I took a lot of minor slips while front-pointing and got a little nervous about my abilities. On our return from the trip: I finally looked at how far the front points stuck out from my boot soles. It was about ½”. I had filed them so many times that they just didn’t protrude far enough to do the job in those conditions. Bought SMC’s. They never fit great, but did the job.

John Cleare: Royal Robbins talked him into a U.S. slide show circuit in 1975? He showed up in Moscow, ID on a Friday with a terrible hangover and spent the weekend. Gave a great show, told classic British climbing stories at the mandatory drinking session afterwards, and did light rock-climbing. He came back for another session in a year or two. He was absolutely the best person I ever sponsored slide shows for. To my astonishment: he tracked me down last year, asked permission to use one of my Deborah photos in Stephen Venable’s book “Meetings with Mountains” and then sent me money for it. John!------you are a gentleman.

Hummingbirds: I was not doing a lot of waterfall climbing in the 70’s, since Moscow, Idaho did not have much nearby, but every winter we would take off to Baniff to do a drinking, skiing, waterfall-climbing week. I met Dane Burns there in 1974 while climbing the standard: Cascade Couloir. As I started climbing steeper and longer waterfall pitches, I could not figure out how to stop on near vertical ice and place protection while using Chouinard Piolet and Alpine hammer. The Hummingbird, or rather two of them solved it. I had a wrist loop from a hole I drilled through the fiberglass shaft (which was later profoundly discouraged by Lowe) and then the webbing coming out the bottom of the shaft could be clipped to my Whillans Harness. I could place both Hummingbirds solidly in waterfall ice, rest on them and my front points and place screws with my Chouinard Alpine Hammer. It felt totally safe until my sub-conscious finally screamed: “You’ve used up all your luck.” That was about 1983 and I haven’t ice climbed since.

Salewa tubes clogging: I had read an article in Mountain in 73 or 74, that the Brits would put the tubes down their shirts to thaw the ice out, but I could not really believe myself doing such a masochistic thing. In 1974 on 2nd pitch of Cascade Couloir, I could not get a clogged Salewa tube to screw in. They melted out quickly inside my shirt and I hardly minded the trickle of ice-water.

Warm, dry rock. I can keep climbing that stuff forever. Thanks, Fritz
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Jan 4, 2009 - 12:48pm PT
Unkie Ray! Damn, it is good to hear from you!

Fun times, hu? Your pics just floored me! Deborah was our centenial year, 1976. I remember how pissed my Dad was about the collect call home on the radio phone through Fairbanks. You and Gwain the "old guys" 28? Me, 22. Chris? You made that trip possible for me and many more later..thank you.

Easy to get the dates mixed up. Took me several months in bed last spring from a ground fall just to figure out and write down what tools I'd used, when and where.

Gwain and I were both still using single boots on Deborah, custom done, zippered and insulated with pile, super gators. Gwain was in the Trappeur "Deavasoux"? I'm sure that isn't the spelling of the French alpinist that they were named for but it was the boot with covered laces. Me in "my" Haderers that came 2nd hand through Roskelly.

You were the only other guy I ever met that had a pair. Chris was in Galibier dbls.

I had scored a pair of Galibier Makalus from you but they never fit well so didn't get used much.

I think between Gwain and I, we bought 3 Jensens from you. Two Gaints and one regular. I ended up buying two more over the years. 5 out of a thousand total packs produced I read some where. Just sold my last recently on Ebay for the silly price of $340. Amazing design and very well made in comparison to what else was available.

Too many time lines on this thread...too many questions unanswered :)

Rick and Tobin's amazing season in the Alps? Love to see and hear more about that one myself.
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jan 4, 2009 - 01:11pm PT
Lurking and love'n it ;)

That's right I had forgotten...
The original Super Gaitor was the 'Carmen Super Gaitor'

Salewa tubes inside the clothing to ease core removal, Yep !
Even the first Chouinard screws with their supposed core cut smaller than tube ID would need the treatment once in a while when it was really cold.
I remember the trick was, if there was any core left from placement then the second, if they removed the screw quickly and immediately smacked out the tube, it would clear easy from the friction created at removal. But leave it for a minute or two and it would just ice up again immediately.

Birds...
Way cool for hard ice traverses.
I always thought it was so neat the way you could place them and rotate the placement as you moved across the traverse.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 4, 2009 - 01:23pm 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 - 01:48pm 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 - 03:41pm PT
Nice shot!
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Jan 4, 2009 - 04:07pm 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 - 04:15pm PT
And, it appears, Dachstein mitts. Don't forget the Dachsteins.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Jan 4, 2009 - 04:22pm 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 - 04:40pm 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 - 06:27pm 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 - 06:42pm 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 - 06:59pm 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 - 07:05pm PT
Still got 'em ........

RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Jan 4, 2009 - 07:12pm 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.

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