Classic Ice Primer- Chouinard Catalog 1968

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 31, 2009 - 08:33pm PT
Welcome Jeff!

Can I offer you some frozen Squid memories?!?




From Vertigo Games by Glenn Randall, 1983.

To you crampon historians, what were people wearing prior to Salewa adjustables and Chouinard rigids in the sixties? Grivel hand forged ultralights? Was Salewa the first stamped and formed crampon design available in Europe?

Thanks for the fabulous excerpts Gordon and Ricky. Love to read the full pieces down the road!
Wee Jock

climber
Jan 31, 2009 - 09:53pm PT
I suppose my stubais were hand forged - looked like they were galvanised???
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Feb 1, 2009 - 08:40am PT
I definitely had hand-forged Stubais from the late 50s. Quite beautiful. Hinged. Not galvanized, but dark unfinished iron. Hardened, but if they were steel it was a pretty low alloy.

I liked the way that at the front they forged in four different directions: the front point, front vert point, frame piece headed rearward, and the vert piece to the separate lacing ring that flopped merrily back and forth. All squarish in cross section. I can't remember if there was also a horizontal frame piece crossing between the front points?

The front points were distinctly modern, curving downward and flared to a sharp chisel end.

Cotton straps that froze up.

Those Grivel Ultralights were so obviously the state of the art, but I never had any. Delicately forged and so light.

The Salewas were the first stamped crampons.

PSOM had a bunch of loaner 10-points that were the complete opposite. Just blundering crude heavy monsters. Reminiscent of the worst Euro forged pins occasionally around then. The McDonalds of crampons.

There's a slim chance I have an old snapshot...
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Feb 1, 2009 - 09:13am PT
You're making me think of my first ice axe too.

Stubai Aschenbrenner. Straight-out pick, pretty good for bashing steps. Self-arrested well, for the day. Didn't really consider clawing with it. Well, on snow sure, but definitely not on ice.

It was probably 80 cm long. I happily carried it all over the Sierra. But by the mid-60s I cut down the shaft to about 65 cm in imitation of the shorter axes that were coming out of Europe. Re-fitted the ferrule with a ring of red epoxy around the top.

After I got my first Chouinard Piolet in the fall of '69 I gave that axe to a young autistic client.

Occasionally I wish I still had that axe, as well as the 207 cm Hexcel prototype skis I took on the John Muir Trail the next spring.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 1, 2009 - 09:25am PT
If you have a shot of those Stubai's, I would love to check them out.

Salewa put their adjustable out in 1962, pretty early on.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Feb 1, 2009 - 09:26am PT
Gordon aka "Wee Jock" Christ man - please get that book published and flog the name on this site. The story with Tobin Sorenson was the most gripping alpine climbing epic I've read in ages.

photo from Pete Benson
I think this is the site of the epic--North Face Grande Jorasses??

thank you! Fritz
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 1, 2009 - 10:06am PT
Perfect spot for one!

The Stubai Aschenbrenner was a step cutting only design and never looked better than in this gentleman's weathered hands.

Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Feb 1, 2009 - 10:45am PT
Well, Gordon, you were the best of your generation of Scottish clamberers, carrying on in a long, distinguished line of under-equipped, dishevelled and self-reliant mountain men. And now, by your excerpt, I see that you're also ready to step into the literary shoes of the likes of Murray and Marshall and Robin Smith, etc. I've got two days left on a deadline that will not allow me to participate much, here, but then I'll post up some stuff from my pilgrimage back in '75 to the birthplace of winter mountaineering and mixed climbing. I even have a pic of Tut on that route you spoke of. Tut and I did a few climbs in that rope-free style, and the most delicate aspect was trying to not fall off as we were each trying to top the other with our jokes as we climbed. I remember one point at the crux of Hadrian's Wall where Tut had outdone me, and I spent five minutes fighting paroxysms of laughter while clinging precariously to axes and crampons barely adhered to thin ice. Wonderful times!

Cheers to you, Wee Jock-

-StyrofoamJello

EDIT: And thanks, Steve, for the memories via the Squid pics. We didn't have much in the way of Scots styrofoam on this side of the puddle, so we had to make do with what we found on our own winter hillsides.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Feb 1, 2009 - 10:57am PT
Great shot of Norman. The stare...

Sporting a skinny rope. Nylon, for sure, but definitely a guiding-only line. No leading on that, nope.

But they cut off his boots. The wonderful nailed mothas with about 26 eyelets lacing to mid-thigh.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Feb 1, 2009 - 07:08pm PT
Great stuff, thank you gentlemen.

Wee Jock

climber
Feb 1, 2009 - 11:05pm PT
Great Dane, the topo you just posted has an error ... Route A and Route B join about an inch (on the photo!) higher - at the top of the next steepening. The Desmaison original takes a corner (just discernable as a line on the photo) up the left flank of this steep section to reach the 'first ramp' while route B goes up a very obvious (and rather Scottish) ice gully hard up against the right hand bounding wall (ie the line as shown in the topo).

Jello - high praise from such as you, were it only true ... well actually 3 of the words are true - clamberer, dishevelled and under-equipped.

As to crampons I climbed for a while with a pair of Salewa Adjustables with tungsten tips ... to keep them sharp I suppose. Trouble was the tips fell off.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Feb 1, 2009 - 11:16pm PT
The "Scottish" part may also be true. :-) Anyway, fascinating stories - thanks!
Wee Jock

climber
Feb 2, 2009 - 01:58am PT
Actually, I was born in Calcutta, India
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 2, 2009 - 08:27am PT
To continue the show and tell.....

In 1908 Oscar Eckenstein became the father of the modern reliable crampon with this hinged ten point design.







The front points were destined to show up around 1929 and revolutionize icecraft.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Feb 2, 2009 - 09:34am PT
Gordon, thanks for correcting the topo. Looks like a fairly complicated face. Don't know if you have seen this from Jon Griffith's web site. It would make a good photo to add a topo to. Dbl click on the photo for high resolution.

http://jonathangriffith.co.uk/chamonix/DPP07D90108141E42.jpg

http://www.alpineexposures.com/blogs/chamonix-conditions/648962-general-update-and-steck-record-10-jan

And Pete Benson's photo from their climb.

Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
Feb 2, 2009 - 02:42pm PT
climbing thread bump.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Feb 3, 2009 - 09:30am PT
There have been so many good climbers posting and some amazing climbs on this thread. It is a fun read.

Question for Gordon, didn't you and Tobin do that route with two nights out in 1977?
Wee Jock

climber
Feb 3, 2009 - 07:26pm PT
Great Dane
Two nights out, but we also lost nearly a morning wandering up a red herring and rapping back down again...The route we did wasn't the Desmaison as it turned out but somewhat more direct. A high def photo shown me by Luca Signorelli showed me what I always suspected (remember Tobin and I had no route description, only Desmaison's name for the route as the 'NE Face Direct' of the Point Walker - so we kept our noses pointed to the summit at all times...actually, I broke my nose years ago so it is a bit bent therefore we followed Tobin's nose). I saw our route really clearly in Jon Griffiths photo that you provided the link for!!

Just to keep the post in keeping with the OP Tobin used a 60cm Chouinard Frost and Chouinard ice hammer and I had Terrors. I reckon that my Terror axe, with its big adze, would have coped better with the soft snow of the cornice!! I really loved that Terror axe because of the adze even though it was a bit light for climbing hard water ice. Terrors were really great for the very thin ice in the mixed climbing ... much better than the Chouinard stuff that Tobin had IMO. We climbed in the old fashioned way ... if there was no ice to stick the pick into we rock climbed with our hands - ie no torqueing and hooking.

I think we both had Salewa Adjustables and we did a lot of mixed verglassed rock and thin ice climbing in them. We found them great for the mixed climbing - essentially rock climbing up to about 5.10.

We had no ice screws, though there was a fair bit of very hard 'winter' ice in the gullies on the route that would have 'taken' them well.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 3, 2009 - 08:15pm PT
John Cleare wrote a chapter about Scottish winter climbing in Mountains, 1975. The modern portion.











Enter you lads!

Wee Jock

climber
Feb 3, 2009 - 09:49pm PT
Mr Grossman ... re Cleare's article - clipping in and resting on a Terror would be aid, would it not? Also, hooking (as per Hamish's spiel about the terror hooking small rock flakes) - is that not aid as much as using a sky-hook? Seems to me that the 'new' tools of the seventies brought in some ethical questions, particularly the angled pick of the Terror. Being a particularly impecunious example of Homo Scotus Winterclimbicus I was always careful to try not to use the terror on rock as it wore it out very quickly...the pick metal was kind of soft and once it had worn down to the first tooth it was fairly useless. As far as I knew most folk did a lot of clearing of snow from rock holds and climbing bare handed (hence the wee strings on the Dachsteins - which brought a problem as the mitt would hang upside down and fill with spindrift!).
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