Classic Ice Primer- Chouinard Catalog 1968

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Wee Jock

climber
Feb 1, 2009 - 12:53am PT
I suppose my stubais were hand forged - looked like they were galvanised???
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Feb 1, 2009 - 11:40am 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 - 12:13pm 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 - 12:25pm 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 - 12:26pm 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 - 01:06pm 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 - 01:45pm 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 - 01:57pm 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 - 10:08pm PT
Great stuff, thank you gentlemen.

Wee Jock

climber
Feb 2, 2009 - 02:05am 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 2, 2009 - 02:16am PT
The "Scottish" part may also be true. :-) Anyway, fascinating stories - thanks!
Wee Jock

climber
Feb 2, 2009 - 04:58am PT
Actually, I was born in Calcutta, India
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 2, 2009 - 11:27am 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 - 12:34pm 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 - 05:42pm PT
climbing thread bump.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Feb 3, 2009 - 12:30pm 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 - 10:26pm 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 - 11:15pm PT
John Cleare wrote a chapter about Scottish winter climbing in Mountains, 1975. The modern portion.











Enter you lads!

Wee Jock

climber
Feb 4, 2009 - 12:49am 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!).
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Feb 4, 2009 - 02:20am PT
The whole modern mixed thing went over my head for years.

My first exposure to a Terro was a set the hostel host borrowed from the Burgess twins while they were climbing around Cirrus gully in the winter of '74. (A year later it bacame Polar Circus) We had just climbed Louise and rapped off to find these guys playing with a bunch of different tools. They were nice enough to let us play too :)

We Inland NW Yanks were generally using curved gear. Although Roskelly caught on to Terros quicker than the rest of us and took advantage of the numerious "free" options available. Terros opened my eyes that day on Louise as to what might yet be possible.

As Gordon mentioned Terros and Chouinard gear for that matter didn't last long if you hit rocks. If if wasn't "FAT" ice we generally avoided it. With winter climbs like Slipstream or Takakkaw so handy why bother wit "winter mixed"? On alpine mixed like Deltaform, Temple or Edith Cavel you might end up climbing in crampons a lot depending on conditions with a tool in your holster or hanging on your wrist. No matter what you did, if you had a good alpine season (3 or 4 faces) in Canada, you'd generally wear out a set of tools. Dachsteins would climb pretty well on moderate stuff. Bare handed {in summer}seemed the norm when it got hard. Hooking a rock intentionally with an ice tool just never occured to us/me. The tools were expensive and Terros (in the NW anyway) hard to obtain let alone replace. Winter? A bit too cold to climb without a pair (or two) of mitts in those days.

Modern mixed? At least for some of us climbing in Canada early on, if it wasn't fat winter ice why bother? Heaven forbid you ever actually went looking for that kind of "shit". We'd typically got a stomach full in the summer or on the occasional winter alpine climb. I used a set of Terros and most importantly the adze to climb the last pitch of sun baked mush of Polar Cirus and Teardrop on an early ascents. I am not sure what other tools would have made them possible at the time. The long Chouinard tubes you could pull out with your hands in those conditions. The Simond Chacal and Barracuda that came later where the first tools I thought bettered than Terros. Since the sun baked vertical slop never seemed to get any easier over the years I still favored the big, dropped adzes. Something none of the newer tools seemed to think worth copying.

Salewa and Chouinard rigids came first. But the SMC rigids were the crampon of choice for most of us between '75 and the early '80s on water ice and alpine climbing. Footfangs swayed many from the SMC for hard ice. The Chouinard hinged stared to make in roads for alpine mixed.

Years later I finally bought a set of tools just for "modern"
mixed. Camming a crack or hooking a rock edge made perfect sense after rereading Jello's book for the 87th time:) And then first doing it on a top rope. Shafts come in many forms these days but funny to me that the best of them actually copy the same hooking angles of the original Terros. Just no need now to bang a knuckle.

From the posts in this thread an observation one might make is that it was Hamish McInnes and his Terro that made the biggest impression on modern ice and mixed climbing.

Louise in '74


Remember how the sharp edges on the hammer head would tear up your mitts?






Look familiar?



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