Chouinard Alpine hammer and Piolet questions?

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RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Jan 13, 2009 - 10:36pm PT
I suspect someone here will know the answers.

According to the Great Pacific Iron Works catalog (Chouinard) '78/'79 the hickory handled alpine hammer went through 5 generations. The pictures below show the 3 cataloged versions.

I call them "first", "short dbl teeth" and "last". I have seen a long handled version of the dbl teeth head, call it the "long dbl teeth". I supect another version" is the "first" hammer but with some weight chopped off vertically on the hammer end.

Can anyone verify that guess on my part or offer different alternatives for the one or two missing generations of alpine hammer?

I climbed with a couple different versions at the time but never really noticed much difference as I was always grinding on my own tools making them lighter, adding a deeper curve or more teeth. Just noticed today that the dbl tooth hammer as a slightly deeper drop on the pick that either before or after versions.





Next question is about the Piolet.

I remember seeing the Piolet in ash (Euro only), hickory, bamboo and Rexilon. By '78/'79 the wood and laminate shafts were no longer imported into the USA. You couldn't buy a wood handled Chouinard piolet in Chamonix by the fall of '78. The hand forged head was now being attached to a synthetic shaft. Although I have seen all of the wood handle materials never seen a ash tool available in the USA. Although I have the later dbl toothed piolet with a hickory handle that I bought in England.

Doug Robinson mentioned getting his first piolet, "in 1969 and by October of that year Yvon delivered to me on the edge of the Palisade Glacier the hickory-handled 70 cm one"

Sounded like the Piolet became commercially available in the fall of '69 and were gone forever by '79. Although you could still find a few 70cm and 80cm CAMP versions of the Piolet in the sale bin @ Snells in Chamonix in Sept of '78. Same bamboo axe just no longer marked Chouinard-Frost.

So what is the deal with the axes only marked CHOUINARD and not CHOUINARD-FROST? At closer inspection...I'll post a picture a when i get time..it is obvious that the Chouinard-Frost stamp is a two part stamp. Can anyone tell me why the tools were marked with one or both names?

thanks!
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Jan 13, 2009 - 11:00pm PT
Dane, there seemed to be several subtle variations on the hammer through the years. The first one I had from 71 had a thick pick and a piton hammer length handle. The double toothed hammer had a very thin pick that was prone to breakage and the notch behind the hammer face. The last version that I had, like the one you posted, teeth along most of the pick and the pick was a width between the two earlier models. The last model also had a longer handle. There was a later version with a blue nylon(?) shaft and interchangable picks.

The first Chouinard axe I bought was in 1971, was 55 cm, and had a hickory shaft. Later that year the bamboo shafts appeared. Interalp-Camp made mine and all the axes through the Zero series. Though the bamboo had that classic swing and dampening effect, it broke often. Some of the versions of the Chouinard axe were sold in Europe with ash shafts. After many returns at shops, the rising costs for wood and bamboo likely made the case for composites.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 13, 2009 - 11:27pm PT
Good info Todd, thanks. If you have a minute, a couple of questions? (Rick too if he wants to join the conversation?) How many tools did you (or your US crew) typically go through in a season in the Alps back then?

What tools and gear did you end up prefering for the hard ice/mixed climbs you were doing?

I remember in the late '70s Duane and John coming back from the Chamonix meet sold on Simond tools. (Chacal and longer axe)

But it was quite a revolution in ice tools between 1971 and 1979. I find the early and mid years while tools were getting sorted out on harder climbs really interesting.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Jan 14, 2009 - 12:12am PT
I remember going through alot of tools back in 1975-78.

Seemed like all of us who tramped to the Alps from Yosemite OR Colorado to Chamonix broke alot of picks. I went to the Apls with a pair of Chouinard bamboo North Wall hammers that were indestructable. Trouble was the pick was just not steep enough for when Steve Shea and i or Mugs would wander into the Dru Couloir and inadverdently climb some hard mixed variation. One day after several routes of hard climbing Steve, Mugs, Tobin and I all walked into the Charlet Moser factory with twelve broken tools between us. We talked to the main manager and explained to him how it was so many picks had been destroyed and he talked to the main pick forger who adjusted how he tempered the steel and immediately we had replacements made for us on the spot. It was very impressive.

I think the model was the Gabbaru Grade 6. It had a 45cm/50cm length with a very severe droop to it. They were really light and had great balance. I think I still have one at home.
The only tool that was more durable but with the same droop was the Snowdon Moldings curver.

I've also got my 70cm bamboo piolet. I think I gave away the
North Wall hammers.

JACK
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 14, 2009 - 12:37am PT
Jack more good info, thanks. I had no idea Mugs was over there at the same time. So you, Rick, Todd, Tobin, Mugs, Steve Shea, Dick Jackson, and who else was climbing hard in Chamonix from the CA and CO at the time?

I only knew of a few guys from the NW that made the trip until Twight went over in the '80s.

Had a pair of the Ice Sixes myself. Beautiful tools but one of the few sets of tools I didn't keep. Too light for me on Canadian winter ice.
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Jan 14, 2009 - 02:02am PT
Dane, my main partner at that time was Jack Hunt. We lost some Chouinard tools on a climb and replaced them with the Chacals from Simond. Short, curved and wickedly effective. I sold mine but Jack, I believe, used his for many years of nasty new routes around the southern San Juans after he moved to Colorado in the late 70s.

As a note, Jack and I were from New York State and had done lots of climbing in the NE. We were surprised that we were considered serious climbers because we got up some cool routes. We were lucky to have been part of a very exciting era of NE winter climbing and have had our standards shifted upwards. It was really cool to meet the good American climbers (like Mike, Rick, and Tobin) in Chamonix and all the crazy Euros. The Americans had several great seasons over there.

To answer your question about breakage, we broke no axes or hammers in Chamonix but heard lots of rumors from British and American friends. Now cracked Chouinard/Salewa crampons, well... There was a reason why the Salewas were favored by some and the advances in the French crampons.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jan 14, 2009 - 03:18am PT
I had one of those ice hammers with the teeth only at the tip, not near the shaft (for thin waterfall ice). I cut it off, drilled a hole, and it's now a mini-Yosemite hammer for walls. It has the recess in the head near the shaft, to lighten it. It was purchased, used, at the GPIW in about 1976. The original shaft became cracked, and has been replaced by one that is noticeably longer. Theron Moses has the original shaft, for use with his (our?) open-source hammer project.




I bought a Piolet at the GPIW in about 1976/1977 that had a laminated shaft, not solid wood. I don't know if it was bamboo or Rexilon.





EDIT: I met Yvon and Tom at their shop, which for me, the little guy just getting into climbing, was about like meeting, today, Tiger Woods and Shaquille O'Neal at the same time.
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Jan 14, 2009 - 08:35am PT
Marty Karabin gave me a chart one time that had no less than 16 different renditions of the Chouinard hammers over the years. Differences were pretty small in some cases... teeth, no teeth, tooth spacing, etc.

One I don't see in your pictures above is the '75 version that has the long pick, but no notch in the back and no teeth.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Jan 14, 2009 - 09:46am PT
I'm almost sure that the differences for the last two generations had to do with handle length on the alpine hammers rather than any changes on the head with pick length or thickness. The handle got longer and I think the last version was made from ash.

Yvon and Tom Frost parted ways professionally and Yvon came out with the Climax. At that time all the manufactor's were still playing around with what length worked the best for shorter, more technical tools. Everyone seemed to settle on the 55cm length around the same time. I think I got my first Chacal around 1979 or so after the ascent of Huntington and climbing in Canada with Dale.

The main advantage was that it was the first technical tool (that I can remember) that had the first reverse curve pick and the pick could be replaced if it broke. Since it seemed that every other tool I used I broke it was nice to have that option. That little reverse pick made a huge difference at the time. The Lowe can out with the Big Bird and North Wall Hammer, clip-on crampons.

RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 14, 2009 - 02:16pm PT
There was the obvious wall hammer, and a crag hammer, shorter pick and no teeth. What I was wondering about was just the wood handled alpine hammers. Not seen an ash one so that is news.

Adding some handle length was a big improvement. I was rereading the old catalogs last night. The '75 catalog says 4 versions of the alpine hammer, the '78 version says 5.

Steel mnkey:
"Marty Karabin gave me a chart one time that had no less than 16 different renditions of the Chouinard hammers over the years. Differences were pretty small in some cases... teeth, no teeth, tooth spacing, etc."

Wow, that would be interesting, love to see that list. Wall, crag and alpine hammers all listed I have to assume?

Tom that is a Rexilon shaft. Nice axe btw just a bit heavier than the Bamboo and I suspect a good bit stronger overtime.



Jack:
"I think I got my first Chacal around 1979 or so after the ascent of Huntington and climbing in Canada with Dale."

Jack, I'd bought a Chacel as well, same year '79. They were a big hit in Canada after Lauchlan and Elzinga came back from the '79 meet in Chamonix. (Simond gave all the particapants a Chacal) I used mine with a Bamboo Zero or a Curver to make the pair and later with a Simond Baracuda (axe version) as soon as they appeared. Used the Simond gear from early '80s through '86 or '87.





And another tool from the era, Clog Vulture...the hammer version was eventually recalled and discontinued for loosing the head. Owners were given a new Curver.



Th Curver axe


Good call Jack! Frost left the partnership in '75 and shortly after that all the axes were marked CHOUINARD only. '78 catalog clearly shows the new logo on the newest synthetic shafted piolet and the Zero. (which is painted bamboo in the catalog) Makes since just hadn't remembered seeing anything but Chouinard-Frost. So the axes in the above pics are from the last couple of years of production. Kool to know.





Todd:
"As a note, Jack and I were from New York State and had done lots of climbing in the NE. We were surprised that we were considered serious climbers because we got up some cool routes. We were lucky to have been part of a very exciting era of NE winter climbing and have had our standards shifted upwards. It was really cool to meet the good American climbers (like Mike, Rick, and Tobin) in Chamonix and all the crazy Euros. The Americans had several great seasons over there."

Todd, I was thinking about all this last night. Seemed many of the NW guys went to Alaska at the time. Few made it to Europe from our small circle. CO and CA were going to Europe. I had wondered what happened to the East Coast after Bouchard and crew had been to Chamonix? Fun to hear and imagine how each area developed.

I have been developing this personal theory that much of the difficult alpine climbing done round the world gets its start in Chamonix. Not many places where you can do that much alpine ice climbing in 30 days "easily"...as compared to say, Canada or Alaska.

But you and guys like Jack should have a more informed opinion on that. How instrumental was Chamonix to you? Obviously later but Twight and earlier Bouchard come to mind on this idea as well. Was your local cragging scene more of an influence on your mixed and alpine climbing?

Logdog

Trad climber
Sierra Nevada
Jan 14, 2009 - 02:21pm PT
Does anybody have a wooden/ bamboo piolet they would part with? Chouinard or similar? For less than e-bay style $300? I'm lookin' to get old school!
Thanks,

-One Eyed Chuck
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 14, 2009 - 02:42pm PT
Chuck when you figure the wood/laminate axes were only available from '69 to '78 and a good many of them were broken or had the tips filed well past being useful, $300 seems cheap for a usable example.

Not like I'd want to buy one for $300 though :)
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jan 14, 2009 - 02:55pm PT
"One day after several routes of hard climbing Steve, Mugs, Tobin and I all walked into the Charlet Moser factory with twelve broken tools between us. We talked to the main manager and explained to him how it was so many picks had been destroyed and he talked to the main pick forger who adjusted how he tempered the steel and immediately we had replacements made for us on the spot."

Wonderful anecdote.
Ain't no flatlander

climber
Jan 14, 2009 - 02:58pm PT
""Marty Karabin gave me a chart one time that had no less than 16 different renditions of the Chouinard hammers over the years. Differences were pretty small in some cases... teeth, no teeth, tooth spacing, etc."

Wow, that would be interesting, love to see that list. Wall, crag and alpine hammers all listed I have to assume?"

Pretty sure Gary Neptune has the full collection.

The UIAA is responsible for the demise of wood shafts in the late 70s, though Larry Penberthy rants probably hastened their demise in the US. Grivel gets around the standard by laminating wood and fiberglass for the shaft (sortof like rexilon) and making a lugged head but it isn't as nice as old-style wood axes. Sells for roughly $180 but I doubt you can buy a wood Chouinard for under $500 now.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 14, 2009 - 03:36pm PT
Good info on the Neptune collection. Haven't had the chance to visit yet.

"but I doubt you can buy a wood Chouinard for under $500 now."

When they come up on Ebay the Chouinard Piolets seem to fetch $300/$350 or less. Zeros, usually more. But I saw a 60cm Zero axe, in almost perfect shape, go for $200 last Sunday. Deals are still out there if you look around.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jan 14, 2009 - 05:22pm PT
One I don't see in your pictures above is the '75 version that has the long pick, but no notch in the back and no teeth.

Wasn't that the "clean climbing" hammer, intended for "testing fixed pins and removing chocks"? I remember seeing that in the GPIW catalog about '75 or '76. It was basically an unfinished ice hammer, coupled to some inspired marketing.
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Jan 14, 2009 - 05:32pm PT
My reading comprehension meter was off this morning. Missed the "alpine" part of the subject line.

The long pick, no teeth was the crag hammer.
Think it was '75 when it came out, IIRC.

Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Jan 14, 2009 - 06:50pm PT
Dane,
I had/have one close to Steelmnky's but i recall it being even slimmer and toothed. I think it is down 'there' somewhere.

Reilly
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jan 15, 2009 - 03:19am PT
Uh, Uhm, I also had one of those crag hammers, but, I guess I thought it best to let it go to someone who needed it more . . .

I kept the ice hammer, for later defacement.


Who'd know, way back then, that a simple artifact would be so valuable, on eBay, today?


EDIT: When I posted my Piolet on eBay with a $500 buy-it-now, it was GONE in sixty seconds.

EDIT -2: Not sixty seconds, but a short time, for sure. Amazing, how the market works.

EDIT -3: For what it's worth, I used the aforementioned ice axe Piolet on a moderate snow/ice slope, my first on ice, and it worked very well. I was a NooB, and a danger to myself and others, but I was well equipped, with my GPIW piolet.

Living, viva a priori, to tell the tale.


EDIT: my Latin is terrible
rockermike

Mountain climber
Jan 15, 2009 - 03:55am PT
The Piolet in Tom's post above I believe is laminated Hickory. That was the version I had. Came out after the laminated Bamboo ones. I was bumbed at the time not to get bamboo, but I suppose they were stronger. Never broke mine but didn't really do much real ice with it either.

If I'm not mistaken the first Chacal I saw was in '78. Carlos Bueler had a pair and was visiting Telluride after climbing extensively in Canada. Seemed the Canadian guys were a step ahead in ice climbing at the time; at least that was my impression.

Anybody remember the rooster heads? They didn't seem to last in the market too long. Kind of like one of the pictures above (in blue) but with a knuckle protector spike at base of a short shaft.

Dane, my ax and helmet will go in the mail tomorrow.

Hey, and I'll keep pitching these. ebay closes today (Thurs) at 3:00 or so. Way less then $500, sigh. Currently bid up to only $38 for the pair. They got to be worth more than that to someone.

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=280299950912&category=158981&_trksid=p3907.m263&_trkparms=algo%3DSI%26its%3DI%26itu%3DUCI%26otn%3D15%26po%3DLVI%26ps%3D54


Ain't no flatlander

climber
Jan 15, 2009 - 11:39am PT
Here's a different version of the crag hammer.



IIRC the Rooster was a knockoff of the Teradactyl which pre-dated the Chacal but didn't have replaceable picks.
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Jan 15, 2009 - 11:45am PT
Flatlander - that looks like one where the end of the pick with the teeth got shaved off. has it been modified?
Just curious... I haven't seen one like that before that didn't have teeth.

Back middle unit in this shot (posted above) looks like a Terrordactyl.


Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jan 15, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
I'll throw a little confusion into the Piolet stamping. No longer certain that I remember accurately, but...

I think the very earliest Piolets were stamped only CHOUINARD. Then FROST was added. Rumor around the Diamond-C shop was that it was at the insistence of Tom's then-wife, Dorene. That could account for the double stamp, btw.

The modest Frost would never have suggested such a thing himself. I always thought it was particularly ironic for his name to show up only on the axes, because of all the hardware that went out of there the axe was mostly YCs design, with the least input from Frost.

No question, of course, that the later 70s Piolets, after YC bought out Tom, were stamped only CHOUINARD.

The famous "Diamond-C" mark was on everything else. That too seemed at times ironic. Like on the Stoppers, which Frost and I designed together (and I got to name), with very little input from Yvon, who was partial to Hexes.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 15, 2009 - 02:04pm PT
Crag hammers? I always thought the first Crag hammers were simply Alpine hammers with the teeth lobed off. Makes sense when they changed the Alpine hammer design to make it better balanced by removing weight from the back end. The heavy ended hammers were better for pounding pins. Cheaper to lop off the teeth and remarket them as a "new" hammer. Next generation of Crag hammers were just unfinished alpine hammers, brilliant :)

Chacals? First one I saw in Canada was John Lauchlan's. My understanding from conversations while working together was he and Dwayne Congdon were given the tools by Simond while representatives at the Chamonix meet in '79. MEC in Calgary had them by the late winter of '79/80. Carlos and I climbed together a good bit the winter/spring of '80/'81. I used a set of Forrest Lifetimes later that season including on a early one day ascent of Polar Circus. But used a set of Clog Vultures earlier in the season on the 2nd ascent of Slipstream done in a day. I had some gear stolen and IIRC we both switched later in the year to Chacals. Its been 30 years but I do remember being a little leery of the Chacals pick atatchment over the Forrest tools. (Carlos is still kicking in Canmore and with a couple of new babies, and can correct me if I am off ;)

Early shot of a previous ascent of Polar Circus..using a Curver and a hand forged North Wall hammer.



Roosterheads? Had several. The forward spike was way ahead of its' time. Worked well as intended. Mugs used one on Moonflower and Moose's Tooth. I cut the spike off mine and always ended up tearing the hammer off pounding pins. So although cheaper and a bit lighter I always went back to a Terro. The blue Terro pictured above I was told came from the last production run. The blue is a heat cured paint, rubber grip is more substantial than the earlier production runs of silver then black terros.

Rexilon? Laminated hickory?

Chouinard never used a laminated Hickory that I know of. They did however use Rexilon which does look like it could be laminated hickory. Ash, Hickory, bamboo and Rexilon all were available at one time or another but not all were imported into the USA.

Bit of trivia for you ;)

"The Rexilon shaft on Chouinard ice axes was made of a laminate of 18-layers of beech ("faggio" in Italian). It was originally used for pole-vaulting poles in the days before fiberglass composites. CAMP used this before bamboo but both were available for a while."

Piolet stamps? Thanks Doug. I have a couple of old 55s. One in hickory that is a later production axe by the dbl set of teeth in the pick and 3 rivets in the shaft. So think you solved its' production time frame and stamping mystery. But my earlier 55cm bamboo piolet has one set of teeth and 2 rivets in the shaft and only the Chouinard logo.

Obvious the stamp on all my tools is a two part CHOUINARD...FROST stamping with close inspection. If the production started and ended with a CHOUINARD only stamp it would more easily fit what I see on the tools I have.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 15, 2009 - 03:50pm PT
2nd gen (1980 black) and a last (?date/ blue) gen Terro.



Chacal '81 and Barracuda from 1982/83?



Clog Vulture hammer 1980



How about the other end of the equation, Crampons?

Chouinard rigids from 1974. Never broke a pair but did file the front points into non exsistance.



Chouinard Rigids from 1977



Much to my surprise I just noticed there were no Chouinard Rigids in the '78 catalog. Chouinard Hinged from 1978



Loved these crampons later on with Koflachs and made the cable toe mod for my own use.



Did something similar to my SMC rigid by cutting, bending the front post and adding rings. I think my partners and I cracked every pair of front posts on SMC rigids we used. Stopped using them by '81 though and went to the lighter and certainly more durable hinged Chouinard.



By '85 I was on these...the first binding I used. Chouinards again. Still a great crampon on steep, pure ice with a rigid soled boot.



And three different versions of the Chouinard rigid front points.



My take is Chouinard and climbers were less and less involved in the design and manufacturing as some of these changes (wood to fiberglass shafts for instance) were incorported.

No question in my mind that the first fiber glass axes didn't climb as well on steep ice as the earlier bamboo did. It took awhile.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Jan 15, 2009 - 04:24pm PT
"Marty Karabin gave me a chart one time that had no less than 16 different renditions of the Chouinard hammers over the years."

I wonder if he also kept a Karabiner chart?

I have a 1973/74 Chouinard/Frost piolet in almost new condition, and would not want to part with it. A lovely piece of gear, in addition to its sentimental value.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Jan 15, 2009 - 04:59pm PT
Choinard himself was very active in making the first fiberglass shafts for the Piolet. Driven to it I assume just by breakage. The glass was laid up on an aluminum blank that gave the shape. He was very proud of the used pizza oven he had just installed in the shop to cook the resin. I could see that he liked the technical challenge of getting it all to work. I was writing for a new magazine, a startup called Outside, and did a review.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 15, 2009 - 08:35pm PT
Doug you are such a wealth of info, thanks for sharing and clarifing what was really going on at GPIW. I've just been guessing from my own use.

Funny story about the first Premana, hand finished, heads on fiberglass shafts.

BITD I was buying what ever Chouinard came out with new for ice climbing. I Assumed each new version would offer some advantage and increase either my abilities or safety on ice.

The bamboo Zeros in the '78 catalog that were obviously painted to resemble the newest carbon-glass turned out to be not that great with the newest synthetic shaft. Axe was a similar situation at least for my own use on cold Canadian winter ice.

Less than a season into using the new carbon versions I was begging to rebuy my old set of bamboo 50cm Zeros. They had a shorter spike and came in 50s instead of the 55 Carbons that I had bought. Most importantly they placed easier imo.

Those tools were later borrowed with out permission, then lost/thrown away in ground lightening storm. Then they turned up again in another old partners garage two years later. He'd gone back the next season and collected all the gear they had abandoned. Just never mentioned it to anyone

I was admiring "his" Zeros until I realised they actually had my name engraved on them. Took them home on the spot much to his consternation:) And for fun, later did a lot of moderate water ice with them in the mid '80s. Not that I still use it but always kept a bamboo Zero around since then. My last Premana carbon shaft Piolet I traded off '88.

The scene of the crime:




RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 29, 2009 - 03:08am PT
Hard to believe no one is posting pics of their old tools?!



Anyone have a picture of one of the first carbon axes with a Premana head and the blue carbon shaft? How about the same with Zero heads, hammer and adze?

Love to see a forged Climax with the hammer end hammered out like the4 phot below. Anyone actually got one of these? I've never even seen one in person. The Camp Climax I'd see a number of times bitd.




Alpine hammers? Big difference in use and feel between 1st gen and 5 generations later.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Jan 29, 2009 - 11:19am PT
Ken Yager and I were going throught Tom's old gear box and came across the Well worn Piolet that he took on the Annapurna South Face expedition. As I was examining the axe carefully, Tom asked me what I was looking for. I responded that I was trying to see if his name was scratched or engraved anywhere. We both carefully turned and examined the venerable piolet until Tom proclaimed with a laugh, "There it is!"

Engraved neatly on the side of the pick--Chouinard-Frost!

Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Jan 29, 2009 - 02:09pm PT
Just a short aside:

Once when conversing with Yvon I asked what he recommended as the ideal shaft length for an ice axe. His answer of 50-60 cm seemed a little short to me so I asked, Why so short? His answer, If 55cm doesn't reach the snow then the slope doesn't warrant using an axe.
TrundleBum

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jan 29, 2009 - 02:47pm PT
Crappy, but recent pic of my Salewa hinged and Chouinard rigids


(Previously posted pic)
My Alpine hammer that got chopped into a wall hammer.


Interalp axe
I bought the knock off
because as a teen ager I couldn't afford the GPIW gear


That Forrest hammer, fitted with the 'terradactyl' pick (shown with 'Alpine pick') was actually a reasonably descent tool.
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Jan 29, 2009 - 05:27pm PT
Burns,

Here's an early blue carbon shaft with Zero head/Premana:






Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Jan 30, 2009 - 11:57pm PT
Bump for Burns
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 31, 2009 - 02:32am PT
Thanks Don. Nice looking axe!

Ain't it funny? I wanted to chop my first alpine hammer and make a rock hammer with a slightly longer "pick" for cleaning. Just never had the guts.

The one up top looks good!
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Jan 31, 2009 - 12:44pm PT
A little filler material... some stuff that hasn't been shown yet, some older and some newer stuff just to fill out the range. Check out the picture at the bottom...





Old French hammer, I think...


Stubai



The "Stanley Hammer" of ice axes. Lowe Hummingbird


Regular Lowe Hummingbird axe


Terrordactyl


curved shaft Black Prophet


straight shaft Black Prophet


Mid-range (80's) Chouinard axe


Variations on the theme...
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Jan 31, 2009 - 01:01pm PT
Now THAT's a proper post...
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 2, 2009 - 01:41am PT
Kind of a harsh place to find it but I think this is the axe Todd Eastman was writing about earlier. Fitting I guess that Scared Silly went looking for this head stone and posted it in the Chamonix thread.



photo by Mikebny
climber bob

Social climber
maine
Feb 4, 2009 - 07:29am PT
heres a glimpse into the future
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 4, 2009 - 11:08am PT
Of expensive paperweights.....LOL
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 4, 2009 - 12:05pm PT
What the hell is that thing Eli?
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 4, 2009 - 12:28pm PT
'Looks like an over engineered beer bottle opener.
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Feb 4, 2009 - 01:08pm PT
Dane, what axe were you referring to? In any case, a discussion about ice tools would not be complete without mentioning the Pemberthy Ice Hooks. I saw some in use and was skeptical then; I remain so.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 4, 2009 - 02:37pm PT
Take your "pick" Todd :)

Forgot to ask, is the axe in teh head stone the more durable model you were using in the Alps later on?
steelmnkey

climber
Vision man...ya gotta have vision...
Feb 7, 2009 - 12:27pm PT
I was cleaning my office this morning and came across the provenance statement typed up by Rusty Baillie that I got when I bought the Terrordactyl (above and below) in an Access Fund auction at a Phoenix Bouldering Contest in the early '90's. Might be interesting to some...




Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 7, 2009 - 12:36pm PT
Very cool historical tidbit fro Mr. Baillie!
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Feb 7, 2009 - 12:58pm PT
This has become a most excellent thread! So, Dane, unless I missed it has nobody mentioned the axe Bill Sumner (the founder of Seattle's Swallow's Nest) made which had mercury in the head to give it more impact? I'd like to see him try that these days. You'd need to file an environmental impact statement to buy the thing. I gotta say it did 'set' nicely. I think he only made a couple of prototypes.

As an aside, Dane, is Bill still living in Alma Ata, Kazakhstan? I know it is now Almaty but I still call St Petersburg Leningrad.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 7, 2009 - 09:11pm PT
Reilly I just barely remember the mercury axe. Saw a flier early on about it iirc but never saw the real thing. Swallows Nest though was a true toy store of stuff we never got to see and seldom could afford. Big deal for me to drive over from C'dA and buy a set terros and Helly Henson pile BITD. I use to drool over their hand typed news letters though!

Although I never had the pleasure to meet Bill Sumner, he's where? Next questions would have to be why?

Steel Monkey...that is a great piece of trivia and even better story behind the Terro hammer. I had wondered what the deal was with the obviously longer shaft. A pair of them were well ahead of their time. I used a "short" set of Terros on Polar Circus a few months before Bill and Rusty's climb. Back when a day and a half was climbing fast. Even cooler though that you own the hammer! I get an email from Rusty once in awhile now that he is out this way. He spends his free time putting up new rock routes for the locals. I'll see if I can't get him on SuperTaco for a conversation.
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Feb 7, 2009 - 09:24pm PT
Dane,
I thought that you might have your ear to the ground up there as regards Bill's whereabouts. I'll bet Alex Bertulis knows. Bill met some Russkie hottie, how I forget, and followed her home to, you heard me correctly, Alma Ata, Kazakhstan way back in the mid 70's after he sold the Nest. The things we'll do for love! Having been to Alma Ata as well as Dushanbe down the street I can say in no uncertain terms that it would have taken Heidi Klum to get me to move there back then. Of course it could be said that back then you could at least count on good public safety, lol.
Michael Sharpley

Mountain climber
Eugene,OR
Feb 8, 2009 - 06:36am PT
Greetings gentlemen,

Interesting post(s)on the Chouinard Piolet.

I have a 70cm, bamboo shaft, Chouinard-Frost axe I bought in 1973 at the Kelty store in Glendale, CA..

My primary use was in the High Sierra, either going in early or late for the summer season, and the snow or ice one can still encounter on the passes.Came in very handy during a freak snow storm in the Whitney area during the Labor Day weekend in '78!

At the time, as a noobie,I let someone talk me into adding a wrist loop with sliding ring on shaft.This entailed drilling a hole into the shaft for the "stop" screw.

Now,as a treasure of my youth,I regret doing so! Of course it would be Best unmolested.
I rarely see such a set up, and as most of you know, the webbing tied thru the carabiner hole is the prefered method.
What the hell was I thinking?

Thoughts, comments, opinions, rants ? haha
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 8, 2009 - 08:13pm PT
Not a big deal Michael, just pull the screw and fill the hole with a good quality wood puddy and gently sand smooth again.

Careful that you don't sand a indent into the shaft while doing so. I have a 80cm axe that I did the same on.
Michael Sharpley

Mountain climber
Eugene,OR
Feb 8, 2009 - 09:49pm PT
Thanks, Dane.

Yeaahh...I know I could just fill it...wonder if it affects strength? ...or value? - although I would never sell it.
Who knew it would become a cool collectable?- so it still makes me want to kick myself for "molesting" it.

Wonder if I should even use it anymore?...it sat for many years mocking me: "When are you going to use me again?!"

Sooo...what was the deal with those ring-over-shaft
wrist loops -just a gimmick? Or a preference? -and why?
Did the Pros use them?
Scared Silly

Trad climber
UT
Feb 8, 2009 - 11:42pm PT
da pro's didn't them, but they sure helped the clients from dropping them down the hill.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 9, 2009 - 12:18am PT
On the other ice climbing thread we have goin' right now,
Dane did a great job of sleuthing some images of a handmade MacInnes ax from the 60s.

So I followed him into eBay world...
Has anybody seen these, like, anywhere before?



I'm thinking, pearl handles would really round these out nicely...
But either way, what machinist/gearhead/filigree expert/spot polishing enthusiast wouldn't want these hanging up on the wall?
(Yup, right up there, opposite the Lamborghini Miura)
SGropp

Mountain climber
Eastsound, Wa
Feb 25, 2009 - 04:25pm PT
I have a 70cm Chouinard - Frost Piolet with a hickory shaft that I got in 73, also the heavy Alpine hammer and heavy Crag I also have an Interalp-Camp north wall hammer with an ash shaft. I had a Cimaxe for a while but it was too light to be much use.
I gleefully treaded my Aschenbrenner 85cm. axe for the Chouinard with a girl in my dorm who complained that the piolet was too short.
The wooden shafts and solid forged heads of these tool were easy on the hand, dampened vibration and stuck solid with a natural swing.
These tools were solid companions on many, many climbs with never a complaint. I still have them and would never give them up.
Just yesterday, I bought the latest incarnations; BD Raven and Raven Pro to give to my two sons to help get them started on their mountain journeys. As a full time professional blacksmith, the slender investment cast heads look so delicate to my eye, but I've learned to respect Chouinard and BD gear. I'm hoping my faith is well founded.

In 1972 , two high school friends were descending from the summit of Mt Rainier via the Kautz Glacier Route. We were below the summit cloud that had whited out the view from the top. There was a weird weather inversion that made for very mushy conditions .
I was leading the rope down and we were all having trouble with snow balling under our crampons . Suddenly one or all of us fell and shot down the slope. The second man lost his axe when we all went into self arrest. The slender pick of my Aschenbrenner axe was slicing an ineffective high speed groove down the mountain.
We were finally stopped just at the very edge of the Kautz Headwall poised precariously above the chaotic icefall far below. Reese Martin, the 3rd man on the rope had managed to stop all three of use with his MSR Thunderbird, a hideous metal day glo monster.
Nowadays the Kautz Glacier is all but gone, melted awy from climate change.
Reese Martin was killed a few years ago in a paragliding accident.I lost track of him after we did the Liberty Crack in 75, does anyone here have any info on his climbing career since then?
One more note on vintage ice gear; one of the founders of the company CMI lives on the next island . CMI made some of the first tubular steel handled piton hammers and drooped pick ice axes in the late sixties as well as a line of alloy steel angles. He led the first winter ascent of Denali [1968?] so grippingly chroniceled in the book "Minus 148"
I think CMI went under when Chouinard gear came out and changed the world.


Ain't no flatlander

climber
Feb 25, 2009 - 04:51pm PT
"One more note on vintage ice gear; one of the founders of the company CMI lives on the next island . CMI made some of the first tubular steel handled piton hammers and drooped pick ice axes in the late sixties as well as a line of alloy steel angles. He led the first winter ascent of Denali [1968?] so grippingly chroniceled in the book "Minus 148"
I think CMI went under when Chouinard gear came out and changed the world."

CMI is still in business but it moved to Franklin WV many years ago. Still make some of the best pulleys around. http://www.cmi-gear.com/

Both CMI and CAMP have laid claim to making the first metal-shafted ice axe. It would be interesting to figure out who was actually first, though I suspect it's a case of independent innovation.
scuffy b

climber
just below the San Andreas
Feb 25, 2009 - 05:56pm PT
That beautiful (though perhaps SUTPID) tool on post #40 comes
with built-in excuse:

"woulda sent that tottering stalactite NO PROBLEM, but I was
low on Freon"

hmm, constant-rate or variable-rate spring for today?
Decisions, decisions.

What do you mean, it's getting late???
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 26, 2009 - 03:52am PT
This from Rusty:

From: baillie2@verizon.net
To: rdburns@cnw.com
Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 11:29 AM
Subject: Re: Chouinard Alpine hammer

Bergheil,

Just getting insurance to cross into Mexico Viejo and Potrero Chico........
That old Ice Axe still gives me the shivers...............
Regards
Rusty


First metal axe? My bet would go to McInnes and this from the '60s.

Late Night Greg

Ice climber
Rancho Cordova, Ca
Feb 26, 2009 - 04:54am PT
rockermike
Anybody remember the rooster heads? They didn't seem to last in the market too long. Kind of like one of the pictures above (in blue) but with a knuckle protector spike at base of a short shaft.


I like to pick up old ice tools I come across at the right price. I thought the roosters were interesting. It took me quite awhile to find out what they were. I seem to recall reading somewhere that they were designed by a guy named Russell Rainey - anyone know anything about that?

My favorites in my collection are the Hummingbirds. I'm having a hard time figuring out what a Lowe 'Big Bird' is. Who knows what a 'Big Bird' is. A picture would be great. I thought maybe the green bent handled Lowe-Camp tool might be a 'Big Bird' but it has a sticker that says Hummingbird. I'd like to find a mate for the green Hummingbird at the right price.

I'm going to see if any ice is left at the Sunny Falls (Tahoe area)this weekend. I'd like to bring the short Hummingbirds and try out the tube pick. The most modern tools I have are bent handle BD X-15s (the red ones with black rubber grip, not pictured) which are my primary tools.

As for modern tools, I've been lusting for a pair of Quarks




RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 26, 2009 - 11:50am PT
Sure, bunch of us used Rooster heads. Basically a little lighter version of the Terro. Down side was the head was welded on and pounding pins would take the head off with some effort. I went through several before just going back to a terro.

Guys either loved or hated the knuckle protector. Way ahead of it's time. I always cut mine off. Pissed the owner/manufacturer off when I told him what I was doing. They were made in and used a lot by Colorado guys.

Mugs used his Rooster head on both the east face of Moose Tooth and Moon Flower mated to a short Curver.

Thought I had seen them all but until today never seen a Rooster head adze! Nice collection!

Big Bird? Pretty common even today, from the late '80s. It is a full size axe, Lowe design made by Camp. Easy to find on ebay these days. Same tool as your big green one but a straight shaft.
Late Night Greg

Ice climber
Rancho Cordova, Ca
Feb 26, 2009 - 02:40pm PT
Thanks for the info on the Roosters and the Big Bird, Dane.

I picked up the Rooster hammer around 10 years ago at a local shop that sells a lot of stuff on consignment. I had no idea what it was, but thought it looked pretty wild - especially the spike. Whoever owned it had covered the entire shaft with rubber that looked like could have been inner tube material glued to the shaft. It was actually a pretty clean job and gave the handle a feel like the original BD X15s or Black Prophets. I wish I would have left it as it was because after all who knows who used it and where it had been, but I was too curious to see how it was constructed, not knowing what it was, I thought perhaps it was homemade until I got the rubber off of it and could see it was not home-made.

I didn't find out what it was until I found the adze on eBay advertised as a Rooster and I think that is where I saw the Russell Rainey reference. It appears to have never been used. Was Russell Rainey the designer/maker? I don't know anything of him....how about you?

As for using them, I tried the hammer once on some really smooth and dense vertical water ice and the purchase was terrible. I imagine they worked pretty well on less than vertical stuff. What kind of terrain did you typically use yours on?

As for the knuckle protector spike; it looks like it would have been good for just that; keeping the knuckles off of the ice, but would have been a snagging/stabbing hazard when not in hand. Looks like holstering them would be a hassle too.

I enjoy collecting this old stuff and like trying them out just to see how well they worked. I tried the short rubber-handled Hummingbird with the solid pick and was very impressed with how well it worked on vertical ice, it felt very solid and stuck very nicely. I'll try the tube pick Hummingbird this weekend, that is if there is any ice left - its been warm the last week and a half.

The later bent handle Hummingbird has such a steep angle on the pick and such limited pick-to-shaft clearance they require a very unnatural swing; requiring a downward motion mid-swing and have absolutely no clearance for bulges. But they hook well and look cool - I like the tubular adze/bollard cutter attachment for the hammer.
Ain't no flatlander

climber
Feb 26, 2009 - 04:43pm PT
"Was Russell Rainey the designer/maker?"

Unlikely. Russel created the SuperLoop telemark binding in Jackson Hole. That latter evolved into the Hammerhead, which is still on the market though he sold the company a few years back. AFAIK he wasn't into ice climbing.

BTW be careful with that tube pick...they snap easily.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 26, 2009 - 05:43pm PT
"As for using them, I tried the hammer once on some really smooth and dense vertical water ice and the purchase was terrible. I imagine they worked pretty well on less than vertical stuff. What kind of terrain did you typically use yours on?"

Most of the guys who I knew that climbed on them and from pictures in CLIMBING they were vertical ice tools. I used them there and alpine climbing. Lots of steep ice where Mugs took his.

There are guys here like Jello or Mike Kennnedy among others that will know the history for all these tools.
Late Night Greg

Ice climber
Rancho Cordova, Ca
Feb 27, 2009 - 02:24am PT
Thanks Dane - I should have said "compared to a modern pick" like a BD Stinger or the like.


BTW be careful with that tube pick...they snap easily

Thanks for the warning - I'll be trying it on a top-rope.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Feb 27, 2009 - 12:09pm PT
A classic account of an ascent of the Black Ice Couloir has the leader encountering a good sized blood smear with a telltale snapped off tube just above it! Those dainty little tubes were easy to produce but hard to trust. Once the design changed from the cross screw to the end screw, the tubes became beefy and reliable. I carry a Hummingbird hammer with the beefy tube as a third tool. Nice for starting screws and the odd blob of ice that might not withstand a chisel tip pick.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 27, 2009 - 12:38pm PT
" I should have said "compared to a modern pick" like a BD Stinger or the like."

Even the stinger is old technology these days. Newest BD stuff, Laser or even the Titan mixed pick tuned up a bit can be better on pure ice. The Petzel stuff excellent as well. Their mixed picks are high tech (thank Jello for that) and work equally well on water ice. Their Cascade pick is amazing on pure ice. Hot forged, you'll seldom see either of them bend let alone break. Bent handles and better pick technology have negated any of the older tools for serious climbing. Screws these days don't need anything to start them, even in the very worst conditions, past a tiy bit of hand pressure. They are stronger, will hold more and are much, much faster to place even in the worse ice.

So really there is no comparison when you talk old to new. (tools, picks and screws and add in clothes boots and crampons as well) All that is one of the main reasons much harder stuff (ice and mixed) is being climbed now by even the more moderate climbers than just a few years ago.
Brian in SLC

Social climber
Salt Lake City, UT
Feb 27, 2009 - 12:54pm PT
A classic account of an ascent of the Black Ice Couloir has the leader encountering a good sized blood smear with a telltale snapped off tube just above it! Those dainty little tubes were easy to produce but hard to trust.

I seem to recall that the tube bent over, but, did not break? Was a huge leader fall of over 100 feet?

Can't recall who. Anyone?

Biggest thing for me with modern v old ice gear is the pro. As in, you get gear on steep ice now where before it was easier to just run it out to a stance. Crampons haven't really improved a ton since the footfang (ridged platform, vertically oriented points). Tools are nicer, and, I totally take advantage of their improved geometry, but, I think its still more user than hand tool. Which is why hard routes got done with Terrors and classic picks and straight shafts. Wasn't a huge leap from there to modern tools, methinks. At least not logrithmic.

Does allow more weekend warrior types to get on the steeper stuff easier, though, to be sure (me included).

Fun stuff!

-Brian in SLC
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 27, 2009 - 03:31pm PT
We climbed these back in the early '80s




with these tools:






Now I am climbing stuff like this



with these



Which gives one a pretty good perspective on just how much new gear (crampons/screws and tools) have really changed the sport :)

Classic example.



With Terros, Footfangs or SMC rigids, pro from BITD and Koflachs or Haderers this would be solid WI6+ R. Today with modern gear, a simple WI5 and actually reasonably safe and pretty fun.

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Feb 27, 2009 - 03:41pm PT
Dane,

What is it about leashless tools that relieves one of the need for leashes?

I'm not asking about the advantages of not being leashed in, rather I'm curious how the ergonomics of those grips and the small catches render leashes obsolete as weight-bearing function.

With my arm problems for instance, and what little ice climbing I do, and not withstanding weight distribution on the front points, I'm completely dangling from my leashes at certain points, due to fatigue. (I swing a pair of first generation mildly curved Carbon Fiber Black Diamond Cobra)

I can imagine that the improved and altered ergonomic grips relieve hand/forearm strain (via perhaps straighter, more natural wrist articulation); but how much?
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 27, 2009 - 04:16pm PT
Roy you hit on the biggest advantages. Your wrist movements are no longer restricted. Way more like rock climbing around your tool shaft now. And probably a few dozen or more ways to use that shaft as a hand hold. No cold hands with the ability to use much, much lighter gloves because of the better circulation and the ability to drop your arms and hands and shake at every opportunity. Just the lighter gloves alone offer a better, less tiring grip.

Not that easy to change over for us "old guys" but once done you'll never, ever, go back. I am climbing harder stuff now than I ever did on leashes and all the while, no where close to being in shape.

Making leashes obsolete? That is a tougher question. For me loosing them has, because of all the advantages I can glean from climbing leashless over leashed. I still get fatigued but it takes a lot longer and recovery time is faster.

Guess the best way to describe it is make a comparison to how you get pumped climbing cracks. The crack pump is differenet than what I have always experienced climbing ice on leashes. Now leashless I do get pumped but more like I would crack climbing and I have all the normal remedies to drop back to, to get unpumped or avoid the pump altogether.

Sounds pretty flakely and slightly unbelievable to be honest but there is a huge difference for me between leashless and leashed climbing. Leashless being just that much easier, no matter the terrain or difficulty.

On my Nomics shown here for example there are four basic grips I use. full hand low, index finger over the first "latch" with 3 fingers low, full hand high with the "latch" as a rest under it and finally a full hand on any part of the rubber covered surface unsupported. But the last still gets some support just by using the radical curve of the shaft. I might use one of those or all four or more with each placement.

Now think of a solid enough placement that you climb on only one tool with both hands so you avoid unneeded placements...a lot of them. Or you pick hook using your second tool hooked over your first placed pick and yard up side ways on that one. Not moves I'd ever done or even thought about leashed.

Take a look on here...some pretty good ice climbing with modern tools.

http://www.tvmountain.com/index.php?option=com_hwdvideoshare&task=viewvideo&Itemid=117&video_id=1079

http://www.tvmountain.com/index.php?option=com_hwdvideoshare&task=viewvideo&Itemid=117&video_id=272

http://www.tvmountain.com/index.php/tvm/alpinisme

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbQBKR36R2c

for some awesome video and a better explanation at what people are doing leashless. Eye opener for me!
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Feb 27, 2009 - 08:21pm PT
What Dane said.

Leashless is just a more natural way to climb because it encourages the climber to move in cadence with his own rhythm instead of against it as in leashed climbing.

I've gone unleashed now for so long that it feels unnatural to climb otherwise.

I stay warmer, get less pumped and therefore am more relaxed getting in and back out of trouble on routes.

Dane, when are we going up north for a trip?
JACK
rockermike

Mountain climber
Feb 27, 2009 - 09:26pm PT
I recently saw a guy take a "short" fall from his leashless tools. With rope stretch he ended up 6 feet below his two tools. ha, looked funny as hell, but he had no choice but to lower down, get a second set and start pitch over. har har. Those tools looked so forlorned hanging up there 100 feet all by themselves.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 28, 2009 - 03:02am PT
Jack, sounds like you have been busy! Just sent ya an email.

The smart ones figure out early on that anywhere past 1/2 a rope length off the ground, you add umbilicals.

That simple addition can let you avoid all (and there is a lot) of the silly sh#t happening in these two pictures.



Wee Jock

climber
Feb 28, 2009 - 07:28am PT
Dane, old bean, if both your leashless tools rip out of/through the crappy ice and you fall 20 meters aren't you a bit likely to be murdered by your tools thrashing around and tied to you by umbilical bits of string - if you let go of them, that is?? "Hoist on your own petard" as the old bard might have said.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 28, 2009 - 11:05am PT
Don't know Wee jock....I try to make a point of not falling off ;) But easy to understand your concerns.

Umbilicals or leashes? Once you take to the air all bets are off. Getting skewered by the leader's tools is an obvious added hazard without something tieing them on. Loosing one or both makes continuing problematic at best.

I do remember early on once taking a couple hundred pound dinner plate in the face while on leashes. Split me lip and cold cocked me like a side of beef. Woke up to my partner on the stance below yellling at me and the pillar turn a nice crimsom red beneath my feet. And I'd suddenly gained a lisp. Even unconscious I stayed in my wrist loops pinned to the wall instead of taking what would have been a good size fall but no 20m. Also popped a crampon off once, which was rather unpleasant to get sorted out at the time. Both places that umbilicals would have kept me tied to the hill.

Hey Gordon, sent you a private email as well.
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
Feb 28, 2009 - 11:58am PT
I'm going to throw this out to you guys but isn't part of the "style" of going leashless mean doing it without tethers? If the point of leashless is that is is more free and committing because you aren't connected to your axes and therefore have more to lose when you fall isn't climbing with tethers a contradiction?

I specifically don't use them because I haven't worked out a good system whereby I don't get confused and tangled up but it's my opinion that going leashless means just that. No wrist loops and no tethers. Anything else is being leashed.
RDB

Trad climber
Iss WA
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 28, 2009 - 12:36pm PT
Style is good Jack and I really admire it.

The old Canadian "umbilical aid" arguement put the topic in a bad light from the very beginning. I (admittedly one of the very few) just never saw it that way.

Leashes or umbilicals, either way you are tied to your tool which hopefully makes it more secure/safer.

I see ice climbing as so contrived and all of it "aid climbing".

Thinking about your and Tackle's climb on Kennedy. No crampons and you aren't really climbing in that enviroment. But it took more than stle to finish that climb. No tools may make it a ways but not far. Crampons and dagers were good enough for le Droites. Hob nails and a axe good enough for most all the big north walls.

Look at the Alps. Couple of years ago you'd get scoffed at for having leashes. Then umbilicals were almost forbidden. Now just a few years later with tools lost all over the alps..and places like the Emperor face on Robson, umbilicals are offered commercially and seen everywhere. Sported now by some good climbers but only outside the ice park.

I have used umbilicals almost since day one on terros back in the '70s. Not for aid (too scary for me) but as a fall back system to save my ass if I ripped the other tool and fell off.

That has happened two or three times that I destinctly remember.

For those that don't know Bldrjac, Jack Roberts, is one of the best alpinists in several generations and still hard at it. He's forgotten more about this kind of stuff than I know.

Style does matter, as Twight would say, and Jack's new routes over several decades clearly attest to that.

So I'll easily bow to the acknowledgement that climbing totally leashless is better style. But having a partner chuck his brand new bamboo piolet off 1/2 way up a 3 day climb, years ago, made an indelible impression on me and lowered my personal expectations on style.

Here are a couple guys obviously tougher than we were.
Loosing a tool must have made it a more a interesting day out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJzG5B2RAoQ

Leashless as committing? I find leashless less committing because I can climb using less energy. I find that leashless offers way more freedom and opportunities to climb more effeciently as well. But after the first day I didn't find it any more committing than leashes. Umbilicals obviously lower the level of committment either way.

If the difference is me falling off like John did above and going 20 feet or me falling on to my umbilical and going a foot or so I can easily hang my head and live with the style infraction.

But you make a good point. Some go leashless to be bolder and to up the committment level. I went leashless just because it was easier. Interesting to me we really can have it both ways.
_cy_

Trad climber
tulsa
Nov 27, 2009 - 01:49pm PT
here's my Chouinard hammer with synthetic handle

chouinard hammer with synthetic handle and exchangeable tip
chouinard hammer with synthetic handle and exchangeable tip
Credit: _cy_
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 27, 2009 - 05:12pm PT
The Inspector Gadget model! LOL
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Nov 28, 2009 - 02:18pm PT
I believe there are 34 different hammers created.
That is Yosemite hammers, Alpine Hammers, and 3 Climaxes.
Someday I will get my updated list to yous! Here are 18 different hammers.
Rock on! Marty
Chouinard / BD hammers
Chouinard / BD hammers
Credit: karabin museum
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Dec 1, 2009 - 09:45pm PT
CHOUINARD ALPINE HAMMER HISTORY - WOOD HANDLES
1967 - First Year of the Chouinard Alpine Hammer
1967 catalog shows a fuzzy picture of it. Looks like a Crag Hammer pick totally ground down. Handle should have a flat head screw to hold the webbing to the handle. Handle may have silver Chouinard stamp. ("May" - because I have never seen one of these hammers yet and the Yosemite hammers with the flat head screw have silver stamps. 11" handle
Chouinard 1967 Yosemite and Alpine Hammers
Chouinard 1967 Yosemite and Alpine Hammers
Credit: karabin museum
Chouinard 1967 catalog - hammer page
Chouinard 1967 catalog - hammer page
Credit: karabin museum

1968 - Alpine Hammer 2nd generation - new longer pick with 4 teeth near the tip. 11 1/2" handle, red Chouinard stamp on the handle, phillips head screw to hold the webbing to the handle. I am still trying to figure out the difference between the 1968 and 1971 Alpine Hammer (most peoples say 1972 because of the 1972 catalog).
1971 - Alpine Hammer 3rd generation - The 1971 catalog specifically introduces the new Alpine Hammer but has a fuzzy photo of it. 11 1/2" handle, red Chouinard stamp. Looks the same as the 1968 hammer. Both the 68' and 71' have 4 teeth near the tip. Below are two differences I have seen (the bottom photo top hammer), one has teeth even with the bottom edge of the head, the other the teeth are inset. The 1968 catalog and 1972 catalog both show the teeth even with the bottom edge. The 1968/69 catalog mentions a new handle shape, but not any talk about the new hammer head design.
1968 or 1971 Chouinard Alpine Hammer
1968 or 1971 Chouinard Alpine Hammer
Credit: karabin museum
Chouinard Alpine hammers
Chouinard Alpine hammers
Credit: karabin museum

From 1972 to 1974 the Chouinard catalog stayed the same but the price lists in the back of the catalogs changed. Comparing the 1971 Alpine Hammer to the Alpine Hammer shown in the 1975 catalog, it suddenly has a notch, six teeth near the tip and 5 more teeth near the handle. This is where it gets interesting! Brian-SLC has three Alpine Hammers that document the changes (below photo).
1973 - Alpine Hammer 4th generation - In the photo below the middle Alpine Hammer has 4 teeth near the tip and also has a notch. I have seen this version in old REI and EMS catalogs.
1974 - Alpine Hammer 5th generation - In the photo below the bottom Alpine Hammer has 4 teeth at the tip, space, 5 teeth near the handle. Has notch. I have not found any info on this hammer.
1975 - Alpine Hammer 6th generation - In the photo below the top Alpine Hammer has 6 teeth near the tip, space, 5 teeth near the handle. Has notch. This is the version shown in the 1975 Chouinard catalog.
Chouinard 1973-1975 Alpine Hammers
Chouinard 1973-1975 Alpine Hammers
Credit: karabin museum

To make it more fun, the 1973, 1974, 1975 hammers have two different length handles. 11 1/2 " handles have red Chouinard stamp, 13" handles have blue Chouinard stamp. I do not know if there was any rhyme or reason to this since it was not offered as an option in the catalogs. Maybe they ran out of the long handles and put the short ones on, who knows?
Also Brian and I have noticed that some of the heads are thicker and thinner than others. I am not sure if this is caused by the forging process, but the differences are quite noticeable. Differences in thickness also noticable in the 1972 Crag Hammers.
Chouinard 1975 Alpine Hammers
Chouinard 1975 Alpine Hammers
Credit: karabin museum

1977 - Alpine Hammer 7th generation. Notch, full teeth from tip to handle. This hammer looks like Chouinard dipped the teeth end in green plastic for shipping, or handling in the retail stores. 13" handle, blue Chouinard stamp.
From there the hammer handles became rubberized plastic.
Chouinard 1977 Alpine Hammer
Chouinard 1977 Alpine Hammer
Credit: karabin museum

The 1977 Chouinard catalog states that the Alpine Hammer has gone through 5 major design changes. If this is the case Marty's guess:
1967, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1977

I am not counting the 4 teeth space 5 teeth version that Brian-SLC has.
I am not counting the 6 teeth space 5 teeth version shown in the 1975 catalog. I believe that adding the notch to the head, and proof that EMS was selling the notch-4teeth only (1973) version was a big design change.

Rock on! Marty

Barold

Social climber
Christchurch New Zealand
Jan 9, 2011 - 09:52pm PT
Thanks for the last post.

I have been researching my Chouinard Frost piolet and Chouinard alpine hammer.

From the above information I think I have a 1973 Alpine hammer.
Credit: Barold
, (notch in the hammer head and 4 teeth at the tip)

I have more close up pictures on my blog http://baroldstools.blogspot.com/. The whole construction method of holding the head on with wedges and clips is quite different from an ordinay claw hammer. They only have wedges and the shape and friction of the wooden handle with the metal to hold the head. Nothing like putting your life on the line to have added security!!

The other useful item I found was a copy of the 1972 Chouinard Catalogue
at http://www.climbaz.com/chouinard72/chouinard.html.

Cheers
Barold
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Jan 9, 2011 - 10:52pm PT
Barold: Re your post:
From the above information I think I have a 1973 Alpine hammer.

I think that date is about right for your model of Alpine hammer. It may be a little bit earlier than 1973, since it doesn't have the additional teeth of the model I show. As you are aware: the hole in the shaft is not original to the hammer, but was drilled to rig a sling for hand-support.

I approached the same problem differently with my purchased in late 1973 or early 1974: Chouinard Alpine hammer. The hole in the head was drilled by me: to rig a sling for hand-support. Note extra-teeth in the pick, which was a later Chouinard modification over your model.

Drilled (modified) Chouinard Alpine hammer: purchased 1973 or ...
Drilled (modified) Chouinard Alpine hammer: purchased 1973 or early 1974.
Credit: Fritz
RDB

Social climber
wa
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 9, 2011 - 11:25pm PT


Actually this is my photo, not Marty's. Ink color has no rational that I can see as I have different vintage hammers and different length hammers with both red and blue ink including the last version.

I'd also be careful where I'd give the credit to some of the hammers with a full set of cut teeth.
Barold

Social climber
Christchurch New Zealand
Jan 10, 2011 - 04:34am PT
Thanks for that

I didn't know about Chouinard before I got the ice axe and hammer. Once I started researching it, the whole story of Chouinard was really interesting and inspiring. From starting out hammering pitons on an anvil to support his climbing lifestyle, to then creating the company with the lifestyle policies and ecological perspective was great.

The climbing world is certainly interesting and innovative.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Sep 3, 2011 - 04:40pm PT
ca. 1978

A Piece of Art
A Piece of Art
Credit: johntp
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
Sep 3, 2011 - 11:04pm PT
how about this?
never been used...
never been used...
Credit: Stewart Johnson
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Sep 4, 2011 - 04:13am PT
Stewart- Nice piece o gear.
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Sep 4, 2011 - 10:33am PT
Stewart,

I have seen many versions of the Climaxe, but they do not have the Chouinard ink stamp on the handle. Looks like the regular hickory Alpine hammer handle placed onto a Climaxe head.

Can you show us a photo of the other side of your Climaxe?

Can I use your photo in my research?

If you are ever selling this Climaxe, please contact me.

RDB, A late thanks for using your photo of your three Alpine Hammers. I think I got the photo from some other source not knowing who to credit.

Rock on! Marty
IV

climber
tahoe
Sep 7, 2011 - 10:21pm PT
nice gear all around
Yogisan

Trad climber
Woodinville, WA
Sep 9, 2012 - 12:23pm PT
Hey rockermike,

I picked up an old ice hammer at a garage sale for 10 bucks. I can't figure out what it is or any history behind it. It matches the one in the lower left corner of your post (from 2009!). Can you help me?

Good to know I am not the only one that loves this stuff!

..Jim
Boom Boom

Social climber
Goodyear, Arizona
Sep 9, 2013 - 11:54am PT
Check out my auction on an original generation Chouinard alpine hammer on EBay. Auction ends in three days... today is 9/9/2013. The hammer is unused and in excellent condition.

eBay item number: 111161213322

http://www.ebay.com/itm/111161213322?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649
Blakey

Trad climber
Sierra Vista
Sep 9, 2013 - 01:29pm PT
This is worth looking at in the context of the discussion:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2064009&msg=2064009#msg2064009

Steve
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Sep 9, 2013 - 02:24pm PT
So I have a 1973 Short Handle.
I probably bought it from Trailwise, Berkeley in '74 or '75.
What was the purpose of the notch? I'm guessing better balance when using the pick. A heavy head would cause the hammer to twist when the pick struck. Which it does anyway.
T Hocking

Trad climber
Redding, Ca
Sep 9, 2013 - 05:18pm PT
Posted these in another related thread here.
Tad
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Credit: T Hocking
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Early 70's Chouinard Piolet and Alpine Hammer
Credit: T Hocking
Fritz

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Sep 9, 2013 - 10:33pm PT
High Traverse & Tad: My thought on the "notch" on the newer Alpine-hammer end is: it lightened up the Alpine Hammer, and did not significantly change its performance.

Chouinard reduced the size & weight of the whole Alpine Hammer in his later models, but the "notch" catches our eyes.

Which is to say: folks like me could swing that newer Alpine Hammer most all day on a long climb----and I did.

The early version was heavy, clunky, and best-used by the Scotts for waterfalls,-----but then they discovered the joy of knuckle-bashing with Pterodactyls.

Here's RDB's photo of the major changes with earliest at left.
Credit: Fritz

Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
Sep 9, 2013 - 11:23pm PT
Remember when those were state-of-the-art and we felt we could climb anything with them.

The smell of the linseed oil was the ice climbing equivalent to the pine tar we used on our skis, and in time, on our ice tools.
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