CHOUINARD ICE AXE HISTORY & IDENTIFICATION 1969 - 1989



  • @johntp The exact date is hazy, since the bamboo shafts were phased out. as inventory dwindled. Late 1978, early 1979. Per this 1978 catalog photo of a bamboo Piolet, only the Zero & North Wall Hammer had holes in their spikes.

    1978 chouinard piolet.jpg



  • @FritzRay

    Thanks



  • By the late 70’s, other manufacturers were stealing market share from Chouinard with synthetic-shaft axes & it was finally time for Chouinard to move on. The 1979 Great Pacific Iron Works catalogs featured the below pages of new “carbon-glass” shaft ice tools. Insiders have mentioned the below catalog pages, from late 1978 or early 1979 catalog, were somewhat rushed & the photos are of painted-over Chouinard wood shafts.

    1978 catalog fiberglass piolet page.jpg

    1978 catalog fiberglass zero n North wall hammer page.jpg

    By the 1980 Great Pacific Iron Works - Chouinard catalog, the classic CAMP Interalp Italian- produced Piolet head design is also gone, replaced by an entirely American-made axe with an ugly welded head, that lacked aesthetics, but worked just fine. Dane Burns is certain SMC (Seattle Manufacturing Co.) made the welded heads for Chouinard.

    1980 Chouinard.JPG

    1980 piolet.JPG

    1980 north wall and zero.JPG

    It appears CAMP Interalp continued to manufacture Chouinard Zeros & North Wall hammers in Italy, with their classic forged head, after 1980. This is based on products marked Chouinard from Europe showing up on EBay, that are similar to, but not the same as the pre-1980 Zero & North Wall hammers sold in the U.S. by Chouinard.
    Here’s an example with the U.S. style at left.

    Chouinard U.S. vs European North Wall hammers 2.JPG

    Chouinard U.S. vs European North Wall hammers..JPG

    And here is a photo of a post-1980, made in USA axe head, and the classic Italian made, Chouinard axe head.

    Interalp Piolet head compard to US made Chouinard head..JPG



  • Just thought

    Wouldn't it be something if CHOUINARD himself weighed in with a comment?



  • zbrown! Per your thoughts!

    Just thought

    Wouldn't it be something if CHOUINARD himself weighed in with a comment?

    It would be a "first" on a Chouinard ice axe thread.



  • Climbed Buck Mtn in the Tetons and a few other things with my Blue chiounard in the summer of 2018. Its semi retired now. replaced with a Much , Much lighter BD Raven Pro. IMG_4011.jpg

    This was a pretty cool peak in Beartooth pass.
    IMG_4295.jpg

    and Glory Mtn Teton pass
    IMG_3706.jpg



  • Nick! Thanks for posting up those scenic Chouinard X-tool photos. When they were introduced in 1983, I was out of my retail outdoor shop & no-longer ice climbing, so I never owned any. But I have lots of Chouinard catalog copy.

    In 1981, Chouinard produced separate Chouinard climbing gear catalogs & Patagonia Software catalogs, as well as a combined Great Pacific Iron Works catalog. After that, there were no more Great Pacific Iron Works catalogs. He introduced a new ice axe in 1982.

    1982 catalog axes (1).JPG

    In 1983 Chouinard’s new X-Tools, with interchangeable picks, are introduced.

    1983 X-tools catalog axes (2).JPG

    1983 catalog axes (4).JPG

    In the 1984 Chouinard catalog, the X-Tools are changed to a single-bolt, with a mechanical lock, attachment for the picks & are more fully explained. Other new axes are added.

    1984 catalog axes (6).JPG

    1984 catalog axes (7).JPG

    1984 catalog axes (8).JPG

    1984 catalog axes (9).JPG

    1984 catalog axes (10).JPG

    1984 catalog axes (11).JPG

    And a new Basic Ice axe is added.

    1984 catalog axes (13).JPG

    In the 1986 catalog Chouinard introduces a new budget-priced axe, the Piolini.

    1986 new Piolini.JPG

    The 1987 Chouinard catalog identifies the Basic Ice Axe & the Piolini a little better.

    1987 catalog Basic & Piolini.JPG

    My friend Chris Hecht gave me this Basic Ice Axe for my collection last year. Thanks Chris.

    1989 Alpamayo 1.JPG

    1989 Alpamayo 2.JPG

    In the final Chouinard climbing gear catalog in 1989, another new axe is introduced, The Alpamayo. It appears the X-Tools did not change substantially between 1984 & 1989.

    1989 Alpamayo axe 1989.jpg

    The End.

    By 1989, Chouinard’s clothing company Patagonia was a huge money maker for Chouinard & the climbing & ski hardgoods division was not. There was also a substantial liability risk with selling climbing & ski gear. Chouinard Gear declared bankruptcy & his gear employees formed Black Diamond with Chouinard’s blessings. Black Diamond initially used the Chouinard tools & machinery & much of what they sold for the first two years was still marked Chouinard. Chouinard continues as chief owner of Patagonia.



  • That blue Zero with the reverse pick that I origionaly bought it with was state of the art when I pulled the trigger in 83 or 84?? though eventually I mostly retired it because the 60cm length was not ideal for waterfall ice that I was climbing with my Simond Chakal and Cassin Anteres both in 45cm and my 43cm humming bird. later in life the blue Zero came back into service as a mountain ax. Me soloing damnation Gully in possibly 85? spring conditions. Cheap plastic ski gloves from the $5.00 bin in the Ski Shack. clip on sunglasses over my prescription rigs with duct tape and cardboard hoods. Poor mans glacier goggles.

    old stuff0018.jpg



  • this was my kit in 1998 When I met Isa. I have the chiounard Zero in my right hand. Likely the Simond Chakal in my left. The Hummingbird is holstered for starting screws and pounding snargs. Isa must be on borrowed gear.
    0002img.jpg
    this was Isa's rig. when we met. I think her outfit looks better 😉
    0004img.jpg



  • Nice piece of work putting this history together.


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