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Item #: HW4359-109
THUNDERBIRD ICE AXE MSR MOUNTAIN SAFETY RESEARCH 1970s
By Ice Axe Mountain Safety Research
Price: $175.00


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Detailed Product Description
The MSR Ice Axe is one of the most talked about ice axes designed for mountaineers, not technical ice climbers. It was developed by Larry Penberthy of Seattle in the 1970s, and was created with several innovations. It was specifically designed for Northwest climbers, who were often crossing glaciers. That would also make it suitable for other ranges with lots of glacier travel, such as Alaska, the Alps or Himalaya. 

It has a unique head shape that was designed to grip well when you were in ice axe self arrest.  It improved the performance  of the self arrest when slipping or falling in a glacier or ice field. The head shape inspired the name Thunderbird.

It has a metal handle for strength. Wood handles are the traditional material for hand held tools, invented in the stone age. Wood handles are esthetically pleasing, lightweight and comfortable to use. However they can break while chopping steps, when used in an self arrest, or just from old age. 

Metal handles are cold to hold, so MSRs were painted. This is made in Orange color so the search planes at 15,000 feet can see your ice axe in the snow 3 miles down. I remember that in the 1970s everything was available in International Orange. Funny, you don't hear people saying that if more gear, tents and clothing was made in orange climbing would be safer. 

This axe is 32'' long, the head is 11'' long, and it weighs 30 ounces. It has a wrist strap, and there is a hole on the head for a carabiner or a leash.

This example is well used, as the paint is worn, but it is really in excellent condition. The head is steel, the shaft is aluminum. Our full length image is not this axe as we use a scanner, not a camera, and it is too small to fit the whole axe on the scanner bed. The close up images are of this axe. 

This is not a book, so we cannot ship by media rate as we do for books. We will ship it by Priority Mail, $25 in the USA, $50 Canada, $75 International. 







Here is more about MSR: 

MSR began as a newsletter in 1969 that covered topics around mountaineering safety. In 1973, Larry Penberthy (19162001) developed the MSR Model 9 camp stove, a design which was relatively efficient in cold weather. He separated the stove burner from then small fuel tanks, and then pressurized auxiliary fuel bottles as the tank, and used a better wind screen.

This evolved into the Whisperlite stove, a multi fuel capable of running on a wide range of liquid fuels. He also designed an ice axe that was supposed to dig into the ice better and stop a slide. Penberthy also introduced metal-shafted ice axes; metal axes have replaced earlier wooden-shaft designs.  The company was acquired by REI in 1981.

MSR did a catalog, products shown are the famous Thunderbird Ice Axe, MSR Stove, Climbing & Bicycling Helmets, Rainwear, Gore-Tex, etc. As MSR was acquired by REI (they were across the street!) this may have been the first catalog under REI. The only mention is in introducing the officers they say, ''Since taking over as managers of MSR...''


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