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Item #: HW3455B-109
CHOUINARD ICE AXE Steel Pick Aluminum Handle SIGNED by Tom Frost
By Chouinard Equipment Company
Price: $450.00


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Detailed Product Description

We recommend that whoever owns this ice axe after us, please get Yvon Chouinard to sign it as well. Move fast, Yvon is 83. 

This ice axe is signed by Tom Frost, who with Yvon Chouinard was the designer of this ice axe, and most of the pitons, nuts, carabiners and ice gear manufactured by the Chouinard Equipment Company, also known as Great Pacific Iron Works. 

Tom and I (Mike Chessler) had a friendly relationship and he would occasionally sign catalogs and gear that he had designed. The two axes listed today are probably the last things he signed for us. He passed away in 2018. Obviously he signed them twice for us. In our handling the Sharpie ink started to degrade, so we asked him to sign it again. As a matter of policy, we never erased signatures. 

This axe is 27 inches long, and from the shape of the head it is a later axe, 1980s. It has some scuffing on the spike and lower handle, from use as a walking stick. and the head has virtually no scuffs or marks at all. It was not used much.  

Chouinard ice axes are were modified and improved over time. Chouinard and Frost first used hickory wood handles on their tools, but changed to laminated Bamboo in 1972 as it was believed to be lighter, stronger and provided a warmer, better grip than other materials. It was soon superseded by other materials, the last of which was 6061 T6 aluminum.  These were among the last ice axes made by Chouinard before metamorphosing into the Black Diamond Company in 1989.

In the late 1960s, Frost and Chouinard turned their attention to ice climbing and its specialized equipment. They developed an alpine hammer with a drooping pick. Although Austrian climbers had improvised rigid crampons decades before by welding a bar across the hinge of conventional crampons, such devices were not commercially available until 1967. That year, Chouinard and Frost began marketing adjustable rigid crampons made of chrome-molybdenum steel.

In the late 1960's the fertile minds of Tom Frost and Yvon Chouinard invented and created some of the most innovative gear for rock and ice climbing ever devised. Their gear helped enable standards to be raised considerably. Where high level rock and ice climbing had been the province of a few elite climbers, mostly Europeans, by the 1970s great climbers were coming from everywhere.
 
Yvon Chouinard began his modest gear company in the 1950s by forging pitons and selling them out of the back of back of his car in Yosemite to support himself. The improved pitons were a big factor in the birth of big-wall climbing from 1957 to 1960 in Yosemite. The success of his pitons caused him to found Chouinard Equipment, Ltd. Which of course led to Black Diamond making gear and Patagonia making money.  

Ice axes cost about $25 to ship in the USA.




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