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Skeezix

My piolet collection

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2987447981_9ae5281f88_o.jpg

This thread is intended to celebrate the fundamental tool of alpinism. So dig out your prized tool(s), capture a portrait, and post it here. The chestnut depicted above, by the way, is not mine ...I'll be posting a few from my collection later.

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Here's a few of my old buddy, still very much in active use, so it's not actually part of a "collection"

 

1970Forbidden_blooming_heather.jpg

 

Lane_Peak_04_-_small.jpg

 

east_ridge.jpg

 

 

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2987447981_9ae5281f88_o.jpg

 

Varnish and rust are blasphemy. It'll take me a bit to dig up some pics, but this is a great thread in the making! :brew:

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2992959908_873ee68cd1.jpg

Generic Camp Woody ...there's probably a lot of these around. Best finish for the shaft is oil, such as linseed. Looks great on the lodge wall.

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Close-up

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MSR Sumner Axe ...55cm. The perfect all-around axe for the N. Cascades. My attempt to re-paint it didn't hold up. I need to figure out a better coating. Any suggestions?

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Cool thread, Jeff.

 

I love classic piolets, especially wooden ones.

 

My first ice axe was a 90cm Interalp Cerro Torre, bought from REI. It was an unremarkable aluminum-shafted axe best used as a walking stick. At the time I bought it in the 1970s, REI still recommended an axe that touched the ground (or nearly so) when you held it in your hand with your arm hanging down.

 

My second axe was a 70cm Chouinard Piolet, which the Swallow's Nest described as "clearly the most asthetic" ice axe on the market. This axe has a laminated bamboo shaft and is pictured at left in the photo below.

 

20081102-chouinard-piolets.jpg

 

As you can see in the following closeup, I modified the pick of this axe to give it "positive clearance" and to add teeth along the entire length of the pick. The Chouinard Piolet came with a set of teeth near the tip of the pick and another set of teeth near the shaft ("for those hollow ice placements"). I admired the more technical Chouinard Zero, which had teeth all the way up the pick, so I modified my piolet to look like that.

 

20081102-chouinard-custom-pick.jpg

 

A bit later I bought a 50cm Chouinard Zero and matching North Wall Hammer, which are pictured to the right of the 70cm Piolet above. Chouinard's picks all had negative clearance at that time, so I filed the picks on all of them to give them positive clearance. I gave each pick a curved shape to match the overall aesthetics of the tool. I also got a Chouinard Alpine Hammer (the original knuckle basher), shown at far right above. At one point I picked up a Chouinard Climb-Axe, which was essentially an alpine hammer with an adze, but I got rid of it because it was totally ineffective for actual climbing (too light). I now wish I'd kept it as a museum piece.

 

The ice axes pictured above have been to a lot of summits, but I rarely use them today. In the 1980s I bought modular tools that I used for more technical climbing. These days I'm always trying to go as light as possible, so I typically use one of the modern ultralight axes sold for ski mountaineering. On the other hand, I pulled out the old 70cm Chouinard Piolet last spring when I taught my son how to use an ice axe. For sentimental value...

 

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I second that emotion! And you know, nobody has really improved on these designs.

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2992121721_eb2d88d141.jpg

MSR Sumner Axe ...55cm. The perfect all-around axe for the N. Cascades. My attempt to re-paint it didn't hold up. I need to figure out a better coating

Actually not a Sumner. The ice axe shown is a MSR Eagle. I own and still use the Sumner I purchased in 1977. The Sumner has a large pick like the T-Bird, but is much more drooped.

ice_axe_3.JPG

 

ice_axe_1.JPG

 

ice_axe_2.JPG

Edited by MarkMcJizzy

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Beautiful set of axes, Lowell. You can pass them down to your son some day.

 

Yeah, definitely.

 

When I taught my son how to use an ice axe last spring, he had so much fun with it that I decided to give him an early present for his 12th birthday. I bought him an ice axe of his own. I picked what I think is the most aesthetic of the modern ultralight axes, a 60cm BD Raven Pro. Here's a photo showing my son's axe next to my old Chouinard Piolet.

 

20081102-piolets-then-and-now.jpg

 

Say what you will about Black Diamond as a company (I have no opinion one way or another), you have to give them credit for understanding that an ice axe should be beautiful. The direct lineage from the Chouinard Piolet to Black Diamond Raven Pro is obvious.

 

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Very fun to seem some of the old tools. The Chouinard bamboo Piolet has never been equaled let alone bettered imo. Too bad because now it is almost a shame to use them at the going replacement cost.

 

 

Two Chouinard 55s and a 50 Zero from Camp (all bamboo) after Chouinard first went from bamboo to fiberglass around 1977/'78. The middle axe has had the pick welded up and recut many times over the years. Funny how I could change the upper curve profile, which made no differenece on how the tool climbed but could'nt get more curve on the bottom where it would have.

 

P1011335.JPG

 

With 3rd and 2nd generation alpine hammers.

P1011336.JPG

 

Kinda in the same theme ;)

The 2nd generation of "hard" ice tools. The Terro is a third gen. just before they stopped production. 1st gen was gray in color, 2nd black. Simond Chacal (hammer) and Barracuda (adze, head weights make decent hammer when required) circa 1981/'82.

 

P1011337.JPG

 

 

An unlikely pair that will get you up almost anything made of pure ice.

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The likely suspects today.

P1011341.JPG

 

The ones I used up or sold or traded away that I should have kept? Terro adze, Roosterhead, Forest Lifetimes, Condor/Vulture, Curver. Anyone have any of these around?

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Recently I've been moving the Mountaineers Archives from the old clubhouse on 3rd Avenue West in Seattle to the new clubhouse at Magnuson Park. The Mountaineers donated many of their artifacts to the Washington State Historical Society a few years ago. But a few items remain.

 

Here are some old ice axes. I think the top two are pre-WWII, while the bottom two are post-WWII.

 

20081102-0005-mountaineer-archives-axes.jpg

 

This one is quite nice. Here's an oblique view:

 

20081102-0006-mountaineer-archives-axe.jpg

 

And here's a side view of the head:

 

20081102-0007-mountaineer-archives-axe.jpg

 

Detail of the pick:

 

20081102-0008-mountaineer-archives-axe.jpg

 

Unfortunately, we have no documentation for this axe so I don't know where it came from or how old it is. The only axe that is documented is the 3rd from top, above. It was donated to the club by Vic Josendal, who was an active climber in the 1960s.

 

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Lowell and Dane,

 

Have you maintained those in that condition - did you have any polishing done on them? I have one that that has a few spots of rust that I'd like to get removed. I'm sure there will be some pitting under them. Plus, it's left a small black spot on the bamboo, just below the head - not sure if that'll come off. I can leave the spot on the wood alone but I don't want the rust to get any worse so thinking about taking it in to get it polished. Any suggestions?

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Lowell and Dane,

 

Have you maintained those in that condition - did you have any polishing done on them? I have one that that has a few spots of rust that I'd like to get removed. I'm sure there will be some pitting under them. Plus, it's left a small black spot on the bamboo, just below the head - not sure if that'll come off. I can leave the spot on the wood alone but I don't want the rust to get any worse so thinking about taking it in to get it polished. Any suggestions?

 

When I used my Chouinard axes regularly, I did maintenance on them after almost every use (typically every week). Just as I would scrub the dirt off my leather climbing boots and re-apply SnoSeal when they dried, I would apply a little TLC to my wooden tools.

 

To remove tarnish and rust from the head and ferrule, I'd use a steel-wool dish-washing pad then rinse it off. If the rust was stubborn, I'd use fine grit sand paper (something like 220 grit). Sand paper sounds harsh, but I've used it many times on my Chouinard tools and it just makes them shinier. The key is that you have to always rub along the same axis (NEVER in circles). Rub the head along the axis from the pick to the adze. Rub the ferrule perpendicular to the axis of the shaft.

 

I also applied linseed oil to the bamboo shaft after almost every use. Just a thin coat rubbed on with a rag but not rubbed off entirely. Over time the shaft acquired the shine you see in my photos. Nicks and scratches in the shaft accumulate a bit more oil than smooth areas, and eventually darken. The nicks from years of use give the axe a distinctive personality.

 

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Thanks. I took a scrubber to the rusty spots and there was some pitting underneath so I had a shop take that out. The few black (rust?) spots on the shaft probably go pretty deep so I'm going to leave those alone - maybe see if there's a wood cleaner than can pull it out.

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Thanks. I took a scrubber to the rusty spots and there was some pitting underneath so I had a shop take that out. The few black (rust?) spots on the shaft probably go pretty deep so I'm going to leave those alone - maybe see if there's a wood cleaner than can pull it out.

 

Mineral spirits (paint thinner) is a pretty safe alternative for cleaning wood.

 

A few months ago I wrote up some preservation guidelines for use in the Mountaineer Archives, based on a couple of books that I read:

 

http://www.mountaineers.org/history/preservation.html

 

See the sections about wood and iron artifacts near the bottom of the page. My personal practices are less formal than what these guidelines suggest. (My previous post summarizes what I do with my own gear.)

 

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I just picked up (pun intended) a wood shafted Stubai yesterday- I was very much inspired by this thread- it is probably from the '50's. It came from an estate sale in Enumclaw so I like to think it has seen some action on Rainier. It's not nearly as cool as the Chouinard/Frost's or the Simond in some of y'alls collections, but I only paid $ 35.00 for it. I'll get a pic up as soon as I can.

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I love this threac, but sorry, when it comes to climbing tools, or FF, I just can’t let this pass with out a little antidote.

I was at FF one day and my son, now 13, was oh about 5 or 6 at the time, when some how or some way he got his hands on a climbing tool that was the perfect size for him as a mountaineering ax.

 

He proceeded to explain to me how he wanted it and quickly justified how he NEEDED it. He went so far is to show me how it was the perfect size for him.

 

Then he got it into his mind that I just HAD to get it for him.

 

When he realized he was not going to get it we had an in store melt down.

 

The dude helping me at FF was great. FF had a display tent up so we got my son into it.

 

We asked him if he could lie down and test to for me.

 

He was out cold, fast asleep, in 60 seconds.

 

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Musta been the vapors from the SeamSeal.

That FF guy really knows bratty kids, eh? :whistle:

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