Insipration for the gear we build

August 19, 2015

I got the pattern almost right. just need to widen the base a little.

blue and red pumpkins
I get asked fairly regularly why I decided to bring back so many of the old styles. There are a number of reasons, but as the recent article about me says, it's not because I shun technology. I wouldn't trade carbon fiber ice tools, modern climbing boots, Grivel ice screws, or my rohloff hub for anything. Technology has made a lot of climbing and cycling pursuits more enjoyable. maybe they are safer, but the mountains are still in a constant state of flux.I started ice climbing in 1985 and bike racing in 1990.

But tools don't make the climber. modern routes have only existed since ice tools improved, with a few exceptions of startling greatness: The world's first grade 7 ice climb. Reality Bath in the Canadian Rockies by Mark Twight and Randy Radcliff in the late 80's. The west face of G4 in Pakistan in 1986 by "Voytek" Wojciech Kurtyka and Austrian Robert Schauer. Twight's "beyond Good & Evil", Lowe/jones routes in the Canadian Rockies. John Bouchard and the " Black Dike on Cannon cliff with one old Chouinard Piolet for an ice tool. Anything Joe Tasker or Jeff Lowe did. I know there are more examples, these are just off the top of my head.

I have always been influenced by climbers , and their writing, that came before me. One of the greatest aspects of alpinism is the great history that has been written down. Katie Ives, the editor of Alpinist, is lucky I no longer live in Vermont or I would spend all my free time in her office reading.

Chouinard's book, Climbing Ice, was one of the big influences on me early on. The photos below are from ice climbing in Scotland with the Creag Dubh /Black Crag pack. The Picture of Nikki and Ian Clough are on the north face of the Matterhorn wearing the original Karrimor whillans alpinist pack.

I like the aesthetics and simplicity of the older gear is all. I like the fact most packs only have one structural seam, where the back panel meets the front panel. to many modern climbing packs are littered with structural seams as in the photo below. I don't see the benefit. I do have some contemporary packs to finish up and will be on the website soon, before ice climbing season that are better for current ice tools and reasonably light/durable fabrics.

no thanks

..I consider that if everybody were given the chance of undergoing similar experiences they would acquire a much better comprehension of themselves and others. They might also understand that humanity has changed and no longer knows how to live. As though it has gone crazy, it constantly imprisons itself in it's own myths and ambitions, rushing from one servitude to another. Man seems to be positively at pains to dehumanize himself, to abandon all that is most positive in his nature....A glance at our society is almost enough to make one long for a more primitive state of being.... What does it help us to possess all that progress has placed at our service when we have lost all sense of the meaning of things and even of life itself?"

          Walter Bonatti, "The Great Days"  1971

Nikki and Ian Clough  on the north face of the Matterhorn 

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