From the Vault #2: The iconic 1972 Chouinard catalog, 40 years later...
Black Diamond employee Randy Hankins began climbing in 1970—just before the dawn of clean climbing—and has been working here at BD since 1994. Below is the second in the From The Vault series of Journal posts that Randy has developed about various articles, photos, anecdotes and gear from the BD archives. This From The Vault post is about the iconic 1972 Chouinard catalog, which many climbing historians feel was integral in ushering in the clean climbing era and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.
(Click here to read Randy's first From The Vault post, which was about Night Driving, a seminal essay excerpted in the 1997 BD catalog.)
Having been exposed to climbing (top roping only) for the first time in 1970 and then being inspired to pursue it further by an amazing campfire lecture/slideshow given by the climbing ranger in the Tetons in 1971, I was delighted to find myself actually IN the Tetons on my own to learn to lead climb and place pro.
It was August of 1974 and I would be 19 in a couple of weeks. My parents had suggested that if I was going to climb, I should at least get lessons so I wouldn't kill myself too early. I was stoked to be taking classes with Will Bassett Jr. at Exum Guides and staying at the Climbers' Ranch with David North and Chris Southerland, two buddies who had made the long journey with me from Oklahoma.
[Cover of the 1972 Chouinard catalog]
Being at the ranch, in the mountains, reading Rébuffat, Terray, Herzog and Harrer every night in the AAC climbing library, and staying in the bunk bed cabins (with ponytailed dudes from California who were heading up to do the Black Ice couloir) made the three of us hungry to be part of this climbing family.
I had received a copy of the ground-breaking 1972 Chouinard Catalog in 1973 and had devoured all the articles about this new thing called "clean climbing" long before I actually found myself in the Tetons eager to learn how it all worked. I can still vividly remember heading into Teton Mountaineering after we had completed our three days of classes and buying the Stoppers and Hexes I had read about the year before and learned to place correctly that week.
[Photo from the 1972 Chouinard catalog showing the full line of Hexentrics.]
Five years later I would graduate to the first Friends and later Camalots, of course, but I will always remember the thrill of smelling the cut perlon and learning to tie a double fisherman's knot and beginning to lead climbs on my own with Stoppers and Hexes. And as Doug Robinson quoted in his article "Close to the Edge" in our 2002 catalog on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the 1972 catalog and as Chuck Pratt actually said, "Leading is climbing."
Great memories indeed...
So, 40 years after the '72 catalog came out and 38 years after I became a "real" climber, it seemed like a fitting time to share a PDF of the catalog that helped make me the climber I would later become and continues to resonate with so many climbers still today. Click here to view the PDF: 1972 Chouinard Catalog