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In 1957, Yvon Chouinard bought a second-hand coal-fired forge, and began making hardened steel pitons that could be used by rock climbers in Yosemite Valley. When Yvon was neither surfing nor climbing, he sold pitons out of the back of his car to fund his lifestyle. The pitons that Yvon made by hand were a significant improvement over anything available at the time and acted as a catalyst in the birth of big-wall climbing between 1957 and 1960 in Yosemite. Yvon founded Chouinard Equipment, Ltd. and partnered with Tom Frost in the late 1960’s to redesign ice climbing equipment. The two re-invented basic ice climbing tools like crampons and ice axes to perform on steeper ice. The new style tools and Yvon’s book published in 1978, Climbing Ice, kick started the modern sport of ice climbing.
Yvon’s ingenuity refused to stagnate. In 1970, Yvon noticed the use of his steel pitons being used by climbers in Yosemite was causing significant damage to the cracks in the rock walls. At the time, the pitons comprised 70% of Yvon’s income. Undaunted by the financial implications, over the next 2 years, Yvon and Tom introduced aluminum chock stones (Hexentrics), stoppers, and steel Crack-n-Ups. Yvon and Tom boldly evangelized the new tools as part of an advocacy movement toward a new style of climbing called “clean climbing.” Despite cannibalizing the sales of pitons, Chouinard Equipment, Ltd. went on to revolutionize rock climbing. Chouinard Equipment, Ltd. applied for a U.S. patent on Hexentrics in 1974 and received approval in 1976. Hexentrics are still manufactured to this day by Black Diamond Equipment. - Adapted from Liqui Search
"Gear is good, vision is better" - David duChemin