Original Vintage Chouinard Zero Ice Axe
A Chouinard Zero is the Rolls Royce of ice axes and 40 years after they were first produced folk still seek them out and pay a high price to own one. The only thing that stopped them becoming even more popular was technology, as they arrived just as wooden shafted axes were being replaced by stronger and more versatile metal versions. There were metal and some kind of glass fibre, shafted versions but they were not as iconic as the wooden version. The later zero's (as with the one we have here) had a laminated shaft to give more strength. Yvon Chounard's first factory was called the Great Pacific Pacific Iron Works and the catalogue from 1978 tells the story:-
Model Zero ice axe
The Model Zero Axe and the North Wall Hammer are designed for complementary use in vertical ice climbing on waterfalls, in Eastern or Canadian water ice, or for solo or super fast ascents of alpine gullies. These are specialist's tools and are not meant to replace the standard Chouinard Piolet for general Alpine climbing. The main difference in design is in the pick, which has more curve and teeth all the way along its length for better anchorage in piolet traction, but not so much curve that an unnatural swing is required. Both models also have shorter spikes to avoid self-inflicted wounds while swinging in awkward or confined circumstances. Length: 55 cm laminated bamboo shafts. Weight: 1 Ib. 12 oz.
You may wish to soak or rub the shaft with a 50/50 mixture of lin-seed oil and turpentine to prevent water absorption. For winter climb¬ing use pine tar to seal the wood and give a good base for rubbing on X-country wax. A violet wax on a cold day will give superb grip for iced-over mittens. Paint on the tar and carefully heat the handle with a torch until the tar begins to bubble, then wipe off the excess. The carabiner hole is solely a convenience for carrying the axe. It is not to be used for belaying; a shaft-boot belay is better.
Chouinard zero ice axe. Wooden shaft with metal at base. One hole in middle of head. Adze, serrated pick. Pointed spike on ferrule with two flat sides.
Length: 55 cm
Width: 25 cm
Made in Italy
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