Compass: Charting the Evolution of Outdoor Gear

Black Diamond History

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Chouinard Comet

1957

Yvon Chouinard sells home-made, hand forged pitons from the back of his car

Chouinard Equipment is formed in Ventura, California, by Yvon Chouinard

first Chouinard carabiner made

1959

Horizontal Knifeblade piton launched

1960

Realised Ultimate Reality Piton (RURP) developed

Alloy Bong, Bugaboo and Angle pitons released

1961

Aluminium Bong

1963

Die-forged Lost Arrow pitons

1964

Chouinard Equipment's first mail-order catalog came out - a one-page list of equipment and prices

1966

partnership formed with engineer, Tom Frost

Yvon first rents the now famous tin shed in Ventura, California

1968

release world's first rigid crampon, and new Chouinard carabiner

Yvon Chouinard's six month road trip to South America (skiing, climbing and surfing.) Hence the company name: Patagonia

1969

make first curved pick ice axes (Chouinard Piolet)

1971

Hexentrics introduced, the vanguard of clean climbing protection

Crag Hammer and Climaxe released

1972

Doug Robinson's article in the Chouinard Equipment catalog sparked the 'clean climbing' revolution

10,000 catalogs printed

Stoppers introduced

1973

corporate entity Great Pacific Iron Works Inc created

Ultima Thule pack and Tube Chocks released

1974

import Scottish rugby shirts for sale (a move that would ultimately lead to formation of Patagonia, Inc.)

1975

Crackin' Ups released

Chouinard Super Rope unveiled

tubular ice screws unveiled

1976

Zero ice axe and North Wall hammer introduced

35,000 catalogs printed

US patent for an 'irregular polygonal mountaineering chock'  (Hexentric) award to Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost'

1977

Featherweight carabiner debuts

Sales pass $2 million mark (for combined Great Pacific Iron Works)

1978

Oval carabiner and Hinged crampons

Yvon Chouinard publishes 'Climbing Ice' book

1980

Piolet USA (aluminium/fibreglass.graphite) Light D Carabiner, and Chouinard Chest & Sit Harnesses

Asolo Canyon climbing shoe announced

sold Asolo Snowfield and Summit leather backcountry ski boots

1982

six employees and annual sales of about $1 million

1983

Pyramid tent first appears (2 person, one pole, single skin). Was inspired by the flysheet from an REI 'McKinley' tent

1984

launched SealCoat stuff sacks, sealant and vapour barrier liners and socks

debut 5.5 Kevlar accessory cord (strong as 9mm kernmantle)

release Chouinard T-Stake for tents

1985

enter backcountry ski market with 75mm XCD telemark binding and cable bindings released

Aluminium ski mountaineering shovel introduced, as well as Lazy Bum ski chair

Lost Arrow Corporation created as parent holding company

3 person pyramid tent released (Megamid)

1986

debut first shell glove cut on a curve for better grip (Shell Gloves), and companion Shell Mittens

introduce avalanche Probe ski poles

debut Bod sit harness with Synchilla padded waistband

1987

Camalot spring load camming devices announced, with dual axles and broad expansion range

Comet tent launched, single skin hypalon coated, hybrid tunnel tent

Debuted Chouinard backcountry skis: the Expresso and Toute Neige

released the Self Arrest Grip (detachable ice picks) for ski poles

1989

Valmonte and Valmonte X (waxless) backcountry touring/telemarking skis released

filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, over legal cases claiming it had failed to warn climbing was dangerous

former employees create Black Diamond Equipment (BDEL), acquiring Chouinard assets in leveraged buyout

1991

BDEL relocates to a $1 million, seven-acre abandoned shopping centre property in Salt Lake City, Utah

48 employees and revenues of $7 million, with a of sales coming from backcountry skiing products

1992

first plastic telemark Terminator (T1) ski boot, developed with Scarpa of Italy

1993

introduced the Air Traffic Controller, or ATC, belay device

introduced the auto-locking SuperLock screwgate carabiner

1995

200 employees and $20 million in sales

1996

Bibler Tents acquired

HotWire, the world's first wire-gate carabiner released

1998

Franklin Climbing Equipment becomes part of BDEL

1999

250 employees with annual revenues of $30 million

2000

LED headlamps are introduced; a new warehouse is opened

2001

AvaLung II introduced

release line of own head torches with Spaceshot, Lunar and Moonlight

2002

Skye Alpine acquired

Black Diamond Equipment now