/ Terrordactyls, Breakthrough or Development?

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Double Knee Bar - on 23 Jun 2012
When the Terrordactyls arrived in the late 1960's were these a big step forward in ice axe design? Were these the first short shafted axes to be used in conjunction with front pointing or was there a predecessor?
Thanks in advance.
wee jamie on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar: I'm no expert, but as far as I'm aware the Terrordactyls were the first all-metal ice axe. They were shorter than the other popular axes of the time (Chouinard Zero/Curver Snowdon), they had an aluminium shaft that could take plenty of abuse, and they had a steep angle on the pick which had no curve on them (making them easier to remove from placements).
The front pointing revolution seems to have taken off in a few places around the globe at a similar time, and shorter axes and daggers were developed to accompany the new style.
Some good discussions on the subject can be found on the supertopo and cascade climbers websites.
Mick Tighe manages the Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection http://www.smhc.co.uk/ and is an authority on vintage ice tools. He has a unique pair of handmade chromed Terrordactyl replicas which are beautiful!
deepstar - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to wee jamie: I think the MacInnes Massey all metal axes preceded the "Terrors".
SteveSBlake - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar:

As has been stated they were preceded by several other all metal McInnnes designs. I had a McInnes North Wall Hammer, a very manly tool!

Someone on here will probably know in better detail, but my understanding is that 'short' axes were
a common adaption quite early on. Slaters tools were sometimes used, though whether or not with front pointing I don't know.....

John Cunningham and wassisname from Glenmore (his names on the tip of my tongue but I can't recall it) lodge developed steep front pointing with Ice Daggers - a precarious business that was rapidly (and understandably) overtaken by curved picks and terrors.

I never used terrors the knuckle damage never appealed - my choice was a fiberglass shafted Curver which was effective but very heavy, and a Chouinard Climbaxe and Ice Hammer. The improvements they brought were undoubtably a big step forward. Prior to them is seems unlikely anyone would have contemplated soloing Point Five and Zero the way 'Big Ian' did.

My two pennorth,

Steve
Pennine - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar: Out of interest, I still own a 'Terror', Chouinard curved short axe & Stubai Nanga Parbet fibre glass circa 1970. Incidently, I still occasionally use the 'terror' on snowy romps across Striding/Swirral/Sharp edges. Hooks on rocks nicely.
Pennine - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to SteveSBlake: Bill March?
Eric9Points - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to SteveSBlake:
> (In reply to Double Knee Bar)
>

> I never used terrors the knuckle damage never appealed - my choice was a fiberglass shafted Curver which was effective but very heavy, and a Chouinard Climbaxe and Ice Hammer. The improvements they brought were undoubtably a big step forward. Prior to them is seems unlikely anyone would have contemplated soloing Point Five and Zero the way 'Big Ian' did.
>
>
Terrors were around a fair while before Curvers. IIRC, I had a Curver, folk didn't use Terrors as they were too short to be thought of as a mountaineering axe. McInnes did also do a longer axe with a steeply inclined straight pick but it was shite.

Hannes on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar: I wasn't exactly around then but I do think it was a bit of a break through.

Check this thread out over at supertopo which is quite interesting, not only axes but also the development of other ice gear like screws

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=382806&tn=0&mr=0
Double Knee Bar - on 23 Jun 2012
Thanks very much for all of this info guys. Lots of interesting stuff to look at.
SteveSBlake - on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to Pennine:

Ta! That was him
Mike C on 23 Jun 2012
In reply to Eric9Points:

Late 70's a Curver & a Terror hammer was the choice of folk who were slightly behind modern developments. That was me I guess. Used the combo in the Alps for a few seasons & my knuckles were fine! Still have both tools though I must admit the Terror rarely comes out of storage.
GeoffG - on 24 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar:
They were for me. A complete breakthrough somewhat like the advent of sticky rubber on Fires.
I went from Chouinard/Frost axes on grade 3 to terrors on grade 5 overnight!
I still have them and they bring back great memories of orion face and raven gully direct.
Its all to do with the angle of the dangle!
rif on 24 Jun 2012
Terrordactyls were just one part of the revolution in ice-climbing tools that occurred between the late 1960s and early 1970s. I've just dug out a review piece that Graham Tiso wrote in Mountain 17 (Sept 1971). He mentions the following gear, which I've put in what I recall as the chronological sequence in which they were introduced:
-- Yvon Chouinard's alpine hammer (short wooden shaft without spike, downcurved pick), and later on his full-size ice axe (one version of which had a bamboo shaft). Chouinard visited Scotland in early 1970 and a few Scottish climbers had these tools and/or blacksmith-bent approximations of them by the following winter.
-- Herman Huber's Salewa ice hammer (metal-shafted equivalent of Chouinard's hammer).
-- Hamish McInnes's Terrordactyls (axe and hammer, both with spikes), which became commercially available in late 1971 I think. As has been pointed out, McInnes had been designing/making metal-shafted axes for a while (I bought one of the heavy Massey monstrosities in about 1965 -- big mistake!)
-- Larry Penberthy's curved-pick metal-shaft axes for MSR in the States (which weren't around for long but were actually quite good)
-- SnoMo's axe (what became the Curver; pretty much same geometry as Chouinard's axe, but fibreglass-on-wood shaft)

The advantages the Terrors had were: (1) more steeply down-tilted than the curved tools, so felt more secure on very steep ice; (2) possibility of using paired tools, instead of one long and one short; (3) the huge down-tilted adze on the Terror axe was good for hooking in soft snow at the exit of an ice pitch. The main disadvantage was bruised knuckles. They were also too short (about 45 cm I think) to be ideal alpine or expeditionary tools, though I and plenty other folk did use them as such in the mid 70s.

Frontpointing had been used for decades before this (e.g. Heckmair on the Eiger in 1938), but not on very steep ground until the mid/late 1960s as far as I know, when it was enabled by the use of an ice dagger along with a straight-pick north wall hammer (e.g. Messner's solo of the Droites N face in 1969, and John Cunningham's FA of the Chancer on Hell's Lum).

No doubt I'm not the only former Terror user to have permanently-damaged knuckles on my middle fingers.




Double Knee Bar - on 24 Jun 2012
In reply to rif: Thanks for that. Bamboo shafted tools... Recon they'd pass the current UIAA testing? Haha
deepstar - on 24 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar:
> (In reply to rif) Thanks for that. Bamboo shafted tools... Recon they'd pass the current UIAA testing? Haha

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=124905
OwenM - on 24 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar: Laminated bamboo is actually very strong and they didn't jar anything like as much metal shafted axes. At the time these came out most axes had ask shafts.
Double Knee Bar - on 25 Jun 2012
Cheers guys, turned into an interesting thread.
heavy - on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar:

Just have a look what ice routes were done in Canada when Terrors came by Bugs MacKeith and friends. When Big Ian Nicholson soloed Point 5 and Zero did he not use Terrors? That was huge breakthrough!

Incredible bit of kit but there is still an injury called Terror Knuckle!

Hamish designed an ice axe in 1960 that was bought by the military he says 5000 were sold, they were indestructible and I bet there are loads about wherever MOD hide stuff!
rocksol - on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar:
People used to front point before Terrors came out. North Wall hammers and Ice Daggers were used. At about the same time as Terrors, Chouinard used drooped pick axes and hammers that worked well.
The early Terrors had a habit of bending if you tried to place a screw with the pick of one. To avoid the bashed knuckles, you had to flick the pick into the ice at the end of the placement swing. They were bloody good though
The early all metal Macinnes axes were Macinnes Massey axes, made in Stockport and weighing several kilos Also useful also as an indestructible short crowbar
Finally and here,s a bit of a revelation, Heckmair [he of Eiger fame] told me that they had droop pick axes in the 30,s but I,ve never had that verified
Sean Kelly - on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to rocksol: I can clearly recall seeing a McInnis metal shafted axe being used on the Trinity Face circa the winter of 1963/64. They just looked so different to the standard wooden shafted axe common at the time. I also recall that the pick was more inclined than the standard pick, but not so much as the 'Terror'. I dropped a Terror on Glover's in the early 70's, and didn't fancy having to reclimb that chimney again to retrieve it!
dek - on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to heavy:

> Just have a look what ice routes were done in Canada when Terrors came by Bugs MacKeith and friends. When Big Ian Nicholson soloed Point 5 and Zero did he not use Terrors? That was huge breakthrough!
One terror and a Chouinard hammer i believe?!
Gordon Smith's contribuion to the American site linked, makes for some great reading!
Goucho on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to Double Knee Bar: Terrors made a big difference to steep ice climbing due to the very steep drop of the pick (mind you, they were a sod to get out if they got really deep in a placement, and were the ultimate knuckle smashers) and made climbing steep ice less strenuous, also, you didn't have to place them as deep, which made for much quicker climbing too.

I got my first pair in around 73, and I've still got them stored away along with other relics from my past.
Bruce Hooker - on 25 Jun 2012
In reply to rocksol:

> The early all metal Macinnes axes were Macinnes Massey axes, made in Stockport and weighing several kilos...

I didn't remember being that strong so I've just weighed mine - bought second hand in 1969. It weighs exactly 1010 grms and that's with rubber tape round the handle which is thicker than the original sheath. So heavy but not that heavy, which made it good for digging bivvy sites out of frozen gravel when other axes just bounced off :-)

It has a pick which slopes down a bit but not enough to climb ice like modern axes. I never tried a tetra-dactyl but my brother did and he muttered about his knuckles too but said it worked well enough.

Not long after MacInnes lots of continental makers started using metal for shafts too, but I think his were the first.
brian cropper - on 10 Jul 2012
In reply to deepstar: hello young man they did and by the fox of glencoe

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