Black Diamond Equipment 50 years oldby Mick Ryan Jun/2007
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It all began way back in 1957 when an eighteen year old Yvon Chouinard began pounding out hand-forged pitons selling them at Yosemite's Camp 4. By 1958 his chrome-moly steel pitons were popular and he began Chouinard Equipment, located in Ventura, California.
Chouinard Equipment developed and introduced the Chouinard Standard, a light and strong carabiner, the world's first rigid crampon and of course Chouinard conceived, tested and forged the first curved picks onto all his ice axes. When 'clean climbing' became popular in the US after an article by Doug Robinson in the 1972 Chouinard catalogue, Hexs and Stoppers were added to the ever expanding mountaineering product range.
In the Eighties, liability litigation reared its ugly head, and Chouinard Equipment had to file for bankruptcy, forced into it by several lawsuits claiming that Chouinard Equipment had "failed to warn" customers of the potential dangers inherent in the use of climbing equipment!
Out of these ashes arose the first employee-owned company in the climbing industry, Black Diamond Equipment and an expanded product range to include not only climbing and mountaineering gear but backcountry skiing equipment especially telemark gear and the famous Bibler tents.
Black Diamond Equipment is based in Salt Lake City, Utah and in Europe, in the Swiss Jura mountains near Basel. Whilst BD USA celebrates its fiftieth birthday Christian Jaeggi (CEO Black Diamond Europe) leads BD Europe in a celebration of their tenth birthday. You can meet the people behind BD Europe here
You can read more about the origins of Black Diamond Equipment at their website www.blackdiamondequipment.com