Home Made Hardware
The art of making your own equipment is largely forgotten today. There was once a time when quality climbing gear either wasn’t readily available or didn’t come in the sizes or shapes climbers needed for their pioneering climbs.
Many of the pieces of gear we consider essential today were originally created in a shop or foundry by climbers who saw a need, or had a radical new idea, and shaped their dreams into working realities. Chouinard and Frost designed and innovated much of what made the early golden age of American climbing possible. In 1972 Lowe worked out the principles of camming devices. In 1978 Jardines Friends first emerged from a Colorado shop to be secretly tested in the smooth cracks of Yosemite and talked about in hushed tones around campfires and parking lots. Bill Forrest explored many different ideas in passive protection and continued to design innovative outdoor equipment his entire life. These guys had many amazing successes and a few crazy failures but they worked things out and now their contributions are used everyday by climbers all over the world.
At one time, climbers were much more willing to use equipment they themselves had made. Climbers tied their own swami belts, or placed machine nuts they collected and lovingly filed down, or even pounded wooden wedges into cracks for protection. Now we can find almost everything we need online or in our local mountain shop. These pieces were built mostly for fun and not out of necessity but at least the DIY spirit lives on.