From the Pages of History: Complete Set of Swiss Pitons from the 1965 REI Catalog
This entry in our archives has its origins in a conversation with climber and photographer Ed Webster. I opined that I could probably recreate most, if not all, of the equipment selection used on many notable ascents. We joked that the racks on some climbs where rather extensive but some were disturbingly sparse. This conversation started me thinking about Vertical Archaeology’s catalog collection and how I might be able to reproduce the gear selections in them. Once I started “shopping” through the archives with various catalogs in hand it became quite a challenge to find exactly the right pieces. Recreating an entire page in an old catalog is a strange goal but I hope people find it as interesting as I have. Starting things off is this selection from the 1965 REI catalog. This is the first in what may become a re-occurring feature on our website.
Each piton is correct for the specifications listed in the catalog. The “Swiss” pitons are all Fritsch & Company models and the Austrian pitons mentioned (but not shown) are all marked “Made in Austria” but not stamped “STUBAI”. The Army pin is a standard U.S. Army piton from the correct era.
The wide angle piton shown has an original REI price tag and it even shows the correct list price from our 1965 catalog! The Fritsch & Co stamp can be seen behind and under the ring. Fritsch had several different stampings for their pitons. The small round stamp, as seen on the wide angle, is present on late 1950s and newer pitons while earlier pitons had a simple straight printed “Fritsch & co – Zurich” or a deeply stamped version of the company name.
Notice the rolling and tooling marks present on the horizontal and spoon pitons. Swiss pins showed some fine craftsmanship for such a utilitarian piece of equipment. These were fairly soft metal and took a beating (literally!) but were expected to be cleaned and used again. Many of the pitons in our archives show evidence of repeated placements and retrievals but they stand ready to be used again.