Deuce, Hello from Flagstaff! Wow, this one surprised me. You may know that I started my little company after having an accident descending a snow gully? Well, that snow gully is pictured in your story. Just right of the tower in one of the last pics. My brother Mike and I Climbed the Graffer route on Campanile Basso (he was 18 and I was 22 at the time - 1993) . We didn't finish the last pitches on the final headwall as it was dark already. We descended the rappel and found ourselves at the top of the steep Gully - apparently we should have stopped partway down the last rap to follow a ledge to a different descent. But others had also descended the snow gully as we could see by the tracks - bad choice. Plunge steps worked until I hit a frozen spot and slipped - in my climbing shoes and went for a deadly ride accelerating hundreds of feet down. I had a wild "time dilation" experience where I went through my life and found it easy to accept my own death except for the overwhelming feeling of pain it would cause my girlfriend (now mother of my kiddos) and parents. I think I can see about where I luckily launched off the snow on the "dogleg" and slid along the wall to a stop- backpack and helmet taking much of the impact - and miraculously survived.

In the history of gear development, it's interesting to think how Campanile Basso - nearly a century after being climbed - played a role in my desire to create better gear. I was young and unaware of my hubris and was extremely lucky. And it's also fun to realize by reading your article that Campanile Basso was first completed in 1899. Kahtoola was founded exactly a century later in 1999 - Ha!

Thanks for putting together these interesting pieces...I love getting them.

I hope you're doing great. Hugs from Flag.

Danny G


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Thanks Danny! Your tools are the best for the kind of ice and snow scrambling up approach gullys, fantastic to know the history of their development! Tom Frost told me how on his well-known expedition to Annapurna he saw the pattern of his friend's crampons in the uneven ice on the glaciers, and got a flash of the design what was to become the first fully rigid front-point crampons made by Chouinard, for better overall security. Great tradition of inspiration from use.

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