Objects Database

Chouinard Zero ice axe

Accession Number


Object Name

Chouinard Zero ice axe




Hermione Cooper

Accession Date


Brief Description

Chouinard Zero ice axe. Metal shaft with black rubber hand grip. One hole in middle of head. Grey leash attached to shaft by metal ring. Adze with pear shaped hole in centre, serrated pick. Pointed spike on ferrule with five grooves and a hole.




Shaft & ferrule 67(l) x 9(cir)cms. Head 29(l) cms. Adze 6 (w)cms.

Number Of Objects


Inscription Description

On one side stamped inscription reads " CHOUINARD ZERO " Also a "C " inside a diamond. Also "CAMP" inside an unfinished square. On other side stamped inscription reads "MADE IN ITALY PREMANA" On rubber shaft "CAMP"


blue, silver, black



Object Production Place



There's no register of mountaineering icons that we are aware of, but if there were, then there's no doubt that the Chouinard 'Zero' Ice axe would be on it. Created by American Yvon Chouinard in 1976, the 'Zero' quickly became the most sought after ice axe of the era and that's still the case some forty years later when 'Zeros' sell for ten times their original price - albeit more as collector's items than for practical use.
Surprisingly, for something so good, its active life was short. The 1970's and 80's was a period of great change in the mountaineering world, with technology rapidly overtaking tradition. Wooden shafted ice axes had been the norm since the sport of mountaineering began, but the demand of ever harder climbs required stronger ice-axes.
The early 'Zeros' were wooden shafted,some with laminated bamboo - it's these versions that have gone on to become the collector's items.
The version we have here in the collection is a somewhat later, matel shafted version, an attempt to move with the times which didn't work too well. Drooped pick ice tools began to appear on the market in the 1980's and were found to be much better for climbing steep ice. The Zero's brief period of iconic life was all but over.
The 'Interalp Camp' logo on this, and various other items of gear, often confuses folk. It basically refers to a big factory that produces things 'En masse' and on licence to the original manufacturer to reduce costs. Chouinard, for instance originally produced his ice axes at the Great Pacific Iron Works in California, but later transferred production to Camp in Italy because it was cheaper.

Acquisition Date


Condition Check Date



Spectrum : UK Museum documentation standard, V.3.1 2007



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