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markhallam - May 28, 2012 4:22 am - Voted 10/10

Another interesting bit of history

...and it takes me back seeing mention of PA's, EB's (& weren't there 'RD's' as well?). I just missed PA's but I remember my first pair of EB's.
I don't do that sort of climbing any more so am out of touch - but it looks like they use something like spray on latex these days?
best wishes, Mark


ericvola - May 28, 2012 6:53 am - Hasn't voted

PAs and EBs a bit of history

Pierre Allain who was one of the best rock climber of his generation started as a worker and became a brilliant inventor. Aside the PA which he invented in 1935, manufactured in 1948 as the 'EB', for Emile Bourdonneau, the bootmaker he associated himself with, among others he invented the down sleeping bag, the 'pied d'éléphant', the carabiner using light alloy, the descender (as early as 1943 but marketed only in 1960), the single rope rappel system (quite tricky allowing 70/90 m rappels, using a spring which lets the rope off as soon as you stop putting your weight on the rope). I have known a Swiss climber, Adrien Voillat who with his wife, Rose, and his friend, Theytaz (a Swiss guide) did scores of first ascents of North faces in the Swiss Alps, abseiling down them using the Pierre Allain's system. I met him in En Veau in August 1961 where he killed himself while taking pictures and not climbing!

The RDs stood for René Desmaison, they had leather uppers but I don't remember who was manufacturing them and I don't think they lasted long, similarly the Paragot which had a pink softer rubber sole. PA/EBs won the market. While the main brand was named PA in France, it was the EB in the UK (I guess Emile was not sharing the export revenues with Pierre!). I started using them in 1961 in the UK myself (as seen in the picture above on Stanage - 1961), in France only the Paris climbers used them on the Fontainebleau boulders. In the Calanques and the South, we adopted the light mountain boots, the Terray-Livanos, then the Terray Saussois and this lasted until 'free climbing' took over.

Modern climbing shoes changed all this to the better and the geatest pleasure of climbers. I still remember my first 'Fire' which I bought from the Gallegos brothers in Catalonia in 1981 or 1982 - they had the brilliant idea to incorporate resin in the sole - and my first 'Five Ten', the 1rst asymetric climbing shoes , which made such a change on the Fontainebleau boulders. Suddenly, on friction moves and minute crimpers, I was nearly as good as some of my better climber friends who had more 'ordinary' climbing shoes!

All the best


ericvola - May 28, 2012 3:51 pm - Hasn't voted

L'Angle Allain

Funny you mention the "Angle Allain" as it is one of the the 1rst 6 (now its quotation is 5c although worth a 6a when climbed on its West side) climbed in the forest by Pierre, in 1934, wearing gym shoes with reinforced rubber soles, an early prototype of his following year's invention. The same year, with Raymond Leininger, he climbed the North face of the Drus using a 7mm hemp rope, 60 m long used as a double rope, one ice axe for the two, no crampons and again both wearing their gym shoes with reinforced rubber soles which helped Pierre get up the crux, a two pitches 6a crack nammed now the "Alain crack", the 1rst 6a in the French Alps.

Yes, in his time, Pierre was one of the best "Very pure lights of the rock" as were then named the top Fontainebleau climbers (achieving grade 6 which went up to 6f until this was abandonned for the modern block quotation).


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