Black Diamond Equipment

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Black Diamond Equipment
Public company
Industry climbing and skiing equipment
Founded December 1, 1989
Headquarters Holladay, Utah
Parent Black Diamond, Inc.
Chouinard Equipment Company, Ventura, California, 1969. Left to right: Tom Frost, Dorene Frost, Tony Jessen, Dennis Henneck, Terry King, Yvon Chouinard, Merle, and Davey Agnew.

Black Diamond Equipment is a Utah-based manufacturer of equipment for climbing, skiing and mountain sports. The company also has global offices in Reinach, Switzerland and Zhuhai, China. The company is owned by Black Diamond, Inc., a parent company formerly known as Clarus Corporation, which also owns POC Sports.[1]


Black Diamond Equipment’s history dates back to the late 1950s, when climber Yvon Chouinard began hand-forging pitons and selling them from the trunk of his car in Yosemite Valley. Chouinard’s pitons quickly gained a reputation for quality, and Chouinard Equipment was born soon after in Ventura, California.[2]

In early 1989, after several product-liability lawsuits and a continued lack of profitability, Yvon Chouinard placed the company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Black Diamond was founded on December 1, 1989, when the assets of Chouinard Equipment Ltd. were purchased by a group of former company employees led by current Black Diamond Equipment CEO Peter Metcalf, and a few outside investors. Peter Metcalf moved the company and its 45 employees from Ventura, California to the Salt Lake City, Utah area in September 1991 to be closer to the climbing and skiing opportunities provided by the Wasatch Mountains.

In 1996, Black Diamond Equipment Europe was established in Reinach, Switzerland, making Black Diamond products widely available throughout Europe. In 2006, Black Diamond Equipment Asia was established in Zhuhai, China to serve as both a secondary manufacturing facility as well as a global distribution hub.[3] In May 2010, Black Diamond Equipment was acquired for $90 million by Clarus Corporation which owns Armor inc, a military defense contractor. The resulting corporation was renamed and is now publicly traded on the NASDAQ under the name Black Diamond, Inc. (BDE).[4]


Black Diamond Equipment designs and manufactures products for climbing, skiing and mountain sports. Climbing products include locking and non-locking carabiners, quickdraws, harnesses, active and passive climbing protection, belay devices, helmets, ice tools and piolets, crampons, ice protection, bouldering pads and big wall equipment. Black Diamond Equipment also produces skis, ski boots, bindings, poles, gloves, ski packs, avalanche safety gear and climbing skins. The company’s mountain products include tents and shelters, lighting, trekking poles and backpacks.

Over the years, Black Diamond has acquired and integrated several gear companies into its line, including Bibler tents (1997) Ascension climbing skins (1999), and Franklin climbing products (1998).[5]

Notable Black Diamond products include:[6]

  • Camalot (1987): a spring-loaded camming device with increased strength and expansion range
  • Black Prophet ice tool (1992): an ergonomically shaped ice tool
  • FlickLock (1994): An external adjustment clamp for ski and trekking poles
  • HotWire (1995): World’s first wire gate climbing carabiner
  • Express ice screws (1997): Ice screws with speed-drive knob and quick-biting tooth geometry
  • AvaLung (1999): an avalanche safety device that helps maintain air supply during avalanche burial
  • Cobra ice tool (1999): a compound-curved ice tool that uses carbon fiber in the shaft
  • Moonlight and Spaceshot headlamps (2001): Headlamps using LEDs and powerful Xenon bulbs
  • Camalot C3 (2006): a flexible camming unit with interlocking cams and a narrow head width
  • O1 binding (2006): a freeride telemark binding with a low-resistance touring mode
  • Freeride ski boots (2008): a line of AT and telemark ski boots that bridge freeride constriction with backcountry touring accessibility.
  • Magnetron carabiners (2012): auto-locking carabiners that use magnets in the gate and a steel insert in the carabiner’s nose for added security[7]

Manufacturing & Testing[edit]

Black Diamond Equipment Asia located in Zhuhai, China produces many of the company’s products. Products are also made in The Philippines, various sites in Europe and in its Utah factory. Black Diamond maintains an in-house Quality Assurance lab staffed by a team of engineers responsible for performing batch testing, stress analysis and quality control on all Black Diamond products. Batch testing refers to testing a few products from each production run. Not all products are tested. Usually, a random sampling of parts from each batch are tested to destruction.

In October 1998, Black Diamond received ISO 9001 certification. ISO 9001 certification serves as a control process for companies with systems already in place to monitor design, manufacturing and testing.[8]

Black Diamond uses a manufacturing rating standard called 3-Sigma. By batch-testing climbing equipment following 3-Sigma methodologies, there is a 99.73% probability that the strength of any item taken from the same batch will be above the rating given to any given product.[9]


  • In 2009, Black Diamond initiated a closed-loop anodization process in its China plant that reuses and recycles 2,000 short tons (1,800 t) of wastewater.
  • All of the wastewater from the company’s tumble-and-polish process (used in the manufacturing raw metal products) is recycled. Additionally, Black Diamond boils off water from oil/water mixes from production and sends the oil out to be recycled.
  • All scrap metal and excess cardboard from the Utah and China manufacturing facilities is recycled. During the baseline year in Utah, Black Diamond and Waste Management recycled an estimated 235 short tons (213 t) of Black Diamond's waste, or approximately 60% of the organization's total solid waste stream. This included approximately 138 short tons (125 t) of cardboard, 43 short tons (39 t) of metals, 28 short tons (25 t) of paper, 26 short tons (24 t) of plastics and 1,776 pounds (806 kg) of computer waste.
  • Black Diamond is a Blue Sky Program "Champion Level" participant, purchasing 180,000 kWh of Blue Sky wind power offsets each year. Twenty percent of BD’s headquarter and manufacturing facilities' power is wind-generated, and a 2,200 Watt solar photovoltaic system generates approximately 3,000 kWh of electricity each year, supplying roughly 7% of the company retail store's electricity needs.


Former[11] Black Diamond CEO Peter Metcalf has a long history of political advocacy for both the outdoor industry and the public lands of Utah, and has often united outdoor companies against policies that threaten public lands and outdoor recreation.[12] In 2003, Metcalf, a board member of the Outdoor Industry Association, threatened to move the Outdoor Retailer trade show (which brings $24 million in revenue to Utah) out of Salt Lake City after million acres of Utah land were stripped of wilderness protection. Metcalf and other outdoor companies have also been vocal in opposition to oil and gas drilling in Desolation Canyon, Utah, and other threats to public lands. In 2012, Metcalf resigned from the Utah Ski and Snowboard Working Group in opposition to proposed legislation that would transfer ownership of public lands from the federal government to the state of Utah.[13]

Black Diamond also supports many non-profit organizations (with money, gear, employee time, etc.),[14] including:
The Access Fund
American Alpine Club
The Conservation Alliance
Utah Clean Energy
Leave No Trace
The Nature Conservancy
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]