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Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and accredited rock climber, began selling hand forged mountain climbing gear in 1957 through his company Chouinard Equipment. In 1970, Chouinard obtained rugby shirts from Scotland. Chouinard Equipment was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1989 when it lost a series of lawsuits claiming 'failure to inform' of safety issues related to usage of climbing hardware including one filed by the survivors of a climber who died in a fall after slipping out of a Chouinard climbing harness. The resultant increases in their product liability insurance were cited by Chouinard as the reason they stopped making climbing gear. The liquidated assets of the climbing gear side were purchased for $900,000 by Chouinard's longtime partner, Peter Metcalf, and reorganized as Black Diamond Equipment. Yvon Chouinard retained the profitable soft goods (clothing) division of the company which had already been rebranded as Patagonia.



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