Not everything is an act of faith
In the history of humanity, great ideas have usually emerged from curious and maverick minds, from men and women who have been capable of going further, practically envisioning the future.
David Waggoner was one of those people.
The origins ofDavid Waggoner,visionary and pioneer.
Waggoner was born on 20 December 1955 in Fort Collins (Colorado, United States), where he lived for the first part of his life. He later moved to Four Corners, where he worked until he invented the Alien in 1986 and founded his own brand and company: Colorado Custom Hardware (CCH).
Waggoner developed his invention in a Durango garage and was probably not fully aware at the time that he was about to change the history of climbing. The word ‘pioneer’ was not enough to explain what he had just created.
The revolutionary Alien redefined the rules of the game in traditional climbing. Where a piton was placed before, climbers could now place an Alien cam: a light, flexible and extremely reliable piece of self-protection.
From 1955 to 1988, there was a struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union in a race to conquer space. Both countries wanted to explore outer space with satellites and were eager to send humans into space and onto the surface of the Moon. Virtually at the same time, in El Capitán, in Yosemite Valley (California, United States), several climbers competed to be the first to climb The Nose, the most popular great wall route in the world. On 12 November 1958, after 45 days on the wall spread over 18 months, a team composed of Warren Harding, Wayne Merry and George Whitmore reached the top of El Capitán after climbing The Nose. There were still a few years to go before the first Alien saw the light of day, but these big-walled visionaries were the seeds of what was to come.
When Paul Piana and Todd Skinner free climbed the Salathé route in El Capitán in 1988, they already had Aliens hanging in the harnesses of dozens of climbers eager to break with everything established thus far. Piana and Skinner’s ascent was the beginning of the fever for free climbing the great walls of Yosemite. Aliens became the great allies of the pioneers of free climbing; there was no going back.
The first years
The first Alien patent was filed in 1986 and a second was filed three years later, in 1989, when Waggoner improved the performance and technical features of the microcam.
In 1991, he moved his residence and productive activity to Laramie, from where CCH began to work internationally.
Aliens had become an indispensable part of the equipment of any climber or mountaineer. None could do without them when attacking a wall, a traditional climbing route, an alpine ascent, etc.
Fixe Climbingbuys CCH
David Waggoner died in October 2009. Shortly thereafter, CCH announced that it was cutting back on production and putting the company up for sale. Faced with this news, fear grew among climbers around the world. The blue, green and yellow set or the so-called ‘traffic light’ (red, yellow and green) set was the basis for building a set of friends in any harness and it was getting harder to find it on the market.
After a period of uncertainty in which Waggoner’s widow, Nadia Waggoner, had maintained the CCH business with few resources, Fixe Climbing decided to buy the company. The agreement was finalised in 2011. Fixe Climbing moved the production of the Aliens to Sant Quirze de Besora (Barcelona), the base of the Catalan company.
Nadia Waggoner spent two months in the Fixe Climbing factory to pass on all the knowledge about the Aliens to the new production team, thereby fulfilling one of her husband’s last wishes. “David wanted to leave CCH in the hands of a climber or a company that was committed to manufacturing the Aliens exactly as he had designed them, a company with a firm commitment to upholding the founding values of the brand, one that would not stop manufacturing Aliens to impose their own friend”, Nadia Wagoner said at the time.
Alien X,the sixthgenerationof the saga
Waggoner’s dream and vision have remained intact since Fixe Climbing took up the baton and there are now four Alien models that the Catalan company has manufactured. The latest is a total reinterpretation of the original model and comes with a new name: Alien X.
Alien X retains the original character of the first piece and is faithful to the first patent, but the design and features have been substantially improved. These include an evolved texture for the cams, the versatility of three of the sizes, ergonomics and, in short, a more solid and compact construction of the whole set.
Handcrafted construction is synonymous with quality. All the pieces are handmade in Barcelona.
The evolutionof Aliens
The first Alien (1986)
The first Alien model was marketed in 1986. It was the first patent for a product that was going to change the rules of the climbing game.
The head of this model consisted of three cams and was manufactured in Durango (Colorado, United States).
Alien evolves in 1989
With geometry and components already very similar to those of later models, the second Alien patent was registered in 1989.
The head came to have four cams and their needles were mixed, with steel cable and wire.
The total length of the model was 200 mm and it had an 83-gram weight in the red piece. The rivets were made of copper and were manufactured between 1989 and 1991 in Durango (Colorado, United States).
The cam needles were made entirely of wire. The rivets continued to be made of copper.
Alien Regular was manufactured between 1991 and 2011 in Laramie (Wyoming, United States) and later between 2011 and 2022 in Sant Quirze de Besora (Barcelona).
Alien Evo was the shortest model in history at 185 mm. It was also the lightest, at 61 g.
The cam pullers were entirely made of steel cable, with a plastic puller and aluminium rivets. The entire production was carried out in Sant Quirze de Besora.
Alien Evo was manufactured between 2015 and 2017 in Sant Quirze de Besora (Barcelona).
This was the first model with repairable cam needles. Made entirely of bar steel, users could repair it by purchasing spare parts separately. The aluminium riveting was maintained and the handle was also built in aluminium for the first time, making it more robust than previous models. The Alien Revo was also longer, measuring 200 mm long and weighing 83 g. However, the distance between the puller and the cam was reduced.
The entire production process was carried out between 2017 and 2023 in Sant Quirze de Besora (Barcelona).
Alien X begins a new generation in the family dynasty. It retains the essence of the original model and brings great improvements in design and construction.
This microcam is in line with its predecessors’ size, as it measures a total of 200 mm long and weighs 70 grams.
It has up to six finishing and design improvements, as well as interesting technical innovations such as the passive anchoring function for large pieces and X-grip texture on the cams of all the pieces.
The riveting and handles are also made of aluminium. Both pieces are manufactured in Sant Quirze de Besora (Barcelona).
Alien X has been manufactured since 2023 in Sant Quirze de Besora (Barcelona).