Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia's founder, got his start as a climber in 1953 as a 14-year-old member of the Southern California Falconry Club, which trained hawks and falcons for hunting. The only pitons available at that time were made of soft iron, placed once, then left in the rock. But in Yosemite, multiday ascents required hundreds of placements. Chouinard made his first pitons from an old harvester blade and tried them out with T.M. Herbert on early ascents of the Lost Arrow Chimney and the North Face of Sentinel Rock in Yosemite. The word spread and soon friends had to have Chouinard's chrome-molybdenum steel pitons. Before he knew it he was in business. He could forge two of his in an hour, and sold them for .50 each.
Of course proper apparel was also required and after wearing rugby shirts and other sports apparel that was not really adjusted to climbing Chouinard and his friends started to develop and manufacture apparel as well. The company was then named Patagonia. Patagonia brings to mind, as the company once wrote in a catalog introduction, "romantic visions of glaciers tumbling into fjords, jagged windswept peaks, gauchos and condors."