Stannard was aggressively attacked in some circles for promoting clean climbing, people said he was encouraging dangerous practices. They blamed early accidents in which gear pulled on his influence.

Of course, we were all learning about nutcraft from scratch; things everyone knows now had to be either intuited or discovered through harsh practical experience.

The clean ascents book that Stannard promoted, kept at Rock and Snow, had a certain number of climbs done clean at the R-X level by people who could just have well have soloed the routes. Other climbers saw a strain of elitism in this that would prevent them from leading routes at the level they thought they should be able to lead, either because of decreased protection or because they didn't trust the new-fangled gear.

All this was happening when only a basic set of stoppers and hexes were available and cams were not even on the horizon. The majority of those nice fat horizontal 3/4" and 1" angle cracks we were used to slamming pins into were not usable, even with advanced trickery.

The criticism notwithstanding, Stannard was not in the business of promoting risk. He had been to Yosemite, seen the destruction caused by incessantly placing and removing chrome-molly pitons, and wanted to save the Gunks from a similar fate. So he decided to blunt the critics and equip easy and moderate classic routes (up to about 5.8 I think but mostly at lower grades) with strategically placed fixed pitons in spots where protection was needed but the gear of the day would not work or would require a high level of expertise, commitment, and perhaps physical attributes well beyond the grade of the climb.

The alternative at the time was that people would continue to place and remove chrome-molly pitons, creating the ugly scars that had already begun to degrade Yosemite's cracks. Moreover, chrome-molly pitons left as fixed would typically be removed by subsequent parties, since removing pitons was the common practice of the time.

And so Stannard's superb soft-iron angle pitons were born. They've lasted more than thirty years, the thick stock and cadmium plating preserving their integrity long after chrome-molly's have rotted away. Because they were angle pitons, just about every one of them can nowadays be replaced by a cam, and so there is absolutely no reason to put anything fixed back in when Stannard's gear finally expires.