The Cleanest Line

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    Fitz’s Fall Layering System – Suggestions for dressing your child in the cold

    By Rebecca Caldwell

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    Today’s post comes from Rebecca Caldwell, photographer and wife to Patagonia climbing ambassador Tommy Caldwell, and mama to their son, Fitz. She discovered the climbing lifestyle five years ago and now spends more time soaking up the beautiful places around the world than at home. They share their somewhat unconventional lifestyle with Fitz, and hope to encourage others to explore the outdoors with their kids, too.

    Every autumn since I’ve known Tommy we have loaded up our van, left our home in Estes Park, Colorado, and driven to Yosemite National Park for him to work on his mega-project, The Dawn Wall, on the monolithic El Capitan. After we had Fitz we couldn’t wait to share this breathtaking place with him. This time of year the leaves turn golden and fall to the ground, snow dusts the valley rim, the warm California sun plays hide and seek behind the south walls as it moves from east to west, and the cold sinks into our temporary home in Upper Pines campground. Van life with Fitz means dealing with constant weather changes and variations. Making sure he’s warm enough, but not too warm, is an ongoing challenge. As an active adult it’s easy to find information about layering systems for your endeavors, but rarely do people talk about layering systems for kids.

    Above: Fitz racking up for Moby Dick. Photo: Rebecca Caldwell

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    An Excerpt from The Tower: A Chronicle of Climbing and Controversy on Cerro Torre by Kelly Cordes

    By Kelly Cordes

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    At the wind-scoured southern tip of Argentina, between the vast ice cap and the rolling estepas of Patagonia, rises a 10,262-foot tower of ice and rock named Cerro Torre. Considered by many the most beautiful and compelling mountain in the world, it draws the finest and most devoted technical alpinists from around the globe. Reinhold Messner, the greatest mountaineer in history, called it “a shriek turned to stone.”

    I began work on my book in spring 2012, after the Compressor Route de-bolting controversy. On a broad level, I’d gained a glimpse into Cerro Torre’s complex and layered history during my dozen years as an editor for the American Alpine Journal. On a personal level, I’d grown familiar with the spectacular mountain in January 2007, during my climb with Colin Haley. But once I began my book research, I became intrigued by how the intertwined stories of Cerro Torre—this wholly uncaring, inanimate object—seemed to reflect the best and worst of human ambition, and how often our actions are fueled by the power of belief. My notes and threads related to the main stories could fill several volumes.

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    Shipping Out for the Environment

    By Gavin Back

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    This summer, the Patagonia Shipping Department in Reno, Nevada helped two local environmental non-profits. We were able to work for the Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund and the Sugar Pine Foundation. This was made possible by the environmental internship program Patagonia offers to every employee.

    Hidden Valley Wild Horse Protection Fund (HVWHPF) is a group based on the southern edge of Reno. Their mission is “to protect and preserve the wild horses that settle in the foothills surrounding Hidden Valley.” Work includes rescuing and protecting horses that have been captured and are for sale at auction, often to slaughterhouses, and helping to feed these iconic wild animals of the West during the winter months. The wild horses that roam the West play an important role, grazing vast expanses of the desert which, in turn, can help control the proliferation of devastating wild fires.

    Above: Chris shows off his fine Sugar Pine planting skills. All photos courtesy of the Patagonia Shipping Department. 

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    Running the Distance, Part 1 – Arrival at the new Patagonia Park

    By Luke Nelson

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    The wind gusts, blowing spray from the water lapping on the banks of Lago General Carrera. Here I stand, eyes closed, feeling the cool mist on my sunburnt cheeks. When I open my eyes it’s still there, it feels like a dream, but it’s not—Patagonia spreads out all around me. I’ve long dreamt of seeing this place and now it’s blowing my mind. After imagining over and over what it would be like, how it would smell, how it would feel, it is far more than I had imagined it would be. The previous 39 hours have been a blur of driving, airports, flying, airports, loading gear, and more driving. But now it’s quiet, except the sound of the wind blowing across the lake.

    A little over four years ago, I finished a very challenging run through the heart of the Frank Church Wilderness area along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Ty Draney and I teamed up with Save Our Salmon to use a ridiculously long run to draw attention to that organization’s work to restore historic salmon runs. Despite our over-confidence and under-planning the run was a success—many people learned of the work being done through the story of our 154-mile journey.

    Above: Patagonia ambassadors Luke Nelson, Jeff Browning and Krissy Moehl get ready to hit the trails in the park for the first time. Patagonia Park, Aysén Region, Chile. Photo: James Q Martin

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    The Trip

    By Kitty Calhoun

    A partner enjoying El Cap

    I anticipated the change with dread and excitement. My son was leaving the nest for college and I was determined to return to my former goal-driven climbing lifestyle. Fred Becky would be proud of me. After a night of mourning, alone under the desert stars, I promptly returned home, found my address book, and started calling all the girls I knew who might be interested in my next project.

    I had become fixated on Tangerine Trip, VI A2 or C3F, on El Cap for a number of reasons. Nothing compares to the nights spent sitting on a portaledge, hundreds of feet above the valley floor, where only a few have earned the position. There is nothing to do but eat dinner—a bagel with cream cheese and tuna, perhaps—and slip into the sleeping bag. I savor the brief escape from the concerns and busyness of the world, where silence is broken only by the whoops of joy from other souls perched high on the wall and swallows swoop through the air, enjoying themselves just as much as the climbers.

    Even though aid climbing is out of vogue, I’ve found that leading hard aid pitches challenges me and scares me just as much as any other form of climbing. No, I’m not ready to live vicariously just yet.

    Above: "Big wall Kate" on El Cap from my last trip to Yosemite four years ago. Photo: Kitty Calhoun

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    Inner(lost) Limits of Pure Fun – Never-before-seen footage from George Greenough

    By Devon Howard

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    There are only a few people that have truly played a pivotal role in the advancement of surfboard design, people whose contribution was so impactful that it changed surfing in massive ways forever. George Greenough would make any surf buff’s list as one of the greats, but for me I’m comfortable saying he’s flat-out the greatest innovator of all time.

    Since his youthful days of growing up around Santa Barbara in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, George has been a tinkerer on any sort of equipment. Whether it was go-karts or surfboards or boats or water housings for his cameras, he was always fascinated with improving their performance. He is the ultimate DIY guy, including his infamous self-shaped bowl cut. Motivated by making things better, and not for a quick buck, he was (and still is) intrinsically driven to search for and build any sort of design advantage or improvement that would lead to a better ride or capturing a unique image.

    His most notable contributions to surfing were twofold, but each one is utterly connected to the other.

    Above: Screen grab from George Greenough - Deep Tube Riding, lost 16mm waveriding footage from the late ‘60s. Watch the video after the jump.

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    Percebeiros: The Hunter-Gatherers of Europe’s Rugged Coastlines

    By Tony Butt

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    Until recently in our evolutionary history as a species, humans couldn't extract resources faster than those resources were renewed. Even if we wanted to we couldn’t because Nature put a limit on the amount we could physically take.

    Then, sometime within the last few thousand years, we crossed a tipping point and now we are quickly and unashamedly depleting our own resource base. Our addiction to technology and unsustainable living has spread to almost every corner of the globe. For example, where I live in northwest Iberia, there are no large cities but there are steelworks, paper mills, aluminium factories and a coal-fired power station right next to the coast. Much of the landscape is scarred by open-cast mines and quarries, and the mountains are planted with eucalyptus—an invasive species that can harm the ecosystem. These industries are a source of employment for a local population who could not imagine an alternative.

    However, there are a few groups of people in this area who make a living in a much more sustainable way. One such group are the percebeiros, or collectors of goose barnacles. A surprising number of my surfing friends along this coast are percebeiros, so I thought I would talk to them about their work, and find out how being a surfer and being a percebeiro go hand in hand.

    Above: Elias Vazquez uses his biztonta to collect goose barbacles. Photo: Tony Butt

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    Paddle to DC: A Quest for Clean Water

    By Dave Freeman, video by Nate Ptacek


    The plastic sign posted to a tree in our campsite reads: “ALL FISH MUST BE RETURNED TO THE WATER IMMEDIATELY. FISH CONTAMINATED WITH PCBs DO NOT EAT.” Paddling through a superfund site is not typically part of a canoe trip, but on day 73 and 74 of our journey from Ely, Minnesota to Washington D.C., that’s where we find ourselves.

    My wife Amy and I are about 1,500 miles into a 100-day, 2,000-mile expedition to protect the million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the threat of sulfide ore mining. We departed from the Voyageur Outward Bound School on the Kawishiwi River on August 24, 2014 where a flotilla of 20 canoes joined us on the water for the first mile. We paddled right past the proposed mine site of Twin Metals and followed the flow into the pristine Boundary Waters to begin our journey.

    Video: Paddle to DC: A Quest for Clean Water from Save The BWCA on Vimeo.

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    Dirtbag Diaires: What You're Handed

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

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    Regardless of how you choose to play outside, if someone gets hurt in the mountains, the first step on the checklist remains the same: “scene safety”—you make sure the thing that hurt your buddy isn't going to hurt you too. But there's no checklist for emotional safety when things go wrong. Today we bring you the story of a family, an accident and the repercussions they navigated for years afterwards.

     


    Listen to "What You're Handed" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.

     

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes, featured music and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS, SoundCloud and Stitcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production. Graphic by Walker Cahall.

    Family Man, 5.14 – A short story (and video) of a first ascent

    By Sonnie Trotter

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    It all began five years ago, as many things do these days, with a simple email to a few of us Squamish cracks hounds from a friend in Okanagan Falls, British Columbia.

    Hey Boys,
    Check out these roof cracks. I think they’ll go free. Peace out.
    - Doug

    Doug and his wife Janet are longtime local climbers, hikers and explorers in the Skaha region, and probably know the lay of the land as good, or better, than any other living beings. But even more than that, they are simply two of the greatest people ever. Of course, this letter from Doug wouldn’t be complete without an eye-catching photograph or two, which he gracefully attached to his email for our viewing pleasure. I’ll admit, I was attracted to the climb right from the get-go but time, money and other commitments delayed a proper visit to the crag for nearly two years.

    Above: Sonnie about to enter the upper crux of the route. Photo: Taran Ortlieb

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