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    Emperor Face: Completing an 11-year Dream Last Weekend

    Steve_house_7_2 April 1996: We had a hundred acres to plant – Ponderosa Pine, Doug Fir, and Blue Spruce – but the nursery kept claiming that the seedlings were buried underneath persistent snow. I was cooling my heels in LaGrande, Oregon, waiting for the work to begin when the call came. It was Joe Josephson, inviting me to be the third with him and Barry Blanchard for an attempt on Mount Robson’s Emperor Face. Thirty-six hours later I showed up with my homemade powerstretch tights (one leg green, one purple), a homemade expedition-weight pullover (that I still have for chores), and a jacket I sewed with $8 worth of fleece bought at a strip mall. We attempted two routes in two weeks. And though unsuccessful, the trip was my rabbit hole into the world of high-end alpinism with climbers who had done it before. After the trip, Barry, already a Patagonia ambassador, culled his closet for unused and forgotten pieces of clothing. I left with a new attitude and a new wardrobe to boot.

    [Steve House, Barry Blanchard and Joe Josephson, April 1996. Note the tights on Steve. Photo: Steve House Collection]

    May 2007: On Saturday afternoon, at 1 pm on the 26th to be exact, Colin and I stood on the summit of Mount Robson having completed a new route up the Emperor Face. I could barely see twenty feet in front of me...

    Continue reading "Emperor Face: Completing an 11-year Dream Last Weekend" »

    Yellowstone Buffalo Headed to the Slaughterhouse

    Bison_closeup_01 I just received word this morning from my friends up at the Buffalo Field Campaign in West Yellowstone. Montana’s Department of Livestock is planning on trapping and slaughtering 300 wild buffalo – including calves as young as a few weeks, and their mothers. The agency plans to begin the roundup on Thursday, May 31.   

    It's crucial that we flood these offices with comments today!  Capture could begin as soon as tomorrow, with transport to slaughter beginning Friday.


    I spent a couple weeks with the Buffalo Field Campaign in January 2005, as part of Patagonia’s environmental internship program. As you may know, the company pays our salaries and benefits for up to two months while we volunteer with an environmental group, and these guys are the real deal. Ron Hunter (Patagonia Enviro Programs, Reno) and I went up there to help out and got the full story. We were even granted an audience at the statehouse with Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat with presidential aspirations, who expressed sympathy, but has done little more than pay lip service to protecting wild buffalo in his state.

    The conflict in Montana is a modern day range war: cattle interests (a very powerful lobby there) pitted against the last genetically pure wild buffalo in the country, which live around Yellowstone park ...

    Continue reading "Yellowstone Buffalo Headed to the Slaughterhouse" »

    Nordic Skiing Music Video?

    You don't hear those terms used together very often, if ever. But when former Patagonia sales rep turned filmmaker, Hansi Johnson, got the call to produce a video for the band Low, he drew on two of his passions to make a very strong point about the state of the environment. Hansi decided to focus the video on Nordic skiing and how it is being lost to global warming, a message that complements the basic theme of protest that runs through Low's new album Drums and Guns. From Hansi:

    It is a short three-minute flick that uses Nordic skiing as a vehicle to make people understand what the warming trends are doing to historical ways of living. The video is getting some really cool comments from a lot of people who are not skiers, never have been and never will be. So in that regard it has been a great way to one, introduce the sport to the general public, and two, make them see blatantly that [skiing] is something that is being directly affected by global warming and the loss of snow.

    ["Belarus" performed by Low. Video courtesy of Sub Pop]

    Hit the jump to read Hansi's thoughts about the creation of the video, the similarities between Belarus and Duluth (his hometown), and how outdoor sports have inspired Low's bandleader ...

    Continue reading "Nordic Skiing Music Video?" »

    Free At Last

    We now turn our attention from the eradication of invasive species to the reintroduction of native species. Kris Tompkins, head of Conservacion Patagonica, sends word of a celebration on behalf of the giant anteater.

    Dear Family and Friends,

    Patagonia_anteater_2 After over two years of acquiring permissions from numerous national governmental agencies and four provinces, months spent looking for the right animals and building a significant quarantine center and transitional corrals, we released the first giant anteater back into the Esteros del Ibera on Saturday, the 19th of May. The last time an anteater was seen in this region was over 60 years ago. This represents the first formal reintroduction of a species in Argentina. It was a great day for all of us, even the Governor of Corrientes showed up - she has captured the enthusiasm of Correntinos in a way we would never have imagined!  Real star status. There are five more waiting to come over from Salta, Jujuy and Santiago del Esteros – as they come they’ll be held in quarantine then they’ll also be released. 

    She’s wearing a radio collar which, while bothersome no doubt, is lighter than it looks and is for her safety. This way the team of biologists here can keep track of her, just in case she runs into trouble.

    It was a real day of celebration and we hope that someday these wild looking creatures become a common fixture once again here in the savannah.


    Kris (and Doug)

    Here's hoping each and every one of us finds freedom over the long weekend. Let's remember those who entered the hell of war and never came back, and honor them by bringing more peace to planet Earth. Take care and thanks for visiting The Cleanest Line.

    [She’s a beauty. Photo: Kris Tompkins. "Peace on Earth" performed by Railroad Earth]

    Invasive Species: Reflections On How We Can’t Stop What We Started

    This post comes from Patagoniac Kristin Jaeger, a PhD graduate student at Colorado State University who's studying fluvial geomorphology. Kristin originally submitted this as an environmental essay for our catalog, but since it didn't fit our current theme of Oceans as Wilderness we're gladly presenting it here. If you have a story about invasive species please share it with us in the comments section.

    Reflections on how we can’t stop what we started; the impacts of invasive exotic plants on the American Southwest

    It’s not quite 7 a.m. and the mournful notes of a wooden flute descend from the canyon rim. I am sitting on the side of the dry streambed waiting for Dan to radio that his setup is ready and we can start surveying the stream transect. We only have a few hours before this particular study site turns into what I call the Sahara; our productivity plummets as the temperature rises and the summer sun turns everything blinding white. It’s July and I am in Canyon de Chelly National Monument located on the Navajo Reservation in the northeast corner of Arizona.

    In 1942, Ansel Adams took a photograph from the canyon rim of where I am now sitting, near White House Ruins. The picture shows an open sandy wash extending more than 100 meters wide, a few cottonwood trees and beautiful, vertical canyon walls. Since that time and up until two years ago, the open canyon bottom became a dense thicket of tamarisk and Russian olive, both exotic, highly invasive plants that have become widespread throughout Canyon de Chelly and the American Southwest.

    Nara_2 Nara_1

    [Photos: Ansel Adams 1942 (left); D. Cooper 2005 (right)]

    Continue reading "Invasive Species: Reflections On How We Can’t Stop What We Started" »

    A Runner’s World

    Running_gearI love sport. I love to sweat. I am addicted to endorphins. And the easiest way to get my fix is to run. I heard once that it takes 30 days to form a habit. So finally after all of my bemoaning I have got myself a running habit. It works out well, all you need is your running shoes, some clothes and the world is your route. It is the easiest sport to do when you are in a pinch for some calorie burning fun. Here at Patagonia HQ there are a lot of runners. At lunchtime it looks like a bunch of beetles scattering as so many people take off for their habitual run. 

    Continue reading "A Runner’s World" »

    Green Biz

    If you're interested in businesses-gone-green, take a look at "Executive on a Mission: Saving the Planet" by Cornelia Dean. (Note: This is a NY Times article and will only be viewable by non-subscribers for approximately one week.)

    It's great to hear more success stories of reformed businessmen and their environmental experiments. Let's hope interest among the coporate community continues to grow!

    Elemental Awareness

    Ea_thekids Friend of The Cleanest Line and periodic commenter, CM, hipped us to a cool program put on by our comrades over at Element Skateboards called Elemental Awareness.

    "Even though this month is celebrating the bicycle. I felt other non carbon producing forms of transportation need a little spotlight. Skateboarding isn't just for the kids. Sidewalk surfers unite."

    True indeed.

    Elemental Awareness is a non-profit youth based organization that reaches out to the kids through skateboarding and education. It's main goal is to raise self esteem and inspire kids to go for their dreams and become more aware of the environment around them. They achieve this through hosting a skate camp in the wilderness, conducting school tours and hosting skateboard contests.

    Continue reading "Elemental Awareness" »

    A Brief Moment in a Beautiful Place

    Dirtbag_diaries_boat Fitz Cahall helps us shake off the Monday blues with a wonderful tale of travel improvisation as told in the newest episode of The Dirtbag Diaires.

    There is a fine line between a life-lasting memory and disaster. Whatever the discipline – alpinism, big wave surfing, foreign travel – we calculate risk, formulate plans and sometimes we have the spunk to see them through. This week we're headed for Laos to recount the story of two friends and one spectacularly bad idea. Join us as we follow Jacob Bain, Colin Brynn and a bamboo raft down a river at the edge of the world. Sometimes bad ideas work out for the better … sometimes.

    Episode Five - A Brief Moment in a Beautiful Place (right-click to download .mp3)

    powered by ODEO

    Update: For the photo-enhanced version, click here.

    The music in this episode comes from the band of Jacob Bain, one of the travelers featured in the story, and from Patagonia's own Sus Corez. Thank you for supporting independent music and media like The Dirtbag Diaries. You can also subscribe to The Dirtbag Diaries in iTunes.

    [Photo: Colin Brynn]

    Portland Sets the Standard

    Pat_retail_map The results are in from the retail store Bike-to-Work challenge. Nick from Patagonia Seattle -- the store that instigated the friendly competition -- gives us the lowdown:

    The final numbers are in and we have the results for the Retail Cycling Challenge. First, I would like to say thank you to all the stores that participated and were very enthusiastic about being a part of this challenge. I feel the percentages and the rankings are less important than the fact that all of the stores reduced their emissions, decreased their footprint, reduced congestion on the roads, and contributed to their own healthy lifestyle. Every store should feel proud about their participation in Bike to Work Week.

    That being said, given the nature of a challenge, winners are to be crowned and awarded based on their superior performance...

    Continue reading "Portland Sets the Standard" »

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