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    Is Osteoarthritis a Danger to Rock Climbers?

    by Lynn Hill

    [Editor's note: We're honored to bring Patagonia ambassador Lynn Hill on-board as a contributor to The Cleanest Line. Lynn is no stranger to blogging. For a glimpse into the past 2+ years of her life jump on over to Lynn Hill Blogs.]

    Lynn_hill2 I was a bit surprised to read the following article about osteoarthritis in rock climbers since I expected the study to show a higher risk in climbers. I've seen many climbers' hands over the years and it seems that the people who climb a lot at a high level of intensity have either really thick fingers and/or damage around the finger joints. Considering the fact that I have climbed for thirty-two years, I feel fortunate that my fingers are in great shape. I think the fact that I am relatively light compared to the average climber is an advantage since I don't stress my tendons and ligaments so much. I also listen to my body and if I feel pain, I usually stop. It was also beneficial to have had a solid base of climbing experience on slabs and crack climbs in my formative years as a climber. The routes that I climbed in those days helped strengthen my tendons and ligaments as opposed to injuring them on the physically demanding sport routes of today.

    [Photo: Screen grab from video by Lynn Hill, Brad Lynch, Jim Hurst and Patagonia]

    Continue reading "Is Osteoarthritis a Danger to Rock Climbers?" »

    Fish Dogs

    Safeunderfoot_2 Talk all you want about so-called “advancements in fly fishing” -- ozone hole-depleting fluorocarbon leaders, boron rods with price tags equivalent to your monthly mortgage, and now waders with front zippers so you can relieve yourself while never having to vacate your coveted spot on the river…

    Forget the fancy gear! What you really need to catch more trout, salmon or stripers is to get a good-tempered dog, the kind of dog that encourages you to get outside fishing all year long … a fish dog.

    [Sandy the Australian shepherd helps dad row the drift boat. Photo: Duncan Roe]

    Continue reading "Fish Dogs" »

    Politics and Global Warming

    There was a great interview on Democracy Now the other day with science journalist Chris Mooney, who has a new book called Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics and the Battle Over Global Warming. He looks at how the administration of George W. Bush has meddled with government scientists working on hurricane forecasting, global warming and other environmental issues to further political ends. It also looks at the involvement of conservative corporations and religious groups in blurring the global warming debate, comparing their concerted effort to influence public opinion to the historic efforts of the tobacco industry.

    Continue reading "Politics and Global Warming" »

    California Water Impact Network

    Cwin1 Oil extraction and global warming are today's hot environmental topics, and for good reason. But if you're into looking ahead at the next big environmental fight look no further than life's most basic resource: water. Thankfully there are already some grassroots environmental groups working hard to keep water rights in the hands of the people. One of them is the California Water Impact Network:

    The California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) is fighting for a more sustainable and environmentally sensitive approach to managing California’s scarce water resources. Under California law, water is a public resource subject to private rights to its use. This means that the State government is obligated to protect the “public trust” in California’s water for the access and enjoyment of all. Yet, the California Bay Delta and many major river systems, such as the San Joaquin, have been seriously degraded for private benefit. At the same time, the widespread privatization of water resources is threatening to drive up the price of water, while allowing a small number of individuals and corporations reap enormous profits. Through public education, policy development, advocacy, and litigation, C-WIN is working to protect public trust interests and to prevent the inequitable effects of privatizing California’s water resources. For more information, visit or call 559-477-4914.

    Like all grassroots non-profit organizations C-WIN needs your help. A monetary donation (what they need the most) or volunteer time would be greatly appreciated. Please get in touch with them if you're looking to make a difference on this important issue.

    [With thanks to Malinda]

    Beyond and Back: Camp 4 and Stuff

    by Jeff Johnson


    The other day while wandering around Camp 4 in Yosemite I ran into Patagonia ambassador Timmy O’Neill. He was hanging around the SARS site with his brother Sean and some guy named Aron. Timmy asked me if I wanted to climb the Manure Pile with him and Aron. “Sure,” I said. Walking to the parking lot I saw that this guy Aron was missing his right arm. Hmm, I thought. You never know with Timmy. He’s always up to something interesting.

    Once at the Manure Pile Timmy started talking about his experiences working with the disabled. He has just started a non-profit organization for disabled athletes called Paradox Sports. Check it out at: It’s really cool. Recently he and a few buddies took his paraplegic brother, Sean, up the Salathé Wall on El Capitan – that would be Sean’s third ascent of the Captain. Timmy went on to say that most of the people he has worked with were born without the use of their appendages or whatnot. But Aron was different. He lost his arm around five years ago in a climbing accident. That’s when it occurred to me. This was Aron Ralston, the guy who got trapped by a rock in Colorado and had to cut his arm off to get free and survive. Now he’s way into climbing. He’s had a special prosthetic arm that has two hook-like tools on the end. He can hook onto little crimpers, wedge the cam hook-like device into tiny cracks, or simply jam the thing into wide cracks. It’s fairly new so he’s just getting used to it.

    Continue reading "Beyond and Back: Camp 4 and Stuff" »

    Chasing Glaciers

    Patagonia ambassadors Allison Gannett and Zoe Hart are in the Karakoram, right now, chasing glaciers. From the site:

    Welcome to Chasing Glaciers, an interactive internet adventure that we hope will help bring greater understanding and awareness to the issue of climate change and its effect on the great glaciers of the Karakoram Mountain region of Pakistan. Join Alison Gannett and Zoe Hart as they explore the Biafo and Hispar Glaciers, as they attempt a first ski descent of Mount Workman, and as they interact with the Balti people of the region, a people dependent on glacial waters for their very survival.

    There are a ton of videos on the site already and the team is blogging daily thanks to a satellite network connection. Here's a video introduction of the trip. Head on over to for the full scoop.

    The Solar Solution

    It's good to hear a company in California announcing plans to build the world's largest solar energy farm (California To Build 'World's Largest' Solar Farm). Any news these days about the U.S. leading in the environmental arena is positive. Under the current administration, our environmental standing in the eyes of the world has dropped further than ever before from its one-time standing as conservation movement pioneer.

    Bonds and Ullrich: Lessons for Climbing

    Jan Ullrich has earned an easy retirement. After winning the ’97 Tour de France at age 23 he became a German national-hero. For the next five years he battled Lance Armstrong earning a record five second-place finishes, too bad for him but it sure made for great racing. This year it was revealed that DNA samples collected during a Swiss justice department raid at Ullrich’s house matched 9 bags of blood in Dr. Werner Fuentes’s office. Dr. Fuentes, of course, is the doctor who was providing performance enhancing drugs to a number of now-indicted criminals ... I mean ... professional cyclists.

    The cycling authorities have destroyed the most famous bike race in the world. From now on, every time a champion dons the yellow jersey the rest of us are left wondering: Is that athlete successful today because of hard work and careful training and talent? Or is he doping?

    Continue reading "Bonds and Ullrich: Lessons for Climbing" »

    Stolby Style: Siberian Free Soloing

    Visit for more on Brittany Griffith and to read Jonathan Thesenga's field report about climbing in Stolby.


    Working at Patagonia is not like working at most other companies. There are many reasons, but one is the lack of rigid hierarchical structure. The office doors of upper management are always open (when there are doors), questions are encouraged and the company’s managers rarely issue edicts or micromanage employees. This decentralized system of doing things may go against conventional wisdom, but Patagonia's system has not only worked, it's worked pretty well.

    There are however plenty of dysfunctional democracies in the world, at every level, so I often take interest in ones that seem to work. For that reason, I found Peter Miller's article "Swarm Theory" in this month’s National Geographic a great read.

    Continue reading "Swarms" »

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