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    « January 2008 | Main | March 2008 »

    Somethin Bout Nothin: Kelly Cordes on Alpinism

    "The odds on very difficult alpine climbs are not in your favor. So there's no excuse to show up unprepared, to show up out of shape."

    Climber, writer and Patagonia product tester Kelly Cordes takes us through his training strategy for alpine climbing and reflects on disaster style alpinism.

    If you enjoyed this video, consider reading two of Kelly's field reports. "Tying In" is from the Great Trango Tower trip Kelly describes in the video. "Into the Rime" illuminates a more recent climb Kelly made in Patagonia.

    Fit of the Fall 2007 Line

    Rj_fit_testWe're always trying to make sure Patagonia Quality is the best it can be. Sometimes we accomplish this, and sometimes we don't. 

    It's not always easy to admit when you've let something slip; but a relentless stream of customer feedback and product returns helps turn our attention to those things that need fixing. Patagonia's Quality Team helps keep our eye on the ball. They are the team whose sole purpose is to continually fine-tune the moving target of Quality, be it production processes, construction standards, integrity of materials, fit, color, or overall function and performance.

    The Quality Team's R.J. Hosking is responsible for communicating the Quality Team's work and progress with the rest of Patagonia's employees. He's the voice of our intra-company Quality Blog (yeah, we're a little blog-happy). Recently, he informed us of the Quality Team's work to better dial in the fit of our products.

    This is an issue near and dear to our customers' hearts. It stands to reason, then, that our customers should be part of the conversation. We really want to know what you think about this topic. But first, please read on for an update on the Quality Team's findings regarding the fit of our Fall 2007 line. You might be surprised to learn what we're already busy working on.


    [Photos by Rob Varela / Star staff R.J. Hosking, Patagonia quality analyst, and fit specialist Kena Gonzalez check the company's R4 fleece jackets on the shelves at the Great Pacific Ironworks store in Ventura. Read the story here.]

    Continue reading "Fit of the Fall 2007 Line" »

    TreeHugger Interview with Y.C.

    Davis_t_0055 The all-things green blog TreeHugger recently conducted a two-part phone interview with Patagonia owner/founder Yvon Chouinard. Topics include growing the company, Patgonia 100 years from now, transparency and the Footprint Chronicles, the myth of sustainability, our "Pata-gucci" reputation, politics, and quality vs. quantity. As usual, Y.C. doesn't pull any punches. Head on over to TreeHugger where you can listen to the interview or read the transcripts.

    The TH Interview: Yvon Chouinard
    Part 1
    Part 2

    If haven't already, consider adding TreeHugger to your RSS feed or daily blogroll. The volume of posts they put out on environmental topics is staggering.

    [Photo: Tim Davis. With thanks to Sus and Jen.]

    Gerry Lopez and Jock Sutherland - Talkin' Pipe Pt. 2

    Be sure and check out Part 1 if you missed it and keep an eye on the men's and women's surf pages at, or here at The Cleanest Line, for Part 3 coming soon. Also, stay tuned for details on Gerry's new book Surf is Where You Find It.

    If you like surfing and an intimate setting where you can see and listen to some of surfing’s most interesting and influential characters, consider visiting the Patagonia Surf Shop in Cardiff for their next event. On Saturday, March 1, join shortboard trailblazer and five-time world champion Nat Young at the shop, where he will share slide images of pivotal moments from his newly revised book The History of Surfing. Following the show, Young will have books available for signing.

    To learn more, or to get on the event mailing list, contact

    [With thanks to Devon Howard]

    Let My People Go . . . Skiing.

    3_route_joern_guillaume What goes around, comes around. We had it pretty good with the snow here in the Sierra for the month of January. We were feeling our oats and, well, I guess I did a little bragging about it. I sent teasing pictures and links to blog posts to despondent friends who were bemoaning their lack of snow.

    Some of those friends work out of our Europe office. They were bummed about their snow situation, so I thought maybe they would, you know, find encouragement from seeing their misfortune wasn't universally shared.

    The Sierra snow conditions haven't been so hot for the past couple of weeks. Which means the timing's perfect for this update from Joern Zeller, Patagonia Europe Sales Rep, marketing maven, rogue Alps tele-skier, and a guy who knows one good turn deserves another . . .

    [Telemark skiers in the Alps are a rare breed. Here's two of them, with Les Aravis mountain range in the background. Photo: Yannick Clevy]

    Continue reading "Let My People Go . . . Skiing." »

    Dirtbag Grant Update - Down for the Down and Out

    One_days_haul Way back in June of last year we posted the winners of the 2007 Dirtbag Grant. Here's an update from Lucia Robinson and Rachel Babkirk, who described their idea as "part climbing road trip, part homeless aid drive."

    We wrapped up the Boulder drive today (Jan. 17). It was a huge success! Thanks to REI, The Spot, the BRC, Neptune Mountaineering, and Boulder Mountaineering, we collected:

    208 Jackets
    Hundreds of warm layers (I stopped counting after we collected 210 during the first week!)
    51 Snow pants / bibs
    116 Hats
    98 Gloves (pairs)
    109 Socks (pairs)
    31 Scarves
    59 Boots and shoes (pairs)
    49 Sleeping bags
    32 Sleeping pads
    12 Tents
    8 Backpacks

    Continue reading "Dirtbag Grant Update - Down for the Down and Out" »

    Datos Insuficientes

    Datos_insufficientes_title_cardComing back to work after a long weekend can be tough. Thankfully, Fitz Cahall is here to rescue us with a new episode of The Dirtbag Diaries:

    In the summer of 2007, kayaker and blogger Shane Robinson found himself paddling down Peru’s isolated Apurimac River, one of the Amazon’s five major tributaries. Ahead of him lay the Abysmo – a deep, daunting gash in the earth. Thousand foot cliffs rose from the river bottom. Once inside, bailing would be next to impossible. Shane and his partners, Andrew Oberhardt and Bryan Smith, knew two things about the stretch of river that they were paddling into. First, the Abysmo was going to be big. There would be miles and miles of massive slot canyons and fifth class white water. Second, the end of their journey would come in the form of a big, ugly, orange bridge named Puente Pasaje. Everything between was unknown water. They had no map, no aerial photos and enough food for five days. Fifteen years of kayaking had led to this moment.

    Listen to The Dirtbag Diaries:
    Episode 15 – Datos Insuficientes (mp3)

    Like what you heard? The RSS feed, subscription link to iTunes, and contact information for future story ideas are all available at

    [Dirtbag Diaries graphic by Walker Cahall]

    Product Testing - Deep Thoughts on Ski Wear (Rubicon Puff, Capilene, R1, and ski socks)

    We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our athletes and ambassadors are responsible for putting the latest designs and fabrics through the paces before we'll add a new product to our lineup. But just because something reaches our shelves doesn't mean testing is over. Once a new item shows up in our catalogs, our Customer Service staff gets busy ground-truthing the latest offerings. They know the questions our customers will be asking, and turn that attention to our gear.

    Product Report  - The outfit: Rubicon Puff Jacket, Cap 2 Crew, R1 Flash Pullover, and err . . . some socks.      
    Activity: Skiing--Squaw Valley, California
    Tested by: Andrew Marshall, Patagonia Mail Order Customer Service

    Skiing_017 The powder flu, similar to the bottle flu, tends to strike quickly and unexpectedly in these parts. Lucky for us here at Patagonia, a field day makes for quick remedy. I headed up to Squaw Valley on Friday the 25th with two other Mail Order cohorts, Corey “Chief Squaw Jr.” Engles and Prescott “Spot My Landing” Fields, for a stormy, steep and deep powder day. Temperatures hovered in the mid to upper 20’s with steady snowfall and virtually no wind—a perfect day to put the Rubicon Puff Jacket to the test.

    [Cory points out the goods. Photo: Andrew Marshall]

    Continue reading "Product Testing - Deep Thoughts on Ski Wear (Rubicon Puff, Capilene, R1, and ski socks)" »

    Blurring the Lines - Cycling Clif Style

    Clif_team1 Last November I was lucky enough to get a spot—the last spot—on Clif Bar's cycling team. It’s awesome to be among a squad of strong riders and have sponsorship from a company with social interests compatible to Patagonia’s. Plus, Clif makes the yummiest energy food around! Last weekend we went to our team training camp to get a leg up so-to-speak, on the upcoming season. Meeting in Northern Cal, we got gear, rode hours, and discussed the racing season. But our first order of business was to build houses.


    Day one: Habitat for Humanity, Alameda, CA
    Dylan, our team director, arranged for the team to work on building a home in Alameda, just outside Berkeley. So we hooked up with Habitat for Humanity East Bay (HEB), a non-profit that aims to revitalize neighborhoods by building homes, among other things, for the underprivileged. HEB is also a leader in building affordable homes with environmentally friendly materials. On the site we worked on, one of the homes had been selected to meet the strict eco-friendly standards of LEEDS certification. So for a day, a group of eight scrawny cyclists managed to install the sub floor and walls of the initial home on the eight-home work site.

    [Team Clif 2008. Photo: Paul McKenzie]

    Continue reading "Blurring the Lines - Cycling Clif Style" »

    Surf Their Waves

    100_2018_2 They say it's bad to surf after a rain. I disagree. I have empirical evidence that shows they are wrong. I don’t get sick. Never have. And I used to live in Venice Beach. They never reported the water quality at my local break better than a D+. I saw it as a challenge. It was just one more thing to brag to my buddies about. And besides, they don’t know what it feels like when the crowds thin out and you’re actually able to get on the set of the day rather than fight for scraps. They don’t know about fighting for scraps.

    So what was I to do when a solid northwest swell happened to perfectly coincide with the first big rainstorm of the year? Surf of course. And they certainly were not going to stop me.

    They tried.

    They put out their warnings describing dangerous bacteria levels. They raised their colored flags indicating less-than-ideal water quality. They even closed their beaches. Yet, despite their best efforts, I paddled right on through. Besides, I'm sure … no I’m positive that they are just a bunch of bureaucratic hotshots sitting around in Sacramento working out ways to mitigate their legal responsibilities(1). They certainly aren’t surfers, so who are they to tell me what to do?

    [Post-storm surf somewhere off the coast of Ventura County. Photo: William Kaner]

    Continue reading "Surf Their Waves" »

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