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    Fear Squared

    Pumpkin_logo In honor of Halloween, The Dirtbag Diaries ran a contest asking for your scariest stories. Filled with treats, and maybe one trick, the winning entries have been compiled in today's episode. Show host Fitz Cahall sets the stage: 

    What scares dirtbags? Global warming? Nine to five? Johnny Law? The unequivocal answer – bears. After sifting through the entries for the “Night of the Living Dirtbag,” it became clear – bears scare the daylights out of you all.

    To celebrate Halloween, we bring you two tales of terror. Contest winner Chris Peters explains why it pays to listen to the safety talk and a very special guest remembers a family vacation to the Alaskan wilderness gone wrong. Fear is a funny thing. Whether the threat is real or imagined, the emotion of fear – heart-pumping terror – is just as powerful.

    Audio_graphic_3_3 Listen to "Fear Squared"
    (MP3 - right-click to download)

    Fitz is always looking for great stories to feature on the show. If you're a climber, skier, surfer, activist or anybody who can't get enough of being outside, consider sharing your story at

    Happy Halloween everybody.

    Makalu: Blown Away

    Makalupostcard_2 Steve, Vince and Marko spent last night at the base of the wall but returned to base camp this morning due to extremely strong winds. Attempting Makalu's West Face in less than ideal conditions is one thing, attempting it in a storm of flying rocks and ice chunks is just not smart. Steve House shares the details in this morning's call:

    Audio_graphic_3_6 Listen to Makalu Update 8
    (mp3 – 2:12 - right-click to download)

    We'll keep you posted if the team decides to extend their trip. Otherwise, our thanks go out to Steve and Vince for taking the time to bring us along for the ride. 

    Previous posts from this story: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

    [The elusive West Face of Makalu. Nepal. Photo: Marko Prezelj]

    Makalu: Heading Up

    Gen4_ambass_house As promised, Steve House called again just before leaving base camp for the West Face. This is an interesting call because the revised weather forecast isn't as good as the team expected. Download or click the link to hear Steve explain.

    Listen to Makalu Update 7 (mp3 – 2:18 - right-click to download)

    Good luck guys. Stay warm up there.

    Previous posts from this story: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

    Farewell to Good Friends

    Picture_2 It's old news to all you die-hards out there. The notice has been public for, what, a good three weeks now. To be honest, we're still having a hard time accepting it. Alas, it's true: long-time friends and standard-setters, Alpinist Magazine, announced earlier this month that they would be closing up shop. And despite any quiet finger-crossing from their fans, it's really happening.

    In a business climate of ever-increasing corporatization, the Alpinist staff kept our shared passions at the forefront of every interaction. As climbers, they understand a team can only ascend if they do so together. Thus it was that Patagonia's relationship with them transcended the typical corporate exchange. Put simply, we inspired each other. Alpinist continually reminded us of our roots and our ideals. And in our modest way, we tried to do the same for them.

    No doubt, readers were Alpinist's lifeblood. And it was their unwavering focus on-and respect for-their readers that helped shift the standard of the whole industry higher. Somehow, they figured out the tricky balance of telling climbing's full story. Within its pages, climbing's most legendary dirt bags and most estimable modern professionals held equal sway. It was, as editor Christian Beckwith stated in his farewell address to Alpinist's advertisers, "a publication that was at once timeless and universal, that introduced our beloved readers to some of the deeper reasons we climb, that revealed a world without cultural barriers, that held up what we believed to be beautiful for readers everywhere to appreciate."

    Another excerpt from that same letter embodies the spirit of Alpinist's business ethic, and hints at why it's hard to see them go:

    Most important . . . we've enjoyed working with you. The outdoor community is singular: filled with dynamic, passionate adventure seekers, it sometimes feels like a great extended family, one that welcomes and cherishes its own. Nearly seven years ago, you welcomed us into your business and helped us to create ours. We've enjoyed every issue, every webpage and every film festival we've created, and we remain honored that you believed in us strongly enough to advertise with us. Thank you for your support.

    To the staff at Alpinist, all we can say is thank you, farewell and climb on.

    Product Testing - Babes in the Woods

    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  -  For mom: Wool 2 Crew, Down Vest, Full-Zip Houdini Jacket, and new Visor Beanie For baby: Baby Puffer Vest and Kids' Visor Beanie
    Activity -  Hiking with a toddler, Spooner Lake, NV
    Tested by -  Michelle, Patagonia Web

    Five years ago I would not have thought that “Funkytown” by Alvin and the Chipmunks would be playing on my car stereo while trying to get psyched for an outdoor adventure on a cool autumn day. But I guess it all depends on the company. My three-year-old son’s head was bobbing up and down, thumb dangling loosely outside of his mouth as I explained we were going to go for a hike.

    Zachy_hike As we drove along a white-capping Lake Tahoe, he was pointing out the window demanding to “get out!” We parked at Spooner Lake and the second we got out of the car he started to chase a chipmunk. “Well cool!” I thought. This is what it’s all about, right? Getting him familiar with nature and appreciating all of the fun things he can discover out here. What I didn’t realize was just how many different things can be appealing to toddlers; or that what I thought to be an easy 2 mile hike was going to be an all-day outing with our first winter-like Sierra storm blowing in.

    Continue reading "Product Testing - Babes in the Woods" »

    Makalu: You Gotta Believe

    Makalupostcard_2_2 With a little over a week left at base camp, everyone on the team is feeling healthy and optimistic about attempting their main objective. Weather is still an issue but the team's meteorologist, Jim Woodmencey at, says a window is coming soon.

    In today's sat-phone report, an excited Steve House talks about the weather forecast, previous attempts on Makalu's West Face, and some of the philosophical reasons for attempting a climb of this magnitude – Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world.

    Listen to Makalu Update 6 (mp3 – 10:16 - right-click to download)

    The Cleanest Line would like to echo Steve's sentiments and send a big hello out to all of the Slovenian listeners. Thanks for tuning in. If you're new to this story, check out the previous posts to get caught up: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

    [Makalu's perfect pyramid. Nepal. Photo: Marko Prezelj]

    241 Toll Road Hearing: “Live Better, Build Roads” & Cardiff’s Enviro Weekend

    _mg_9988 On September 22, thousands of citizens attended yet another hearing on the proposed "Trestles" toll road. The hearing was held by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who promised to make his decision between October 24, 2008 and January 7, 2009. As we begin the official waiting period for the verdict, let's get a recap of the hearing itself from Patagonia Cardiff's environmental coordinator, Kaley Swift.

    T-shirts emblazoned with the baffling slogan, “Live Better, Build Roads” were worn by supporters of the Transportation Corridor Agency’s (TCA) proposed extension of the 241 toll road. The slogan reeked ironic of the same irrational characteristics of the development plan itself: incongruity and flawed logic. The slogan left toll road opponents perplexed over its blatant contradiction, and roused the crowd’s opposition to the road which is charted to run straight through San Onofre State Park and come all too close to world-class surf break, Trestles.

    Continue reading "241 Toll Road Hearing: “Live Better, Build Roads” & Cardiff’s Enviro Weekend" »

    The Last Straw for Desert Sprawl?

    We close out this week with a word from our desert neighbors in Utah. Like the rest of us living in the arid reaches of the American West, resource issues are almost always at the front of our minds, and none is more critical than water. As Marc Reisner argues in his seminal work on the issue Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water, the West as we know it is the result of the dogged movement and manipulation of water. Photographer and activist Blake Gordon brings us this story from Southwestern Utah, where the most recent example of resource redirection is being played out:

    In the 1990s, St. George, Utah outpaced Las Vegas as the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S.; it now sits just behind Greeley, Colorado. The Lake Powell Pipeline is designed "to meet future demand” for water in this rapidly growing region.

    Pipeline Trek from Blake Gordon on Vimeo

    As planned, the Lake Powell Pipeline would consist of roughly 120 miles of 66-inch pipe running from Lake Powell to Sand Hollow Reservoir, northeast of St. George. The pipeline would also include 38 miles of 30-inch pipe running from Sand Hollow north to Cedar City, UT. The pipeline hopes to tap into “unclaimed” water from the Colorado. According to the 1922 Colorado River Compact, the state of Utah has the right to draw an additional 100,000 acre-feet (the amount of water needed to cover one acre of land to a depth of one foot) per year from the already stressed river. The pipeline seeks to bring 70,000 acre feet of water to Washington County, 10,000 acre feet of water to Kane County and 20,000 acre feet of water to Iron County. Critics claim the pipeline will feed rampant growth in a resource-scarce environment. The Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget projections suggest that Southwest Utah’s population (in Kane, Washington and Iron Counties) could grow from 180,000 today to over 700,000 by 2050.

    Hit the jump to continue reading, and view some of Blake Gordon's stunning images from the trek.

    Continue reading "The Last Straw for Desert Sprawl?" »

    Makalu: Holding Pattern

    Gen4_ambass_house Steve House called again today from Nepal and he's sounding a lot better. You'll hear more about Vince and Marko's new route on Makalu 2 and what the team's chances are for completing their main objective: the west face of Makalu.

    Listen to Makalu Update 5 (mp3 – 4:39 - right-click to download)

    If you're just tuning in, check out the previous posts from this trip: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

    [Photo: Tim Davis]

    Vote the Environment - On Tour With Jack Johnson

    Vtebug The Vote the Environment campaign is much more than a collection of ads and web pages asking you to think green this election year. We're doing everything we can to get out the vote, and to arm voters with the tools they need to make the environment a top issue. Toward this end, Patagonia sent a couple of employees out on tour with Jack Johnson this summer. What does this have to do with the environment and with voting? Elissa Loughman, of Patagonia's Environmental Dept. offers this answer:

    AllatonceVote the Environment (VTE) was on the road with Jack Johnson and his “All at Once Tour” this summer. Two Patagonia employees had the opportunity to travel with the tour to man the VTE booth and talk to concert-goers about the importance of registering to vote, getting informed and voting the environment on November 4th. I joined up with the tour on August 5th in Boston MA. We traveled across the US-- through the Northeast, the South, the Midwest, the West and Northwest—spreading the VTE message in 10 states and 15 cities. The last show of the tour was on August 31st at UCLA.

    Summer_08_050 Since my return I have been asked countless times about the tour and the VTE campaign. To be honest, I have yet to come up with an answer that does justice to the experience. What I can say is that during those days on tour, two things stood out.

    [The ladies "man" the the Vote the Enviroment booth to much success during Jack Johnson's All At Once tour this summer. Photo: Elissa Loughman]

    Continue reading "Vote the Environment - On Tour With Jack Johnson" »

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