The boxes had started to stack up around my desk, but they weren’t addressed to me. “c/o Kate Rutherford” was acquiring quite a stash of stuff, and when she and Mikey Schaefer finally rolled up in their basecamp-on-wheels to Patagonia HQ one sunny Southern California morning, all the pieces started to fall into place. Mikey’s Sprinter van, a vehicle now synonymous with the climbing new-school of luxury vagabond living, was pimped to the nines with all the essentials – full bed, full kitchen, swiveling seats, skylights, ample storage and a cabinet custom built for loading a 12-pack of Tecate.
[Kate Rutherford following an exciting mixed traverse on the ninth pitch of what would become Hard Sayin' Not Knowin'. Aguja Guillaumet, Patagonia, Argentina. Photo: © Mikey Schaefer]
The plan was to park it, unload the contents into a grip of duffels and haulbags, and travel from L.A. to Patagonia for six weeks of climbing objectives. It was several days before their flight took off from LAX, so we did our best to fill their stomachs with good food, their company with good friends and their spirits with moral support … and red wine. Mikey and Kate would soft-spokenly discuss their objectives when prodded about it, but ultimately they were looking for a great experience and “to get up something". Knowing their talent, I knew it wouldn’t take long for them achieve this. I handed over our latest prototypes for testing, told them to keep an eye out for our other ambassadors in the range - Nico Favresse and Sean Villanueva – and with big hugs sent them on their way. Depending on what your definition of “home” is, Mikey and Kate were either leaving it behind with the Sprinter, finding it in the mountains ahead, or experiencing it with one another.
Well, I was right; it didn’t take long. Earlier this week I got a good-news message from a very happy birthday-girl informing me that she and Mikey had already established a new route on Guillaumet. “Seriously!?” I could hardly believe it. Kate gave the nod of approval for us to run her trip report up the Cleanest Line flag pole, and in the images and text here, I think we can agree that this new route lives up to this blog’s namesake – or perhaps it’s the other way around? And don’t forget, their trip in Patagonia has only just begun, and there’s got to be good weather on the horizon …
Two mornings ago I dreamt my way across the glacier, trying not to faceplant falling asleep walking. At 4:30 in the morning we sat on our packs, finally back at the base of Guillaumet after finishing a new route. We ate some cheese and salami, drank a bit of slushy water and decided we would name it Hard Sayin' Not Knowin'.