The Cleanest Line

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    « December 2008 | Main | February 2009 »

    "History had been made. And I was there."

    Andrew2 While we wait in anticipation for tomorrow's inauguration ceremony, let's travel back in time for a moment to the evening of November 4, 2008. The place: Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois. The event: Election Day. The author: Andrew Graves from Patagonia Chicago.

    [Well-orchestrated office lights. Photo: Andrew Graves]

    The crisp, cool, autumn evening air was matched by the emotional excitement of the throngs gathered in hopes of being present for one of the most historic moments of recent times. Thousands waiting with nervous anticipation to hear those words, “President-Elect, Barack Obama.”

    The wait started for me almost ten hours earlier as I sat down in line on my cheap, newly acquired lawn chair to wait for the makeshift gates of Grant Park to be opened. My girlfriend, Kimberly, and I arrived at the park at around noon (only 8.5 hours before the gates were to be opened) equipped with some food, drink, a deck of cards and the aforementioned lawn chairs. We were only about 100 people deep in line, and superbly pleased that we would be front and center for what we were expecting to be an historic occasion.

    Continue reading ""History had been made. And I was there."" »

    The Guaymas Project: Supplying Solar Energy to Impoverished School Children with Greenscool

    DSC_0209 We've all been roped into last minute trips by friends. Sometimes it's to the mountains, sometimes the ocean, sometimes to a concert or festival. Earlier this week, Christian Beckwith, former managing editor of the sadly defunct Alpinist Magazine, was coerced into just such a trip. Only this time, the destination was an impoverished area in Mexico to help his friends at Greenscool – Mike Miller, Kina Pickett, Mati Gershater and Khyber Miller – install solar panels on the roofs of the local school. Read on (and watch the videos after the jump) to learn about The Guaymas Project, a wonderfully positive gesture by a group of outdoor athletes that's happening right now in Guaymas, Mexico. Christian writes:

    Poverty is the same everywhere: roosters crowing, the smell of shit, clothes strung out to dry in front of broken concrete houses. Unfinished buildings. Plastic bags snarled in wire fences. Electricity pirated from leaning cement posts.

    I don’t give a damn about poverty as long as it doesn’t happen to me.

    So why am I in Fatima, Mexico, a barrio that sprang out of a dump twenty-five years ago because its squatters had nowhere else to go? I’m a climber: when I come up against poverty, it’s usually en route to an objective in the Himalaya, the Andes, or the Kokshall-Tau. I take note of it absently and move past as quickly as I can. Places to go, peaks to climb. I have neither the time nor the inclination to make a prolonged study of the poor.

    [Schoolgirls in Guaymas, Mexico. Photo: © Kina Pickett for Greenscool]

    There’s no climbing here, though the Sonoran hills standing guard above the town of Guaymas looked clean in the late afternoon sun when I got in. So, again, all together now: What the hell am I doing in Fatima?

    I blame it on a skier.

    Continue reading "The Guaymas Project: Supplying Solar Energy to Impoverished School Children with Greenscool" »

    Catch Patagonia Ambassador Timmy O'Neil at the MBC

    Poster Timmy If you're headed to Chamonix this weekend, there's a rare treat waiting for all of our Patagonia Europe brethren and sistren: globe-trotting, big-wall sending, down-town first-ascent bagging funnyman, Timmy O'Neil will be at the world-famous MBC (micro brasserie de chamonix) this Saturday 17 january at 9 p.m.

    What will he be talking about? Who knows!? That's part of the fun of a Timmy show. Past shows have included everything from first-ascent attempts in the far reaches of Baffin Island to unroped "buildering" ascents of towers of the more urban kind (think college dormitories). What is certain is how difficult it is to watch Timmy's classic presentations without big laughs and good times.

    With snow returning to the valley's forecast, this weekend's a great time to head for the mountains. Safe travels, and enjoy the snow and show!

    30% Off Sale Happening Now at Patagonia.com

    Top1_jan_sale_S9

    Just a quick note to let you know our fall/winter line is now on sale -- along with other past-season and special-make-up items. Patagonia Retail Stores and Outlets are participating too (except Cardiff) so ride the old bike down when you can (find a store here). Hope you all find what you're looking for. The new Spring 2009 styles are live as well if you want first crack at those. Enjoy.

    [Hannes Fetz and friends enjoy a beautiful day of bouldering in the Buttermilks. Bishop, California. Photo: Reinhard Fichtinger]

    * Sale limited to stock on hand. Sale prices apply only to select Patagonia merchandise on days specified. Patagonia Cardiff-by-the-Sea store is not participating in the sale. The following items are not included in sale pricing: surfboards, wetsuits, shoes, blankets, gift cards, environmental t-shirts, gift bags, Carry Y’All Bag, and shipping charges. Sale prices not valid on Weekly Specials in Patagonia Outlets. Offer valid in USA only. Not valid with any other offer. Sale ends January 19, 2009.

    Colin Haley Solos Supercanaleta

    Supercanaleta Last week Colin Haley (24) soloed Supercanaleta on Patagonia's Fit Roy massif. This burly effort comes less than a year after he and fellow Patagonia ambassador Rolando Garibotti completed the incredible Torre Traverse. Here's Colin's take on the solo climb:

    One of the reasons why my trips to Patagonia have always been among my most cherished climbing trips is because I have always broken new personal ground in terms of my climbing. All four of my previous trips to El Chalten resulted in what was at the time my best climbing achievement: Aguja Poincenot with Bart Paull my first trip, Fitz Roy with Mark Westman my second trip, the Marsigny-Parkin-to-West-Face linkup on Cerro Torre with Kelly Cordes on my third trip, and last year accompanying Rolando Garibotti on the Torres Traverse.

    Climbing the Care Bear Traverse with Rolo this December was absolutely fantastic climbing, likely the most enjoyable climb I've done down here, but did not feel extremely serious or mentally taxing. And so, after a month of bad weather following the Care Bear Traverse (actually, there was one 1.5-day window at New Year's that I missed due to a respiratory infection), and with my ticket home looming imminently, it seemed that my spell of making personal progress every trip to Patagonia had finally come to it's inevitable end. But then, as the Patagonian weather seems prone to do, it decided to give me one last-minute opportunity to challenge myself...

    Continue reading "Colin Haley Solos Supercanaleta" »

    Get On The (omni)Bus!

    Hoover  Lovers of wilderness take note: some long-fought land legislation has just been kicked into high gear. Senate Bill 22, aka. the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act, has been taking shape over the past few years. While stymied repeatedly by vigorous filibuster, a recent re-shuffling of the Congressional deck seems to have cleared the legislative log jam. Upon returning from their holiday break, the new Congress found the Omnibus Lands Bill near the top of their to-do list.

    Passage of this act holds a significance that's hard to convey, some are calling it the most significant piece of wilderness legislation since the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. In writing about this issue, Montana-based NewWest.net has gathered the below list, which helps convey some sense of the enormity of the act's scope. The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act includes:

    - The Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act, California: permanently protects 450,000 acres of wild mountain tops, open spaces and alpine meadows, 40,000 acres of wild lands in northern Los Angeles County, and designates 73 miles of rivers as Wild and Scenic.
    - California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act: protects 190,000 acres in Riverside County as wilderness, add 31 miles of four rivers to the Wild and Scenic River System and expand by 5,000 acres the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.
    - The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Act, California: permanently protects almost 85,000 acres in the Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, including Redwood Mountain Grove, the largest stand of Giant Sequoia within the park, California’s largest cave, and the Old Hockett Trail.
    - Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness and Indian Peaks Wilderness Expansion Act, Colorado: protects nearly 250,000 acres (94 percent) of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park as wilderness.

    [Classic alpine terrain in the high country between Yosemite National Park and Hoover Wilderness, one of California's wilderness areas that will be expanded through the Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act. Photo: localcrew]

    Continue reading "Get On The (omni)Bus!" »

    Backyard Adventures: The Power of Imagination

    Rocks1_2 Editor's note: Our Backyard Adventures series kicks off today and first up is Dave Anderson from Wyoming who proves that a vivid imagination can be your best partner on an outing close to home.

    Gone are the mornings spent lounging on the tailgate of my rusted-out truck, eating last night's leftover pasta with my only concerns for the day being what routes to climb. These days, I greet the morning sun from inside my bank-financed house, shuffling around in fluffy slippers while the ingredients of a smoothie churn predictably around in the blender.

    As I stretch my stiff fingers, I feel a dull ache which now has more to do with long sessions with the keyboard instead of battles with hard finger cracks. Chained to my desk by deadlines and obligations, I sometimes gaze out the window feeling trapped by my new lifestyle.

    As a youngster, I was trapped by birth in the white-bread world of suburbia, where families, normal behavior and the environment were all stamped out in neat, half acre cloned lots. The key to my sanity, to combat that sterilized culture, was my hyperactive imagination. Most days I was out in the “backyard” setting the new home run record (playing t-ball), mapping the vast catacombs near the road (crawling through cement culverts), exploring the uncharted secrets of the Amazon (mucking around in the small creek) or unearthing buried treasures in the deserts of Egypt (digging in the sandbox).

    [While Sinks Canyon is deserving of its reputation for variety, it's most well-known for it's plentiful selection of steep limestone lines. Here, the cliffs just above the canyon road dwarf a climber, barely visible at center. Photo & caption: localcrew collection]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: The Power of Imagination" »

    Lynn Hill Sends Chablanke

    MVM_Lynn_Hill Climbing video site Momentum Video Magazine (MVM) recently posted a video of Patagonia ambassador Lynn Hill, sending the V11/12 boulder problem Chablanke in Hueco Tanks, Texas. There isn't an easy way to point you to the exact video, but it's worth the effort to locate if you want to see Lynn climb this very difficult problem. Here's how: Visit the MVM homepage, look for the video player, then scroll down the list and click on Lynn's video -- it's from Issue #23.

    Lynn shared the following thoughts about the climb:

    I tried this boulder problem a few years ago when I was in Hueco for a brief period to become a Texas State Park guide and another time when I was there to instruct at one of my climbing camps, but I hadn't tried it since last year. It's a beautiful boulder with interesting moves and it looked like something I could do if I came up with some creative solutions. On the crux move, I had to do four set-up moves to get my feet underneath me before moving my hand up to a small crimp on an extremely overhanging face.

    For me, the most relevant factor in my ability to perform well on the rock has to do with my love of climbing. I also think that working on my climbing technique video this year (Elements of Technique) has not only inspired me to improve my own efficiency on the rock, but it has provided the opportunity to go climbing on a more consistent basis than I have in years. After nearly thirty years of climbing, I still love to do it whenever possible! The fact that I have a child and consequently more responsibilities now than ever, has inspired me to grow in new ways and has given me a more balanced view on life. A child can be one of the best teachers in life.

    We'll be sure and let you know when Lynn's instructional video, Elements of Technique, is available. Have a good weekend everybody.

    Greening Armenia - Environmental Internship in the Caucasus

    Ara Today’s post is from Walter Allen, a project business manager at Patagonia (and a new father). Last summer, Walter volunteered for two months with the nonprofit environmental organization, Armenia Tree Project, in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. What follows is an account of his internship, sponsored by the Patagonia Environmental Internship Program, which gives employees up to two months salary and benefits to work on behalf of environmental causes worldwide.

    Armenia is a small former Soviet republic located in the South Caucasus region, north of Iran and east of Turkey. Its transition from socialism to capitalism has not been easy on the country. This, as well as regional conflicts and a devastating earthquake, have contributed to a rocky start for this new democracy. One of the environmental effects of this transition period has been deforestation. In rural landscapes, many hillsides were denuded. In the cities, one often sees the metal frames of park benches whose wooden seats were torn out by cold citizens and burned for heat.

    With headquarters in Watertown, Massachusetts, Armenia Tree Project (ATP) works in Armenia on three principal projects: community tree planting/rural reforestation, community development/poverty reduction, and environmental education and advocacy. From mid-June to mid-August 2008, I had the pleasure of volunteering with the group in Yerevan, through Patagonia’s environmental internship program.

    [Mount Aragats as seen from the slopes of Mount Ara, which is about 8,000 feet. Armenia is quite mountainous. Arable land is at a premium. All photos: Walter Allen.]

    Continue reading "Greening Armenia - Environmental Internship in the Caucasus" »

    9 for 9 - Nine Green Resolutions for 2009

    12_31_08_2Patagonia employees are encouraged to reduce their environmental impact with tips from a group of co-workers who call themselves the Green Team. For 2009, the Team shared a list of nine green resolutions anyone can keep. They're good reminders and very easy to share with friends and relatives who might need some encouragement.

    Nine Green Resolutions for 2009

    1. Resolve to stop using those plastic bags at the grocery store – leave your canvas bags in the car
    2. Stop drinking water in plastic bottles – drink filtered tap water, it tastes great!
    3. Review your home, one room a month, and detox – remove chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and dispose of them safely
    4. Pledge to have your recycle bin always be fuller than your regular waste bin
    5. Just one more: One more day a week of commuting by bike or by carpool – you get the idea. Draw up written contracts with family members to each pledge to use alternative transportation a minimum of once a week
    6. Start a compost pile
    7. Grow your own – if you don't have room for a veggie garden, frequent the farmer's market once a week
    8. Volunteer your services to a non-profit group you are passionate about
    9. Follow your passions this year – find your cause

    The Green Team doesn't just give suggestions, it accepts them. Employees can propose ways to reduce the environmental impacts of their specific jobs. If the idea is feasible, the company will act on it. Hit the jump for an example of how this type of employee feedback helped Patagonia save natural resources and a bunch of money.

    [Photo: Patagoniac S. Mandl snapped this shot of her daughter on New Year's Eve. She says, "Although it was quite windy our daughter Zoe was very much enjoying our walk on Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay, CA. We entirely trust the Patagonia gear to keep her warm!"]

    Continue reading "9 for 9 - Nine Green Resolutions for 2009" »

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