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    Working Toward the Removal of the Matilija Dam

    ["Yvon Chouinard Q&A on Matilija Dam - American Express Member's Project" via YouTube. Video: Robert Richardson and Scott Hicks]

    Today we're following up on Yvon Chouinard's recent commercial for the American Express Members Project. The grad student Yvon mentions in the above video was Mark Capelli who, through his group Friends of the Ventura River, helped lay the foundation for all the work being done today to remove the Matilija Dam and restore the Ventura River ecosystem.

    For a report on the current state of the Matilija Dam's removal we contacted Paul Jenkin, founder of the Matilija Coalition and Environmental Director for the Ventura County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

    Patagonia is a founding member and primary sponsor of the Matilija Coalition, an alliance of community groups, businesses, and individuals committed to the environmental restoration of the Ventura River watershed. Starting with the removal of Matilija Dam, the coalition is working for the recovery of the Southern Steelhead trout and the natural sediment supply to the beaches of Ventura.

    Continue reading "Working Toward the Removal of the Matilija Dam" »

    Rios Libres: Moving Like a Feather


    FeatherBakerWe've just received some fresh correspondence from the Rios Libres team with their latest progress. Their first post (featured on TCL Monday, March 8) got the journey started. Today's post shares a first taste of the wild, vibrant waters of the Río Baker, where it meets the Neff. Stay tuned for next week's update from the Neff Glacier, headwaters of the Baker. From here, the team will trace the path of the Baker from source to sea.



    Moving Like a Feather (a report from Craig Childs)

    The Río Baker is the color of topaz with the visible depth of sapphire.

    Entering one of its gorges, a smooth, ceramic lip of water crashes into malestrom. Kayaks flash through like swift, tiny birds. Feeling this wild tumult, you can understand why one might want this kind of power. You would be a god to have this under your control.

    Throw a switch and the raw, terrifying force of nature crimps down into cables and transformers - becoming the hum of millions of refrigerators across South America.

    Every time you walk into a room and turn on the lights, every familiar tone of an Apple computer coming awake carries a grain of river, a hundredth of a kilowatt of what groups like NRDC and Patagonia Sin Represas wants you to think is sacred.

    Kayaks take the run, skating across the water, airborne for moments. This is how you do it without taming the river, without conquering or consuming its power. You become a feather on a current and suddenly the river's power is at your fingertips.


    [Timmy O'Neill drops into the Class V confluence of the Río Baker and the Neff River. Photo: James Q Martin]

    Ten Pounds of Tequila - Climbing Venezuela's Acopan Tepui with Mikey Schaefer, Kate Rutherford, Brittany Griffith and Jonathan Thesenga

    20100215_Acopan_Venezuela_1648 Jonathan Thesenga has been everywhere. A great climber, traveler and storyteller, his hit list is adorned with some of the best out-there adventures and destination discoveries of the last decade. Morocco, Mali, the Czech Republic and the storied Stolby trips come to mind immediately. So when he expressed interest in exploring some new routing options on the iconic tepui formations of Venezuela I was eager to see the adventure happen. With his new bride, Brittany Griffith, and friends and fellow ambassadors Mikey Schaefer and Kate Rutherford rounding out the dream team, a successful ascent was undoubtedly lurking amongst a sea of laughter and good times. Today’s trip report comes from Jonathan himself, complimented by images from Mikey Schaefer. Mix a Gatorita, sit back and picture yourself there. ["Questing upward!" Brittany Griffith maximizing her reach on another spicy pitch. Photo: Mikey Schaefer]

    On February 7th, Brittany Griffith and I flew from the homogenized world of Salt Lake City to the rough and tumble world of Caracas, Venezuela where we met up with Mikey Schaefer and Kate Rutherford who had flown up directly from a month-long mission in Patagonia. They stashed their entire alpine kit at our great friends Kami and Jose’s house (no need for ice tools and DAS parkas where we were headed!). Our objective was to fly into the Gran Sabana in the heart of the country’s rainforest jungle and climb a new free route on Acopan Tepui, one of the stunning sandstone tepuis that tower above the rainforest and savannah.

    We caught a flight out the next day to Ciudad Bolivar, where we then hired two Cessnas to fly us and all our gear into the jungle to the village of Yunek (a huge thanks to our main man Jochen from Gekko Tours in Ciudad Bolivar for all his help getting the flights lined up). For us four it was our first time venturing into the rainforest and we couldn’t take our eyes off the endless green canopy far below. The same could not be said of our pilot, who quickly became bored with looking out at the green nothingness, pulled out his newspaper and, to our amazement, began intently reading the paper while flying.

    Continue reading "Ten Pounds of Tequila - Climbing Venezuela's Acopan Tepui with Mikey Schaefer, Kate Rutherford, Brittany Griffith and Jonathan Thesenga" »

    Save The Waves Coalition Chile Earthquake Relief Update

    Chile-Earthquake1_Munita As Rios Libres sets off to help keep Chile's rivers wild and free from dams, Save The Waves Coalition is working hard to bring much needed relief to the residents of Chile who were hardest hit by the recent earthquake. Here's the latest word from Save The Waves on their relief efforts. Donations are still greatly needed; details on how to help are at the end of the report. [Total destruction along the coast in Chile’s Region VII. Photo: Tomás Munita]

    March 7, 2010, Pichilemu/Curanipe, Chile – Save The Waves Coalition’s Chile relief ground teams have begun to distribute initial relief supplies to towns and villages that were hardest hit by the recent 8.8-magnitued earthquake and following tsunami. Teams have been traveling south from Pichilemu through the remote coastal areas and inland, reaching as far south as Duao in the northern part of Region VII, and supplying aid in small hard to reach towns along the way.

    Save The Waves surf ambassador Ramon Navarro is leading the way in these efforts, and with his local knowledge of the region has already helped to supply initial water filters to provide clean drinking water, a crucial necessity right now, to those in need. Volunteers have also helped to clean up a school in Boyeruca that has suffered major damage. While more supplies arrive, water filters will continue to be dispersed over the coming days to help the many displaced families that are still without clean drinking water. Professional surfers Greg Long and Kohl Cristensen also arrived in Chile on Saturday with major supplies, including more water filters, and met up to support Navarro and others out of Pichilemu.

    Continue reading "Save The Waves Coalition Chile Earthquake Relief Update" »

    Rios Libres: The Journey Begins

    “Chilean Patagonia is a remote region of the world where nature--long left to its own devices--grows wild, beautiful and largely untouched by man. As South America's last frontier, the region boasts incredible biodiversity, breathtaking landscapes, essential ecological values, and a remote solitude that is increasingly rare.”

    GroupShot The above is taken from the blog-in-progress for a group of dedicated conservationists, Team Rios Libres, made up of photographer James Q Martin, author Craig Childs, cinematographers Denise M. Stilley and Ed George, Wildlife biologist Chris Kassar, Patagonia Climbing Ambassador Timmy O’Neil, local river guides, and Chilean journalists and conservationists. Together, their mission is to Protect Chile’s most wild and magnificent rivers from a consortium of European and Chilean mega-companies that are actively seeking to forever alter these natural jewels. The plan Rios Libres is working against would place a total of five dams along some of the magnificent rivers that are the lifeblood of this richly diverse region. Two of the dams will be placed along the Rio Baker (rhyms with “soccer”), Chile’s longest and highest-volume wild river. The remaining three dams would be built along the Rio Pascua, Chile's third highest-volume river. 

    The dams are not the only impact planned for this region. To extract the power they are planned to generate, the builders will have to clear-cut at least 1,600 km (1000 mi) of pristine old-growth forest to install the world’s longest high-tension transmission line. Over 2,450 km (1,500 mi) of line would be built to transport the electricity northward to support population centers and, ultimately Chile's massive mining industry. The Rios Libres team states the impacts succinctly: “Together, the dams and transmission lines would damage communities, scar the landscape, and wreak havoc on ecosystems. Additionally, these projects would hasten the extinction of species such as the torrent duck, the Chilean river otter, and the endangered Chilean deer, the huemul.”

    Team Rios Libres’ goal is simple: to give this threatened area a voice by documenting this incredible natural resource in its pristine state and by highlighting what the area means to the people, plants, and wildlife that make up its ecosystem. These are their first words from the field:

    READ ON, for Rios Libres' first reports . . .

    [The group gathers to begin their journey. All photos: James Q Martin] 



    Continue reading "Rios Libres: The Journey Begins" »

    Yvon Chouinard and the American Express Members Project Commercial

    If you watched the Academy Awards last night you may have seen Patagonia's founder, Yvon Chouinard, appear on a commercial for the American Express Members Project, a new partnership with social-action network The piece was filmed in and around Ventura County by Robert Richardson – himself an Oscar-winning cinematographer – and directed by Scott Hicks of Shine fame. Read the official press release (Word doc).

    ["Yvon Chouinard and the American Express Members Project Commercial" on YouTube. Video: Robert Richardson and Scott Hicks]

    The dam that's featured is Matilija Dam, an outdated monstrosity that sits 18 miles upstream from Patagonia HQ on a tributary of the Ventura River. With its crumbling concrete and silt-filled reservoir, Matilija Dam no longer serves any beneficial purpose. Its removal would allow native Southern Steelhead trout to once again use the river to spawn, and give local beaches a much needed boost in sediments (more sand) from the steep canyons of Matilija Creek.

    At almost 200-feet tall, it would be largest dam ever removed in the United States. Later this week we'll share more about Matilija Dam and current efforts underway to free the river.

    All proceeds that Yvon receives from the commercial will be divided between five of environmental groups of his choice: Conservacion Patagonica, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Freedom to Roam Coalition, Native Fish Society and Save our Wild Salmon.

    The Plane Can Wait - Keith Malloy at Pipeline

    Keith pipe - 10

    On his final day in Hawaiʻi, after competing in the Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic earlier in the week, Patagonia surf ambassador Keith Malloy scored some glorious conditions at the famous reef break. "Spring Pipeline is my favorite time of year," says Keith. "My 7'4" FCD was the perfect board for this day. I surfed for two hours and came in to catch my flight, but after watching another perfect set I had to surf 'til dark. It was worth scrambling to make my flight."

    Keith pipe - 16 Keith pipe - 05 Keith pipe - 01

    Here's to everyone who's been late for dinner, upset a loved one or, yes, missed a flight because the conditions were too good and you needed just a few more rides. [All photos by Lauren Coffield]

    Backyard Adventures: Pioneer Trifecta (aka. Fatherhood Shakedown)

    Jj_Hyndman A little over a year ago, we invited readers to submit stories of their own Backyard Adventures and announced a deadline of January 9th, 2009. Here we are in 2010, and still (happily) receiving submissions. Today's post is from previous Backyard Adventure contributor Steve Graepel, author of an earlier piece about traversing central Idaho's Sawtooth Range. Steve's been working hard on his plan to thread a 900+ mile route through Idaho's wilderness by foot, raft and mountain bike. This installment of Steve's Backyard Adventures could be considered a recon-mission for his big trip, but with a new baby on the way, Steve had something different in mind . . .


    After ten years of marriage, life finds a comfortable rhythm; it’s a well-tuned circuit of work, exercise and leisure.

    And then along comes your first child...

    "It will change your life...your life will never be the same...parenthood gives back so much more than you put into it...". Growing wary of the overabundance of encouragement, or perhaps out of sheer panic, I jumped at the chance to get lost during the baby shower. There aren’t many problems you can't solve after an 8.5 hour push.

    I wanted to knock out a trip I'd heard rumors of. Nestled in Sun Valley's backyard, three hours from Boise, the "Pios" court those with a zest for adventure. . . .

    [Above: The view of Hyndman Peak from Cobb's south face. Photo: James Just]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Pioneer Trifecta (aka. Fatherhood Shakedown)" »

    Chile Earthquake Update: Save The Waves Launches Relief Effort, Donations Will Go Directly to Humanitarian Aid

    Chile_Quake Please read the following update and urgent plea for assistance from our friends at Save The Waves Coalition. Note: "All donations to Save The Waves for Chile earthquake relief will go directly to humanitarian aid in the most devastated region. No bureaucratic filters, no delays, just pure support for the coastal communities that are in dire need." Your help is greatly appreciated. [Tsunami destruction in Pichilemu, Chile's Surf City. Photo: Josefa Santander]

    Help Earthquake Victims & Donate Now

    A massive earthquake and tsunami hit Chile this weekend. The earthquake epicenter was just 5km from Save The Waves Coalition's Vigilante Costero (Coastkeeper) office and the focus of Save The Waves' many years of environmental campaigns. The earthquake and tidal wave damage to the area where Save The Waves works is devastating. Friends, colleagues and neighbors in coastal Chile need our help more than ever before. The good news is that loss of life thus far appears to be relatively low because the "gradual" start to the shaking allowed people to evacuate. But the destruction to infrastructure is devastating, including many destroyed homes, no drinking water, power, transportation, and communications. This means that aid and relief in the next few weeks will be crucial to save lives and lessen suffering.

    Save The Waves Coalition is organizing a relief trip to the hardest hit region of Chile this week with doctors and medics. Save The Waves needs donations of all sizes to support travel to the region, distribute medical treatment, and purchase and distribute medical supplies, water, food, water filters and camping gear for the suffering. Save The Waves is partnering with Waves for Water to provide water filters for clean drinking water, something that is crucially needed right now.

    Continue reading "Chile Earthquake Update: Save The Waves Launches Relief Effort, Donations Will Go Directly to Humanitarian Aid" »

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