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    Dirtbag Diaries: Unseen But Felt

    Seen but unseen Host Fitz Cahall throws caution to the wind in today's beautifully narrated episode of The Dirtbag Diaries.

    This last fall, Becca and I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. We began on foot in Sequoia National Park and hiked north through Yosemite. Along the way, we would climb as many routes as our rations, our bodies and the weather would allow. It was a slightly inefficient approach to a climbing trip that begged an explanation. To those who asked, I offered a slew of reasons. My heroes, John Muir and David Brower, had taken the same route. I wanted to prove we are capable of world-class adventure in our backyard ranges. Those closest to me knew better. I was trying to save myself. At its core, The Diaries has always been about the joy of wild places and our community's profound optimism, but at times contributors have stepped forward to provide stories about personal struggle, sorrow and depression. The Diaries has embraced both the light and the dark, because ultimately The Diaries are a reflection of me. Today, I present my own story. It may be hard to believe, but it happened.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Unseen But Felt"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    Visit to hear the music from "Unseen But Felt" or download past episodes. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes and RSS, or connect with like-minded listeners on Facebook and Twitter.

    Notes from Banjo on the FCD Twin-Fin Fish

    FCD Board Report -

    The first thing I noticed about the 5’7" Fish was how lightweight it was, making it a lot easier to throw around in the surf. I usually ride smaller Fish, somewhere around 5'4", so i didn't really know what to expect. The extra few inches made it way easier to paddle into waves both big and small, it also held a nice line off the bottom turn in the bigger waves where most Fish tend to slide out. I got a couple of sneaky cheater fives on it too which was surprising for a Fish, sometimes they go under pretty easy. I might have to wax her all the way to the nose!! This board for me went the best in small to medium waves and I imagine it would be a perfect summer board, but surprisingly is quite fun in bigger waves too. Enjoy!!
    - Banjo

    Fish-cozie Banjo McLachlan is a photographer and Patagonia ambassador from Sydney, Australia. You can read an interview with Banjo and see some of his photography over at the Patagonia Australia blog.

    If your quiver is calling out for a new board, or an upcycled  Flying Fish Beer Cozie (shown), visit Fletcher Chouinard Designs.

    Annapurna III's Unclimbed Southeast Ridge

    Patagonia Climbing Ambassador Matt Helliker, together with climbing partners Nick Bullock and Pete Benson, recently returned from their attempt to climb the 2300-meter southeast ridge of Annapurna III. Theirs was the sixth attempt of the route, and a tenacious attempt at that. After their first sortie became mired in logistical challenges (which included everything from missing partners to exploding volcanoes) the group returned in October of this year to have another go. A fine description of their chosen line is offered by the folks at DMM Climbing, fellow sponsors of the team's attempt:

    AnnapurnaIII "Annapurna III's 2300 metre southeast ridge featured in an Alpinist 4 article titled Unclimbed - a 'to do list' of nine objectives in keeping with the spirit of exploratory alpinism. Conrad Anker, writing about his attempt to climb the south-east ridge, said: 'Every mountain has a line that defines it; this line becomes the goal for climbers….This is the unclimbed 2300m southeast ridge of Annapurna III. . . . My hope for this amazing route is that it will be climbed by fair means. If climbing were about finding a solution to an engineering problem it would cease to be an art.'"

    Pete-bollard Following is one of Matt's entries to the team's blog, written as they were gearing up for a bid on the route. View the team's post-trip reflections here.

    Lying in my tent this morning waiting for the warmth of the sun to hit BC to encourage us from our bags as it always does at 8am, but this morning for the first time since we have been here it was gloomy with a fresh dump of the white stuff on the ground.

    After a day of needed rest, the weather has cleared for a few hours allowing us to prepare for our outing in the morning. Sorting the climbing rack, clothing and the food for the route, which mainly consists of Maximuscle Viper and Promax bars.

    The plan tomorrow is to carry a heavy load to our high point from a few days back, dig a snow cave on the ridge and load this with some of the gear and food we will need to take on the east ridge using the snow cave as an advanced base camp. Depending on time we will hopefully descent back to BC tomorrow night for a good night's sleep before we take it on to the next stage!

    That said it's pouring down outside now, which means quite a bit of snow up high.
    If you have been following us, you will know that freelance journalist Ed Douglas travelled with us into BC for a few days to write a piece for the Times newspaper.  Ed's personal view of the expedition should make the Times this Saturday and I guess we will have to wait until we get back to the UK to see what he has written!

    [Photos courtesy of Britist Annapurna III Expedition website.]

    The Dog House

    Huey - Zack 054(LR) In most places, late fall and winter bring real ice. In places like Rocky Mountain National Park, however, the ice sublimates and we typically grovel-up snow-plastered rock. It’s an odd obsession. It also leaves lasting memories. Here, Zack Smith, a friend of Patagonia and a talented all-around climber, shares some of those memories. Thanks to Zack for a great story that reminds us of the things we have to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving.

    It is winter and I have plans to climb with Jonny Copp. Over a hurried phone call he tells me we’ll hike “a ways in” and check out this “thing I’ve been thinking about.” I list off a few classic Rocky Mountain National Park mixed routes that I would like to do but he firmly tells me that this will be good; this will be better.

    A few hours later I’m sitting in my truck in an empty parking lot on the outskirts of Boulder. It’s the middle of the night and every fiber of my body tells me that I should be asleep. Twenty minutes later a mini-van pulls in. There are two outlines in the van and I can tell the other one is Steve Su. Winter climbing in RMNP usually means steep, snow-covered rock with very little actual ice and Steve is an unknown master of this strange pursuit. All I can think is Good. Maybe I won’t have to lead anything. Jonny jumps out of the van; all teeth, thick limbs, and big hair. He tells me to load my gear. He never mentions that he’s late or that he invited another person last minute. I join the show and we drive north.

    [Zack Smith indulging in the Park in winter. Photo: Jesse Huey]

    Continue reading "The Dog House" »

    Picture Story: Prayer for Thanksgiving Snow

    The snow has finally come to the Sierra Nevada, giving those of us who moved here to be close to the mountains all the more reason to be thankful. If you're able to make skiing part of your Thanksgiving holiday this year, here's a little something to offer up before you drop in:

    T-day pow

    Now I point 'em down the steep,

    I pray to Lord this powder's deep,

    If my turns don't face-shots make,

    I'll have another run to take.

    [Nov. 24, 2010, 7:30a.m. - An unnamed skier gets ready to genuflect with gratitude, 30 minutes from Patagonia's Reno Distribution Center. Photo: localcrew]

    Border Problems – or, What a Man Will Go Through to Film Gerry Lopez


    Editor's note: Fitz Cahall joins us today to share another behind-the-scenes story from the making of Tracing the Edge.

    Winter was fickle last year. Bryan and I were set to work with surfing legend Gerry Lopez. I’d already spent a day filming with him in Bend. He’d shown me every powder stash available on Mount Bachelor, his local stomping ground. We shredded six inches of light snow. I broke a helmet cam (that’s cool). We aggravated the marketing department (that was cooler). The ski patrol just shrugged off the marketing director’s radio calls (that was the best). Gerry introduced me to every liftie by name. The teenage rippers hucking rodeos asked his opinion on where to go based on the direction of the wind. An old retiree in a one piece stopped to share a joke. One thing was clear, Gerry was king. Mount Bachelor was the kingdom. If a run was great, he’d smile. If a run was littered with moguls, he’d smile and shrug, imparting some tidbit of wisdom. Like:

    “At the end every season, I make sure that I buy the patrollers a keg of beer for the end-of-the-year party. They work hard. It’s a way of thanking them … (pause) … and, you know, when they, maybe, find me some place I shouldn’t be, it’s not a big deal.”

    [Gerry Lopez, still hucking cliffs in his 60s. Photo: Fitz Cahall and Bryan Smith]

    Continue reading "Border Problems – or, What a Man Will Go Through to Film Gerry Lopez" »

    Time-lapse Video of FCD Building Kohl Christensen's Surfboard

    A couple weeks ago we told you about Kohl Christensen's win at the Nelscott Reef contest up in Oregon. Here's a video from our current digital surf catalog featuring Kohl and Fletcher Chouinard talking about the shapes they've been working on together, and some time-lapse footage of one of Kohl's boards being built by the crew at FCD surfboards -- a board Kohl says is for "pulling into 20-foot barrels." [Video: Patagonia]

    Media Review (and marg recipe): Eastern Rises


    Last night I saw the best outdoor film I’ve seen in awhile. It’s about fly fishing. Huh? I’ve never fly fished and, honestly, I never really “got it.” I know there must be something there, though, because even if it makes as much sense to me as drinking margaritas in Russia, people love it, obsess over it like I do with climbing, and friends do with skiing and surfing. Tons of people at Patagonia go nuts for it. Cool. But still, I didn’t really understand the allure. Until last night. [Photo: Felt Soul Media]

    The 39-minute film is called Eastern Rises, and it showed at the opening night of Adventure Film Festival, the festival created by my friend Jonny Copp that's continuing onward in his memory. In short, Eastern Rises follows a few fly fishing obsessed guys who go to the ultra-remote Kamchatka Peninsula in Eastern Russia to fish (of course), traveling by ancient Russian helicopters, enduring Vodka culture, Sasquatch, Grizzlies, monster fish and encountering a variety of characters at every turn – and these guys fully fit-in, being quite far from the cardboard cutout types themselves. According to the film info, the Kamchatka’s coastline has “the most abundant and biologically diverse population of wild rainbow trout, salmon and steelhead that has ever existed on Earth.” Once they arrived, wow. You don’t have to care about fish to fall in love with the landscape, though I imagine it must be like the fishing version of an undiscovered and unbelievably pristine mountain range made for climbing.

    It takes more than pretty pictures, though, to make a great film.

    Continue reading "Media Review (and marg recipe): Eastern Rises" »

    Dispatches From Grandmaster Gulo Pimpdaddy

    4-1-1-06 B 013 copy 2 We got this note from Doug Chadwick, writer, National Geographic contributor, and all-around friend to "hyper-nasty, victim-shredding gluttons," i.e. wolverines. Thought you might like this update on his travels and findings. If you enjoy the update, be sure to catch the Nature special on PBS - Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom and read his Patagonia-published book, The Wolverine Way:

    When you're an author on the road promoting your latest volume, you never know how many folks will turn out for a presentation. Unless you're a literary rock star, the last thing you'd expect is an overflow crowd. Especially if your subject is scarcely known beasts with a reputation as hyper-nasty, victim-shredding gluttons. Which is to say wolverines.

    Lately, though, wherever I give slide shows and readings to pimp The Wolverine Way, the room has been packed. It's more than encouraging to see this kind of interest in Gulo gulo, a species hardly anybody paid attention to before. People have been coming up to tell me about wolverines they glimpsed in places like Colorado, Utah, Oregon, and California sometime within the past few decades. Very cool..... except these high country hunter-scavengers were supposed to have been wiped out there almost a century ago by unrestricted trapping, hunting, and predator poisoning. Which is to say by a society sweeping through ecosystems like a plague of venomous apes.

    [A captive wolverine shows off an out-sized paw; one of the features that make the species unique and infamous. Photo: Dale Pedersen]

    Continue reading "Dispatches From Grandmaster Gulo Pimpdaddy" »

    Skiing Alpha's Ivory Shoulder

    Days of big powder, multiple laps, burning legs (and full-on treeside safety meetings) will soon be here. 'Til those show up, we're trying to tide ourselves over with a few quick hits here an there to keep the spark lit. Patagonia skiing ambassador JD Hare is kindly helping us out today with a short vid documenting his trip into British Columbia's Tantalus Range to see if the line he's been eyeing on Alpha's prominent shoulder will go.

    One Percent for the Planet
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