The Cleanest Line

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    A Weekend In Baja with Save The Waves Coalition


    It had been over five years since I was in Baja, experiencing its vast coastlines, colorful culture and fine tequila as part of the “Bend To Baja” crew; and what a great way to reunite with Baja than a perfect, sunny swell-filled weekend with the Save The Waves Coalition, a global nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect and preserve the coastal environment, with an emphasis on the surf zone.

    Editor's note: Patagonia surf ambassador and Hale'iwa store employee, Crystal Thornburg-Homcy, returns to the Cleanest Line with a story about a trip she took this summer with fellow ambassador Liz Clark.

    I brought along my longboard, 6’6” single-fin, bodysurf fins and rounded up, like-minded friends Liz Clark and Jon Swift for the trip. My goal was to discover more about what Save The Waves has accomplished this past year and what was in the works for the near future.

    [Northern Baja local surfers join our crew for the beach clean-up. All photos by by Crystal Thornburg-Homcy and Save The Waves Coalition]

    Continue reading "A Weekend In Baja with Save The Waves Coalition" »

    Adventure Film Festival Kicks off in Boulder, Watch the Trailer

    Here's a pretty compelling reminder for those of you in Colorado to hit up the Adventure Film Festival in Boulder, tomorrow (11/18) through Saturday (11/20). I realize this is a big tease for the rest of you but you have to admit the trailer video is pretty sweet, even by itself.

    Looking ahead to 2011, Adventure Film will once again be coming to Chile and Chamonix. Nacho and the crew at Patagonia Chile and Patagonia ambassador Zoe Hart, who lives in Chamonix, are both working on next year's festivals. Stay tuned for future announcements.

    [Video: Adventure Film Festival - Trailer 2010 from Alex King & Mito Media on Vimeo.]

    From Yellowstone to Reno

    Skye-HOL10 catalogOn the inside back cover of our 2010 Holiday Catalog is an image that originally appeared on the cover of our 1990 winter Kid’s Catalog. Not one person here in mail order even worked for Patagonia back then but nonetheless it’s a picture many of us know well. The photograph is of a little girl looking out her window at a buffalo munching grass on a snowy day in Yellowstone National Park. The reason we all know it so well is that Skye, the little girl in the picture, has worked here since 2004. When the picture reappeared in the current Holiday Catalog, I knew there must be a story behind that Yellowstone childhood and how she came to work here at Patagonia.

    The story begins in England where her mom (a Brit) and dad (an American) met while in college. They married and returned to the US, living in Boston where her dad found work as an operating technician at Massachusetts General Hospital. But the story really gets under way in 1973 with a newspaper ad, an ad for the Winter Keeper position in the Canyon Village area of Yellowstone National Park (think The Shining). Only this job didn’t entail watching over a huge hotel, it involved watching over some 200 summer cabins perched on the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. He was offered the job (Skye is pretty sure he was the only applicant) and after talking it over with his wife, she decided that doing it for a year might be fun; because, she figured, you can survive just about anything for a year. So they packed up their old Saab and their new baby (Skye’s sister Emma) and headed west.

    [Photo Top: Skye at home in Yellowstone. Photo: Steven Fuller]

    Continue reading "From Yellowstone to Reno" »

    Kite Dreams on the Dawn Wall

    CaldwellR.2010.11.1600 Out there and awesome. That’s what comes to mind when I think of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on the Dawn Wall. If you aren’t a climbing geek who’s been following, they’re trying to free climb the steepest, blankest part of El Capitan. It’ll be a fight, for sure – it already is. They left the ground on Saturday, and plan to stay on the wall, living in their portaledge, for as long as it takes, which is probably two or more weeks. They’re around pitch nine now, and earlier today Tommy told me, “It’s giving us hell, we are battling hard. Pretty freaking awesome experience so far.”

    And it’s a great one for today’s world. Whereas we all also love and respect remote adventures, adventure comes in different varieties. These guys are exploring the upper limits of bigwall free climbing, and, since it’s on El Cap, modern communication makes it easy to share (updates from Becca Caldwell here; from Kevin here). They’ve got phones and reception and people watching them. In a way, El Cap represents our world of contrasts – it’s mega, yet practically roadside; it’s storied with some of the greatest pioneering rock climbing in history, while tour busses and RVs pass underneath it by the minute.

    [Tommy leading pitch two. Photo: Becca Caldwell]

    Continue reading "Kite Dreams on the Dawn Wall" »

    Picture Story: Shandar!

    Sometimes a compelling image says everything, no words needed. Sometimes the most basic photo hides a deeper meaning, an experience, a story; maybe a few details deepen what we see in that captured moment, or maybe it’s something we never imagined. Other times it’s just a pretty picture. That’s all.

    A lot of my posts run long, taking some time to read. They also take a lot of time to compose (I know, hard to believe upon reading my posts, much like when someone sees art and goes, “My kid could do that.”) So, we got to thinking that sometimes a brief post, almost like a haiku, might be nice. Break-up the tempo a bit. Here’s the first of this periodic series, in which we’ll post a photo(s) with minimal text.


    Cordes - fire shandar-2Shandar!” shouted Sarfraz, our assistant cook, at the explosion that was the daily lighting of our campfire in Pakistan’s Nangma Valley. Shandar means excellent, rad, beautiful. But I suppose it can mean different things. Rain soaked us for weeks. Ghafoor, our cook, guide and dear friend, and Sarfraz spent every afternoon gathering enough firewood to build enormous white-man’s fires, usually pouring kerosene directly onto them while lit. Josh once suggested that maybe such an enormous fire wasn’t necessary each night, and Ghafoor looked at him as if he was speaking French. So I grabbed one of our fuel canisters and made a hucking motion toward the fire. Josh smiled and shrugged. Ghafoor's eyes lit up. Terrible, I know, but…Shandar!

    [Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Colorado: Adventure Film Festival Kicks Off Nov. 18th in Boulder; Alpine Styles Art Exhibit Opens in Golden

    AFF_poster The legacy of our late friend Jonny Copp lives on in the 6th Annual Adventure Film Festival (AFF), an international outdoor community event he founded in 2005. The festival kicks off on Thursday, November 18th at the Boulder Theater and continues with screnings at locations around town, including Patagonia Boulder. The eclectic lineup features exploration, surfing, climbing, biking, skiing, as well as films that tackle environmentalism, global awareness, and social issues. There will also be an Adventure Filmmaking Workshop, discussions with the filmmakers, guest appearances by Craig Childs and Pete McBride, photography exhibits, gear giveaways, live music, and a rockin’ after party.

    Adventure Film Festival
    November 18-20, 2010
    Boulder, Colorado
    Full schedule & ticket info

    Visit the AFF Facebook page and Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute annoucements and community love.


    Residents of Golden, Colorado won't want to miss the upcoming Alpine Styles exhibit at the American Mountaineering Museum. Hit the jump for details.

    Continue reading "Colorado: Adventure Film Festival Kicks Off Nov. 18th in Boulder; Alpine Styles Art Exhibit Opens in Golden" »

    Cows Without Borders

    There’s alotta milk in a latte.


    Fact is, coffee bars in the U.S. serve more milk than they do coffee. So in my quest to understand what all goes into my coffee, I ended up taking in a fair amount about milk.

    If so much milk is going onto coffee, shouldn’t the quality of the milk matter?

    Intelligentsia thinks it does. My friend Matt referred me to Straus Family Creamery, the place where Intelligentsia’s LA coffee bars source their milk. I was familiar with Straus’ glass bottles from the dairy aisle of my grocer, but I never understood why it was more expensive than other brands. Until I hung out with their cows.


    [The dairy is located along the Northern California coast, at the juncture of winding roads dotted with cyclists, 30 miles west of Petaluma. The landscape is lush. All photos by Mark Shimahara]

    Continue reading "Cows Without Borders" »

    [Updated] California & Wyoming: "Awakening the Skeena" Screens This Week with Introduction by Patagonia CEO; You too can Help the Sacred Headwaters

    [11/15 Update: Just saw Awakening the Skeena at work (who says Mondays suck?). It was a beautiful and inspiring film (view the trailer). You too can see the film and help support Ali Howard's efforts to save the Sacred Headwaters: Write the Canadian government, bid online for a trip to Islas Secas Resort in Panama, purchase the DVD of Awakening the Skeena – all proceeds benefit Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition. And if you live in Ventura come see the film tonight, or in Jackson Hole on Thursday. 12/1 Update: Added photos from the Jackson Hole event after the jump.]

    Residents of Ventura, California and Jackson Hole, Wyoming have the opportunity next week to hear Patagonia CEO Casey Sheahan and Yvon Chouinard introduce a very special film. Awakening the Skeena follows Ali Howard down the Skeena River as she swims 380 miles in frigid water to raise awareness of the threat to salmon from proposed coal bed methane gas wells. A preview of the film was featured in the Tin Shed. Ali Howard and musician Rachelle van Zanten will be attending both events; the Jackson Hole screening will also feature a benefit silent auction with lots of great prizes, including a trip for three to Islas Secas Resort in Panama's Las Secas Archipelago. Details below, please join us.

    Skeena_poster_1 Monday, November 15, 2010
    Great Pacific Iron Works
    Ventura, California
    7pm • Free

    Thursday, November 18, 2010
    Center Theatre
    Jackson Hole, Wyoming
    6pm • Tickets $7
    All proceeds benefit Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition

    Learn more about this issue at or by reading our past blog posts.

    Take Action! Ask Shell and the BC government to withdraw the tenure for coalbed methane development in the Sacred Headwaters.


    Continue reading "[Updated] California & Wyoming: "Awakening the Skeena" Screens This Week with Introduction by Patagonia CEO; You too can Help the Sacred Headwaters" »

    Beyond Factory Audits with the FLA

    Cara Audit Photo No one likes to be audited – even those who spend their lives auditing other people. Our Social and Environmental Responsibility Director Cara Chacon was reminded of that fact when she was suddenly informed last June that the Fair Labor Association (FLA) would be paying Patagonia a visit the following week.

    Cara found out about the visit when she ran into some representatives of the FLA at a member meeting in Washington, D.C. The FLA is a nonprofit comprised of companies, universities and civil organizations dedicated to improving working conditions around the world and have established a reputation for the highest auditing standards. The reps didn’t say it was actually an audit, however, Cara was suspicious.

    [Patagonia Social and Environmental Responsibility Director, Cara Chacon, participates in a vendor audit. Photo: Julie Netzsky]

    Continue reading "Beyond Factory Audits with the FLA" »

    Kohl Christensen Wins Nelscott Reef 2010 Big Wave Contest


    Congratulations go out to Patagonia ambassador and FCD team rider, Kohl Christensen, on his first place finish in the Nelscott Reef Big Wave event. According to event organizers this year's contest took place in the biggest conditions ever surfed at Nelscott Reef.

    Stoked for you, brother!

    Photo: Tyler Roemer. Hit the jump for more photos from the event.

    Continue reading "Kohl Christensen Wins Nelscott Reef 2010 Big Wave Contest" »

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