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    Two Major Climbing Grant Deadlines this Friday

    KC - Ruthgorge What could be better than getting your climbing trip paid for? Uh, pretty much nothing.

    At the basic level, that’s what the climbing grants do – and applications for two major grants, the Lyman Spitzer Cutting Edge Award and the McNeill-Nott Award, are due this Friday, January 1. So, get after it. Just a public service note.
    Granted (get it?) there is a little more to it. Filling out the form entitles you to nothing, but it would seem worth the effort if you’ve got a project that fits. Yet few apply (note: I’m not on any grant committees, but I’ve asked some of the people who are). I don’t know why, maybe it’s just a small pool that self-selects – the grants are competitive and, to my knowledge, none exist for run-of-the-mill things like repeating classic routes or road-trippin’ with your bros. Indeed, when we look at recipients of some of the major grants geared toward cutting-edge adventure, like the Mugs Stump Award, the Lyman Spitzer, the Polartec Challenge, and the Shipton-Tilman, they’ve supported some of the greatest alpine ascents in recent history. These objectives are almost always new routes, not refinement repeats (i.e. not first one-day ascent, first free ascent, first all-woman ascent, first American ascent, etc.), as impressive as these may be. To paraphrase a saying that, I think, gets attributed to climbing legend Jim Bridwell: “You don’t travel halfway around the world to repeat somebody else’s route.”

    [Alaska's famed Ruth Gorge, as seen from the summit of the Moose's Tooth. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Two Major Climbing Grant Deadlines this Friday" »

    Wishing You a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays & Fun-Filled New Year


    On behalf of all of us at Patagonia, thank you for your incredible support this past year. May 2011 be filled with good times and good friends for each of you. We cooked up a new wallpaper image for your holiday enjoyment from photographer Rolando Garibotti. Grab it now and bathe your monitor in the beauty of Colin Haley on the Care Bear Traverse.

    Patagonia Wallpaper (right-click to download):
    1920 x 1200
    1024 x 768

    In the words of our good friend and co-worker Holger Bismann, "Enjoy your time with your loved ones. Eat healthy, don’t drink too much, get out and enjoy nature, get some good sleep and have sweet dreams…"

    Cheers everybody. a New Online Resource for Climbing in Patagonia

    Garibotti_pataclimb_03 Our friend Rolo Garibotti just sent word about his latest labor of love for the region he loves so much. Previously, we updated you on his work with the Patagonia Sustainable Trails Project. Today, we're happy to share news on the launch of, an online climbing resource assembled by Rolo and his friend Doerte Pietron. 

    It is raining heavily in El Chalten, the small town at the base of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre in southern Argentina. Last week we had great weather, a window so good that we managed to climb both “big boys”, Torre and Fitz, in a mere seven days roundtrip from town. Such luck comes with a price and by the looks of the disastrous looking forecast seems like we will be paying for it in the next few weeks.

    I first visited this area in 1987, when at age 15 I managed to somehow miraculously survive an ascent of Guillaumet. It wasn’t until the mid 1990s that I fell in love with this place and since then I have been coming regularly. Between 1998 and 2000 I worked hard at putting together a guidebook to this area but for a number of reasons never finished it, although the desire to do it stayed. Later, with the increased digitalization of information I realized that the best form of guidebook might be online, allowing for constant updating and correcting. I talked about this online guide idea for a couple of years until German climber Doerte Pietron convinced me to stop talking and to actually do it. With her help designing it and after more than a year of work, it has finally come to life.

    Continue reading " a New Online Resource for Climbing in Patagonia " »

    Fighting Forty (pt. 3) - Waking up puking

    Today we've got Part 3 in Kelly Cordes' series about the bout of injuries he's experienced this past year (here's the links to check out part 1 and 2). His most recent setback, a severely torn shoulder, happened shortly before his scheduled departure for a climbing trip to Patagonia. Part 3 brings us the details of the surgery and what it's like to start thinking about getting back into the ring. -Ed

    Kc - LT descent Holy hell did I hurt. The sort of pain for which they had me on a morphine pump in the hospital when I had broke my leg. But this was just a shoulder. Damn, I wondered, how soft have I gotten?

    I remember waking up in the recovery room puking. The surgery required far more than anybody had anticipated and, by all accounts, Dr. Hackett worked a miracle on my shoulder. I remember seeing him briefly – either in recovery or in the hospital room where they kept me overnight, I can’t recall – and he asked if I was sure that was the only time I’d dislocated it (I’m sure). “Because," he said, "it looked like a shoulder that’d been dislocated a hundred times. It was a mess.”

    That was two weeks ago, in what now seems like a haze of puzzle-piece images. The next day I writhed in pain, trying to override it with my brain but resorting to double-dosing the painkillers.

    [Scott DeCapio descends from the summit of London Tower, Ruth Gorge, Alaska, 2000, after his and Cordes’ new route, The Trailer Park.]

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    Mary Osborne Sails to South Atlantic Gyre to Help Study Plastic Pollution

    DSC_0214 Patagonia surf ambassador Mary Osborne recently completed a month-long sailing trip to study plastic pollution in the South Atlantic with a team from the non-profit 5 Gyres Institute. Together with their partners, Pangaea Explorations and Algalita Marine Research Foundation, 5 Gyres' mission is to conduct research and communicate about the global impact of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and employ strategies to eliminate the accumulation of plastic pollution in the five subtropical gyres.

    Mary was invited to participate in the South Atlantic Gyre leg of the project along with 12 other scientists, journalists, and activists. For Mary, the opportunity to study plastic pollution really hit home, "It is sad to say, but I have seen plastic pollution on almost every beach I have been fortunate enough to travel to: Indonesia, Seychelles, Mexico, France, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Europe, Panama, Maldives, and even my own home town in Ventura County." Today, we're pleased to share some of Mary's logs from this important, and sometimes difficult, trip. [All photos courtesy of 5 Gyres Institute.]

    November 16, 2010
    One Week at Sea
    The hot Brazilian sun reflects off my pale skin. I am extremely nervous, yet utterly excited. I have only sailed one time before in my entire life when I was a child. Waiting anxiously for the dinghy to pick me up, I see her across the bay anchored in the still waters. Her vibrant blue and white body reflects off the glassy ocean water. She is any sailors dream: strong, confident, aesthetically pleasing to the eye and sexy. Her sleek design is carefully hand crafted to cut through any type of weather Mother Nature presents. Her credibility stands above any other boat in the harbor. She is the Sea Dragon.

    We did our first trawl at 250 nautical miles off the coat of Brazil. Since then we have done 8 trawls at approximately 900 nautical miles in the South Atlantic. By looking at the ocean with your bare eye one would never guess plastic exists. So far, every single trawl had pieces of plastic in it. The trawl is skimming a very tiny portion of the vast blue ocean that surrounds us. Sadly, I quickly understand how big of an issue this truly is.

    We are still in route to the gyre and have at least 700 more miles to go.

    Continue reading "Mary Osborne Sails to South Atlantic Gyre to Help Study Plastic Pollution " »

    Picture Story: Little Peruvian Men

    Another in our informal series of posts for the more visually oriented. Today's is from Kelly C, who's still on the mend after last week's shoulder surgery. Earlier picture stories can be found here (1, 2). - Ed

    Cordes - Little Peruvian Men

    Jim Earl crests the north ridge en route to the summit of Nevado Ulta, on the first ascent of Personal Jesus, in 2003. We’d pushed hard, through difficult climbing on the north face, taking 20 hours on the face and we summitted about two hours later. True to form and stupid, we blew-off acclimatizing beforehand and around the time of this photo my memory grows hazy. The sun soon set, and in the dark I followed Jim’s lead up a mixed pitch in which little Peruvian men began speaking to me. They were short (about three feet tall each), fit, cheery little guys in tight T-shirts, like ambassadors for “Climb Peru” who appeared in a cartoon-style bubble whenever I’d use the ice, rather than rock, on the mixed pitch. Peru, in case you don’t know, has a justified reputation for horrendous snow-ice that often offers desperate climbing, especially along its peaks’ ever-present double-corniced ridges. Anyway, I’d swing into the ice and they’d appear: “Hola amigo! You see, we have good ice here in Peru! Very good ice! You should tell your friends about our fine ice!” I remember nodding in acquiescence, not wanting to piss them off – I’m not sure why, I mean, they were only three-feet tall – but I’d silently (I hope) reply in my best diplomatic tone, “Uh-yea-yes! Yes, you have very good ice here, I agree that it’s gotten a bad rap,” they’d look at each other with smug grins and nod, and I’d reaffirm as I’d scrape through crappy sugar snow: “I’ll be sure to go home and spread the word.”

    All true, and it makes for a funny story now, but it’s also an experience we were lucky to survive. We endured a harrowing descent – something like 22 rappels down an adjacent face – in which Jim took a big fall onto the first anchor off the summit, a massive avalanche washed our path (where we’d be in a half hour) midway down, and, stumbling around in the talus at the base afterward, we somehow got separated from one another and rejoined many hours later back at our bivy. Jim’s lungs gurgled with HAPE, and I don’t remember large chunks of the ordeal. It was far too close, and we got lucky. Maybe the little Peruvian men helped guide us down, but since then I’ve tried to pay more attention to proper acclimatization.

    Cayesh: The Calling


    In 2005, Marko Prezelj and I planned an expedition to the (still) unclimbed north wall of Kalanka, a formidable 21,000 foot peak in the Indian Himalaya. With three weeks to go, the bureaucrats who hold the key to that fine mountain threw up one final hurdle, a second permit fee to be paid to the state government. For our thin pocketbooks, this was over the line and we scrambled for new ideas. Pakistan? No, we had only four weeks, not enough time for the remote Karakoram. Nepal? We'd both been there too many times already and craved a change of scenery. Alaska? Ditto. Patagonia? Out of season. Peru? Why not? Neither of us had been there, it has a reputation for stable weather, no permit fees, and stunning peaks approachable in 1-2 days in most cases. We rebooked our tickets after a short Skype-fueled discussion.

    [Screen grab from Cayesh: The Calling with Steve House on the 11-pitch route he and Mark Prezelj established in 2005, Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Watch the entire film after the jump. Photo: House/Prezelj]

    Continue reading "Cayesh: The Calling" »

    Product Testing - New R1 & R2 at the top of Colorado

    We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our Athletes & Ambassadors are responsible for putting the latest designs and fabrics through the paces before we'll add a new product to our lineup. But just because something reaches our shelves doesn't mean testing is over. Once a new item shows up in our catalogs, our Customer Service staff gets busy ground-truthing the latest offerings. They know the questions our customers will be asking, and turn that attention to our gear.

    P8280700 Field Report: Climbing Mt Moriah, NV & Mt Elbert, CO
    Conditions: Cool & Windy
    Products Tested: W's R1®, M's R2®
    Tested by: localcrew and Dr. Liz

    With help from our friends at Polartec®, we've recently updated our Regulator® fleece. The information we have on our website says that this new stuff is warmer, lighter, and more compressible than the Regulator® fleeces that came before it. This is all true. But I’ve always wondered what phrases like “29% more breathable” (the R2® ) or “23% more compressible” (the R1® ) mean. How do you turn stuff  like that into something that makes sense? If my new R1® is 23% more compressible than my  old one, will I have space in my pack for another Snickers? (yippee!) Will 29% greater breathability on the R2® mean a 29% greater chance that my sweetie will smell my too-often loved, too-seldom washed Capilene® underlayers when we go hiking? ....Yippee!

    It was time to find out. OldSchool had picked up a box of some of the latest and greatest Capilene® and Regulator® stuff. It was only right to offer him a little help getting familiar with all these redesigned products. My little margarita and I had some hikes coming up, so I roped her into the deal. Old School handed us our goodies and our assignment: for Liz, the ladies' R1® Jacket; I got the men’s R2® Jacket. Ladies first . . .

    Women’s R1 Jacket
    W's R1 I, like many women I know, tend to have a very sensitive internal thermostat. I can go from chilly to burning alive in moments. For that reason, I am a fan of layers and I have a wide variety of layering options. The Capilene® 2 and 4 as well as the stretch velocity pullover are a few favorites for chilly outdoor running and hiking. For even cooler hikes, I always pack my Down Sweater and Houdini. When I was recently given the opportunity to test the R1® jacket, I was not sure that this addition could add a significant contribution to my array of layers. But I was wrong.

    [The summit trail on the way to the top of Eastern Nevada's Mount Moriah. Photo: localcrew]

    Continue reading "Product Testing - New R1 & R2 at the top of Colorado" »

    The Hover Board

    Dr. Strukenstein and his latest creation

    We posted some pictures on Flickr a few weeks back of a surfboard that Stru built during some of his off hours. We got such a reaction to the pics that we decided a Q&A with Dr. Strukenstein was in order. This interview was conducted over a three-week period, during which there were some highs and lows in the development and deployment of this magical board.

    What was the inspiration behind the hover board?
    Laird Hamilton was the inspiration for my project. I first saw the foil used in the movie "Laird" where he was towing into large waves at Jaws on Maui. It instantly reminded me of how pelicans glide inches above waves and I wanted to do it too.

    The foil that Laird uses was taken from an air chair. Check YouTube under "air chair" and a guy named Geno to see what these things can really do.

    Did you want to use the board for towing into waves?
    No, I wanted to see if it was possible to paddle one of these things into a wave versus towing and I didn't want to use straps.

    Why did you decide to build your own and how did you go about it?
    The air chair costs $1,200-$1,500 which was too expensive for me, so I decided to build one by hand.

    Sammy brought in an 18" wedge fin built by True Ames. They no longer make this fin and it had a weird kind of box that I couldn't find so I made a box out of wood and then molded the fin to fit the box. From there, I glassed the box into the board.

    Continue reading "The Hover Board" »

    Raincoast Conservation Foundation Working on Ways to Share the Wealth


    Patagonia catalog subscribers have no doubt thumbed through our 2010 Holiday Favorites catalog by now. Alongside all of the sweet gear are profiles of a few of the many environmental activists who attended our 11th Tools for Grassroots Activists Conference. Today's blog post comes from one of those featured activists, Chris Darimont. Chris is a research scientist for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, a team of conservationists and scientists empowered by research to protect the lands, waters and wildlife of coastal British Columbia.

    On a crisp morning early last May, the momma grizzly and her tiny cub were slip-sliding their way down from their snowy high-elevation den. Filling her momma belly with emerging vegetation was the only thing on momma’s mind. Calories from her last feast – spawning salmon many months ago – were now long gone keeping her and her precious daughter alive. Meanwhile, my team and I, just 1000 feet below, were inching our way up slope…trying to learn about and protect grizzlies.

    [Sharing the wealth; momma bear gives precious life to her cub. Photo: Larry Travis/]

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