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    Secret Weapon

    by Brittany Griffith

    -1 “Remember that spicy, peanuty sesame noodle thing you make? We want that again!” requested Sue this past spring. Sue had allowed me to stay in her house in Yosemite West for no less than 37 weeks over the course of a decade, and although it had been a few years since I had cooked for her, she still remembered this divine dish. It’s been my secret weapon as a fulltime climber/couch surfer for as long as I can remember. I’ve made it for foreign boyfriend’s families, a party of 30 in Camp Four and for a friend’s Midwest wedding.

    Even if you aren’t a guest in someone’s home, this recipe is totally worth the effort for the following reasons:

    1. If you don’t put meat in it, it can last in your ice-less cooler for at least a couple of days.
    2. Impress PBJ/Powerbar underachievers by showing up at the crag with the leftovers for lunch. Bonus style points if you eat it with chopsticks.
    3. Dudes dig chicks that can cook (ask my husband or any of my ex-boyfriends, who are now starving and lonely).
    4. Chicks dig dudes that can cook.
    5. You can take a picture of your creation and post it on Facebook.

    When our dirtbag, van-dwelling, super-youth friend Hayden Kennedy recently stayed in our driveway for a week, I knew he needed my help. Now Hayden can crush the 5.14s and blaze up El Cap in an afternoon, but he’s a youngster with zero skills with the ladies. He needed a go-to, sure-fire date-clinching meal—and not just a lame pot of pasta and red sauce… he needed to know how to cook my secret-weapon meal. He knows little to nothing about cooking, but he eagerly strapped on an apron and believe-it-or-not was able to serve admirably as my sous chef. So ladies, if you see the super youth cruising the Valley floor or milling about in El Chalten, do yourself a favor and sweetly ask him to cook you this meal, but be sure you kiss him goodnight (at a minimum… huma-da-huma-da-huma-da-meeeeow!).

    [Hayden Kennedy: Ladies wanted, inquire within. All photos: Brittany Griffith]

    Continue reading "Secret Weapon" »

    Are Parks Protecting the Wildlife and Places They Were Created to Save?

    Elephant patrol As a former director with the International League of Conservation Photographers, Trevor Frost has been keeping a close eye on the world's imperiled places for years. Cleanest Line readers might recognize some of the stories Trevor has helped bring us, such as the Rios Libres series (dedicated to protecting Chile's free-flowing rivers) and, more recently, an initiative to protect the Sacred Headwaters region of western Canada. Today's post is an update on Frost's latest work - this time he's turning his attention to the world's "paper parks," those places that have been set aside - in theory - to protect the world's endangered landscapes and wildlife. Trevor offers this update on what's really going on:

    Parks or protected areas remain our best tool for safeguarding wildlife and wild places and that is why more than 100,000 parks dot the globe protecting reefs and rainforests and mountain ranges. But while some of these parks are doing a great job, many, some would say a majority, are failing to protect the wildlife and wild spaces inside their borders. A closer look at the parks that are struggling often reveals there is little to no on-the-ground-protection for the parks in the form of park rangers, equipment, and even boundary signs to mark park borders.

    [Rangers in Sumatra typically conduct their patrols on foot, but are known to take advantage of alternative transportation when available.  Photo: Rhett A. Butler, 2011, courtesy of Trevor Frost and]

    Continue reading "Are Parks Protecting the Wildlife and Places They Were Created to Save?" »

    Picture Story: Wave of the Day


    In the summer of 2010 Margo Pellegrino paddled the West Coast of the United States to bring attention to pollution and other issues facing the ocean. Along the way she met some wonderful people and experienced both the sublime and the terrifying. Here she shares a story of one of the lighter moments on her journey:

    The summer of 2010 I paddled from Seattle to San Diego, as a project of the Blue Frontier Campaign, in an effort to draw media attention to the many problems facing our ocean and coastal areas. My partner in this, June Barnard, and I met for the first time on June 25th, a little more than a week before embarking on the two and a half month long adventure. During that time, we became fast friends and a solid team.

    While the Oregon and Washington coasts offered different types of gnarly, the California coast offered almost a respite. The timing of the trip was everything, so after catching the tail end of ugly in the Pacific Northwest, we hit the California coast when life was sweet as conditions became perfect and enjoyable. We laughed more, we were actually warm on a few occasions, the fog seemed to lesson, sort of, and I could paddle with my wetsuit top down, and life was grand.

    Continue reading "Picture Story: Wave of the Day" »

    On the Road with Solitaire, Episode 2 - In the Cradle of the Cordillera

    The second in a series of posts from Nick Waggoner and the crew at Sweetgrass Productions. They're currently hard at work on their third movie,
    Solitaire. Cleanest Line readers are invited to join them on their journey to produce their most ambitious film to date.The second trailer from the upcoming film, this latest installment focuses on the crew's launch point in June of 2010 at the start of the austral winter. Look for monthly updates here on TCL shortly after they appear on the Sweetgrass website, scheduled for the 21st of each month . - Ed

    From the Sweetgrass crew:

    This second episode sets the South American stage, in Huaraz, Peru, and explores the emotions of hopping off a jet plane into a world totally unlike your own… and the challenges and rewards involved with attempting to fully experience and capture it. At the end of the day, most things that go into making a ski film like this often have very little to do with skiing. It's important to acknowledge the many flavors and emotions going on behind the scenes that inform our ideas as filmmakers, and that will eventually give life and texture to the final product– even if none of those images ever show up in the film, directly. So, witness June of 2010, the genesis of Solitaire, and take the leap into Huaraz.

    On The Road with Solitaire Episode 2: In the Cradle of the Cordillera from Sweetgrass Productions on Vimeo.

    Choose Your Own Adventure

    Cordes - DoniniChileIMG_0404(LR) While gazing into my navel and pulling out lint the other day, I wondered about adventure. It seems to me that, based on my admittedly unscientific observations of news reports and the ascents I encounter in my American Alpine Journal editorial job, refinement ascents are all the rage. By refinement, I mean something other than bona fide first ascents and new routes. Things like fastest ascent, new enchainment, first alpine-style ascent, first one-day ascent and first free ascent with its endless sub-denominations (onsight, redpoint, continuous free, team free, individual free, and so many that I can’t keep them straight – and, notably, as with everything that is a work in progress, the standards keep shifting).

    I don’t mean for “refinement” to sound derogatory. You can’t fault today’s climbers for the reality that fewer obvious virgin lines exist. But we’ve got so many more advantages now, why not make the extra effort? Why aren’t the young whipper snappers doing like the royal “we” did? Uphill both ways with frostbitten toes and an 80-pound pack, baby? (80?! Hell, we had 100!) Well, for one, it’s probably true that the young whipper snappers aren’t as inclined to trudge to the middle of nowhere – they’re too busy climbing hard.

    It’s just a shift. Things evolve. And who’s to say that a first free isn’t an adventure? (Though there can be little dispute that, all else equal, heading onto previously untouched terrain presents a much greater element of the unknown.)

    [Jim Donini, mid-approach in search of virgin climbing terrain in remote Chilean Patagonia. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Choose Your Own Adventure" »

    Sporting-Sails – A Downhill Family Tradition Since 1977


    When he's not in the office developing Patagonia wetsuits and surf gear, you'll find Billy Smith and his crew carving the hills around Ventura and Santa Barbara on their skateboards. In fact, they're pretty hard to miss. Billy and his brother Nick are the creators of the Sporting-Sail, a parachute-style speed break that was originally conceived by their grandfather H W Smith Jr.

    My brother and I were rummaging around the attic of our grandfather's Colorado home looking for fireworks and schnapps, when we discovered an old carton filled with what looked like colorful kites or capes. Not knowing what they were, we asked our grandfather. He replied, "Ski-Klippers. I made them. They'll slow you down and they're a lot of fun. Back in the day we lit up the slopes, 20 or more deploying at once. We put on a show and people would cheer from the chairlifts. Just weaving in and out of turns, carving lines in the snow and enjoying what the mountain air had to offer. The sun would shine through and illuminate us with various shades of color and light. Against a blue sky and a snowy white backdrop covered in Aspen trees, it was the most beautiful sight you’ll ever see. It’s easy, you boys should give 'em a try.” So we did, and immediately we were inspired. The feeling was as close to human flight as we had ever experienced on land.

    [Patagonia wetsuit developer, Billy Smith, harnesses wind power to control his speed in Hawai'i. All photos courtesy of Billy Smith and Sporting-Sails.]

    Continue reading "Sporting-Sails – A Downhill Family Tradition Since 1977" »

    Our Man in Guinea Bissau: A Stand-Up Guy


    We're not sure when Cesare Fiorucci of Seregno, Italy, bought his first pair of Stand-Up Shorts or how soon he adopted the habit of indelibly inking each country of destination on the pocket bags. But photographic evidence illustrates the first pocket-log entry as "Guinea Bissau 88/89." A businessman himself (Fiorucci International), Cesare once asked Yvon Chouinard, "How is it possible for the owner of Patagonia to get rich if the products are so imperishable?"

    [All photos courtesy of Cesare Fiorucci.]

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    Picture Story: Wind

    A test of the elements atop the Bishop’s Cap, Glacier National Park, MT, with Justin Woods back in 2009. In early 2010 I destroyed my lower leg, and multiple surgeries later, culminating with several procedures this past Monday by my heroes at the Steadman Clinic, I’m on my way again. Though I might not look it in the video – serious concentration required for these high-end productions, you know – I’m the happiest person on crutches imaginable right now. I can’t wait to get back to goofing off in the mountains.

    [Video: Kelly Cordes]

    SXSW x Patagonia Music - Free Concert this Saturday at Patagonia Austin

    PatMusic-AustinPOP-800 If you live in the greater Austin area or happen to be attending the SXSW Music festival, mark your calendar for this Saturday night. Patagonia Austin will be hosting a free concert in the store to celebrate the launch of our new Patagonia Music program. If you can't make it, please consider helping an enviro non-profit by grabbing a Benefit Track or two.

    Patagonia Music Collective Presents

    Laura Jansen

    Saturday, March 19, 2011
    Patagonia Austin
    Doors open at 7:00pm, music from 7:30 – 9:00pm
    Space is limited, first come first served

    I just returned from Austin and the SXSW Interactive conference. It's a fantastic city filled with friendly folks, delicious food, good music and tons of bike taxis. Free's recommendations if you visit: Lambert's, Manuel's, Koriente, The Ginger Man, Cork & Co. (yo Fresno!), and The Bright Light Social Hour if you're looking for a rocking local band.

    Cheers to everyone at SXSW and the Patagonia Austin crew.

    [With thanks to Brad for the passes.]

    Tracking Endangered Mountain Caribou - Patagonia Employees Help Witness for Wildlife

    Caribou Last year, six groups of Patagonia employees ventured out to explore, document, and help protect various wildlife corridors in the U.S. Among those groups were Dave Campbell and Andrew Marshall, who travelled north in hopes of spotting caribou along the corridor located in the lush region of southeast British Columbia.

    These citizen-naturalists were participants in Witness for Wildlife, a Freedom to Roam initiative.  As a co-founder of Freedom to Roam, Patagonia has, for three years, supported efforts to protect the critical wildways that animals must have to move and survive in the face of pressure from human development and climate change. Witness for Wildlife needs more volunteers dedicated to chronicling and protecting wildlife corridors - visit to become a citizen naturalist, and read the following story by Patagonia employee Dave Campbell to get inspired.

    Last spring Patagonia’s environmental department announced that they’d pulled together funding to sponsor select employee groups to travel to and document critical, at-risk wildlife corridors within North America, as part of the Witness For Wildlife and Freedom To Roam campaigns. Coworker Andrew Marshall and I took interest in the endangered mountain caribou corridor of the Selkirk Mountains of B.C. and after an extensive amount of research, we found ourselves on the road headed north.

    Andrew and I identified a low elevation old-growth cedar forest deep inside the Goat Range Provincial Park and decided to access it via Wilson Creek. The weather was clear when we parked and while hiking up a two-track paralleling lower Wilson Creek it almost seemed like we were in for a smooth outing. However, within a half hour we encountered a large mass of wood debris where a bridge used to be at the first tributary, and after a messy crossing we were unsuccessful at finding a trail on the other side.

    [Photo courtesy Conservation Northwest ©2010 Patrice Halley]

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