The Cleanest Line

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    Taking Responsibility: 5th International Marine Debris Conference…Words from Roz Savage

    Trash collected by Liz Clark inside a loagoon in French Polynesia

    When I set out on this trip, I thought there would still be places where I could see what the Earth looked like prior to human impact. Sadly, I think I was wrong. Every place I have sailed has borne painful evidence of humanity’s maltreatment of the Earth. The coral is dying, fish populations are visibly low, and pesticides, sewage, runoff, and toxic pollutants fill the sea near populated areas. Everyday ships arrive with thousands of tons of imported goods to quench consumerist thirst and fill the landfills, ocean, and air with the by-product–>plastic.

    [Trash that I collected from inside the lagoon in French Polynesia on a 1/2-mile trip to the pass and back for a surf...appalling! Photo: Liz Clark]

    Continue reading "Taking Responsibility: 5th International Marine Debris Conference…Words from Roz Savage" »

    Patagonia Music: Surfing with Abigail Washburn and the Making of “Sala (USA)”

    Abigail_2 One of the nicest parts about being involved with Patagonia Music is getting the chance to meet some of the artists who’ve generously donated their music to benefit the environment. Ben Sollee stopped by the office on his bike-powered tour through Southern California, moe. played a show for Patagonia employees right before we launched, and, last month, Abigail Washburn came through town and kindly asked if we would take her surfing. [Photo: Jon Estes]

    Abigail Washburn - LA story: late night misty jams, 3 killer gigs, new band name, now surfing for the first time with @Patagonia. Pinch me. Santa Barbara ahoy!
    9:11 AM Mar 26th via Twitter for iPhone

    As one of the lucky folks who was tapped to teach Abigail and her band how to surf, I was both excited to meet such an amazing musician and worried that I might be responsible for a tour-ending injury – this would not sit well with her manager or her husband. Surfing is not a dangerous sport, if you know what you’re doing. The two times you're most likely to hurt yourself are when you’re pushing the limits of the sport and when you’re paddling out for the very first time.

    Continue reading "Patagonia Music: Surfing with Abigail Washburn and the Making of “Sala (USA)”" »

    Picture Story: Competency

    A photographic exposition, in which the photographer herein pontificates on the significance of sufficient competency in the face of ample conditions . . . -Ed


    The joys of competency and individuality – The Chief and I seemed to have the latter down pat, anyway. I suppose we delude ourselves, which is part of the beauty of escape and climbing. Back in the mid 90s, midway up the north face of the Canadian Rockies’ classic Mt. Edith Cavell, rated an old-school 5.7 (we’d have been wise to check the weather and conditions before leaving, and to have scoped the approach and the route, have not arrived after dark and too many road sodas, have…well, you get the point), a full-on blizzard engulfed us. I began to shiver uncontrollably, and indeed The Chief showed true competency and took over, leading us to the top and down the whiteout descent. By the time I’d warmed enough to become functional, the next day had dawned and we intersected a highway of a trail off the descent scramble. We started hiking the right way, convinced ourselves it was the wrong way, turned around and hiked a couple of miles toward the Tonquin Valley until a couple of bewildered hikers – bewildered like, “what are these two idiots doing out here?” – eventually set us straight. “Uh, yeah – YEAH dude, totally, I thought so!” The Chief told them. “Thanks for clarifying it for us!” Back at the high-speed pod 30-some hours after leaving, we reveled in our adventure. At least until we read that infamous guidebook line: “A competent party can climb the face comfortably in a day….”

    And still, we celebrated.

    [The Chief, back at the high-speed pod, celebrating our incompetence. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Picture Story: Conditions

    Another in our occasional series of posts for the more visually oriented. This one goes out to all those lucky enough to charge off the couch and into the unknown without looking back or thinking twice . . . or doing much thinking at all, for that matter. - Ed

    Cordes - n face Edith Cavell (LR)

    This photo is from one of my earliest technical alpine climbs, the north face of Mt. Edith Cavell some 15 years ago, when The Chief and I zipped from Missoula to the Canadian Rockies in his dented, pea-green Honda Civic hatchback, “The high-speed pod.” (coincidentally, I currently drive a Civic hatchback of about the same year – different color, though). We bumbled into the trailhead parking lot near midnight in a low-cloud drizzle, opened the doors and rolled-out with a bunch of empty beer cans (this was a long time ago, and we were a lot stupid), slept for a few hours, overslept, got lost immediately upon leaving the parking lot, realized at sunrise that we’d mistakenly approached beneath huge seracs, made a hasty traverse and eventually found the general vicinity of the route. In the dark the night before, while packing, I’d insisted we needed only one ice axe each. “Looks easy up there, dude,” I said. “It’s only 5.7.” It might have been reasonable to check the weather and conditions before leaving. Conditions - including our own.

    [The Chief just before a blizzard rolled in, midway into a minor epic on the 4,000-foot, 5.7 north face of Mt. Edith Cavell, first climbed in 1961 by Fred Beckey, Yvon Chouinard and Dan Doody. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Read part two: Competency

    Swimming the Ka'ie'ie Waho Channel

    2_haleiwa dock This story comes from Patagonia friend Mike Spalding about the swim he and some friends did from O’ahu to Kaua’i last fall. -Ed

    The Ka’ie’ie Waho Channel from O’ahu to Kaua’i is the longest between the main Hawaiian Islands at 72 miles. No one has swum it: Obstacles like sharks, unpredictable and strong currents, Portuguese man-of-war stings and trying to find a calm period in the trade winds defeated the prior three solo attempts.

    The winds were down on November 20th, a good sign for our attempt. Our swimmers were all experienced: marathon ocean swimmer Linda Kaiser had previously swum all the Hawaiian Island channels except the Ka’ie’ie Waho Channel; Michael Spalding who on his attempt to swim the Alenuihaha channel was bitten by a cookie cutter shark; Randy Brown and Joel Swartz both experienced cold water swimmers from San Francisco; and Michelle Macy, a renowned marathon swimmer from Oregon. Billy Brown from Kaua’i would also join us on his first long-distance swimming adventure.

    [The swim escort boat at the dock in Hale’iwa. Photo: Mike Spalding]

    Continue reading "Swimming the Ka'ie'ie Waho Channel" »

    New Patagonia Surf Digital Catalog for Spring 2011


    Our latest Surf digital catalog celebrates the 20th Anniversary of The Surfer’s Journal with a full multimedia experience. Catch video of Yvon Chouinard’s visit with TSJ founders plus podcasts and articles from the magazine’s archives. Just like our print catalog, the digital version is loaded with stunning photography and the latest surf gear from Patagonia and FCD Surfboards, along with bonus features like the new preOccupations video from Chris Malloy and Jason Baffa. Have a look. If you like what you see, please share it with your friends and family.

    [Chris Malloy looks into the eye of another perfect storm in Northern Polynesia. Photo: Seth Stafford]

    2011 Piolet d'Or Ceremony This Week – Patagonia Ambassadors in the Mix [Updated]

    [Update 4/18/11: Congratulations to Patagonia ambassadors Katsutaka Yokoyama, Nicolas Favresse, Sean Villanueva O'Driscoll and their teams for bringing home Golden Ice Axes from the 2011 Piolet d'Or. Read about their respective climbs below and check out some photos from the awards ceremony at the end of this post.]

    The award ceremony for the 2011 Piolet d’Or kicks off this week in Chamonix, France, and Courmayeur, Italy. Three of the six nominated climbs were made by Patagonia ambassadors (descriptions via

    • Dracula, a new route on the southeast face of Mt. Foraker in Alaska, by Colin Haley (USA) and Bjorn-Eivind Artun (Norway).


    [Patagonia ambassador Colin Haley on a very precarious cornice. Photo by Bjørn-Eivind. Read Colin's report and see more photos from this climb.]

    Continue reading "2011 Piolet d'Or Ceremony This Week – Patagonia Ambassadors in the Mix [Updated]" »

    Paul Marsh 1945-2011, Pioneer Patagonia Sales Rep

    Paulmarsh_2 Paul Marsh, pioneer Patagonia rep from 1976 to 1995, lit out this Saturday on the road that cannot be mapped. He was 65.

    I last talked to Paul in October; the litany of health problems did not sound good. Then came the e-mail in December. He was going off the road for his million-mile overhaul – hip, back, shoulder, knee. But he never went into the shop. The bloodwork turned out worrisome; the doctors at Emory worked for a couple of months to suss out what the numbers meant. On Saturday he had trouble breathing and thought he had the flu. Brenda took him to the hospital; his blood pressure was low and he died of sepsis that night.

    In this space here you’ll find some appreciations of Paul from Mike Thompson, Steve Rogerson and Dawson “Chattanooga Does Not Exist” Wheeler, plus a roast I wrote that June Fox read aloud at Paul’s 50th birthday dinner and food fight. Please write your own line; this will be for Brenda.  

    [Bubba Sloan, Denny Mays and Paul Marsh, 1985: Three Georgia boys try out California's biggest hot tub. Photo: First appeared in the Patagonia Quarterly, 1985. Editor's note: Email your photo of Paul, with caption and photo credit, to thecleanestline[at] and we'll add it to this post.]

    When I got the call I was reading at a picnic table in Fort Mason by old battery guns once trained on would-be 19th century invaders of San Francisco Bay. A gorgeous day – blue, slight breeze, high fifties. High spring. You could see the boats out and the swimmers from the Dolphin Club. Spring followed us home to Santa Barbara. Yesterday morning I could see, could feel, the light play in the leaves of the old cork tree outside my window.

    When I remember Paul, I remember him in motion: two in the morning on a hot, all-fans-on-high Georgia night, packing the samples and folding the racks for the next day’s trip, or out at dusk feeding his dozen scrambling rescued dogs. I remember being on the other end of the phone listening to the motion of Paul’s mind and in the presence of a spirit that sailed all day at a steady 20 knots.

    He had a wry sense of humor, a developed sense of justice, intensity – he could chain-smoke while chewing on a Nicorette – and a passion to get it done, all that he had to get done in a day. He was never mean and the only lie I ever heard him say was, talking to his fellow reps, “You know, I never tell the truth.” He was relentlessly loyal to the people and animals he decided were inside his tribe; we were legions. Working at my desk yesterday, feeling the light play in the leaves I wondered where Paul might be, and not allegorically. All that spirit; where does it go?

    --Vincent Stanley

    Continue reading "Paul Marsh 1945-2011, Pioneer Patagonia Sales Rep" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: The Shorts - The Pee Tree

    Shorts_back_pack_half Fitz Cahall, host of The Dirtbag Diaries, tells us about today's podcast:

    How do you choose the stories to retell when you get back from a trip? Finding those perfect moments that capture your travels, the scenery and the action, can make you feel as picky as Goldilocks. What to say? Shane Robinson writes, "At first, I tried to recount every amazing detail of my travels, only to watch my unsuspecting friends' eyes gloss over in bordom." He switched to the quick hit replies, "Soooo amazing! Can't wait to go back." A little too big, a little too small. And then the memory came tumbling out, "I miss the pee tree!" The stories we share are gateways beyond the mechanics of a trip, but dig into how we appreciate spending times away from our daily routines.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Sitting in Silence"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

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

    Fitz and his crew are also working on a couple video projects. Check out the Fringe Elements series over at National Geographic, then watch the trailer for a soon-to-be-released video called The Love Letter starring Fitz and his wife, Becca. 

    Bean’s Battle

    Kc - helen bean P1000813 Our friend and fellow Patagonia climbing ambassador Bean Bowers just finished his second round of chemotherapy.

    It all seems so weird, so different. One of the best things about climbing is the feeling of control in unknown, even chaotic environments. I love that. We all do. The most adventuresome among us—people like Bean—inspire with their willingness to embrace wild situations, and they return with a glow that tells us everything. It’s such a contrast to a world that feels huge, cold, corporate, corrupt, where we feel powerless. In wilderness we escape and live, we get to control our selves and our destinies. Not everything is like that. Waking in the middle of the night puking, writhing with crippling headaches, your body suddenly racked with tumors is not like that.

    So this is where we try to help.

    [Helen and Bean in El Chalten, Argentine Patagonia, where they scraped by in a small cabin for several seasons. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Bean’s Battle" »

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