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    It's the Man That Makes the Clothes

    Patagonia_board_shorts_2 Letter

    Sartorialists say that clothing makes the man, and in that spirit – meet Christo Grayling.

    Editor's note: Patagonia clothing designer, John Rapp, shares the type of letter we love to receive from our customers. All photos courtesy of Christo Grayling.

    I recently had a pair of 15-year-old board shorts sent to me from a Canadian who has literally paddled and surfed the world wearing them. Faded, patched, torn and they are replete with a modified "Sunbrella" fabric rear as he lost the trunk’s original undercarriage years ago.

    Continue reading "It's the Man That Makes the Clothes" »

    Big Boy and the Pink Tape Route

    Kc - pink tapeIMG_3072by Kelly Cordes

    Over the years and all of these injuries, I’ve learned some things about success and failure. I’ve learned that there is one way, indisputable and proven through the ages, to ensure success. You lower your expectations. And so on my first day back climbing two weeks ago, I scanned the Boulder Rock Club for the easiest route – ah yes, there it is: Pink tape. Rating: 5.5. Just right for a man of my stature: Gimped, broken, mulletted and scared.

    [Kelly gearing up for his first climb since fall. Photo: Cordes Collection]

    I look at the huge holds just as a big sound distracts me – a big guy, like real big, and 30 feet up on the route next door, on lead, thrutching, grunting, huffing and puffing. Big boy’s going for it.

    I love people who try hard. The other shit doesn’t matter to me, at least not much, and not anywhere near as much as it used to. Give me an overweight beginner trying his damnedest on a 5.9 over some too-cool-for-school-attitude higher-numbered rockjock (plasticjock?) any day. It’s easy to get jaded when I visit Boulder, because the latter seems far too common, though it doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t annoy me like it does. After all, it’s just climbing (indeed pointing to my pathetic state). And, let’s not forget, not even real climbing, but gym climbing. Don’t get me wrong, I like gym climbing – it’s like a way better version of working out. Not the same as climbing outside, but I love pushing myself, even indoors, and it’s convenient and controlled. Go ahead, fine, yank my hardman-wannabe-alpine-toughguy membership card.

    Continue reading "Big Boy and the Pink Tape Route " »

    Bean There: Tracking the Impacts of Coffee Growing

    ShimaharaEnviro_0029 One of the unique perks of working for Patagonia is the chance to leave, to participate in an environmental internship on work time. I chose to go to Guatemala to see how coffee is grown before it is exported for roasting. 

    I divided my time with two organizations involved with coffee farming in Latin America, Coffee Kids and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. I documented their work through photography.

    My hope is that my work will serve as a tool to reinforce and foster positive change in the coffee industry.

    Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center

     To increase coffee production, coffee farms use synthetic fertilizers and convert from “shade grown” plantations, where shrubs are planted in the shade of trees, to “sun grown,” where coffee plants grow quickly, fully exposed to heat in fields. 

    [My work lead me to Finca Nueva Armenia, nestled in the Sierra Madre valley of Huehuetenango, one of only eight farms designated as bird friendly by the SMBC in Guatemala. All photos: Mark Shimahara]

    Continue reading "Bean There: Tracking the Impacts of Coffee Growing" »

    Patagonia Music: Ben Sollee’s Patagonia Performance and New Album, Inclusions

    [Fresh off their bikes and onto their instruments, Ben Sollee and Jordon Ellis play “How to See the Sun Rise” during their Ditch the Van Tour. Patagonia Marketing Department, Ventura, California. Video: Kasey Kersnowski]

    Congratulations go out to Patagonia Music artist Ben Sollee for the release of his new album, Inclusions. I dug out this little video nugget from his visit to our office to celebrate the release. You can preview all of the tracks, read the lyrics and purchase Inclusions over at Ben’s website. And for 99 cents more, consider purchasing Ben’s Patagonia Music Benefit Track, “The Wires” to help support the work of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

    You can read a review of the album and learn a bit more about Ben over at roots-music site No Depression. One thing I learned: “For the premiere of INCLUSIONS at the historic Kentucky Theatre in Lexington, Sollee put out a call for folks to ride their bikes to the show for a chance to win a prize and made sure that bike racks and even bike valet parking were available. The bike racks out front were full, with more than fifty people arriving via bicycle. Sollee also donated a portion of the show’s proceeds to a local bike shop, the Broke Spoke, a volunteer-based organization that provides maintenance and parts for folks who need help with their bikes in trade for donating your own time or other ways of bartering. The shop also sells used bikes but they’re not there to make a profit so much as they’re there to provide an affordable vehicle for those who need it.”

    Hit the jump to watch a bike-themed video of “Close to You” from Inclusions.

    Continue reading "Patagonia Music: Ben Sollee’s Patagonia Performance and New Album, Inclusions" »

    Chilean Government Approves Dam Project Despite Public Opposition


    The Patagonian region of southern Chile is considered one of the world's last, great wildernesses, dubbed an "eco-gem" for its rare fauna, ice-sculptured fjords and almost total absence of industrial development. Less destructive alternative energy sources are abundant, and the Chilean government may not fully appreciate the significant tourism revenue opportunities that could be gained by safeguarding the natural grandeur of this spectacular area. National polls have repeatedly shown Chileans are against the proposed hydroelectric plants in Patagonia.

    100307Patagonia0497 Despite this, a $7 billion project to dam two of the world's wildest rivers for electricity won environmental approval today from a Chilean government commission - despite a groundswell of opposition that has grown to 61 percent of Chileans according to the latest Ipsos Public Affairs poll.

    [Top - An iceberg-laden lake leading up to the Colonia Glacier. The Colonia is part of the Rio Baker watershed.
    Above - Chris Kassar feels the power of the raw, free-flowing Rio Baker at a beautiful water fall. Hydro Asyen's proposal to put a dam here would forever change Chile's longest and wildest river. Photos: James Q Martin.]

    Continue reading "Chilean Government Approves Dam Project Despite Public Opposition" »

    Five Stars for 5-Point Film Festival

    Confession: I don’t usually like film festivals. I like the idea, much like I enjoy seeing live music – at least when it’s good, because then it’s great. Sure, you can listen to a Rolling Stones album, but seeing them live leaves you speechless. Not a great comparison, since at film festivals you’re still watching an on-screen production. But on a big screen, and with the energy of the audience. Plus, I like seeing friends and bullshitting at the bar (any worthy film festival has a bar, or at least bar-like beverages nearby). But too many outdoor films put me to sleep, and even evoke my Kelly Attitude: This sucks, can we go climbing now?

    Dawson - IMG_0023-wolf

    I think things are changing. I hope so, anyway, and last weekend’s 5 Point Film Festival gave me proof. I never got fidgety, and I ran to the beer room in between films because I didn’t want to miss a second. Normally… I’m a grouch, I know. And super critical.

    [Jeremy Collins paints, his ensemble plays, and animation fills the screen at his stunning performance of The Wolf and the Medallion, at last weekend’s 5 Point Film Festival in Carbondale, CO. Photo: Lou Dawson,]

    Continue reading "Five Stars for 5-Point Film Festival" »

    Makalu 2011

    Steve on Sat Phone 2009 Makalu West Face by Steve House

    Editor’s note: Patagonia ambassadors Steve House and Marko Prezelj are back at Makalu. Longtime Cleanest Line readers will recall their previous attempt to climb Makalu’s West Face in 2008 with Vince Anderson, and Steve’s subsequent trip in 2009 when he made an emergency solo decent from 21,300 ft. with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. Similar to the previous trips, Steve will be calling in with reports from his sat phone. Today, we’re happy to share his first call from this trip, and some background on the expedition.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to Steve House - Makalu Call 1 - April 29, 2011
    (7:52 – right-click to download MP3)


    Marko Prezelj is organizing an expedition to Makalu this Spring and I will be joining him as will Rok Blagus (SLO), Luka Lindic (SLO), Boris Lorencic (SLO), and Dr. Scott Boughton (USA). The average age of Marko and I will be 43.5. The average age of the other five climbers; 24.6 years. Dr. Boughton will have ample opportunity to explore and trek, but will also endeavor to keep us healthy and light-hearted. I’m confident that he can do both.

    [Left: Me on the phone with you from 7400 meters (24,270 ft) in 2009. Lhotse is behind me. Right: Located 14 miles east of Mt. Everest, on the border between Nepal and China, Makalu is the fifth highest peak in the world (27,762 ft). All photos © Steve House.]

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    Liquid Courage and Beer Goggles: Two New Runs at Valhalla Mountain Touring

    When she's not busy making us jealous about climbing in places like Greenland and France, Patagonia Climbing Ambassador Jasmin Caton guides folks to some of British Columbia's choicest snow-covered gems with Valhalla Mountain Touring, a business she owns and runs together with her husband. Today she brings us a delightful story about some fresh turns recently made with one of the coolest ski partners a person could ask for. - Ed


    The day had gone so well, maybe that was the problem. My Mum was up at Valhalla Mountain Touring to visit and ski while I worked as the lodge custodian for a self-guided group. I had had my eye on an unskied couloir for the whole season, and stability and weather were looking good, so I figured we'd ski it together since it didn't appear steep or difficult. Just a pretty rock-lined narrow powder run in a beautiful setting. As I parked us on the exposed ridge that leads into the run, my Mum started having second thoughts. "Hey Jas, I need some liquid courage" she said, laughing. I passed her a beat up brandy-filled chocolate from the bottom of my trail mix bag and she washed it down with some black tea from her small thermos (she doesn't drink water while out ski touring) and was ready to rip.

    [First run of the day - some powder turns to warm up for the goods. All photos: Jasmin Caton]

    Continue reading "Liquid Courage and Beer Goggles: Two New Runs at Valhalla Mountain Touring" »

    Unusual Suspects

    by Brittany Griffith

    My springtime objective (okay, to be perfectly honest, it has been a dream of mine for a long time) of free climbing Zion’s Moonlight Buttress was quickly unraveling. My partner, Nellie, had spent the previous night projectile vomiting in a rental van. Puke everywhere—in her shoes, on her pack and on the rope.


    [Bummed on the bus. After failing on their first attempt, Nellie and Brittany contemplate their next shot. Photo: Cedar Wright]

    As Nellie shivered and sweated in her sleeping bag, cursing the runny eggs she had eaten the previous morning, her boyfriend, Cedar, suggested I try James as an alternative partner.

    “James?” I grumbled. All these years I had envisioned doing the route with a girlfriend, or at the very least with my husband as he hauled ice water, nori rolls and summit beers behind me. I didn’t even really know James. All I really knew about him was that everyone called him “Big Fall James” because of his miraculous survival from a 200-foot free-soloing fall in Joshua Tree.

    Continue reading "Unusual Suspects" »

    Second-Annual Copp-Dash Inspire Award Recipients Announced

    Copp-Dash The Copp-Dash Inspire Award, sponsored by Black Diamond Equipment, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia, announced the latest winners of the new climbing grant established in memory of American climbers Jonny Copp and Micah Dash, who were killed in an avalanche in China in May 2009 along with filmmaker Wade Johnson. In addition to providing financial support to perspective expedition teams, the goal of the Copp-Dash Inspire Award is to provide mentoring before and after the expedition to help the climbers bring back inspiring multimedia stories of their adventures.

    “It was great to see so many Inspire Award applicants this year,” says La Sportiva’s Marketing Manager, Laura Fryer. “The Copp-Dash Inspire Award will help support small teams document their ascents of the great mountains of the world. Jonny, Micah and Wade knew that the stories and experiences we take away from a climb are just as important as the climb itself, and that’s what the Inspire Award is all about.”

    This November, the winners of the 2010 Inspire Award will be highlighted at the annual Adventure Film Festival in Boulder, Colo. The event serves as an international forum for the best and most inspiring independent outdoor and adventure films and will showcase the creative work that comes out of the Inspire Award expeditions.

    The 2011 Copp-Dash Inspire Award winners and their objectives are:
    • Dave Burdick with Dylan Johnson and John Freih. A new, completely independent rock and mixed line on the 1100m South Face of Mt. Burkett, Stikine Icecap, Southeast Alaska.
    • Jesse Spaulding with Kyle Kneely, Scott Parker and Conrad Piper-Ruth. New routes, up to 6000m, in the Nangma Valley, Northern Pakistan.
    • Kyle Dempster with Jewell Lund and Kelly Cordes. First ascents in the Karavshin Valley in southwestern Krgyzstan. Intermission bike ride from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Skardu, Pakistan (approximately 1400 miles). First ascents of the Southwest Pillar of K7 West, to its unclimbed summit and the east face of K7 Main, in the Charakusa Valley, Pakistan, Karakoram Mountains.
    • Matt McCormick with Pat Goodman and Will Meinen. First ascents of the Southwest Pillar of K7 West and an alpine-style first ascent of a major sub-summit of K7 West, Nepal.
    • Mike Libecki. Solo attempt for the first ascent of The Ibex Horn, central Afghanistan.
    For more information on how to apply for the Copp-Dash Inspire Award for 2012, visit the American Alpine Club's website.
    One Percent for the Planet
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