The Cleanest Line

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    « May 2011 | Main | July 2011 »

    Postcard from Chamonix: Access

    by Kelly Cordes

    I’m in Chamonix, France, for a couple of weeks. Weather started bad on the Mont Blanc massif, so we drove through the tunnel and climbed sunny rock in Italy. An 800-foot roadside dome with 40 routes, all bolted. The bolts weren’t too close, nor were they beside cracks. The routes had little placards fixed to the rock, indicating which route went where. People of all ages climbed, seemingly as normal for a Sunday afternoon as watching the game back home.

    Kc - IMG_0053
    [Parapenters (the wee white dots in the sky) soaring above Chamonix, and the south face of the Brévent. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    The next two days, as clouds enshrouded the high peaks, I climbed on the south face of Le Brévent – an otherwise two-hour approach takes a few minutes thanks to the super-fast-whisking-action of these tram-gondola thingies called téléphériques (téléphériques also access the serious mountains across the valley – Mt. Blanc, Grand Capucin, Grandes Jorasses, the Dru, and on and on and on.) We’d finish our cappuccinos and leave at the civilized hour of 10 a.m. or so, climb a four-to-six-pitch route, and be back down sipping wine and eating cheese at an outdoor café by 3 p.m. Quite civilized, indeed.

    Kc - IMG_0089
    [Walker Ferguson coming up the final pitch of the Frison-Roche route on the south face of the Brévent. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Postcard from Chamonix: Access" »

    Vacation in Croatia

    by Brittany Griffith

    20110501Slovenia-Croatia543 I had only just returned from Algeria, dumped the contents of my well-used Freewheeler Max into the washing machine and put everything right back in there before heading to Croatia. I only had 10 days for the trip, but it was so perfectly set up I couldn’t resist – Kate and Mikey would already be over there with ropes, rack and rental car, AND the Croatian International Climber’s Festival would be happening, WITH a big-wall speed-climbing competition. How could I NOT go?

    [Team America! Wearing our team uniform: pink Houdinis and grey Rock Guides. Photo: Mikey Schaefer]

    And I’ll be completely honest. Like some women have shoe fetishes, I have a passport-stamp fetish. I love to travel. I love everything about it – even the sucky stuff like lost baggage, not being able to read the street signs, corrupt police demanding bribes, goat butter and Charles de Gaulle Airport. And I feel that one of the best things about travel is experiencing it with good friends. Remember when you were little and you could play with certain friends for hours and hours on end and not get bored or annoyed of it? Well, hanging with Kate and Mikey is like that. They eat the same go-to food as me  (yogurt, salami and beer), can sleep 10 hours a night, don’t need to shower or wash their clothes and they laugh at all my jokes.

    Continue reading "Vacation in Croatia" »

    Tenkara USA Joins in Sharing Time-Honored Fishing Techniques with Patagonia Japan Employees

    Fishing has always been about being simple, but 15 minutes of trout talk with a czech-nyphing double dropper can sometimes be enough to have you thinking precisely the opposite. A masterful style of fishing recently brought to Western rivers from the mountain waters of Japan presents a welcome antidote to the elaborate (and oftentimes extravagant) style of fishing that's come to dominate the image of fly fishing. Tenkara USA is a company dedicated to this style of fishing, and today's post, from company founder Daniel W. Galhardo, is about sharing the simplicity of fishing with others. - Ed

    DrIsh
    [Dr. Ishigaki doing a tenkara demonstration for Patagonia employees of different Tokyo stores. Photo: Daniel W. Galhardo]

    Today tenkara, Tenkara USA and Patagonia once again crossed paths, this time in Japan with staff from a couple of Patagonia stores in Tokyo.

    At the moment, I am sitting in my tatami room in the town of Kaida Kogen, Nagano prefecture in Japan. We just finished a hot-pot dinner, which topped off a day of teaching tenkara to four Patagonia-Japan employees. Over the next couple of days more people will join the tenkara class.

    Continue reading "Tenkara USA Joins in Sharing Time-Honored Fishing Techniques with Patagonia Japan Employees" »

    Patagonia Music Collective Volume 3 – Buy an Album, Benefit the Environment

    Patagonia_music_collective_vol_3 We’re thrilled to announce the release of Patagonia Music Collective Volume 3, our newest album of exclusive songs from world-class artists to benefit non-profit environmental groups. You can purchase each song individually for 99 cents, or grab the entire Benefit Album for only $10.89, through the iTunes Music Store. At least 60% of the proceeds from these songs will benefit the associated environmental groups.

    Here’s a quick rundown of the artists on Volume 3: Medeski Martin & Wood, Esperanza Spalding, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), David Crosby & Graham Nash, Drive-By Truckers, Jake Shimabukuro, DeVotchKa, The Civil Wars, William Elliott Whitmore and Dolorean.

    Audio_graphic_20px Preview all Patagonia Music Benefit Tracks

    We also released digital liner notes for all three Patagonia Music Collective albums. Each PDF includes beautiful photos of the artists and a bit about the enviro groups each song benefits. You can download them for free right here or on the Patagonia Music Benefit Album page (right-click to download).

    Patagonia Music Volume 1 liner notes (PDF)
    Patagonia Music Volume 2 liner notes (PDF)
    Patagonia Music Volume 3 liner notes (PDF)

    And don’t forget, we’re constantly updating our New-Music Stream with fresh tracks you can stream for free through the Patagonia Music Player or Patagonia Music iPhone App.

    Thanks for supporting Patagonia Music. To all of our international friends, stay tuned. We'll let you know as soon as the program is available globally.

    Getting Satisfaction on the North Face of North Twin

    by Hayden Kennedy

    Today's post comes to us from Hayden Kennedy about a climb he recently attempted with Jason Kruk. Anyone who’s paying attention these days is blown away by the progression. The talented youth just keep getting after it, and it’s not just in cragging and bouldering. The serious alpine has always attracted only a few inspired stragglers, and today’s story comes from one of the best. Hayden Kennedy has redpointed 5.14c, free climbed El Capitan, and he and fellow youthful badass Jason Kruk have summited Fitz Roy in burly conditions. Oh – and he’s just now old enough to go to the bars (in the U.S, that is – it’s only 18 in Canada). Here’s a great piece on a great face by two great young climbers. -K.C.

    Hk - N Twin IMG_1187

    “It’s just you and me and a big alpine face, this is what we came here for!” Jason Kruk says as we pack our bags at my van before embarking on an alpine-style push on the north face of North Twin. The North Twin is a beast of a mountain and it is one of the biggest and hardest north faces in the Canadian Rockies. The north face is about 5,000 feet and maintains hard climbing the entire way. It has only been climbed three times in 37 years and each of the three teams were leading alpinists at their time. George Lowe and Chris Jones made the first ascent of the north face in summer 1974; it was a groundbreaking route done in impeccable style. It would be another 11 years before alpine climbing legends Barry Blanchard and Dave Cheesmond established the North Pillar route, in perfect alpine style over four days in August 1985. Tales of horrendous rock fall, scary climbing and a long approach terrified people, and the face loomed over alpinists like a huge tidal wave about to crash. In April 2004 Steve House and Marko Prezelj made the third ascent of the face in mixed conditions; during the climb Steve dropped his boot shell, forcing Marko to rope gun the rest of the route. The stories and the legends of the North Twin make any alpine climber shiver just a little bit.

    [Jason Kruk climbing the mental crux of the route, M7-ish choss. Photo: Hayden Kennedy]

    Continue reading "Getting Satisfaction on the North Face of North Twin" »

    Chicagoans Gain Ground in the Fight for Clean Water

    by Derek Schnake

    Kind thanks to Patagonia Chicago's Kelley Freridge-Olson and Derek Schnake for today's update on recent events at Patagonia Chicago store. People often laughed at the thought of cleaning up the Chicago River and other area waters. Thanks to the efforts of some committed citizens that skepticism is fading. - Ed

    Great Lakes Event
    [A packed house turns out to hear how they can help clean up Chicago-area waterways. Photo: Andrew Mills.]

    For most Chicagoans, the Chicago River is a putrid vein of sewage water. In fact, Chicago’s water quality has become such a farce that many residents laughed when President Obama ordered to make the river safe for swimmers. Of course, it’s not just the river either; we’ve come to expect regular beach closings due to E. coli levels and other toxic concentrations.

    It wouldn’t be a surprise to find a multitude of jaded attitudes among Chicagoans when it comes to water quality. So when Patagonia Chicago and The Alliance for the Great Lakes announced they were hosting a Great Lakes Awareness Event, in which residents could voice their opinions about where to emphasize a $10,000 grant, I didn’t expect much of a turn out.

    Continue reading "Chicagoans Gain Ground in the Fight for Clean Water" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: The Shorts - Penance

    Shorts_back_pack_half Do as I say, not as I've done. It's the central paradox of many father-son relationships. We strive to learn from our mistakes and grow throughout our lives.  We want to see our hard earned wisdom reflected to others. After road racing bicycles for seven years, and pushing his youthful limits of bravery and luck, Gary Visser settled into life in South Carolina. He discovered a new passion in the salt water marshes, raised a family, and taught his son, Garrett, to fly fish. As Garrett prepares to leave for college, Gary appreciates that letting go, much like his parents did more than 30 years ago, is harder than one might think. Happy Father's Day.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "The Shorts--Penance"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com to hear the music from "Penance" 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.

    Celebrating Bike to Work Week 2011

    Bike to Work Friday event 107 We celebrated our most successful Bike to Work Week event ever this year with riders, walkers, runners company-wide tallying over 11,991 miles! Employees in Ventura logged in 2,262 miles; Reno logged in 2,155, our U.S. and Toronto retail stores combined logged in 7,151 and our 35 colleagues in Annecy, France added 681 kilometers (just over 423 miles).

    We introduced a new component this year, the Bike to Work Week Challenge Grant, in which our Ventura headquarters, Reno Service Center and all of our North American retail stores partnered with a local non-profit bicycle advocacy organization in which Patagonia donated $1 for every mile an employee pedaled or walked. Through this program, we were able to donate at total of $11,991 with individual grants to 29 hard-working bike advocacy groups such as VCCOOL, Reno Bike Project, Bikes Not Bombs  and Trips for Kids.

    Photo2

    [A bike-chain blackboard that the Patagonia team from our Upper West Side store put together to track their cycling progress.]

    Continue reading "Celebrating Bike to Work Week 2011" »

    Kohl Christensen Reports on the Dam Protests in Chile - Take Action to Keep the Pressure On

    by Kohl Christensen

    Marcha No a Hidroaysen for The Cleanest Line (c)RodrigoFariasPhoto-6b

    Editor's note: When the Patagonia community banged pots and pans in protest of the proposed dams in Chilean Patagonia, a large protest was scheduled to happen at the same time down in Santiago. Patagonia surf ambassador Kohl Christensen – who was visiting Chile for a surf contest – attended the protest and sent along this report with photos from Rodrigo Farias. At the end of this post, we have a new opportunity for you to Take Action against the dams.

    Seeing ¡Patagonia Sin Represas! (Patagonia without dams) spray painted above bus stops all around the capital of Santiago gives you an idea of where most Chileans stand on the proposed construction of the five hydroelectric dams that will destroy certain areas of Patagonia. I got invited to the protest that was happening in Santiago and happily agreed to check it out.

    [May 19, 2011, Santiago, Chile. Tens of thousands of Chilean citizens who marched in opposition to the proposed construction of five mega-dams in Patagonia's Aysén region. All Photos ©Rodrigo Farias]

    Continue reading "Kohl Christensen Reports on the Dam Protests in Chile - Take Action to Keep the Pressure On" »

    Interview: Snowboard Ambassador Ryland Bell

    Gen4_ambass_bell_f11 We're pleased to welcome Ryland Bell to the Patagonia Ambassador lineup. Ryland is a snowboarder who has spent all the summers of his life on boats in the Alaskan village of Elfin Cove (population 20), where his parents fish commercially. He can't think of a winter growing up when he wasn't riding on sleds, skis, inner tubes or whatever could slide downhill, preferably fast. When Ryland was first strapped into a snowboard at age 12 though, he knew he had found it. The 25-year-old rider now spends winter in Lake Tahoe's Squaw Valley and spring in Haines, Alaska. We caught up with him to find out more about what it was like growing up on a boat in Alaska - not to mention riding some of the steepest, most remote lines being ridden in North America today, some of which were featured in the film Deeper.

    TCL: What stands out the most about your life growing up in Alaska?

    Ryland: The amount of wilderness, and wildlife.

    TCL: What's your favorite and least favorite thing about life as a fisherman?

    Ryland: Favorite thing, being on the water, and the amazing views. Least favorite thing, getting up at 3 in the morning for weeks on end.

    Ryland_Bell_PowTurn
    [All photos: Abe Blair, courtesy Ryland Bell collection]

    Continue reading "Interview: Snowboard Ambassador Ryland Bell" »

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