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    Japan Rising

    by Mark Shimahara


    March 11, 2011. A most memorable birthday as a murderous tsunami took thousands of lives, left hundreds of thousands homeless, and demolished villages in Japan. Halfway around the world, as I mourned the loss, I contacted relatives in Tokyo, volunteered for a nationwide bakesale event and donated my annual bike race winnings to earthquake relief. I tried to take comfort in the faith that many had, that resilience, which has come to define Japanese character, would allow the country to emerge from the disaster an even stronger nation. [Artwork by Kim Diggs for the FCD Japan Relief T-shirt.]

    The wrenching headlines about the disaster eventually--and finally--calmed down. Yet half a year later, the news continues to produce stories about undisclosed radiation levels in the air and in food. Warranted or not, they perpetuate concern and fear.

    I had decided to skip visiting Japan this year. But then an irresistible opportunity arose. An international coffee competition was taking place in September: The World Siphonist Championships! Siphon is a brewing method popular in Japan that produces--arguably--the finest cup of coffee there is. A coffee geek, I was thrilled by the idea of competing with baristas from around the world. Though I have never served coffee to a customer, I have invested dozens of hours attending coffee brewing classes all over the country. I persuaded the Specialty Coffee Association of America to allow me to represent the US. They gave me their blessing. And I was off.

    Continue reading "Japan Rising" »

    Runnin' the Tidal Rapids

    by Liz Clark

    Sea Rapids

    With a brief window of calm winds, Crystal and I readied Swell to move east among the atolls. With the news of Barry’s passing, I wanted to check out what was rumored to be a new boatyard on an obscure strip of coral a few atolls east, plus with a swell on the way, we might arrive just in time to catch a few juicier waves before Crystal flew home.

    Editor's note: Before leaving for Chile, Crystal Thornburg-Homcy visited the South Pacific and fellow Patagonia ambassador Liz Clark who's sailing around the world in her boat, Swell. Here are a few stories from their time together. [Photos courtesy of Liz Clark and Crystal Thornburg] 

    Swell caught the flow of the outgoing tidal current as we steered around the coral embankment and into the open draw of the pass. The sun pierced the cloudless morning air, illuminating the deep blue river that carried us out to sea.

    Through the binoculars, I could see the sea churning up ahead. “Oh, no…” I bellowed. I knew what we were in for: standing waves and sea-rapids where the flow of the tidal river met the ocean. It was too late to turn around, the outward flow was too strong to fight…I made a firm mental note to get some better tide information!

    Continue reading "Runnin' the Tidal Rapids" »

    Exploding Freezer Beer Pasta

    by Brittany Griffith

    [Another inspired creation is ready for a final toasting in the oven. All photos: Brittany Griffith]

    We leave for Sicily tomorrow and I have to admit that despite new-route potential on 300-meter-tall Mediterranean seaside cliffs, I’m almost as excited to eat and drink wine. I read in the Lonely Planet guide that, “Most Sicilian dishes fall into the category of cucina povera (cooking of the poor), featuring cheap and plentiful ingredients.” Sounds like a perfect dirtbag diet to me!

    I’ll no doubt come home with some great new ideas for dirtbag cooking, but until then, here’s another favorite of mine that is simple, tasty, and most importantly, uses only a couple of dishes.

    Exploding-Freezer Beer Pasta Recipe

    It’s a common occurrence at our house in Salt Lake City; a guest goes to the liquor store to get “real beer” (non 3.2 grocery-store beer), discovers that it’s impossible to purchase chilled “real beer” (yet another convoluted Utah liquor law), buys it anyway, brings it back home, becomes too impatient to wait until it chills in the refrigerator, puts it in the freezer, pilfers our liquor cabinet in the meantime, knocks back a few fingers of our best tequila, forgets about the beer in the freezer, and I find said beer in freezer the next morning when I go looking for the coffee.

    Continue reading "Exploding Freezer Beer Pasta" »

    Taking Power Back: In Boulder and Beyond

    by Lynn Hill

    Speaking at City Hall

    When I first started climbing, I took advantage of any opportunity to escape the city and go climbing in beautiful places with my friends. I still do. But over the years, this freedom and beauty has eroded as the world has become more populated, more polluted, and more corrupt than ever. Though I continue to find peace through climbing, I can no longer escape my sense of responsibility to help protect life and harmony on this planet.

    Today was election day in many parts of the United States. Patagonia ambassador Lynn Hill shares her thoughts on why it's important to stay involved in the democratic process and not get discouraged. -Ed

    [Above: Lynn Hill speaks in front of Boulder City Hall, Colorado. All photos: Beth Wald]

    Continue reading "Taking Power Back: In Boulder and Beyond" »

    Being Barney Rubble

    by Kelly Cordes

    Kc - dawnwallIMG_3246

    Damn, I thought as I glanced around, I’m like Barney Rubble at a superhero convention. Sonnie Trotter to my left, Alex Honnold to my right. I know what you’re thinking: Did you owe those guys money? Or maybe: Oh, one of those high school intelligence tests, “Which does not fit in this group?” Sonnie is poised and eager to try to repeat The Prophet, and Alex just raced up the Nose in like two and a half hours (among a bizillion other things recently). Pretty wild, sometimes, this small world climbing thing.

    Earlier in the day Tommy and I played phone tag – I stood along the road, looking at his portaledge while babbling on his voice mail: “Dude, can you see me? I’m wearing an orange jacket and waving: Hi Tommy, hi!”

    “What are you doing?” my special lady friend asked.

    “I’m waving to Tommy, but he won’t know it’s me until he listens to his messages. Huhuh, this is so cool!”

    She just stared.

    Is it lame that I’m 43 and a “fan” of my friends?

    [Above: Looking up from the base of the Dawn Wall, with Tommy’s camp visible. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Being Barney Rubble" »

    Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline: Join Hands Around the White House, November 6th

    [Demonstrators in front of the White House protesting a proposed pipeline that would bring tar sands oil through the U.S. from Canada. Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images]

    From mid-August to early September this year, concerned citizens gathered at the White House to protest the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline. Over 1200 people were arrested during this peaceful protest, and their act of civil disobedience, along with similar events and petitions nationwide, sent President Obama a simple message:  Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.

    The Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline would originate in Alberta, Canada and pass through the West and Midwest of the United States ending up in Houston where most of the oil will be shipped overseas. Six companies have contracted for three-quarters of the oil. Five are foreign.The New York Times in an editorial opposes the pipeline

    Nebraska Cornhusker football fans booed when a Keystone ad showed up on the Jumbotron at a recent game. The next day the university ended their sponsorship deal with Trans-Canada Pipeline.

    Continue reading "Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline: Join Hands Around the White House, November 6th" »

    The Facebookification of Climbing and the Decline of All Things Real – or not

    by Kelly Cordes

    Caldwell - IMG_2184
    [Tommy Caldwell moving the portaledge during his attempt to free the Dawn Wall. Photo: Rebecca Caldwell]

    Tuesday night, November 1, 9:58 p.m., posted on Tommy Caldwell’s Facebook page:


    “No send tonight. But the craziness of the situation struck me. Trying to climb 5.14 by headlamp during a super intense wind storm. Strangely invigorating. I love the experience but am still overwhelmed by the magnitude of this project.”

    I’ve often been a crusty bastard about from-the-route publicity. Ironic, I know, and indeed we all want to draw the circle around ourselves, starting with my going, “yeah but…” and explaining how my propensity to spray on the interwebs is soooo different from all that “bullshit” out there. Right. And I generally stick to it. I’m a fan of send first, spray second. That comes mostly from an alpine climbing mentality – it’s hard to imagine how you can be doing something that’s invariably publicized as “futuristic” or “cutting edge” if...hmmm...well, uh, so then, how did the camera guy get up there?

    Yeah but, Tommy’s Dawn Wall climb really is different. Different in that it’s so – yes, futuristic – difficult that Tommy’s not climbing it in some lightweight (ie. easy?) push. When you’re doing a pitch or two a day (notwithstanding the final planned day of 12 pitches up to a mere 5.13, if it all works out), then on those slow days, when you’re redpointing 5.14+, does it affect anything to have a media circus shooting photos and video?

    Continue reading "The Facebookification of Climbing and the Decline of All Things Real – or not" »

    Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for Good - Speak Out Now

    by Ron Hunter

    The push to open Alaska's pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to development has been at the center of numerous debates, but public outcry has consistently supported its protection and preservation. At last, citizens have a chance to secure protection for a landscape known for its bounty of untarnished treasures. Ron Hunter, of Patagonia's environmental team, brings us the latest from the Alaska Wilderness League's efforts to secure permanent protection for The Refuge: - Ed

    [Camping near the Canning River and its western tributary, the Marsh Fork. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Photo: Ron Hunter]

    One of the great American "inventions" of the 20th century is the idea that some land should be permanently protected for its natural value. The Wilderness Act of 1964 made it the national policy of the United States to preserve areas of wilderness on federal lands. If there is any place deserving of being declared Wilderness it is the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Biologists call the coastal plain the "biological heart" of the Arctic Refuge. For 30 years, development interests have spent millions in an attempt to open this special place to oil and gas development, and year after year a majority of the American people has stopped them. We must continue to work toward permanent protection of this national treasure, the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

    Continue reading "Protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for Good - Speak Out Now" »

    Body Surf Classic San Francisco and Come Hell or High Water this Weekend in the Bay Area

    by Dan Malloy

    Danny Hess and his friends at the woodshop are hosting the first annual Body Surf Classic San Francisco at Ocean Beach this Saturday, November 5.

    It looks to be more of a gathering than a serious competition so get ready to take your game faces off. The event starts at the crack of nine Saturday morning. Beach entries welcomed.

    Below is a sign the guys at the woodshop made me build when I was passing through town last week. It will be present at the competition for anyone who would like to get pitted Mark Cunningham style.


    Editor's note: Later Saturday evening, after the contest, there will be a screening of Come Hell or High Water at Proof Lab in Mill Valley. Chris, Keith and Dan Malloy will be in attendance. Those who were lucky enough to score tickets will be able to see the film on Friday night at the Save The Waves Film Festival.

    [Video: Get to the Beach! by Alex Kopps]

    Family Affair on the Dawn Wall

    by Kelly Cordes

    Berkompas - 20111025-IMG_3134
    [Tommy on the Dawn Wall, practicing this one move I taught him. Photo: Kyle Berkompas]

    When I see a photo of someone climbing a severely overhanging 5.14 limestone sport route, I marvel at the physical prowess. Amazing. And though I can't imagine being that good myself, I can see how some people can do it; I can sort of imagine it. At least I can see the holds. But 5.14+ climbing on a vertical granite face? Huh? Tommy’s Dawn Wall project doesn't look like it has a single god-damned hold on the thing. The other day a handful of friends were saying how we've been on 11+ or 5.12 granite slabs and sworn that we were standing on absolutely nothing, holding absolutely nothing, and stuck, unable to move ("There’s nothing here! Nothing!"). How the hell can anything be more technical? It blows my mind.

    Anyway, Tommy has launched, and it’s going well. As you may know – he's been quite open and public about it (not that he has much choice, given that you can see the route from the road in Yosemite Valley), even posting some updates from the wall on his Facebook page. Bahhumbug, blasphemy!? I'm not so sure, and I've got some thoughts on it, and some of Tommy's, that I'll post here soon.

    Continue reading "Family Affair on the Dawn Wall" »

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