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    « November 2011 | Main | January 2012 »

    WideBoyz on Century Crack: Talking Grades

    - By Tom Randall and Pete Whittaker

    Take a peek at the latest issue of Climbing magazine and you'll find Patagonia climbing ambassador Pete Whittaker sporting the kind of face that only climbing offwidths can produce. The story that goes with this photo: "The World's First 5.14 Offwidth." Together with his partner Tom Randall and photographer friend Alex Ekins the crew from the UK travelled throughout the American West ticking off our nastiest off-widths. Here's an excerpt from the Wide Boyz blog, discussing how the two came up with the landmark grade. -Ed.


    Ok, so I suppose it’s finally time to lay our nuts on the table and come up with a grade for Century Crack. There have been stories of superlative climbing events over the years that have been surrounded by grading controversies, climbing style arguments and conflicting personalities battling it out for the first ascent. I’m not sure that Century is any different from this; Stevie’s had his say, certain keyboard heroes have mass debated and the 9a grade has been thrown around.

    Pete Century Ekins Pic
    [Patagonia Climbing Ambassador Pete Whittaker takes a breather to avoid going batty on his attempt to climb Century Crack. Canyonlands, Utah. Photo: Alex Ekins via WideBoyz blog.]

    Continue reading "WideBoyz on Century Crack: Talking Grades " »

    What a Mess – Remembering a World before Plastic Pollution

    by Gerry Lopez

    Gerry-smile-2

    I spent a lot of time surfing a spot in Indonesia called G-Land. Remotely located on the edge of the Alas Purwo National Park, on the southeastern tip of Java, it was, relatively speaking, far from civilization. Actually, as the Indonesian sea eagle flies, it was only about 15 kilometers from the nearest village but with the terrain and local inhabitants in between, it might as well have been a million miles. Residents of that area included the Java tiger, herds of wild boars, the Indonesian wild water buffalo, the Komodo dragon, more deadly snakes than one could shake a stick at… well, I often wondered what I was doing out there with no more protection than a few surfboards.

    Patagonia surf ambassador, Gerry Lopez, shares a story today about life before single-use plastics. Read on for some rarely seen photos from the early days at G-Land and an opportunity to join the Plastic Pollution Coalition. [Above: With waves like this, who would want to do anything else all day long? Gerry at G-Land, sometime in the late '70s or early '80s. Photo: ©Don King]

    In the mid to late 1970s, we were permitted to build a temporary camp with some bamboo tree houses and a shack to cook in. The lack of human presence made the beaches – the only area we frequented – absolutely pristine. We brought our drinking water in glass bottles, the only containers available at that time. We dug latrines out in the jungle and burned all of our garbage. When the coming of the monsoons heralded the end of the surf season, we left.

    Continue reading "What a Mess – Remembering a World before Plastic Pollution" »

    The Lowdown on Down: An Update

    Top2_footprint_F9

    In April 2011, we posted here a report on problems we’ve experienced sourcing down for our down clothing. As we mentioned, quality is not the problem. We’re proud of the down clothing we make. The designs are simple and beautiful, the fabrics are strong and lightweight, and the quality (fill-power or insulation value) of the down is excellent. The sales are important to us – and one percent of those sales contribute a significant chunk of change to environmental causes.

    Lesen Sie hier die deutsche Version dieses Artikels (Read the German version of this article).

    Down clothes are tricky to make in two ways: Special care has to be taken to safeguard workers who fill and sew the garments. Anyone who has worked with down knows that it is lighter than feathers and resistant to gravity. Down rooms have to be sealed off from other areas and workers have to wear masks to keep from inhaling the fiber. We have worked with our factories to ensure healthy conditions for people who work with down.

    The second area of concern is treatment of the geese. You have to go deep into the supply chain from sewing factory to down vendor to processor before you finally get to a farm. And a single goose can spend its life on four different farms. This complexity is also true of other products involving animals, including shoes and wool and sweaters.

    Continue reading "The Lowdown on Down: An Update" »

    Talent

    - By Kelly Cordes

    Kc - dawn at dusk IMG_3472
    [Late-day light on the Dawn Wall, on Tommy’s final effort. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    I’ve long thought that the most wasted resource on earth is talent. Talent abounds, yet optimizing its potential requires devoted effort. Of course we also have to consider opportunity, and the whole talent-and-effort issue makes regular news. There’s the “10,000-Hour Rule” of practice, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his celebrated and best-selling book Outliers – underscoring the importance of effort.  Recently I read an article about intellectual giftedness – underscoring the importance of talent.

    As far as natural ability goes, exceptional athletes are everywhere. Those who fully maximize that talent through hard work and effort, however, seem rare; I suspect they have to love it, truly love it, deep-down love it. Not just love success, or even the idea of success. Not just talk about it, and not find excuses when things get grim.

    Continue reading "Talent" »

    Kusum Kanguru - Taking the Gear for a Walk

    by Barry Blanchard

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    In the spring of 1991 I was guiding in the Everest Region of Nepal - the Khumbu. Knowing that I would be looking to climb a route on Kusum Kanguru on my own after the departure of my last climbing guest, my Sirdar, Tensing and I took advantage of a couple of down days to go up and have a wee peak at the unclimbed southwest face of the mountain. The Thadokoshi was a wild tramp. I really don't think that anyone had ever been up there. We saw a red panda prance from boulder to boulder in the creek not five metres in front of us. When the creek deepened into a slot canyon Tensing hacked down a tree with his kukuri and notched steps into it to create a ladder to get us out of the pit. Ever sensitive, he noted my solemn guilt at cutting down a tree. "I am sorry that I cut down tree," he stated in all sincerity.

    Patagonia alpine ambassdor Barry Blanchard checks in today with a pre-trek report and a sat-phone call from a recent trip he took to Nepal. [Above: The unclimbed southwest face of Kusum Kanguru on November 8, 2011. Photo:Tom Schnugg]

    In a swizzle stick tangle of immature bamboo the kukuri came out again hacking away like a machete to clear a path. I could have reached out and touched the Himalayan Thar that we ... startled?

    Continue reading "Kusum Kanguru - Taking the Gear for a Walk" »

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