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    Kids of the Times

    by Kelly Cordes

    Silence. So rare, so nice. Four recent days of disconnected bliss – from the e-world, that is. But fully connected in more natural ways, like with climbing, food, friends, a river and beer. My only reading was on paper, not on a screen. It was nice, anyway, until a leisurely check of my phone messages upon our return snapped me back into the modern world. It was my sister: “You are SUCH a loser. Do you have any idea that you and that stupid mullet of yours is in the New York F*%king Times?”

    Gambino - RES_6085

    [The boat times, with CF Scariot (left), Kelly Cordes (reading) and Andrew Gram (drinking). Photo: Dan Gambino]

    Whatever. I was still in namaste land, so I texted her that I’d have my agent return her call. Wait, what? Well I’ll be damned. Climbing all up in the Times. The Sunday Magazine had a photo essay on the Ouray Ice Festival, where I was working hard. Strange world these days. Especially how this increase in virtual connectedness can sometimes leave us feeling disconnected.

    Continue reading "Kids of the Times" »

    12 in 7 - A Report from Iceland

    By Kitty Calhoun


    Iceland is frozen in time. Arriving there in February 2012, it was exactly as I remembered from 1998 when I was there to climb with Jay Smith and the late Guy Lacelle – grey, windy, and remote. It is the largest land mass along a mountain ridge that begins under the ocean, where the North Atlantic and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart. The soil is poor, so most food is imported or grown in greenhouses. The horses, sheep and cattle are 1,000-year-old purebreds, brought over by the Vikings. The quiet is only disrupted by the sounds of millions of birds born in the undisturbed sea cliffs.

    My mission, along with Dawn Glanc, Pat Ormand, and Jay Smith, was to do as many first ice climbing ascents as possible in two weeks. Prospects looked good, since Iceland’s coast is barely eroded and most of the snow on the plateau above tends to melt and refreeze. Rapid changes in temperature produce wild features on frozen waterfalls such as tunnels, hanging umbrella-like roofs, and daggers that freeze horizontally. Iceland is not well-known in the climbing world and there are only an estimated 40 local climbers – most of whom find enough ice near Reykjavik to keep them content. Or so they led us to believe. In exchange for a slide show for the Icelandic Alpine Club, we diplomatically pried inside information from a very welcoming group. They confirmed our suspicions: the West Fjords, just below the Arctic Circle, was the mother-lode.

    [Dawn Glanc and Pat Ormand on Angel of Mercy. All photos courtesy of Kitty Calhoun]

    Continue reading "12 in 7 - A Report from Iceland" »

    Elwha Eloquence - Yvon Chouinard & Dylan Tomine Speeches from the 2011 River Science Symposium

    Yvon Chouinard speaks at the 2011 Elwha River Science Symposium about the value of selectively harvesting salmon by species, a technique Patagonia Provisions is employing for our upcoming Wild Salmon Jerky. The Symposium was held in conjunction with the historic Elwha River dam removal ceremony.

    [Elwha River: Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia]

    Patagonia fly fishing ambassador Dylan Tomine also spoke at the event about the importance of letting the Elwha heal naturally instead of restocking the river with nonnative hatchery-raised fish.

    Hit the jump to see Dylan's speech.

    Continue reading "Elwha Eloquence - Yvon Chouinard & Dylan Tomine Speeches from the 2011 River Science Symposium" »

    One in Winter - Fly Fishing for Winter-Run Steelhead

    by Ryan Peterson

    Steelhead_Justin Crump_photo_2

    We understand mere fragments –

    of most things really, but especially of a fish called steelhead. Its nominal definition goes that it’s a rainbow trout that migrates from river to ocean and back again to spawn, like a salmon. But like most living things, after you dedicate time to deep observation, their essential superpowers transcend human understanding. Just ask a grooved-out steelhead fly fisher.

    In doing so you might hear how, for instance, steelhead have been tagged in Oregonian rivers and recaptured years later off the coast of Japan. You will then be entreated to confirm that that’s crazy, right?!

    You might also be regaled by the legend that high-seas commercial fishermen rarely intercept steelhead as bycatch in their nets, suggesting a steelhead’s epic peregrinations are committed to solo, without friends in schools. They’re lone wolves out there, mysterious and supremely noble in the icy gray – the ultimate, fitting match for someone unimpressed by the listlessness of day-to-day society.

    At that, you’ll be encouraged to exclaim something to the effect of, “What?!” or “Whoa!”

    Then ask the steelhead angler about the special ones that run into rivers in the dead of winter and watch as their frantic code-red tone trails off. They fall silent, look you in the eye, and quietly, carefully size up whether you really care, or whether you’re just humoring them. Because now you’re talking about very serious stuff.

    [Above: Close encounter with the wild winter kind: A moment worth the world to a steelhead fly fisher. Photo: Justin Crump]

    Continue reading "One in Winter - Fly Fishing for Winter-Run Steelhead" »

    Skimo in Black

    by Kelly Cordes

    Bang. The gun went off. I was wearing a suit. First time in a couple decades or more (for the suit, not the gun). All black, like Johnny Cash.

    But I wasn’t robbing a train or singing the Folsom Prison Blues; I was doing a randonee ski race. Don’t think I’ve done a formal race in nearly 20 years – maybe since I was the first woman finisher in the Seattle Marathon. And this was a sprint race, a distance I’ve never been good at, but so what.

    Kc - dojoe costumeIMG_3877(LR)

    [The Gimpy Man in Black before the race at Eldora Resort. Photo: Cordes collection]

    I’ve been loving ski touring, a.k.a. randonee, a.k.a. ski mountaineering – skimo for short. I love how stupid that name sounds, too. I’m not a skimo. You’re the skimo. The gliding motion is easy on my cankle, and allows me glimpses of that feeling I love more than anything: moving in the mountains.

    Continue reading "Skimo in Black" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Origins

    by Fitz & Becca Cahall

    Editor's note: Hard to believe it's been five years since The Dirtbag Diaries was born onto the Internet. There have been so many good stories, so many inspiring people. Now, we can't imagine an Internet (or this blog) without them. Thank you Fitz and Becca for all your hard work. And thank you to the fans of the show for your passionate support. Here's Fitz and here's to five more years:


    The Dirtbag Diaries turns five. This also happens to be our 100th episode. To celebrate the occasion, we reached out to our collaborators, our contributors and our friends and asked for ideas. I pitched them a bunch of ideas. They shook their heads. Their response was resounding. "We want to hear your story, the story of the Diaries," they said. Our intern, Austin Siadak, stepped forward to do the interview and relay the story. The tables were turned. By nature, we like our creation stories simple. An idea appears in the void.  A light bulb goes off. The apple hits Sir Isaac Newton on the head. In reality, creation stories are messier, more complicated and more interesting than abbreviated elevator pitches. They are a sum of parts. So here goes.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Origins"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    Visit for links to download the music from "Origins" or to hear past episodes of the podcast. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes and RSS, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]

    Changing Lives - Body Surfing with Autism, Come Hell or High Water

    by Greg and Donna Edwards

    After the Australian release of Come Hell or High Water we received this heartfelt message from Coffs Harbour based parents Greg and Donna Edwards. Kyan, their 8 year old son has autism. After watching the film their lives were changed forever.


    I would like to share our little breakthrough and in some small way, say thanks for making Come Hell or High Water film possible.

    Come Hell or High Water has changed our lives.

    Put simply, our 8 year-old son Kyan has Autism. We have had a very difficult time bringing him up and up until last week, we had given up on the idea that he would ever be comfortable at the beach. The bright sunlight, sand and wind create a ‘sensory overload’ for our little boy and most often he will scream and scream when we take him anywhere near the ocean. My wife and I both grew up surfing and we feel completely at home in the water. Some days, the two of us have wanted nothing more than to be able to take our kids down onto the sand and swim.

    Continue reading "Changing Lives - Body Surfing with Autism, Come Hell or High Water " »

    Excerpt from Crossings, a New Book of Surf Travel Stories by Michael Kew

    by Michael Kew


    From “The Five Pillars of Lakshadweep,” Chapter 17

    This room is moving. Trevor Gordon’s eyes are open and glazed, his pupils wide. It’s 5:04 a.m. He rubs his belly clockwise, breathes oddly, speaks flatly.

    “Don’t let me pass out, man. We’ve got to stick together.”

    Outside, pale moonlight glints off the warm Laccadive Sea. The 89-meter M/V Lakshadweep Sea sways from side to side, motoring east at nine knots while Chadd Konig, also in the room, is awakened by the lanky sleepwalker.

    “I really need some fresh air,” Gordon slurs.

    The two step outside. Gordon’s balance is off. On the bulwark he rests his elbows. His shoulders feel sore. So much surfing lately. So many great waves. With Konig he ponders the universe and watches the sea slide by.

    [Above: Trevor Gordon, eyes wide in Lakshadweep. Trevor also drew the cover art for Crossings (below). Screengrab: Michael Kew from "Laccadive Hollows"]

    There, beyond the horizon, Somali pirates prowl for big boats like this. The isolation of Lakshadweep’s palmy atolls has lured the slitted eyes of East African predators who, armed with grenade launchers and Kalashnikov rifles, seek ransom for seized cargo. Can be any cargo, really. Freighters and oil tankers are preferred. Unfortunately the Lakshadweep Sea holds nothing but islanders and Indians, 260 of them, bound for the port city of Cochin. It’s a 21-hour sail.

    Continue reading "Excerpt from Crossings, a New Book of Surf Travel Stories by Michael Kew " »

    A Look Back: Following the Devastation of Tohoku Region Pacific Coast Earthquake

    by Takayuki Tsujii


    One year ago today, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake occurred at 14:46 off the Sanriku coast in the Tohoku Region of Japan. It exceeded that of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and the Hokkaido Toho-oki Earthquake of 1994 making it the biggest earthquake recorded in Japan’s history. Following the earthquake, Patagonia Japan’s General Manager, Takayuki Tsujii, set out to Sendai City, where our Sendai Store is located, and to Ishinomaki City, located Northeast of Sendai, for three days from March 27th to 29th to assess the specific support Patagonia Japan could provide to the disaster relief efforts. The following is Taka’s report. It was originally published by The Cleanest Line Japan on April 7,2011.

    Since it was close to sunset when I arrived at Sendai Station via Yamagata Airport, I visited our Sendai Store and spent my first evening there talking to the store staff, exchanging information. Although we had confirmed the safety of all staff a couple of days after the earthquake, I felt that listening closely to what they had experienced in the 2 weeks since would be very meaningful in trying to gain an accurate understanding of what we as a company can do to help. There were few cracks in the paint of the wall within the store but the building itself seemed to be solid and undamaged.

    [Above: Tsujii visiting the sites, near Sendai New Port. All photos: Patagonia Japan]

    Continue reading "A Look Back: Following the Devastation of Tohoku Region Pacific Coast Earthquake" »

    Cerro Torre: A Modest Proposal

    by Kelly Cordes

    Seems most of us have moved on from the latest climbing world drama. Thank god. So I'll sneak-in a quick suggestion that nobody can disagree with: Put the compressor in a museum. Uh-oh. I just remembered that this is climbing. And this is the Internet. I should revise my assertion: nobody reasonable could possibly argue that, somehow, a 300-pound metal engine belongs littered on the flanks of Cerro Torre.

    Hardly anyone sees it up there anyway. Yet people clearly have a sentimental attachment to it (just look at the overblown reactions to this whole ordeal). Everybody agrees that it never belonged on Cerro Torre to begin with – notwithstanding a few “True Believers,” who also stand by Maestri’s 1959 hoax, and can’t be bothered by such trivialities as evidence and reason. Anyway, we can debate Hayden and Jason’s bolt removal ad nauseam (we’re well on our way, if not beyond). But the rusting heap of metal hanging on the side of Cerro Torre? C’mon. Even the True Believers. One word: museum. Maybe Argentina would even give the compressor to Italy, and then everyone would be happy.

    Even those who use the nonsense argument that chopping some of the Compressor Route’s bolt-ladders was “elitist” would be pleased. Everyone can enjoy its namesake in a museum. You don’t even have to be a climber. What could be less elitist than that?

    Cordes - CR descent LR

    [The infamous namesake of the Compressor Route. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Cerro Torre: A Modest Proposal" »

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