The Cleanest Line

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    « January 2013 | Main | March 2013 »

    DamNation – Stanford’s Dam Dilemma

    By Katie Klingsporn

    1.-Standford_jasper_Ridge1

    Matt Stoecker spent his childhood tromping around in the creeks of the San Franciquito watershed where he grew up, hunting for frogs, fishing and exploring.

    One day in the mid-90s, he found himself below the 65-foot-tall Searsville Dam on the Corte Madera Creek when he experienced a seminal moment: He saw a 30-inch steelhead jump out of the water and smash itself against the dam.

    He had never seen a fish that size in the creek, and he was struck at the power and futility he witnessed.

    Stoecker soon began volunteering with the San Francisquito Watershed Council, then started a steelhead task force and has been working to remove small dams and other fish barriers in the watershed ever since.

    But all along, he said, “Searsville Dam was the biggest limiting factor.”

    [Hidden behind the fences of Stanford’s Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, Searsville Dam creates a stagnant reservoir where algae and non-native species thrive while steelhead and other threatened species are trapped downstream. Photo: Matt Stoecker]

    Continue reading "DamNation – Stanford’s Dam Dilemma" »

    Special Delivery

    By Liz Clark

    Liz_2_bananasEditor's note: We're happy to follow up on Dallas Hyland's moving tribute to Patagonia ambassdor Liz Clark -- after she broke her neck bodysurfing -- with good news. Liz's neck has healed up well and she's back in Tahiti living on an organic vanilla farm near the boatyard where she's splitting her time between book writing and boat projects. This story is from Liz's circle of French Polynesia in early 2012, before her injury, and first appeared on her blog. Glad you're back Liz!

    March 2012: And so the time had arrived. Cyclone season over, it was safe to head southwest say a final goodbye to the Marquesas. I poured over the chart, locating the tiny, isolated atoll of Puka Puka, 250 miles straight south. Raiarii’s grandfather was the first to colonize this desolate atoll in the late 1930s.

    Tehani Henere Papa and his wife, Elizabeth, had 22 children there!! Two sets of twins!?! Tehani delivered each one of the babies in a tub behind their little house. They raised the kids on fish and coconuts and the fresh Pacific air. Tehani worked copra from dawn to dusk year round, and when the copra boats came to collect the dried coconut meat that he split, dried, and collected in the large burlap sacs, he could purchase sacs of flour, sugar, and rice with his earnings.

    [Above: A load of bananas for Raiarii’s family on Puka Puka. All photos courtesy of Liz Clark and the Voyage of Swell]

    Raiarii’s father, Victor, was number 15 of the 22, and left the atoll at age 17 to find work in Tahiti and had never gone back. Interisland travel is expensive and difficult for locals, with few spots on the cargo ships and high prices for airfare. So Raiarii had never visited Puka Puka, nor met many of the cousins, aunts, and uncles from his father’s side who are still living there. Upon learning this story, I decided we must try to sail to Puka Puka!

    Continue reading "Special Delivery" »

    From the Front Lines: 50,000 Join the Biggest Climate Rally in U.S. History

    By Alison Kelman

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    His message was simple. When you are in a hole, stop digging.

    On Sunday morning I joined prominent environmentalist and 350.org President Bill McKibben, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune, and over 50,000 protestors on the National Mall to participate in the largest climate change rally in U.S. history. The Forward on Climate Rally was supported by 168 organizations and environmental groups from across the country. Buses, trains, and bicycles delivered protestors from every corner of the nation. The temperature hovered just above freezing as we waved signs, chanted slogans, and huddled against strangers for warmth. Between flurries, rays of sun peaked out from behind the looming Washington Monument.

    “All I wanted to see was a movement of people against climate change, and now I have seen it,” proclaimed McKibben to the crowd.

    [Above: Author Alison Kelman and 350.org President Bill McKibben, backstage before Bill's speech. All photos courtesy of Alison Kelman]

    Continue reading "From the Front Lines: 50,000 Join the Biggest Climate Rally in U.S. History" »

    Reject Keystone XL – Attend the Forward on Climate Rally this Sunday or Participate Online

    Forward_On_Climate_poster

    Twice before – in August of 2011, then again in 2012 – we joined with thousands of others across the country to ask President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Tar sands oil is some of the dirtiest on the planet and our top climate scientist, NASA’s Dr. James Hansen, has said that fully exploiting the tar sands would mean “game over” for the climate. Read our recent post for more thoughts on the risks and reality of tar sands oil.

    On  February 17, 2013, this coming Sunday, our friends at Sierra Club and 350.org along with more than 120 partner organizations are planning what could be the largest climate rally in U.S. history. Together, we are asking President Obama once again to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and to provide leadership to advance real solutions to the climate crisis.

    We need your help – and your voice – to make this event happen, and to spread this message across the country.

    Continue reading "Reject Keystone XL – Attend the Forward on Climate Rally this Sunday or Participate Online " »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Be Mine

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

    DBD_be_mineLove – it's life's great surprise. You can try to pin its origins in brain chemistry and hormones. On the right timing. But those don't explain why tough guys make slow rock mixes or why a timid person suddenly introduces themselves to the person of their dreams. Why it works for one couple and not another is beyond me, so I've stopped trying to guess. Your mate could be across the ocean or right next door. But if you find him or her, it feels as though every moment lead to the perfect culmination, even the awkward middle bits. And even if you need the help of a voodoo doctor. Today, we present two stories about finding love.


    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Be Mine"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to download the music from "Be Mine" 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]

    Love

    By Annie Leonard

    Annie_leonardLong before we were labeled treehuggers, before environmentalist, ecologist and conservationist, people with a passion for the Earth were commonly called nature lovers. What better time than February to re-embrace the term? If there's one thing the Common Threads community has in common, it's a devotion to hiking, skiing, climbing, surfing, fishing and other outdoor sports that bring us into loving contact with our beautiful yet fragile planet.

    But with all due respect to the Beatles, love is not all you need. And to turn around Edward Abbey's well-known advice to activists, it is not enough to love the land, it is even more important to fight for it.

    Continue reading "Love" »

    Climbing Season in Patagonia – Patagonia Vertical, the book

    By Kelly Cordes

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    Guidebooks come in all forms. The kind that I like the most are more than mere guidebooks; they have bits of history, interesting information and stunning photos. They inspire me. By necessity, they can only be written by a true expert. They don’t hold my hand, but they have the essential info, the things you need to know, while giving you the credit of assuming that – in the case of alpine climbing, anyway – you already possess a basic level of competence. Which, seems to me, is fair enough for an alpine climbing destination like the Chaltén Massif in southern Patagonia, Argentina.

    The massif is home to so many stories, so many legends, so much vision from such great climbers from around the globe; some from previous eras, some still active, some just getting started.

    One of Patagonia’s greats is Rolando Garibotti, who grew up in Bariloche, Argentina. He first visited the Chaltén Massif in the mid-80s – back then, El Chaltén had a single house. Garibotti was 15 years old, and he and a friend climbed Aguja Guillaumet. His passion had been ignited, and it’s been burning ever since.

    [Above: One of the last pitches of Cerro Fitz Roy’s Supercanaleta. The summit can be seen in the upper left. Photo: Rolando Garibotti]

    Continue reading "Climbing Season in Patagonia – Patagonia Vertical, the book" »

    Kalmiopsis Wilderness

    By Zachary Collier

    Rough and Ready Creek 1

    "Why wilderness? Because we like the taste of freedom. Because we like the smell of danger." ―Edward Abbey

    Wilderness means different things to different people. For some, heading out of cell phone range is enough to make them feel like Grizzly Adams, but the Wilderness Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, defines wilderness as more. In almost poetic prose the authors of the Act wrote:

    "A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain... an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence... which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions..."

    [Above: Rough and Ready Creek, just outside the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, is ripe for protection. All photos courtesy of Zachary Collier/Northwest Rafting Co.]

    Continue reading "Kalmiopsis Wilderness" »

    Climbing Season in Patagonia - La Via Funhogs

    By Colin Haley

    01

    My good friend Dylan Johnson has managed to briefly escape his responsibilities as a new father and self-employed architect to come down to El Chalten for some alpine adventure. Since he is only here for a whopping two weeks, and since he arrived exactly at the end of the enormous, two-week weather window, he was understandably a bit stressed as to whether or not he would get to go alpine climbing while here. Given these circumstances, we have been watching the weather forecasts like hawks, looking for every possible opportunity to do something in the mountains. Last week we hiked into the mountains to try something off the Glaciar Fitz Roy Norte, but with very high winds when the 3am alarm went off, it ended up being just another hike with heavy packs.

    Every year, Patagonia ambassadors, along with climbers from around the world, visit the small town of El Chalten in Argentina. Their goal: climb huge granite peaks in the Patagonia region, some of the most challenging in the world. Follow the updates from our ambassadors and friends on these Patagonia channels and #vidapatagonia:

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    After looking at the weather forecasts on Friday morning we wrote off alpine climbing for the weekend, and figured we'd go bouldering in the afternoon. However, while eating our pre-bouldering empanadas, we watched the skies getting clearer, and rationalized that perhaps the weather forecast was good enough for alpine climbing after all. So, it wasn't until 3pm that we made plans to try Fitz Roy the next day, and not until 6:30pm that we finally started hiking towards Laguna de los Tres. We reached our bivy at Laguna de los Tres at dusk, and lay down for a few hours of sleep.

    [Above: Colin harnessing up at the bergschrund below La Brecha de los Italianos, with an awesome sunrise over Lago Viedma. Photo: Dylan Johnson]

    Continue reading "Climbing Season in Patagonia - La Via Funhogs" »

    Is It Worth It?

    John woods_green peace_2

    On Sunday July 25, 2010, a pipeline carrying tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada, burst open and spilled more than 1.1 million gallons of oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River, near Marshall, Michigan. The oil coated wildlife and birds, soaked into wetlands and waterways, and directly impacted farmland, businesses, homes and communities as far as 40 miles away. After a delay of 17 hours, workers arrived on the scene and found that the sludgy, toxic, tar sands crude sinks in water, rather than floats – making it much more difficult to clean up. Recovery efforts have already cost over $800 million, and the price paid in ecological and human health is hard to measure.

    As we move into the final phase of the Our Common Waters campaign, we’re taking a close look at expanding tar sands development across North America. From the strip mining of tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to the spider web of pipelines expanding across the U.S. and Canada, to ports and coastal areas that would act as hubs for export: at every point in the chain of production and transportation, water is at risk. The water we drink, the water we fish, the water we swim and boat in, the only water we have.

    We’re asking ourselves and our community: Is it worth it?

    [Above: Vast open-pit bitumen mines require massive clear-cutting of the pristine boreal forest in the Alberta tar sands. Photo: John Woods/Greenpeace]

    Continue reading "Is It Worth It?" »

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