The Cleanest Line

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    « July 2013 | Main | September 2013 »

    preOCCUPATIONS - A Short Film Series About People Who Do What They Love for a Living

    By Chris Malloy



    I’ve always noticed that people who have “dream jobs” are too preoccupied with their passions to realize they even have an occupation. That’s were our little film series preOCCUPATIONS comes from. All of the characters we spent time with were very different, but they share one common characteristic: they are driven by the love for what they do, not the size of their paycheck.

    The team behind this project includes young filmmakers and musicians who, like the subjects, are making a run at figuring out how to do what they love for a living. We hope you enjoy this series, but even more so, we hope these characters inspire you to find your passion and run with it.

    Chris Malloy is a Patagonia ambassador and the director of preOCCUPATIONS. You can see more of his work at Woodshed Films.

    Small Waves

    By Thorpe Moeckel

    Small surf

    Catching small waves, like catching small trout or raising food on a small scale, involves a spectrum of intricacies. It’s true that you can’t beat the gut-wrenching pleasures of surfing larger, more powerful waves. But we know that. We know all about big, groundswell waves and the adrenaline surges they inspire. They announce themselves just fine. Look at any surf magazine. You catch the drift. You know the fear, risk, reward, how they plunger you through.

    Editor's note: The lengthy flat spell we've been enduring here in Ventura makes today's post apropos. It's a long story, but an immensely pleasurable read due to the skill of the author. I hope you'll set aside some time to savor his words and slide into the small-wave state of mind. Photo: Bill Moeckel

    With small surf, or windchop, you have to be accurate to the point of dainty. There’s no muscling your position. It is a matter of degree: inches and quarters instead of feet. You tend to focus on other aspects of the sport when you ride small waves. Maybe focus is not the word but wander. The mind wanders. There’s no danger that demands you stay constantly alert. You’re either alert or you’re not. You’re in the ocean so you’re attentive no doubt. And there are many variables outside of the waves, outside of riding them. Studying the color of water could occupy a person for many lifetimes, not to mention the sand, sky, birds, and all their juxtapositions; that one can ride such small waves at all, that there is power enough has a lot to do with that – the ocean’s multiplicity, allness.

    Continue reading "Small Waves" »

    Returning to the Source – Rediscovering Wild Places and the Wild Child Within

    By Brett Dennen

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    I grew up in a camping family. We never went on any vacations that didn’t involve sleeping bags and mountains. My parents would pack up their three kids and we’d pile into our green VW bus and head into the high country, where we could truly be wild children. When I was five, my dad built a canoe and most of our camping trips after that involved paddling around a lake.

    I started backpacking when I was ten, the first year I went to Camp Jack Hazard. CJH is a high Sierra Nevada summer camp, where kids learn backpacking and leadership skills. Being a kid at camp in the mountains was always the highlight of my summers. My dad recognized the fact that I loved backpacking so he started taking me along on trips he’d plan with his friends. At the age of 14, I started working at CJH, becoming a wilderness leader. I learned to play the guitar so I could sing songs around the campfire. That’s where I first fell in love with the idea of being a musician. Playing folk songs high up in the mountains. I continued working at CJH every summer until the age of 22.

    [A five-year-old Brett in the canoe his dad built. Photo: Brett Dennen Collection]

    Continue reading "Returning to the Source – Rediscovering Wild Places and the Wild Child Within" »

    Among Giants – A Film About Making Change in the World

    By Rainhouse Cinema

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    In late May, Rainhouse Cinema released the short documentary Among Giants on Vimeo. The film tells the story of an environmental activist, “Farmer,” who tree-sits to protect a grove of old-growth redwood trees in northern California from clearcutting. Prior to its online release, the film played on PBS stations, Outside Television, and film festivals around the world.

    Already three years into the tree-sit when filming began, Among Giants blends immersive cinematography with intimate personal reflection to create a vivid picture of life in the trees and the unwavering dedication of these activists.

    [Above: Farmer at home in the canopy. Photo: Ben Mullinkosson. Hit the jump to watch Among Giants in its entirety.]

    Continue reading "Among Giants – A Film About Making Change in the World" »

    Chasing Snow into the Southern Hemisphere - Live Updates at #PursuitOfPowder

    By Eliel Hindert

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    We live our lives one step at a time. Steps filled with dust, snow, mud, ice, rock, and increasingly present pavement. Right foot in front of the left ad infinium that move us through space and time, changing our surroundings while our surroundings undoubtedly transform us.

    Take a single step over the equator and an invisible line is crossed from the Northern Summer into the Southern Winter. Take a couple hundred thousand more steps and you will find endless deserts dotted with snow capped volcanoes, immense glaciers colliding with lush rainforests, and temperate bustling metropolises seated at the feet of the icy mountain peaks that extend well above the surrounding clouds and pollution alike.

    ‘Winter’ is not simply a three-month period in North America when clouds fill the sky and icy airs settle around us. For me and my fellow Patagonia snow ambassadors, it is a search for a very different definition. One that encompasses an unrelenting drive to seek out spaces touched by winter’s hand twelve months of the year.

    [Above: Alex Yoder and Forrest Shearer hiking Nevados de Chillán during their #pursuitofpowder in Chile. Photo: Andrew Miller]

    Continue reading "Chasing Snow into the Southern Hemisphere - Live Updates at #PursuitOfPowder" »

    Working for Wildness – Patagonia Environmental Initiatives 2013

    By Yvon Chouinard

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    “In wildness is the preservation of the world.” – Thoreau

    This year, Patagonia will be 40 years old. There is much to celebrate on this anniversary, but what I am proudest of is the support we’ve given the people who do the real work to save wildness: grassroots activists.

    I’m not an activist. I don’t really have the guts to be on the front lines. But I have supported activists ever since a young man gave a slide show in 1972 at a city council meeting in Ventura. What was proposed was an extension of utilities, roads and urban services across the Ventura River to support a planned freeway-related commercial development on the western floodplain near the river’s mouth. A lot of scientists got up to speak in support of the project. They said it wouldn’t hurt the river because it was already “dead.” Mark Capelli, who was a young graduate student and called himself “Friends of the Ventura River,” then gave a slide show showing all the life that was still in the river: eels, birds, raccoons. He pointed out there were still 50 steelhead showing up each year to migrate upstream. That brought the house down. The project was eventually stopped. He showed me what one person can do. He gave me hope. We gave him desk space.

    [Above: After 40 years, we still follow an early vision to protect wilderness for the sake of wilderness. Lost Arrow Spire, Yosemite Valley, California. Photo: Glen Denny]

    Continue reading "Working for Wildness – Patagonia Environmental Initiatives 2013" »

    The Underwear Story Part 2, Dreams Coming True

    By Luke Mehall

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    When a dream is achieved a new level of consciousness can be entered. During a road trip last year, full of California dreaming, I achieved two personal dreams: climbing El Capitan in Yosemite, and becoming an underwear model for Patagonia.

    Both dreams were mere sparks at first. Any climber that sees El Capitan considers climbing it, if they could, and if they ever would. The first time I saw El Cap I wanted to go home and forget about climbing, the mere sight of it revealed my most inner doubts and fears. At the same time, it was an object of beautiful desire, engaging and impossible to forget. Over the last decade-plus Yosemite’s walls have allured me back time and time again, and after ten trips and two previous failures on El Cap, last September I finally climbed the Salathe Wall, with my dear friend Dave Ahrens.

    [Above: The author (left) and Dave Ahrens atop El Cap Spire on the Salathe Wall. The number 6 camalot hanging off the author's harness came in handy many times. Climbing and Facelift photos by Luke Mehall]

    Continue reading "The Underwear Story Part 2, Dreams Coming True" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Home Front

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

    DBD_homefrontThere's a story that you may have heard kicked around in the newspapers and nightly news for the last few months. It's as unsettling as it is tragic. The rate of suicide among active military personnel, reservists, and veterans has increased to nearly 22 suicides a day. 22 every day, even as more resources are being allocated to prevent it – and finding a solution is likely as complicated as understanding why.

    Veterans Stacy Bare and Nick Watson know the struggles that service members face as they readjust to civilian life. Addiction. Depression. An overwhelming feeling of being out of place. But over time, both found a place in the outdoors and the surrounding community to recreate what they missed from the military, and to feel like they had really come home. And they didn’t stop there – they became determined to find a way to make that transition easier for other veterans too. Today, we bring you their stories and the story of how these two veterans are creating a community for other veterans on the home front.

    Warning: This episode does contain graphic descriptions of violence and adult language.



    Editor's note: If you enjoyed this episode, check out "A Lifeline Home" from 2007. 

    The Dirtbag Diaries is a production of Duct Tape Then Beer. Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS,
    SoundCloud and Stitcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]


    ‘Medium-wave surfing’ in Spain and South Africa

    By Tony Butt

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    Sometimes, to find the best solution to a problem, one has to be unafraid of trying out unconventional or seemingly counterintuitive ideas. Sometimes you have to go back and look at the original problem in a different light and think about what you are trying to achieve.

    When looking for a place to surf, people often make the mistake of prioritizing the quality of the waves themselves over the quality of the experience of surfing them. For example, you might have a much better time sharing medium-quality onshore surf with three of your best friends, than trying to surf a world-class pointbreak with a 30 hostile locals. Or you might find the challenge of big, ugly surf in cold water more satisfying than perfect, easy surf in tropical conditions.

    [Above: Sunset Reef, a stunning wave with a stunning backdrop. Photo: Javi Muñoz Pacotwo]

    Continue reading "‘Medium-wave surfing’ in Spain and South Africa" »

    The Final Frontier

    By James Lucas

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    I screamed at the granite wall. The sound bounced off Yosemite’s Fifi Buttress and drowned into the roar of Bridalveil Falls. I lowered to the belay, where Katie stood at a small stance. I was six inches from a free ascent. It felt like six miles. I’d cleaned the route. Pulled out old gear. Placed bolts. Climbed on the pitches a ton. I’d trained hard. I stopped sleeping. Would the work ever pan out?

    Dan McDevitt established The Final Frontier, a Grade V 5.7 A3 route in 1999 with Sue McDevitt, Brittany Griffith and Sue’s sister Penny Black. He climbed the route again with Jim Karn, the first American to win a World Cup in climbing and America’s best sport climber in the '80s. While they were climbing, Jim Karn told Dan, “It’ll go free.”

    [Above: Mikey Schaefer photo of me climbing the penultimate arch pitch.]

    Continue reading "The Final Frontier" »

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