The Cleanest Line

Weblog for the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Visit Patagonia.com to see what we do.

RSS Feed

Twitter

    Archives

    Search


    Getting Satisfaction on the North Face of North Twin

    by Hayden Kennedy

    Today's post comes to us from Hayden Kennedy about a climb he recently attempted with Jason Kruk. Anyone who’s paying attention these days is blown away by the progression. The talented youth just keep getting after it, and it’s not just in cragging and bouldering. The serious alpine has always attracted only a few inspired stragglers, and today’s story comes from one of the best. Hayden Kennedy has redpointed 5.14c, free climbed El Capitan, and he and fellow youthful badass Jason Kruk have summited Fitz Roy in burly conditions. Oh – and he’s just now old enough to go to the bars (in the U.S, that is – it’s only 18 in Canada). Here’s a great piece on a great face by two great young climbers. -K.C.

    Hk - N Twin IMG_1187

    “It’s just you and me and a big alpine face, this is what we came here for!” Jason Kruk says as we pack our bags at my van before embarking on an alpine-style push on the north face of North Twin. The North Twin is a beast of a mountain and it is one of the biggest and hardest north faces in the Canadian Rockies. The north face is about 5,000 feet and maintains hard climbing the entire way. It has only been climbed three times in 37 years and each of the three teams were leading alpinists at their time. George Lowe and Chris Jones made the first ascent of the north face in summer 1974; it was a groundbreaking route done in impeccable style. It would be another 11 years before alpine climbing legends Barry Blanchard and Dave Cheesmond established the North Pillar route, in perfect alpine style over four days in August 1985. Tales of horrendous rock fall, scary climbing and a long approach terrified people, and the face loomed over alpinists like a huge tidal wave about to crash. In April 2004 Steve House and Marko Prezelj made the third ascent of the face in mixed conditions; during the climb Steve dropped his boot shell, forcing Marko to rope gun the rest of the route. The stories and the legends of the North Twin make any alpine climber shiver just a little bit.

    [Jason Kruk climbing the mental crux of the route, M7-ish choss. Photo: Hayden Kennedy]

    Continue reading "Getting Satisfaction on the North Face of North Twin" »

    Cover Story

    by Kelly Cordes

    Kc - 99, 06, 07 AAJs

    What makes a good cover? Well, as with most things, that depends. What do you want? Sex appeal? Eye candy? Or are you hoping to convey something more? The story behind the image means something. To me it does, anyway. Since 2000 I’ve been one of the editors of the American Alpine Journal, and we try to capture the previous year in big new routes, worldwide, in our annual edition, as we’ve done since 1929. Right now we’re frantically trying to wrap things up and get the 2011 book to press.
     
    What to put on the cover? It should probably be from one of the feature articles – we select features based on what we (with consultation from others in the serious alpine community) consider the most badass, interesting and inspiring big climbs of the previous year. And after sorting through the barrage of butt-shots, we find some gems and make a decision.

    [From left: Covers of the 1998, 2006, 2007 AAJs.]

    Continue reading "Cover Story" »

    Makalu 2011: Sweet & Sour

    Steve_House_Makalu_2009 Steve House called today and shared the latest news from Makalu. He and fellow Patagonia ambassador Marko Prezelj finished their acclimatization and spent some time on the west face where the weather didn't cooperate all that well. But the forecast is improving slightly so the duo are going to head back to ABC and give the west face another go tomorrow.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to Steve House - Makalu Call 2 - May 18, 2011
    (4:41 – right-click to download MP3)

    Let's all wish Steve and Marko good luck and safe climbing. We'll update you again as soon as possible.

    Previous posts from this trip:
    Makalu 2011

    To see Steve and Marko in action, check out their 2005 video Cayesh: The Calling.

    [My advanced base camp, at the base of Makalu's west face (2009). Photo: © Steve House]

    Makalu 2011

    Steve on Sat Phone 2009 Makalu West Face by Steve House

    Editor’s note: Patagonia ambassadors Steve House and Marko Prezelj are back at Makalu. Longtime Cleanest Line readers will recall their previous attempt to climb Makalu’s West Face in 2008 with Vince Anderson, and Steve’s subsequent trip in 2009 when he made an emergency solo decent from 21,300 ft. with High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. Similar to the previous trips, Steve will be calling in with reports from his sat phone. Today, we’re happy to share his first call from this trip, and some background on the expedition.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to Steve House - Makalu Call 1 - April 29, 2011
    (7:52 – right-click to download MP3)

    From stevehouse.net:

    Marko Prezelj is organizing an expedition to Makalu this Spring and I will be joining him as will Rok Blagus (SLO), Luka Lindic (SLO), Boris Lorencic (SLO), and Dr. Scott Boughton (USA). The average age of Marko and I will be 43.5. The average age of the other five climbers; 24.6 years. Dr. Boughton will have ample opportunity to explore and trek, but will also endeavor to keep us healthy and light-hearted. I’m confident that he can do both.

    [Left: Me on the phone with you from 7400 meters (24,270 ft) in 2009. Lhotse is behind me. Right: Located 14 miles east of Mt. Everest, on the border between Nepal and China, Makalu is the fifth highest peak in the world (27,762 ft). All photos © Steve House.]

    Continue reading "Makalu 2011" »

    Second-Annual Copp-Dash Inspire Award Recipients Announced

    Copp-Dash The Copp-Dash Inspire Award, sponsored by Black Diamond Equipment, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia, announced the latest winners of the new climbing grant established in memory of American climbers Jonny Copp and Micah Dash, who were killed in an avalanche in China in May 2009 along with filmmaker Wade Johnson. In addition to providing financial support to perspective expedition teams, the goal of the Copp-Dash Inspire Award is to provide mentoring before and after the expedition to help the climbers bring back inspiring multimedia stories of their adventures.

    “It was great to see so many Inspire Award applicants this year,” says La Sportiva’s Marketing Manager, Laura Fryer. “The Copp-Dash Inspire Award will help support small teams document their ascents of the great mountains of the world. Jonny, Micah and Wade knew that the stories and experiences we take away from a climb are just as important as the climb itself, and that’s what the Inspire Award is all about.”

    This November, the winners of the 2010 Inspire Award will be highlighted at the annual Adventure Film Festival in Boulder, Colo. The event serves as an international forum for the best and most inspiring independent outdoor and adventure films and will showcase the creative work that comes out of the Inspire Award expeditions.

    The 2011 Copp-Dash Inspire Award winners and their objectives are:
    • Dave Burdick with Dylan Johnson and John Freih. A new, completely independent rock and mixed line on the 1100m South Face of Mt. Burkett, Stikine Icecap, Southeast Alaska.
    • Jesse Spaulding with Kyle Kneely, Scott Parker and Conrad Piper-Ruth. New routes, up to 6000m, in the Nangma Valley, Northern Pakistan.
    • Kyle Dempster with Jewell Lund and Kelly Cordes. First ascents in the Karavshin Valley in southwestern Krgyzstan. Intermission bike ride from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to Skardu, Pakistan (approximately 1400 miles). First ascents of the Southwest Pillar of K7 West, to its unclimbed summit and the east face of K7 Main, in the Charakusa Valley, Pakistan, Karakoram Mountains.
    • Matt McCormick with Pat Goodman and Will Meinen. First ascents of the Southwest Pillar of K7 West and an alpine-style first ascent of a major sub-summit of K7 West, Nepal.
    • Mike Libecki. Solo attempt for the first ascent of The Ibex Horn, central Afghanistan.
    For more information on how to apply for the Copp-Dash Inspire Award for 2012, visit the American Alpine Club's website.

    Good vs. Honesty in the Mortenson Debate

    Kc - hushe area school 295 I’ve long had this idealistic notion that the ends don’t justify any means. It’s why I’m a stickler for truthful reporting of climbs. The half-truths, clever omissions and misrepresentations we sometimes see – and I learn about too often in my work – are just different forms of lying, and for what? If you can’t be honest about climbing, what else in life do you lie about?

    But who cares…it means little – unless, on a fundamental level, we think that truth matters. I think that it does.

    So what, then, if someone is dishonest – or just inept – and they serve a greater good?

    60 Minutes recently aired a damning indictment of Greg Mortenson, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated humanitarian who founded the Central Asia Institute. The Institute has educated tens of thousands of young children, mostly girls, in rural and grossly neglected regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson, a former climber, started his organization after a failed attempt on K2 in 1993, when, he claimed, Pakistani villagers helped nurse him back to health and he promised to return and build a school. 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer – author of a 75-page article, Three Cups of Deceit (How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way) – allege significant fabrications in Mortenson’s best-selling book, Three Cups of Tea, and its follow-up, Stones Into Schools. Worse are the allegations of serious financial mismanagement, including a woefully low percentage of CAI’s proceeds actually going to schools, and large sums being spent on publicity and travel for Mortenson’s books and speaking engagements, for which he, not the CAI, receives the proceeds.

    [Above: A Central Asia Institute school along the road to Hushe, Northern Areas, Pakistan. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Good vs. Honesty in the Mortenson Debate" »

    Picture Story: Competency

    A photographic exposition, in which the photographer herein pontificates on the significance of sufficient competency in the face of ample conditions . . . -Ed

    Competency

    The joys of competency and individuality – The Chief and I seemed to have the latter down pat, anyway. I suppose we delude ourselves, which is part of the beauty of escape and climbing. Back in the mid 90s, midway up the north face of the Canadian Rockies’ classic Mt. Edith Cavell, rated an old-school 5.7 (we’d have been wise to check the weather and conditions before leaving, and to have scoped the approach and the route, have not arrived after dark and too many road sodas, have…well, you get the point), a full-on blizzard engulfed us. I began to shiver uncontrollably, and indeed The Chief showed true competency and took over, leading us to the top and down the whiteout descent. By the time I’d warmed enough to become functional, the next day had dawned and we intersected a highway of a trail off the descent scramble. We started hiking the right way, convinced ourselves it was the wrong way, turned around and hiked a couple of miles toward the Tonquin Valley until a couple of bewildered hikers – bewildered like, “what are these two idiots doing out here?” – eventually set us straight. “Uh, yeah – YEAH dude, totally, I thought so!” The Chief told them. “Thanks for clarifying it for us!” Back at the high-speed pod 30-some hours after leaving, we reveled in our adventure. At least until we read that infamous guidebook line: “A competent party can climb the face comfortably in a day….”

    And still, we celebrated.

    [The Chief, back at the high-speed pod, celebrating our incompetence. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Picture Story: Conditions

    Another in our occasional series of posts for the more visually oriented. This one goes out to all those lucky enough to charge off the couch and into the unknown without looking back or thinking twice . . . or doing much thinking at all, for that matter. - Ed

    Cordes - n face Edith Cavell (LR)

    This photo is from one of my earliest technical alpine climbs, the north face of Mt. Edith Cavell some 15 years ago, when The Chief and I zipped from Missoula to the Canadian Rockies in his dented, pea-green Honda Civic hatchback, “The high-speed pod.” (coincidentally, I currently drive a Civic hatchback of about the same year – different color, though). We bumbled into the trailhead parking lot near midnight in a low-cloud drizzle, opened the doors and rolled-out with a bunch of empty beer cans (this was a long time ago, and we were a lot stupid), slept for a few hours, overslept, got lost immediately upon leaving the parking lot, realized at sunrise that we’d mistakenly approached beneath huge seracs, made a hasty traverse and eventually found the general vicinity of the route. In the dark the night before, while packing, I’d insisted we needed only one ice axe each. “Looks easy up there, dude,” I said. “It’s only 5.7.” It might have been reasonable to check the weather and conditions before leaving. Conditions - including our own.

    [The Chief just before a blizzard rolled in, midway into a minor epic on the 4,000-foot, 5.7 north face of Mt. Edith Cavell, first climbed in 1961 by Fred Beckey, Yvon Chouinard and Dan Doody. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Read part two: Competency

    Bean’s Battle

    Kc - helen bean P1000813 Our friend and fellow Patagonia climbing ambassador Bean Bowers just finished his second round of chemotherapy.

    It all seems so weird, so different. One of the best things about climbing is the feeling of control in unknown, even chaotic environments. I love that. We all do. The most adventuresome among us—people like Bean—inspire with their willingness to embrace wild situations, and they return with a glow that tells us everything. It’s such a contrast to a world that feels huge, cold, corporate, corrupt, where we feel powerless. In wilderness we escape and live, we get to control our selves and our destinies. Not everything is like that. Waking in the middle of the night puking, writhing with crippling headaches, your body suddenly racked with tumors is not like that.

    So this is where we try to help.

    [Helen and Bean in El Chalten, Argentine Patagonia, where they scraped by in a small cabin for several seasons. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Bean’s Battle" »

    Choose Your Own Storytelling

    Kc - siyeh P1030455 The comments got me thinking. I’m talking about the comments on my last post, about adventure and youth. So many shifts, twists, turns, contradictions and evolutions that keep life interesting, and keep adventure and individuality alive.

    How do these shifts interplay with our desire to share our stories? Several commenters – here and on the Facebook repostings – mentioned the climbing media. Indeed there’s likely some truth to the climbing media paying more attention to the more popular and quantifiable forms of climbing. People want it. Ratings and numbers have always had the ability to capture and categorize in ways more easily understood than any attempts to articulate adventure. That doesn’t mean that adventure climbing is dead. Maybe we just don’t hear about it as much.

    Or maybe, like adventure itself, we just have to search harder for it. The stories are out there.

    [An awesome adventure, but I can’t tell you where. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Choose Your Own Storytelling" »

    One Percent for the Planet
    © 2014 Patagonia, Inc.