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    A Steep Ski Traverse of the Mont Blanc Range from East to West

    By Fred Bernard, with Laurent Bibollet

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    The Mont Blanc range is not a very big mountain range, but it is steep. It has become a kind of laboratory for skiers, mountaineers and climbers from around the world. Laurent and I consider ourselves somewhere is the middle as we are ski-mountaineers, IFMGA mountain guides and part of the Peakpowder guide team.

    The Mont Blanc range sees tons of action because of its fast and easy access, with cable cars reaching higher altitudes in minutes. The idea of doing a steep ski traverse of the Mont Blanc range from its most easterly point to its most westerly point came to me about eight years ago. For some unknown reason, it had never been done; no one had tackled this challenge.

    Above: Laurent Bibolet traverses Les Courtes, one leg of the team's traverse of the Mont Blanc range. Photo: Fred Bernard

    Continue reading "A Steep Ski Traverse of the Mont Blanc Range from East to West" »

    Go Simple, Go Solo, Go Now – The Life of Audrey Sutherland

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    On February 23, 2015 a true heroine and friend of the company passed away. Audrey Sutherland grew up in California and moved to Hawai'i in 1952, where she lived to be 93. She raised her four children as a single mother, supporting her family by working as a school counselor. In 1962, she decided to explore the coast of Moloka'i by swimming it while towing a raft with supplies, the first of countless solo adventures by this remarkable woman. 

    Please read some shared stories from folks who were lucky enough to meet her. Photo: Sutherland Collection

    I met Audrey Sutherland, while editing her book Paddling North, at her house overlooking Jockos (named after her son of surfing fame) on the North Shore of O'ahu. She was in her late 80s and getting a little hard of hearing, but there was a spark in her eye and cast of her bearing that radiated her adventurous spirit. In the course of us reviewing the edits on her book I learned about her childhood in the Los Angeles foothills, her marriage to and divorce from a commercial fisherman, her move to Hawai'i, and how she raised her family by herself on the beach on the North Shore. 

    Continue reading "Go Simple, Go Solo, Go Now – The Life of Audrey Sutherland" »

    River Surfing on the Saint Lawrence

    By Juilen Fillion, photos by Vincent Bergeron

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    Montreal might be known for its welcoming French Canadian community, the beautiful women and the famous Poutine—French fries topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds—but it’s also known for a standing river wave called Habitat 67. This endless wave located on the center shore of Montreal Island was informally named for the adjacent Habitat 67 housing complex. It has become a popular destination for whitewater kayakers and river surfers.

    The wave is created by fast-moving water hitting underwater boulders and can reach a height of two meters. One of my best friends and river mentors, Corran Addison—an Olympic kayaker and three-time world freestyle kayak champion—was the first to surf the Habitat wave in 2002. It quickly became crowded due to its accessibility so a search began for other more remote river waves. This search led to the discovery of the Holy Grail of river surfing about 10 kilometers upstream on the Saint Lawrence River. But don’t get me wrong, this is not a typical place or a typical wave in a typical environment.

    Continue reading "River Surfing on the Saint Lawrence" »

    Relay Handoff on a Slovenian Alpine Playground

    By Luka Krajnc

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    All stories have to start somewhere. This one started over a cold beer when Marko Prezelj, Tadej Krišelj and I were sitting on the porch of Marko´s house on a warm, early summer evening discussing future plans. The debate evolved and ideas flew by when Marko briefly mentioned that together with Klemen Mali, more than ten years ago, he tried to climb a new route on the northwest face of Vežica in the Kamnik–Savinja Alps. The wall lies in the northern part of Slovenia and is known for its steep nature and quality limestone. After climbing one long pitch and scoping the central part of the wall they realized that their fitness did not meet the requirements needed for climbing the route in the imagined style, so they put the project aside for a time when they might be stronger. After several years they decided to pass the idea on to younger adventure-seeking climbers.

    Every seed needs to be planted before it can grow and develop into something bigger. This one immediately fell onto fertile ground as we were highly motivated and eager to face the challenge. A few days later, we found ourselves on the steep approach in a joyful atmosphere full of excitement and expectation. Marko showed us the proposed line, we discussed various technical and ethical strategies and then he left us for our reality check.

    Above: Searching for friction on the vertical playground. All photos by Marko Prezelj.

    Continue reading "Relay Handoff on a Slovenian Alpine Playground" »

    The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 3

    By Christian Beamish

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    “Check out that fin,” my buddy, Dillon Joyce, said.

    And there it was, 50 feet off the stern, an unmistakable dorsal, weaving in a slow “S” through the water. Wasn’t the sharp triangle-shape of a whitey, and as we were five- or six-miles out from Santa Cruz Island on our long sail back to the mainland, my best guess is that we were seeing a rather large blue shark. Nothing fearful about a blue shark, even if we sat a mere foot off the water aboard Cormorant. And compared to the wild ride of the day before, we were content to enjoy the light winds and the sight of thriving sea life in the Santa Barbara Channel.

    Editor’s note: If you’re just joining us, catch up with Part 1 and Part 2.

    I’d ordered a new pintle, cast in bronze by Classic Marine in the UK, fixed the rudder and returned to Santa Rosa to retrieve Cormorant. It happened that Dillon, a young surfer from San Clemente with whom I’ve sailed the islands once before, was planning a hiking trip out there and we agreed to travel together. Solitude has its place, but the safety and company of a good friend is priceless. The ranger had offered to give us a ride out to the backside of the island, as hiking with all the gear for the return sail would be impractical, and he met us at the dock.

    Above: A very simple arrangement: The haliyard runs through a hole in the top of the mast and ties off on a cleat—no stays, no fuss. Photo: Dillon Joyce

    Continue reading "The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 3" »

    The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 2

    By Christian Beamish

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    When the pintle snapped I felt a moment’s disbelief and then something like panic spark down in my belly. But I tamped that feeling with a long drink of water and a pep talk, noting to myself that I was not injured, that I had plenty of food and water, and that the conditions were calm. Johnson’s Lee, a good anchorage on the southwest corner of the island, was about five miles down and I draped a sarong over the top of my ball cap and tucked it in to my long-sleeve shirt for sun protection, then leaned into steady pulls on the oars with the thought that I might meet someone at the anchorage who could help me.

    Editor’s note: In case you missed it, catch up with Part 1. Photos: Christian Beamish

    Coming in close along shore I had a good view of desolate beaches and the scrub canyons that led upwards, the water below was aquarium clear and revealing sand one moment, rock reef and kelp the next. At a corner of rock shelves and low dunes, two big elephant seals pushed against each other chest-to-chest without much enthusiasm for the fight, their percussive groans having no effect on the females in deep slumber further up the sand. I kept on, steadily rowing, not wanting to squander the momentum I had gathered. But I stopped occasionally for water and to shake the numbness from my hands. When a light breeze started up a couple of hours later I raised sail and steered with an oar, Polynesian style.

    Continue reading "The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 2" »

    The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 1

    By Christian Beamish

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    If I’ve learned anything in these recent years of open boat adventuring aboard my 18-footer, Cormorant, it’s that everything is fine until it isn’t. But also, as Yvon says, “The real adventure starts when something goes wrong…”

    Late July, 2014—Shoving off from Gaviota for the 27-mile crossing to San Miguel Island came with a new kind of anxiety, as I no longer travel solo in life but am now married with a soon-to-be three-year-old daughter. When the State Parks Lifeguard pointed to Natasha and our little girl, Josephine, and asked me if I was planning to bring them along, I vehemently replied, “Nooo!” aghast at the thought.

    But another thought came on its heels, and that was that if it this sailing journey was too dangerous to consider bringing my young family along, why was it OK to go alone? I’ve rationalized this by telling myself that I pick my days carefully (the forecast was for light-to-moderate winds), wear a lifejacket and lifeline, and carry a Spot satellite device if I really blow it and need to be rescued. So with the mental shrug of the shoulders that it takes to do these types of trips, I pulled Cormorant off the trailer, got her down the beach, and kissed my ladies goodbye.

    Above: High-seas selfie, 15-miles into a 27-mile crossing. All photos by Christian Beamish

    Continue reading "The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 1" »

    The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get – A Paragliding Journey in the Pioneer Mountains

    By Gavin McClurg

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    I've been really fortunate in the last couple decades to explore many of the farthest corners of the globe – thirteen straight years of sailing, chasing wind and waves on a series of kitesurfing expeditions, which included nearly two full circumnavigations, and the last couple years, paragliding all over the Alps, South America, Central America, Africa and the Himalayas. Just like surfers chasing swell, pilots chase seasons and weather.

    Reggie Crist, a former Olympic alpine skier and friend of mine who lives here in Sun Valley is even making a movie about how athletes are like migratory animals, hopping on planes or jumping in cars chasing what they “need” be it adrenaline, or escape, or just pure fun. Animals, of course, are seeking food and shelter, which is all we really need as well. But for some people this other “need” is as urgent as the next hit is for a junky. Without it we find life marginalized, gray and drab.

    [Above: Gavin McClurg soars. Photo: Jody MacDonald

    Continue reading "The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get – A Paragliding Journey in the Pioneer Mountains" »

    Slow is Fast – 2013 Book Tour Dates [Updated with Event Photos and Ordering Info]

    By Dan Malloy


    We are so stinking stoked to announce that our book Slow is Fast is finished! Starting on August 2nd, Kanoa, Kellen and myself will tour our new book (and the moving pictures DVD that comes with it) from Mill Valley to San Diego. Please join us if you have time. There will be good music (The John Stewards up north and Todd Hannigan down south), we will screen the movie, talk about the trip, answer your questions and drink free beer. The book will also be for sale. We haven’t figured out a price yet so just bring your whole piggy bank.

    A huge thank you to all of the Patagonia folks in japan who made our recent tour over there so much fun, especially Lisa Iida!

    [Above: Slow is Fast book trailer. Video by Woodshed Films. Hit the jump for some DVD outtakes, production photos and the book tour details. All photos courtesy of Dan Malloy. Update 7/29: added new book tour dates and photos from each event at the bottom of this post. Update: 10/21: the book and DVD are now available to order. Details at the bottom of this post.

    Continue reading "Slow is Fast – 2013 Book Tour Dates [Updated with Event Photos and Ordering Info]" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: The Magic of Serendipity – The Year of Big Ideas 2013

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

    Dbd_YOBI_2012You might remember a story about climbers in the Magic Kingdom. It sounded like a dream job- climbing, secret lairs and cutting to the front of the roller coaster line. Our inbox flooded with emails about how to apply. But the program was canceled in 2005. Until last year. In an audition room filled with sponsored climbers and underground crushers, Susanica Tam felt her resume paled in comparison. Could climbing a mini-Matterhorn change Susanica's outlook on climbing?

    Today, we present our annual Year of Big Ideas. We went out into our community and listened to what you want to do in 2013. Here's to saying yes to new opportunities, stretching ourselves, and embracing a little spontaneity.


    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "The Magic of Serendipity"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)


    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to download the music from "The Year of Big Ideas 2013" 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]


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