The Cleanest Line

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    From Yellowstone to Reno

    Skye-HOL10 catalogOn the inside back cover of our 2010 Holiday Catalog is an image that originally appeared on the cover of our 1990 winter Kid’s Catalog. Not one person here in mail order even worked for Patagonia back then but nonetheless it’s a picture many of us know well. The photograph is of a little girl looking out her window at a buffalo munching grass on a snowy day in Yellowstone National Park. The reason we all know it so well is that Skye, the little girl in the picture, has worked here since 2004. When the picture reappeared in the current Holiday Catalog, I knew there must be a story behind that Yellowstone childhood and how she came to work here at Patagonia.

    The story begins in England where her mom (a Brit) and dad (an American) met while in college. They married and returned to the US, living in Boston where her dad found work as an operating technician at Massachusetts General Hospital. But the story really gets under way in 1973 with a newspaper ad, an ad for the Winter Keeper position in the Canyon Village area of Yellowstone National Park (think The Shining). Only this job didn’t entail watching over a huge hotel, it involved watching over some 200 summer cabins perched on the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. He was offered the job (Skye is pretty sure he was the only applicant) and after talking it over with his wife, she decided that doing it for a year might be fun; because, she figured, you can survive just about anything for a year. So they packed up their old Saab and their new baby (Skye’s sister Emma) and headed west.

    [Photo Top: Skye at home in Yellowstone. Photo: Steven Fuller]

    Continue reading "From Yellowstone to Reno" »

    Product Testing - Paddling Around Old Fanny

    It was just a couple weeks ago that our friends down in Patagonia's Ventura offices were wishing summer a fond farewell. Maybe it's this week's return to splitter blue skies and warm breezes, maybe it's the certainty of winter's descent when the snows finally come, but our Reno-based tribe has been a bit more reluctant to let the summer go. A few weeks ago, some of our Customer Service folks headed up the hill to Lake Tahoe to try out a new sport and explore an oft-overlooked corner of the lake. Sample Coordinator Andrew Marshall files his report:
    _________________________________________

    Chip Twice a year, usually once in the winter and once in the summer, our work group gets to spend a day together doing something fun. It's a great way to bond with co-workers, maybe get introduced to a new sport and have a relaxing day away from the office. So far we've skied, snowboarded, kayaked and rock climbed, but our most recent trip was probably the best and most memorable one yet. This time, with the encouragement from some fellow employee-enthusiasts, we decided a Stand-Up Paddle (SUP) trip on Lake Tahoe would make for an excellent group field day.

    Perhaps because of the coastal California influence, stand-up paddling has become particularly popular in Lake Tahoe. It is certainly an exhilarating way to take in the beautiful views and enjoy the water. There are several businesses around the lake renting boards this summer and the SUP market has even taken to the demand by developing flat-water-specific boards.

    Fannette Emerald Bay is one of the most beautiful parts of Lake Tahoe. Pristine blue waters fill a perfectly shaped bay that is home to a small island located almost directly in its center: Fannette Island. Even more intriguing is medieval-looking fieldstone tea house situated at the very top of the island - picturesquely perfect in its own right. Despite the fact that nearly all of our group members are natives to the area (or quite nearly so), and despite having driven past it dozens of times, none of us had ever been to this island or even knew the name of it off the top of our head. We concluded it must be "more of a tourist spot" and "not a really a locals' destination." None of us really knew why - likely because it is usually a busy place almost any time of the year. We bashfully concluded that tourists were likely the reason none of us had been here before.

    [Above, left - Chip takes a breather during the circumnavigation of Fannette Island, Emerald Bay, California. Above, right - a water-level view of the Old Fanny Island tea house. Photos: Andrew Marshall]

    Continue reading "Product Testing - Paddling Around Old Fanny " »

    Backyard Voting

    Bill Times Sq wide 2

    The election season has begun (at least according to the media) and here at Patagonia, we’ve revived our Vote the Environment campaign. We especially want to hear from you about what wild environmental issues are roaming through your backyard, neighborhood, or town. Let us know why people in your neck of the woods should “register to vote, know the environmental records of your candidates and vote the environment.”

    You can post your stories here or on Patagonia’s Facebook page. Please keep ‘em short and civil. Here’s one from our friend, Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth and founder of 350.org. [Bill McKibben speaking at Times Square. Photo: Bill McKibbon Collection]

    My Backyard

    Vermont faces one of the most interesting environmental challenges in the country right now—and it’s a result of one of the most obvious environmental decisions any legislature has made in recent years.

    Continue reading "Backyard Voting" »

    The Shackboy Labor Day Marg

    Kc - DG_shack_fire_sm I love the characters in our world. They color things, make everything interesting, and so often dwell on the fringe. Maybe it was a compliment when my friend, The Chief, got lectured by his father: “When are you drifters gonna move out of the gray area and join the human race!”
     
    Another such character, The Danimal – Dan Gambino, more formally – and I have a connection first forged in beer, climbing, and the Big Lebowski. And, as such, Labor Day weekend seems an appropriate time for this post, given our mutual lack of labor back in the Shack days.
     
    We’d met at my wedding, when he crashed it. He was friends with my buddy Pete, who invited Dan, who then bivied in mine and my soon-to-be-then wife’s house and puked in one of our gift boxes – though he denies it and blames Pete, who denies and blames Dan. No wonder the marriage didn’t work.
     
    We became Shack Brothers in 2000, when we both lived in what was once publicly decried – in front of a packed banquet at some fancy-pants climbers’ dinner – as a “foul pit of climbing ambition and dirty dishes.” Yes, the storied local guide’s shack in Estes Park. The Almighty Shack to us. PBR cans and trash littered the floor, daylight shone through the gaps in the wall, and the mice and rats so infested our humble abode that, at times, I’d hear the Danimal going ballistic, chasing them around and hurling food cans at them. Every evening, after work our fellow climbing guides came to hang, swill PBR (for the record: this was long before frat boys and hipsters glommed onto PBR as a cool slummin’ brand), and tell outrageous stories about their day.

    [The Danimal in action, circa 2000. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "The Shackboy Labor Day Marg" »

    Backcountry Film Festival - Call for Submissions

    Deeppopecrop Time to dust off those great video clips you shot last ski season and polish up your best footage, because the Winter Wildlands Alliance is gearing up for their annual  Backcountry Film Festival and they're seeking your submissions by September 15th. Now in its sixth year, the Festival continues its focus on grassroots filmmakers who tell compelling and entertaining stories of backcountry, nonmotorized recreation and environmental preservation.

    When they say "grassroots," they mean it. From the Festival website: "You don't need a degree from a film school. You don't need footage shot while dangling precariously, camera in hand, from an ice wall in the Rockies. All you need is a compelling story, some quality footage and a keen eye for a fun, educational or juicy topic."

    This year's categories are:  Best Short Short (under 5 minutes), Best Environmental Message and Best of Festival.

    Films entered into the festival should be short - no longer than 30 minutes. In keeping with the Winter Wildlands ethos, these films should share a thought-provoking, interesting story of backcountry, nonmotorized recreation. A strong focus on environmental themes is at the heart of the Festival and the Wildlands mission, so stories focusing on conservation, preservation and stewardship are encouraged. The sponsoring organization being the Winter Wildlands Alliance, aspiring entrants should heed their direction to only enter films that take place during winter, or have a very clear relation to winter. Regarding formats, the Festival warmly welcomes whatever your creativity can conjure - documentaries, fiction, experimental, you name it.

    The Film Festival gets noisy in Boise starting November 4 before taking to the road and hitting over 30 locations throughout the nation.

    Submissions must be in DVD format, received in Winter Wildlands Alliance's Boise office by September 15, 2010 and include three copies and a $20 submission fee. See festival rules for more information and address to which you may mail your submissions. You may also contact Shelley Pursell at [email protected]  or 208-343-1630 for further details.

    [Photo courtesy Winter Wildlands Alliance/Backcountry Film Festival. Skier, Sam Pope - KGB Productions. Photographer, Tuck Fauntleroy.]

    Of Marmots and Men

    Julyhike Every year, some friends and I converge on an really cool spot near Yosemite where we hike six miles carrying absurdly heavy packs and eat crazy amounts of really good food. Over the years, the only down side to this idyllic spot has been the parking. And by parking I don’t mean finding a space, this isn’t San Francisco; it’s the local fauna that’s been the problem. We've parked our cars all over the Sierra but for some reason this is the only place where we’ve had a consistent problem with marmots. Oh sure the California black bear gets quite a bit of publicity for its vandalism, but we’ve had more than our share of problems with Marmota flaviventer sierrae, the Southern Sierra Marmot. I, myself have been victimized twice.

    The first time, I was driving out on the lonely dirt road and I noticed that not only was my engine running unusually hot, there was steam pouring out from under the hood. It turns out a marmot had chewed a hole in a radiator hose. Luckily, this marmot was kind enough to chew through it near the end. Also lucky for me, MacGuyver used to be my favorite show, so using my Leatherman (I know, it should have been a Swiss Army Knife) I unscrewed the hose clamp, cut off the chewed-up end and reattached the hose. I then filled the radiator with creek water and off I went. Five years later and the hose is still intact. Another time, I started having electrical problems right after returning from the trip. I finally took it into my mechanic for his diagnosis. After a long look he asked me, in the gentlest way possible, just where exactly I lived. I guess he thought I must live in some rat-infested hovel. Unfortunately, this time the marmots had chosen to dine on my wiring harness. This is not an inexpensive repair.

    [Above: Walking away from the marmots. photo: Ken La Russa]

    Continue reading "Of Marmots and Men" »

    Tell Us About Your Rad Dad - Score Him a Present from Patagonia

    LP east side hike Ever ridden in a backpack, surfed tandem, skied on a leash, been pulled up to the belay, sat on the handle bars or just had a downright radical experience with the helping hand of your Rad Dad? In celebration of Father's Day, we'd like to hear your story. We'll pick the best stories to post on our blog, The Cleanest Line, and stoke you and your Rad Dad each with a sweet Patagonia prize. Submit your story about your Rad Dad before Monday, June 21, to this e-mail address:


    [email protected]

    Pictures are also heartily encouraged and can be attached to your email. Submissions can be as long as you'd like (within reason - no novellas, please), but should be a minimum of 1 or 2 paragraphs. We'll publish our favorites on The Cleanest Line starting the week after Father's Day. Full contest guidelines are available in our "About" section.

    PLEASE NOTE: While we do welcome stories from across the globe, we can only ship prizes within the United States.



    We gag on legalese as much as you do, so we're doing our best to keep things simple. That said, please be sure to review the Submission Guidelines and Contest Rules here before sending us your story. Hit the jump to enjoy a few more pictures of some of Patagonia's rad dads in action.

    [Brian Polley enjoys an east-side hike with the kids, Sierra Nevada. Photo: Lisa Polley]

    Continue reading "Tell Us About Your Rad Dad - Score Him a Present from Patagonia" »

    The Tin Shed Gets Tuned Up for Spring

    Tin Shed S10 We’re sliding open the doors to the Shed and sweeping it clean this spring. Tune into the season with a fresh batch of stories from our friends and ambassadors out in the wild – in videos, audio and written word. And don’t worry, just like our favorite winter sweaters, we’ve found a place to stash all the cool-weather stories – you’ll find all of them in the Tin Shed archives by clicking "View All Stories" in the top right corner of the Shed.

    Here's a taste of what you'll find this spring:

    Border Country
    Jeremy Collins and Mikey Schaefer had been planning a new route on Yosemite Valley’s Middle Cathedral when they learned of the deaths of their good friends and fellow climbers, Jonny Copp and Micah Dash. Collins said, “They showed us to never give up, to go light, to go bold, and always live with passion.” He and Schaefer sent the route in their honor.

    Mongo Metal Pirates

    In Mongo Fly ’08, Mikey Wier takes us to remote Mongolian rivers in search of the massive taimen. Check out the trailer for Metalheadz, a new video from AEG Media on steelhead fishing in the Pacific Northwest. And see an excerpt from the ESPN series Pirates of the Flats featuring Yvon Chouinard and Bill Klyn pursuing bonefish in the Bahamas.

    Freedom to Roam and Awakening the Skeena

    Freedom to Roam portrays a long-term initiative dedicated to establishing migration wildways in the Americas and elsewhere for animals now threatened by global warming. In Awakening the Skeena, a young woman swims the length of a cold northern river to inspire communities in its watershed to come to its defense.

    Jeff Denholm: Ocean Calling

    A twist of fate changed Jeff Denholm’s life in the mid-90s, but his competitive drive hasn’t diminished. Watch as he trains for, and competes in, his first Moloka’I Challenge – the 32-mile race that’s considered paddleboarding’s unofficial world championship.

    The Simplest Solution

    After seeing a wiry Nepali porter carry a 100 lb load with the aid of a tumpline, Yvon Chouinard followed suit and strapped one over his head to relieve the strain of his heavy pack on his injured neck. Following that discovery, Yvon said, “I learned to try to find a simple solution first, rather than a techno-fix.”

    Patagonia Surfers in Indonesia

    Gerry Lopez, Wayne Lynch, Liz Clark, and Dan, Keith and Chris Malloy set out with Fletcher Chouinard on the Makimba to test his new boards in Indonesia’s Mentawai Islands off the coast of Sumatra.

    Northern Alps Traverse

    In August 2009, Maxime Turgeon set off on his bike and pedaled up the high mountain passes of the northern Alps in search of classic climbs to solo. After three weeks, six peaks, 770 miles of cycling, and over 42,000 feet of elevation gain, he dove into the Mediterranean Sea at the end of this human-powered journey.

    24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell

    Team of two take on the steep, gritty sandstone near Jasper, Arkansas, during a 24-hour climbing competition. Patagonia ambassadors Brittany Griffith and Kate Rutherford team up to show the boys some sass. The self-proclaimed alpinistos gordos, Colin Haley and Mikey Schaefer, used the marathon competition to jump-start their training.

    Drop by the Shed to feed your roots with classic tales, check out fresh footage from the cutting edge, and maybe find yourself a sweet deal on your next Patagonia purchase. Thanks for tuning in!

    Backyard Adventures: Pioneer Trifecta (aka. Fatherhood Shakedown)

    Jj_Hyndman A little over a year ago, we invited readers to submit stories of their own Backyard Adventures and announced a deadline of January 9th, 2009. Here we are in 2010, and still (happily) receiving submissions. Today's post is from previous Backyard Adventure contributor Steve Graepel, author of an earlier piece about traversing central Idaho's Sawtooth Range. Steve's been working hard on his plan to thread a 900+ mile route through Idaho's wilderness by foot, raft and mountain bike. This installment of Steve's Backyard Adventures could be considered a recon-mission for his big trip, but with a new baby on the way, Steve had something different in mind . . .

    __________________________

    After ten years of marriage, life finds a comfortable rhythm; it’s a well-tuned circuit of work, exercise and leisure.

    And then along comes your first child...

    "It will change your life...your life will never be the same...parenthood gives back so much more than you put into it...". Growing wary of the overabundance of encouragement, or perhaps out of sheer panic, I jumped at the chance to get lost during the baby shower. There aren’t many problems you can't solve after an 8.5 hour push.

    I wanted to knock out a trip I'd heard rumors of. Nestled in Sun Valley's backyard, three hours from Boise, the "Pios" court those with a zest for adventure. . . .

    [Above: The view of Hyndman Peak from Cobb's south face. Photo: James Just]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Pioneer Trifecta (aka. Fatherhood Shakedown)" »

    Backyard Adventures: Backyard World

    BackyardworldA little over a year ago, we invited readers to submit stories of their own Backyard Adventures and announced a deadline of January 9th, 2009. Here we are in 2010, and still (happily) receiving submissions. The most recent is this beautiful audio slideshow from father and Bend, Oregon resident, Jason Albert, entitled Backyard World. The words that follow speak to the motivations that lead to the creation of Jason's slideshow, which readers can view using the link at the end of his essay. Whether you're a parent, or just someone who believes in the value of "seeing small to make the world big," Jason's slideshow is a gem we're happy to share.
    __________________________

    I am keen on listening to first person accounts of deep commitment and adventure; all transpiring with a close connection to place. I vicariously inhale these adventures, and used to think that they would be nothing without their setting in far-off, exotically-spiced countries. A good friend once had his windowless and dank basement apartment plastered with cutouts from climbing catalogs. We would drool over these images. Regrettably, we could not be bothered with the real Montana wilds a few blocks away. Not, that is, with some godly climber pulling a move with their pinky in a “real” mountain range that I knew had prayer flags fluttering just beyond the camera’s lens. We dreamed and ogled. I could picture myself there too, even if I would need super Wonder Twins’ powers to travel safe and fast in that terrain. The catalog images compounded the effects of the “it must be better beyond my backyard” virus I harbored.

    The virus is now in remission. But for years I, too, “jonesed” for adventure - quelled only...

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Backyard World" »

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