The Cleanest Line

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    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]

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    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  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]

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    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:

    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...

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    Patagonia Dillon Gives Local Pronghorn a Little More Freedom to Roam

    Pic_1Today's post is from the staff of our Outlet Store in Dillon, Montana, who were among the first to take part in a developing program called Witness for Wildlife, a new initiative from Patagonia and the Freedom to Roam Coalition designed to bring together the experiences of everyday Americans who are documenting wildlife activity and threats in their own backyards and speaking out on behalf of the migration corridors those animals depend on for survival. Read on for a first-hand account from our Dillon friends, as authored by Patagonia employee and Dillon-area environmental activist, Kenda Herman.


    Living in Dillon, Montana we take for granted seeing American Pronghorn speckle the landscape and have the luxury of witnessing these animals zoom across open ranges. We are charmed with the high desert backdrops of our home that allow a view of not just big sky, but large-scale mountain ranges and valleys. With an understanding of the local wildlifes’ perspective on usable countryside in mind, we brake on I-15 for whatever animal from the foothills that might cross the highway to visit the river.

    Dillon’s Patagonia Outlet staff gained some “Freedom to Roam” this summer when we were funded for an environmental internship. We kicked off crisp work clothes in exchange for . . .

    [A view of lower Centennial Valley. Pam Neumeyer]

    Continue reading "Patagonia Dillon Gives Local Pronghorn a Little More Freedom to Roam" »

    And the Winner of "Chasing Waves" is ...


    A couple weeks back we shared an excerpt from Amy Waeschle's new book Chasing Waves: A Surfer's Tale of Obsessive Wandering. Amy kindly donated a copy of her book for one lucky Cleanest Line commenter. And that person is ... Long Story Longer!

    The random time generator selected 22:09 and Long Story Longer said, "Very cool! I'd love to win a copy. I'm a brand new surf baby and this sounds inspiring." at precisely 10:10 PM (22:10). Turns out she keeps a blog of her own where she's chronicling the trials and tribulations of being a new surfer.

    Congratulations LSL. I hope you enjoy the book as much as we have.

    Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. If you didn't win, please consider supporting Amy's work by purchasing a copy of Chasing Waves from Mountaineers Books or Amazon. We have another book giveaway in the works so stay tuned.

    Summer Reading: "Chasing Waves: A Surfer's Tale of Obsessive Wandering"; Win a Signed Copy

    CWcover-lowrez Amy Waeschle is the author of the field report "WAP #96" and a former Patagonia catalog copy writer. She's one of the friendliest, most surf-stoked women I've ever met, especially for someone who lives in a place where conditions are finicky and 5mil wetsuits are the norm. It was a pleasure working with Amy and a joy to introduce her and Kurt (her husband) to the waves at Rincon during one of their visits from the Northwest a few years back.

    Today I'd like to share news of Amy's first book, Chasing Waves: A Surfer's Tale of Obsessive Wandering. In it she chronicles her evolution from nervous newbie to self-confident and skillful surfer, and how she learned to balance love and family with her overwhelming surf lust. Says Patagonia surf ambassador Mary Osborne, "A sense of freedom, overcoming fears, discovering new cultures, dealing with love, the exciting, unexplainable feeling of riding a wave – this is what Chasing Waves is all about."

    Hit the jump for an excerpt from Chasing Waves and a chance to win a copy of the book.

    Continue reading "Summer Reading: "Chasing Waves: A Surfer's Tale of Obsessive Wandering"; Win a Signed Copy" »

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