The Cleanest Line

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    From White Lines to Tight Lines, Shifting Seasonal Gears w/ Mikey Weir & Friends

    4thlines What looks to be the last winter storm of the season has just pulled out of the area and winter seems to be drawing to a close in the Sierra. It's time to shift gears. No doubt we'll eat those words with a final flurry of crop-crushing cold, but still, now's the time to reflect on a season that's been epic for many (ahem, Colorado) and surprisingly not-so-bad for others (uh, yeah, that'd be us).

    So here's one for all the pow-hounds out there. Pour yourself a barley-pop and enjoy some images of tasty Sierra lines. They come to us courtesy of Patagonia Ambassador Mikey Weir, who has every bit as much fun hitting the water when it's frozen as he does when it's flowing. When he's not earning his living as a professional fishing guide and filmmaker, Mikey (who's also a pro snowboarer) turns his keen eye toward some of Tahoe's choice pickings. Mikey actually sent us these shots earlier in the season, but the mostly rider-less images seemed like a perfect way to cap off the season. After all, sometimes the best part of a run is looking back the turns you've carved. Feel free to share your reflections on the season in our comments section.

    Oh! And to help complete the transition, stay tuned for an upcoming story about Mikey's adventures taimen hunting in Mongolia. For now, here's Mikey on those Tahoe lines:

    Continue reading "From White Lines to Tight Lines, Shifting Seasonal Gears w/ Mikey Weir & Friends" »

    Backyard Adventures: Anything But: KC's High Carbon Weekend

    Not long ago, we offered up a Backyard Adventure tale from Patagonia Climbing Ambassador, mountain writer, and senior editor for the American Alpine Journal, Kelly Cordes. Kelly told us all about the great climbing to be had within 15 minutes of his door. Kelly's an honest man, so he didn't shy away from offering up today's wry post about another of his recent climbing trips - one with a decidedly different carbon profile than his true Backyard Adventure. Consider it a reminder of what backyard adventures are NOT. Maybe it's that earlier backyard trip that's got him thinking this way . . .

    On Wednesday, Scotty D called from California. A work delay had him with a few days to kill, and he had a room, a rental car and his company was paying him to sit and be bored.

    Capitalizing on that human ability to rationalize nearly everything and draw simplistic stopgap lines for our problems, I figured a break would help my work. I’d fallen behind and needed rejuvenation, so Thursday night I boarded the plane on a frequent flier ticket. Free trip to Yosemite. Yes, “free.”

    I emailed my friends and AAJ colleagues, John and Dougald.

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Anything But: KC's High Carbon Weekend" »

    Backyard Adventures: Fear of the Dark

    We're pleased to offer today's Backyard Adventure from Patagonia Climbing Ambassador, mountain writer, and senior editor for the American Alpine Journal, Kelly Cordes. Patagonia's Ambassador Liaison and all-around Grassroots Guy, Kristo Torgersen recently asked our climbing and skiing athletes for some notes about their favorite clothes. The request entered the Cordes Mental Cuisinart and came out like . . . well, just check out the soundtrack-enabled report . . .

    Cordes - view

    If I could only have one piece per body part category to do the coolest things I want to do all year, it would be the following - I call it my Kit For Life. Here it is:

    - Wool 1 T-shirt
    - R1 Hoody
    - Houdini
    - Simple Guide Pants
    - Nano Puff (coming, Fall 2009)

    A few days after getting Kristo's request, Friday the 13th struck [insert creepy Fear of the Dark sound here]. I’d been frantically working on deadlines, and wasn’t doing any of the cool things intended with any of the stuff in my Kit4Life (K4L - the catchy nomenclature arose as a compensatory mechanism).

    It was mid-afternoon and I was still in my sweatpants drinking coffee and typing away. Butt-rock blared through the speakers. From the desk in my office-kitchen-living room at my tiny cabin in Estes Park, I can shift my eyes slightly left of my monitor and the window frames Hallett Peak and the Rocky Mountain National Park skyline. On this day, snow-capped peaks glittered between rocky buttresses under perfect skies, pulling my view from the screen with increasing frequency. Holy Diver, you’ve been down too long in the midnight sea, ohhh what’s becoming of meeeeee...

    [The enviable view from Casa de Cordes. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Fear of the Dark" »

    Backyard Adventures: Squirting Blood

    #1 I lay in bed the other night, a lot tired and a little bloodied, but smiling, thinking about the horned toad Alex and I had managed to catch earlier in the day. I’ve only seen a couple of these prehistoric-looking reptiles in the mountains of Southern California, because they’re kind of scarce and accomplished masters of camouflage. To find one was a simple treat that had made the day’s backyard adventure all the more memorable.

    I like to get out on my mountain bike as much as time permits. Like most riders, I generally spend a few hours on the weekend riding a local trail I know well, sessioning the more challenging parts, enjoying the workout and the company of other middle age kids.

    #2 A couple of years ago, one of my more adventurous mountain-biking cohorts, James Ross, died suddenly during a ride at the age of 54. He and I had trespassed together in the name of mountain bike adventures over the years, and I resolved to honor his rogueish exploring spirit by pedaling trails in my area I’d never been on before. Living in Ojai, which borders the nearly 2 million-acre Los Padres National Forest, there’s lots of opportunity to do that.

    [Horned toad and rogueish friend, Patagonia editor Jim Little has discriminating taste in play-time companions. All photos: Jim Little]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: Squirting Blood" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: The Adventurer's Parable

    Parable_title Wow, thank you to everyone who commented on the two-year anniversary of The Dirtbag Diaries. I too think Fitz has created something really special and it warms my heart to know there are so many of you out there who feel the same way. Your outpouring of support means a lot, really. Here's Fitz with the beta on today's new podcast:

    Today’s episode has it all. Steep descents. A battle to save South America’s pristine rivers. Backyard adventure. Eye candy. Photographers and activists Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson present stories and photos from wild ski terrain and their struggle to become a piece of the conservation puzzle rather than a cog in the problem. If adventure is the reflection of the human spirit, do we need to travel half a world away to find it in distant ranges, wild rivers and unpaved roads? And if the very act of traveling harms the places you hold dear, is going justifiable? The answers to those head jarring questions don’t always come easy.

    Audio_graphic_20px Listen to The Adventurer's Parable (mp3 - 28:00 - right-click to download) 

    Video_icon Watch The Adventurer's Parable (Photo-enhanced Quicktime movie - 28:00)

    Action Alert: The Rio Baker needs your help if it's going to remain wild and free. Please take a moment to visit International Rivers and make your voice heard. For more on the issue, check out Don't Dam Patagonia at Patagonia.com.

    Thanks to Fitz for another great episode and to Brian and Emily for sharing their pictures for the photo-enhanced version. As always, you can find the music for today's episode at www.dirtbagdiaries.com. Keep those comments coming and not just here. Share your love of the Dirtbag Diaries across the Internet – blog it, email it, tweet it, add the teaser trailer to your Facebook profile or on a forum. Each of us is an "antenna" for this one-of-a-kind show. Rock on.

    Ride for the Wild

    Photo 19 Today's post is from Ryan Applegate, assistant manager of our Dillon, Montana, store. Last summer Ryan took two months off work to pedal his bike 2,300 miles from Yukon’s Watson Lake to Yellowstone National Park. But Ryan’s trip was more than a summer bike tour. Working with the Freedom to Roam Coalition, he and six others rode on behalf of wildlife, which is losing more and more habitat to development and finding itself increasingly challenged by climate change. Funded with an environmental internship grant from Patagonia, Ryan received both salary and benefits during his hiatus.

    I became familiar with the concept of a Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) wildlife corridor while studying conservation biology in the ‘90s, and my attention was refocused with the recent launch of Patagonia's new long-term environmental initiative, Freedom to Roam. Freedom to Roam emanates from the understanding that climate change is significantly altering the earth, and that the key to maintaining healthy, wild populations of creatures of all sizes, depends on their freedom to move, when necessary, to new habitat. It realizes that the best hope these animals and plants have for survival lies in people working, lobbying, donating, volunteering, buying, knowing and/or doing whatever it takes to ensure we protect and manage physical connections among larger protected areas. It is also about raising public awareness to this need, and that is where my Ride for the Wild came in.

    Continue reading "Ride for the Wild" »

    Backyard Adventures - Delmarva Surf Hunt

    Kayak prep From the frosty summits of Rocky Mountain National Park, to the sultry sea of the eastern shore, our Backyard Adventurers are taking us on a grand tour of some of some true surprises. Grab a brew, pull up a chair, and enjoy as Mark Carter takes us along on his hunt for secret mid-Atlantic surf:

    The DelMarVa Peninsula is not high on the list of adventure in many folks' minds. People often skirt the area on interstates heading to New England or south toward warmer waters, but DelMarVa has a few secret spots if you're willing to look for them. There are 18 essentially uninhabited islands along the southern coast of the peninsula and numerous inlets offer huge potential for uncrowded and perfect waves. All you need is a keen sense for swell forecasting, some paddle power, and a fair bit of patience. If you explore these spots enough, you're bound to score. NOTE: Although this trip described proved unfruitful in the way of waves, one member of the party recently reaped the benefits of our earlier recon and enjoyed a little pre-Christmas gift this December in the way of fun waves with only three guys out.
     

    Remember what Bilbo used to say: "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

     The Coast Guard vessel motored up along side of our kayaks; the young coastie said "You know there are severe thunderstorms today?"

    "Yeah, we know." 

    Tidal currents, firm headwinds, potentially infectious insects, and three venturesome friends in surfboard-laden kayaks were the main ingredients needed for some Delmarva-based adventure gumbo.

    There are 18 barrier islands ranging 60 miles from the Maryland/Virginia border to the tip of Cape Charles where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. The plan was simple: Strap surfboards to the kayaks, stuff camping gear in the dry hatches, and paddle out to one of these islands in search of potential surf.

    [All photos courtesy, Tom Ferebee collection]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures - Delmarva Surf Hunt" »

    Backyard Adventures: The Thin Curtain

    1_mt_meeker Gather 'round the virtual campfire friends. It's time for another Backyard Adventure from The Cleanest Line masses. This time, reader Doug Shepherd has a story to share about ice climbing near his home in Colorado:

    I have been climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park since I moved to Colorado five years ago, slowly gaining the confidence and familiarity that come with climbing in my backyard. Over that time I have learned the history, forged amazing bonds, experienced more failures than successes and developed an infatuation with climbing ice.

    [The North Face of Mt. Meeker. All photos courtesy of the Doug Shepherd collection]

    The ice climbs in the Park can be fickle and intimidating. Almost as intimidating is the tradition of amazing locals constantly pushing the boundaries, generation after generation. Earlier this fall, a line formed on the north face of Mt. Meeker that I had never seen before. I had heard rumors of climbs in this area, but never seen anything myself and wondered if this was another “hardman” line. I called a friend and we had a leisurely start on the Longs Peak trail, anxious to see what the mountain had in store for us.

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: The Thin Curtain" »

    Backyard Adventures: The Fine Line Between Danger & Adventure

    It’s time for another reader-submitted Backyard Adventure. This one comes courtesy of longtime Cleanest Line commenter CM, otherwise known as Craig Metzger from Southern California. CM’s story first appeared on his blog Get Outside More 

    1_thecrew_drylake I’d been planning a backpack trip with friends for some time. The plan was to hike in, camp and then hike out in the amazing San Gorgonio Wilderness (SGW). Finally everyone’s schedules aligned and dates were picked for the adventure.

    [Dan, Alex, Craig and Tom. All photos courtesy of Craig Metzger]

    Around this time I applied for the permits and began to watch the weather like a hawk. I knew that this time of year in the SGW the weather could turn foul. The final week was upon us before the trip and the weather all of sudden was showing 20% chance of snow. "20%," I thought to myself, seemed pretty low and the way weather works in California our odds were good that it wouldn’t snow. On the day before we left I visited the weather site and now there were chances of high winds and still a 20% chance of snow. I began to think about calling the trip off but after discussing it with my fellow tripmates we felt our odds were good but decided to prepare for the worse. I’m glad we did.

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: The Fine Line Between Danger & Adventure" »

    Backyard Adventures: The Power of Imagination

    Rocks1_2 Editor's note: Our Backyard Adventures series kicks off today and first up is Dave Anderson from Wyoming who proves that a vivid imagination can be your best partner on an outing close to home.

    Gone are the mornings spent lounging on the tailgate of my rusted-out truck, eating last night's leftover pasta with my only concerns for the day being what routes to climb. These days, I greet the morning sun from inside my bank-financed house, shuffling around in fluffy slippers while the ingredients of a smoothie churn predictably around in the blender.

    As I stretch my stiff fingers, I feel a dull ache which now has more to do with long sessions with the keyboard instead of battles with hard finger cracks. Chained to my desk by deadlines and obligations, I sometimes gaze out the window feeling trapped by my new lifestyle.

    As a youngster, I was trapped by birth in the white-bread world of suburbia, where families, normal behavior and the environment were all stamped out in neat, half acre cloned lots. The key to my sanity, to combat that sterilized culture, was my hyperactive imagination. Most days I was out in the “backyard” setting the new home run record (playing t-ball), mapping the vast catacombs near the road (crawling through cement culverts), exploring the uncharted secrets of the Amazon (mucking around in the small creek) or unearthing buried treasures in the deserts of Egypt (digging in the sandbox).

    [While Sinks Canyon is deserving of its reputation for variety, it's most well-known for it's plentiful selection of steep limestone lines. Here, the cliffs just above the canyon road dwarf a climber, barely visible at center. Photo & caption: localcrew collection]

    Continue reading "Backyard Adventures: The Power of Imagination" »

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