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    Desert Rembrance

    by Brittany Griffith

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    Early spring means it’s desert season. Well, it does now. Fifteen years ago it meant belaying my boyfriend on his three-year sport-climbing project in the Virgin River Gorge. Now, I spend March and April weekends climbing sandstone splitters in the beautiful desert of southeast Utah. Back in the 1990s, I would burn away those same spring days clipping bolts and chasing grades. Why? Well, honestly, I didn’t know any better. Living part-time near Smith Rock in Oregon and traveling with my sport-climbing boyfriends, bolts and projecting was all I ever knew. My first trip to the desert of Utah outside of Moab in 1999 changed all that—and I couldn’t be happier.

    [Desert bloom in Indian Creek. Photo: Andrew Burr]

    And now here it is again: desert season. I have dozens of special memories from my desert climbs, but one stands out more than the rest: a weekend in 1999 spent cragging at Indian Creek with my friend Sue Nott.

    Continue reading "Desert Rembrance" »

    Secret Weapon

    by Brittany Griffith

    -1 “Remember that spicy, peanuty sesame noodle thing you make? We want that again!” requested Sue this past spring. Sue had allowed me to stay in her house in Yosemite West for no less than 37 weeks over the course of a decade, and although it had been a few years since I had cooked for her, she still remembered this divine dish. It’s been my secret weapon as a fulltime climber/couch surfer for as long as I can remember. I’ve made it for foreign boyfriend’s families, a party of 30 in Camp Four and for a friend’s Midwest wedding.

    Even if you aren’t a guest in someone’s home, this recipe is totally worth the effort for the following reasons:

    1. If you don’t put meat in it, it can last in your ice-less cooler for at least a couple of days.
    2. Impress PBJ/Powerbar underachievers by showing up at the crag with the leftovers for lunch. Bonus style points if you eat it with chopsticks.
    3. Dudes dig chicks that can cook (ask my husband or any of my ex-boyfriends, who are now starving and lonely).
    4. Chicks dig dudes that can cook.
    5. You can take a picture of your creation and post it on Facebook.

    When our dirtbag, van-dwelling, super-youth friend Hayden Kennedy recently stayed in our driveway for a week, I knew he needed my help. Now Hayden can crush the 5.14s and blaze up El Cap in an afternoon, but he’s a youngster with zero skills with the ladies. He needed a go-to, sure-fire date-clinching meal—and not just a lame pot of pasta and red sauce… he needed to know how to cook my secret-weapon meal. He knows little to nothing about cooking, but he eagerly strapped on an apron and believe-it-or-not was able to serve admirably as my sous chef. So ladies, if you see the super youth cruising the Valley floor or milling about in El Chalten, do yourself a favor and sweetly ask him to cook you this meal, but be sure you kiss him goodnight (at a minimum… huma-da-huma-da-huma-da-meeeeow!).

    [Hayden Kennedy: Ladies wanted, inquire within. All photos: Brittany Griffith]

    Continue reading "Secret Weapon" »

    Operation Algeria – The Essential Clothes

    by Brittany Griffith

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    “March is a killer month in the Sahara. Temperatures rise and fall with such rapidity that the body has difficulty adjusting.” This sentence from the book I was reading (The Conquest Of The Sahara, by Douglas Porch) made me more anxious than the current kidnapping news. How was I to pack two weeks of clothes into an MLC for our climbing trip to southern Algeria, knowing the temperatures there could rise and fall by up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit?

    [Leaving the shade and entering the hot sun near the top of Nouvelle Lune, a 900-foot route on Tizouyag Sud. All photos: Jonathan Thesenga & Brittany Griffith]

    Editor's note: Fresh off her trip to Algeria with Jonathan Thensenga, Brittany Griffith shares her clothing choices for climbing in the desert. Most of the links cover both genders so men can benefit from these recommendations too. As with all product posts, availability can be limited. Don't hesitate to contact Customer Service if something you're interested in isn't available on Patagonia.com.

    Not only would I need to pack clothes what were incredibly (impossibly?) versatile, I needed the clothes to be durable and resilient. I’ve been on climbing trips to the African desert before (Mali) and realize how scarce water is, so I knew that washing my spoon, much less my clothes, would be completely out of the question. After much thought (best described as fretting), I ended up with neat, little stacked piles of clothes all over my bedroom. Here’s what they were:

    Continue reading "Operation Algeria – The Essential Clothes" »

    Girls Gone Wild Gypsy Van Chronicles—Part Two

    by Brittany Griffith

    Creek scenic

    As we barreled down I-70 headed for Moab, I suggested we try Ziji on King of Pain tower, which is part of the Bridger Jack formation at Indian Creek. I handed her the Mountain Project topo and her eyes lit up.

    “Four pitches long and only two pitches of 5.12!” She seemed relieved—it wasn’t nearly the amount of climbing as Moonlight, which meant we wouldn’t be as rushed and the route wasn’t going to be as continuous.

    Editor's note:Patagonia ambassador Brittany Griffith is back behind the wheel of Gypsy Van barreling down the road with Zoe Hart for Part Two of the Girls Gone Wild Chronicles. Be sure and read Part One first if you missed it.

    We started down the rough 4x4 road that led to the Bridger Jacks. There was a sweet campsite leading up to the towers, and I wanted it. Problem was, Gypsy Van wasn’t really built for 4x4’ing, but I had faith in her. I rolled her into a particularly steep, rocky section. Zoe clutched her armrest like an “oh-shit” bar, her eyes focused on the track ahead.

    “Are you sure?” she whispered, attempting to conceal her doubt of Gypsy’s prowess.

    “Yeah, maybe you should get out for this one, and make sure I don’t rip the propane tank off the bottom.” She jumped at the chance to get out and was quickly posted uphill to guide me through the gnarly section of rocks and sand that were the road.

    [The endless walls of Indian Creek at sunset. Photo: Zoe Hart]

    Continue reading "Girls Gone Wild Gypsy Van Chronicles—Part Two" »

    Girls Gone Wild Gypsy Van Chronicles—Part One

    by Brittany Griffith

    Zion campsite Like a father handing his teenage daughter the keys to the family car for the first time, JT worrisomely handed me Gypsy’s keys. Gypsy was the newest addition to our family, a big white 2010 Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van. I gently grabbed the keys while simultaneously executing the extremely athletic lunge required to get myself into the driver’s seat of the big rig. My good friend Zoe Hart was already seatbelted in the passenger’s seat, attempting, for Jonathan’s sake, to hide her enthusiasm.

    Editor's note: Patagonia ambassador Brittany Griffith shares the first of a two-part story with us today. Look forward to more from Brittany and her husband (and fellow Patagonia climbing ambassador), Jonathan Thesenga, in the near future.

    “Alright… no speeding, no texting, no drinking and no sketchy bivies at rest areas or truck stops,” JT sternly instructed me. “If anything goes wrong with the van, call me first. Don’t try to fix it on your own.”

    I felt bad for JT. This was Gypsy's first extended roadtrip and he had to stay behind to work his job at Black Diamond. He had spent the previous two-month's worth of evenings building out Gypsy from an empty panel van into a super-deluxe road trip machine, complete with recycled-denim insulation, stove, sink, fridge, queen-size bed, benches, folding table, cabinets, cupboards, ceiling fans, heater, cork paneling, bamboo and paperstone counter tops, and interior and exterior LED lighting. Gypsy was rad.

    I leaned out the window and kissed Jonathan goodbye, then backed Gypsy out of the driveway into late afternoon traffic. “Whooooo!!!!” We hollered and honked the horn, leaving behind a dispirited Jonathan and began our Girls-Gone-Wild Gypsy Van Road Trip.

    [Home sweet home: Brittany unloading the Gypsy Van. Photo: Zoe Hart]

    Continue reading "Girls Gone Wild Gypsy Van Chronicles—Part One" »

    Stolby Style: Siberian Free Soloing

    Visit Patagonia.com for more on Brittany Griffith and to read Jonathan Thesenga's field report about climbing in Stolby.

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