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    FORCE – A seven-city film tour with Patagonia climber and photographer Mikey Schaefer

    By Fitz Cahall

    FORCE_film

    I’m a homebody. My friend Mikey Schaefer is not. I made a conscious choice to develop a lifelong relationship with my local ranges and the urban environment right out my front door. A climber and photographer by trade, Mikey travels the world and he, much like I did, found a landscape that left its mark on him. It was 15,000 miles away, but, hey, when a place speaks to you, you listen.

    “Patagonia chose me, as much as I chose Patagonia,” Mikey will tell you if you ask. I’d say the same thing about the Sierra and the Cascades.

    Since his first trip as a 21-year-old to this fabled land of wind and granite (and more wind), Mikey has made Patagonia a part of his life. Every November or December, Mikey uproots his life and migrates to the South American summer and the hamlet of El Chalten where the staggering granite spires of Cerro Torre and Fitz Roy loom in the backdrop. Over the years, he fulfilled an audacious goal of establishing first ascents on all seven skyline summits of the Fitz Roy Massif. Take a look at that Patagonia logo on your jacket. That skyline is the defining element of Patagonia’s corporate logo. It’s bigger in real life.

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    Greenland Vertical Sailing 2014 – Part 2, Bad weather, boat concert and night climbing

    By Nico Favresse, photos by The Wild Bunch

    Fjord-2

    Three weeks have passed now since we arrived on Baffin Island. [Editor’s note: Get caught up with Part 1 here.] Our first encounter with the local population already happened miles away from the coast when we met eight polar bears drifting on chunks of pack ice. It was quite a surprise running into them while weaving through broken up pack ice in thick mist.

    After a quick stop in Clyde River to clear Canadian border formalities, we set sail for the big walls of Sam Ford Fjord. Right away our minds were blown away by the amount of huge rock faces and how little this place has been explored. It feels incredibly wild here, beautiful but also very powerful—we feel small and somehow vulnerable.

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    Innovation and Wilderness

    By John Wallin

    Double Mtn, Arctic Refuge

    I started selling fleece for Patagonia in 1993, and for six years I worked in Washington D.C., Bozeman and Reno in various customer service functions. I had a blast, learned a ton about product and people and made a network of friends who are as important to me as my college cohorts. During this time, I also began to see myself as a wilderness activist.

    The Wilderness Act turns 50 this week and provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on a uniquely American innovation. The idea, novel at the time, that our wild lands are special and worthy of protection, is embedded in the language of the Act: “A wilderness… is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” And more than almost any other law I can think of, the Wilderness Act has proved an adaptable tool for citizens to act as true patriots in the defense of their land. To date, more than 109 million acres have been protected in perpetuity as wilderness, which sounds like a lot, but in reality is only about 5% of the United States.

    Above: Camping along the Marsh Fork of the Canning River, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. All photos by Ron Hunter

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    Greenland Vertical Sailing 2014 – Part 1, Warming up in Uummannaq and 24 hours on the wall

    By Nico Favresse, photos by The Wild Bunch

    Nico_1

    July 15, 2014—We are off again on an exciting adventure! Reverend Captain Bob Shepton is very excited to have the Wild Bunch—Sean Villanueva, Olivier Favresse, Ben Ditto and I—back on board the Dodo’s Delight for some jamming and big walls. Already four years have passed since our last expedition in Greenland with captain Bob. This time though we brought more musical instruments, more fishing equipment and more whiskey for our captain, all of which we hope will help us with our new assignment: testing the acoustics of some massive big walls located in the fjords on the east coast of Baffin Island.

    We left Aasiaat one week ago and we’ve have had good moments so far but also harder ones. Yes, indeed, we missed the World Cup final and the ice hasn't melted enough for us to cross to the Baffin Island side. Our captain is becoming very impatient and we are afraid that he would be quite willing to take some risks for us to reach Baffin Island. If we did get stranded by the pack ice and its pressuring current, Dodo's Delight would most likely get crushed and sink. The good thing is that our captain is very familiar with that. He has two boats in Greenland, one of them he keeps below the water's surface!

    Above: Greetings from the Wild Bunch and Reverend Captain Bob Shepton. We are very excited to be back. Four years have passed since our last time on Dodo's Delight.

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    Thai Boxing

    By Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll

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    “Climb it for me!” he yelled as I walked out of the hospital room.

    I gladly would if I could, I thought to myself, but this one might just be too hard. I can’t make any promises.

    A few days earlier, after a nice enjoyable day of climbing, we were heading back to my friend Sasha’s house to cook up some grub. He was on his motorbike, I was driving his van. Life was sweet. In a split second everything changed. An old man came out from a side road and didn’t see the motorbike coming.

    We had some good adventures lined up for the week, but now Sasha was going to spend the next few months without the use of his arms and left leg. Despite this huge setback it was inspiring to see his conviction to fight his way back to good health—a true warrior.

    While he sat in a hospital bed, I was going back for a Thai Boxing match in which I had been knocked out the day before.

    Above: Ready? Fight! Sean goes toe-to-stone with Thai Boxing. All photos: Colette McInerney

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    Climbing in Iceland with Loki the Deceiver

    By Kitty Calhoun

    Photo #1

    Iceland is a land of extremes – stark beauty within a harsh, unforgiving landscape and an equally daunting climate. Volcanoes are still erupting, earthquakes are nearly constant, yet the geothermal water provides Iceland with most of its energy needs and natural hot springs ease the cold of winter. Eleven percent of the country is covered with glaciers. Sighting of the aurora borealis is common. The coast is dotted with steep cliffs, overhung by glaciers and blasted by wind off the ocean. Yet over 300 species of birds nest in these cliffs, eider ducks (think eiderdown) float in the ocean and the fishery is Iceland’s largest source of income.

    In such a stark and dramatic landscape, it is easy to imagine events being controlled by the Norse gods. In fact, on our quest for virgin ice climbs, we too felt their power – one in particular: Loki the trickster, deceiver, god of chaos.

    [Above: Sunrise over the fjord. Photo: Kitty Calhoun]

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    21st Annual Hueco Rock Rodeo Recap & Video

    By Brittany Griffith

    Mopboys

    “Hueco Tanks is the best bouldering in the world,” someone boldly posted on the encyclopedic climbing resource MountainProject.com. The best? Pretty strong words. I’ve been to a lot of famous climbing areas in the world and it was going to take more than a hyperbolic online endorsement to change my reservations (not the kind you need to climb here, alas, but I’ll cover that later).

    As a climber, I had obviously heard about Hueco. There’s no disputing that Hueco stands as an iconic place in American climbing significance. Like Yosemite is to big wall climbing, Smith Rock is to sport climbing, and Indian Creek is to splitter crack climbing, Hueco is to bouldering. And Patagonia’s presence at the 21st annual Hueco Rock Rodeo was the perfect excuse for me to finally make the pilgrimage to the famed bouldering mecca.

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    Tying the Room Together - 2014 American Alpine Club Annual Benefit, featuring Yvon Chouinard

    By Kelly Cordes

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    “Holy guacamole,” I mumbled to myself. “There are a lot of ties in this room.” Lots of exquisite dresses, too.

    I was at the recent American Alpine Club Annual Benefit Dinner, which begs the question of place: What was my broke ass doing in a VIP seat, wearing a borrowed bow tie, at a fancy fundraiser?

    It just so happens that I know people who know people who know people. Well, OK, the secret to my magic trick: Patagonia was the title sponsor, Yvon Chouinard the keynote speaker, and the dinner was in Denver – an hour and a half from my cabin in Estes Park.

    I agonized over wardrobe. As a person, I’d planned on jeans and a T-shirt. After all, it shouldn’t matter how you look on the outside. Then again, we have cultural norms, and I didn’t want to disrespect anyone, no matter how silly the norm. Ahhh, the issues that burn.

    [Above: We... are... family... Kelly CordesKate RutherfordSteve HouseLynn HillYvon ChouinardBrittany Griffith and Timmy O'Neill. Photo: Lee Pruitt] 

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    Snow Tsunami in Tibet – A Mentoring Expedition for Young Slovenian Alpinists

    By Luka Krajnc, photos by Marko Prezelj

    1Marko_Prezelj

    After years of discussion, the Alpine Association of Slovenia (formerly Slovenian Alpine Club) established a program for young motivated alpinists in order to help them get the experience needed for achieving the goals they dream about. Mentoring seven different characters with various goals and ambitions (and our soaring egos), is not an easy task. We needed a leader.

    Marko Prezelj is a strong character himself and someone who has plenty of experience. He proved to be perfect for the job. He helped combine us into an active group of friends who, over a series of trips around Europe, developed a strong bond. In September, we headed towards Tibet in a search of unforgettable moments and colorful experiences. Looking back now, I think we succeeded...

    [Above: The town of Nyalam, two hour’s drive from the Nepalese/Tibetan border, proved to be a good starting point for our initial acclimatization climbs. Sadly, what was once a small, pristine Tibetan village is now a concrete-covered town full of soldiers and wealth-seeking traders. Photo: Marko Prezelj]

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    China Jam – Free Climbing the South Pillar of Kyzyl Asker

    By Nico Favresse, photos by Evrard Wendenbaum

    China_jam_blog_9

    October, 2013: Yes! We (Evrard, Sean, Stéphane and I) have hit civilization and made it back from the Chinese mountains. Thank God, food tastes so good now. And what a treat it is to be able to take hot showers whenever. Sorry for the lack of news. Again, all sat phone credits had to be sacrificed for phone sex to release some tension in our team, obviously crucial for our climbing.

    We spent the first week in the mountains just exploring all the valleys around us, looking for interesting climbing targets. We also tried to climb during that first week but everyday the beautiful weather turned into a snowstorm by the afternoon. We realized with the particularly cold temps and fresh snow, we could only consider rock climbing on the south faces hoping the sun would heat things up a bit. This criteria narrowed down our choices a lot but we finally found what we were looking for: A big wall with plenty of potential to keep ourselves busy for a while. It was, in fact, the 1400m South Pillar of Kyzyl Asker (5842m) that attracted us. It's long, steep and high with rock of great quality mixed in with lots of white “things” on the upper part of the wall. I was excited by the prospect that this experience would be something quite different from all the other big walls I had climbed before.

    It took us another week to bring all our gear, food and musical instruments up the long glacier to the base of the wall. The last two days, we finally had perfect weather and started climbing with our load, and fixed the first 400m of the wall. Right away we were very impressed by the quality of the rock but also by its crazy hueco shapes which made for some unique climbing.

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