The Cleanest Line

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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] 

    Continue reading "Tying the Room Together - 2014 American Alpine Club Annual Benefit, featuring Yvon Chouinard" »

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

    By Luka Krajnc, photos by Marko Prezelj

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    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]

    Continue reading "Snow Tsunami in Tibet – A Mentoring Expedition for Young Slovenian Alpinists" »

    China Jam – Free Climbing the South Pillar of Kyzyl Asker

    By Nico Favresse, photos by Evrard Wendenbaum

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    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.

    Continue reading "China Jam – Free Climbing the South Pillar of Kyzyl Asker" »

    Here We Go... Another Climbing Season in Patagonia

    By Colin Haley

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    "See you down there, f***er!" writes Ole Lied – a gigantic, hard-drinking, Norwegian party animal. He dresses in dark Scandinavian leather, stuffs his mouth with snus (little tea-bags of chewing tobacco, quite popular in northern Europe), and every now and then works himself into a berserker rage, attacking big, steep mountains, and returning home with beautiful routes as his trophies (such as "Venas Azules" on Torre Egger). Every November, I convene with Ole, some other Norwegian alpinists, and all the other Patagoniacs in El Chalten, Argentina, for another dose of pretty much the most technical, most fantastic, most intense and most fun alpine climbing on the planet – Patagonia's Chalten Massif.

    Editor's note: Colin wrote this piece just before leaving for El Chalten. He’s been down there three weeks now and already has a handful climbs under his belt. Visit patagonia.com/vidapatagonia to keep up with Colin, Mikey Schaefer, Kate Rutherford and more of our friends and ambassadors down in Patagonia. We’ll have live feeds to their Instagram accounts, tweets and blog posts throughout the season.      

    Why does Norway, a country with the population of Washington State, have such a big presence in Patagonian alpinism? Admittedly, the mountains of Patagonia are very difficult, the weather is often very foul, and they certainly have a large amount of dormant Viking badassness in their genes, but I think the real truth is where Ole and his countrymen are coming from.

    [Above: The Torres with Aguja Desmochada in the foreground. All photos by Colin Haley]

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    The Nose Wipe – Removing Trash from The Nose of El Capitan

    By Dave N. Campbell

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    Another day at work on The Nose, with the author and ranger Ben Doyle. ©Cheyne Lempe


    2004

    My partner shouted at the top of his lungs, causing me to jolt to attention and look down to him and our hanging camp. We were high on El Capitan’s Shield route, and I watched helplessly as a yellow dry bag containing our garbage from the past five days – including twenty-four crushed aluminum cans – grew smaller and smaller as it plummeted toward the ground. After a full twenty seconds of airtime, our bag exploded at the base of the monolith, firing shrapnel in all directions. The blast sent echoes to Half Dome and back.

    The yellow bag had been clipped in poorly and detached once I began hauling our supplies to the next station. (In climbing terms: the dry bag buckle was mistakenly clipped into the taut docking line and thus came loose when my partner lowered out the bags.) It was March and, fortunately, we had the wall to ourselves, otherwise the error could have killed someone. Our team was relatively inexperienced and also greatly relieved that we did not drop something vital, like a sleeping bag. Dark clouds lurked and when we finally reached the top we were pounded by a violent storm. We fought our way down the slippery descent in the dark, and somehow found our way to the Ahwahnee Hotel, where we slept on the floor next to a crackling fireplace. In the morning, we exited quickly, forgetting about the yellow bag debacle, and drove back to school without cleaning up our mess.

    Continue reading "The Nose Wipe – Removing Trash from The Nose of El Capitan" »

    Worn Wear – a Film About the Stories We Wear



    We would like to invite you to be among the first to watch Worn Wear, a new film from Keith, Lauren, Chris, and Dan Malloy.

    Worn Wear is an exploration of quality – in the things we own and the lives we live. This short film takes you to an off-the-grid surf camp in Baja, Mexico; a family's maple syrup harvest in Contoocook, New Hampshire; an organic farm in Ojai, California; and into the lives of a champion skier, a National Geographic photographer, and a legendary alpinist. It also features exclusive interviews with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.

    Released as an antidote to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping frenzy, Worn Wear is an invitation to celebrate the stuff you already own.

    [Video: Worn Wear - a Film About the Stories We Wear]

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    I Dream Greenland

    By Lizzy Scully

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    I dreamed of climbing in Greenland for a decade. This summer I finally visited the southernmost reaches of that country and climbed in the Torssukatak Fjord with photographer John Dickey, Quinn Brett, and Prairie Kearney. Team Glitterbomb put up three first ascents: "Morning Luxury" (5.11-, 1400ft) on The Breakfast Spire, "Plenty for Everyone" (5.10+/11-, 1800ft) on the Barnes Wall, and "Four Quickies" (5.9, 400ft) on the Submarine Wall. I recorded the trip via video, audio, photo, and diary entries.

    [Above: The Breakfast Spire. All photos by Lizzy Scully]

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    Long Live the Dirtbag Dungeons

    By John Burgman

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    I am a climber, and at the risk of offending the enthusiasts of other outdoor pursuits, I’d argue that climbing is among the dirtiest, in the literal sense. Routes and problems are conceived and sent above cleared patches of dirt, moves grunted out through gritty clouds of chalk dust. Meals or snacks, if there are any, are consumed swiftly with scabbed fingers and raw palms, and airing out sweaty, grubby feet is a frequent – even necessary – occurrence.

    Surfing has pristine, crystalline waves looping on the horizon. Sea kayaking and canoeing have sleek keels constantly licked by the water. Paragliding and base jumping and other aerial endeavors have vast expanses of clouds and open sky.

    Climbing has gravel. And dust. And a lot of rocks.

    Indoor rock climbing gyms, at least up until recent times, used to be equally grimy – dingy hole-in-the-wall vaults meant primarily for biding time until winter thawed and the natural walls of the Great Outdoors were accessible once again.

    [Korean climber Zooey Ahn powers through the crux of a bouldering problem in a "dirtbag dungeon" in Seoul. Photo: John Burgman]

    Continue reading "Long Live the Dirtbag Dungeons" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Home Front

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

    DBD_homefrontThere's a story that you may have heard kicked around in the newspapers and nightly news for the last few months. It's as unsettling as it is tragic. The rate of suicide among active military personnel, reservists, and veterans has increased to nearly 22 suicides a day. 22 every day, even as more resources are being allocated to prevent it – and finding a solution is likely as complicated as understanding why.

    Veterans Stacy Bare and Nick Watson know the struggles that service members face as they readjust to civilian life. Addiction. Depression. An overwhelming feeling of being out of place. But over time, both found a place in the outdoors and the surrounding community to recreate what they missed from the military, and to feel like they had really come home. And they didn’t stop there – they became determined to find a way to make that transition easier for other veterans too. Today, we bring you their stories and the story of how these two veterans are creating a community for other veterans on the home front.

    Warning: This episode does contain graphic descriptions of violence and adult language.



    Editor's note: If you enjoyed this episode, check out "A Lifeline Home" from 2007. 

    The Dirtbag Diaries is a production of Duct Tape Then Beer. Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS,
    SoundCloud and Stitcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]


    The Final Frontier

    By James Lucas

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    I screamed at the granite wall. The sound bounced off Yosemite’s Fifi Buttress and drowned into the roar of Bridalveil Falls. I lowered to the belay, where Katie stood at a small stance. I was six inches from a free ascent. It felt like six miles. I’d cleaned the route. Pulled out old gear. Placed bolts. Climbed on the pitches a ton. I’d trained hard. I stopped sleeping. Would the work ever pan out?

    Dan McDevitt established The Final Frontier, a Grade V 5.7 A3 route in 1999 with Sue McDevitt, Brittany Griffith and Sue’s sister Penny Black. He climbed the route again with Jim Karn, the first American to win a World Cup in climbing and America’s best sport climber in the '80s. While they were climbing, Jim Karn told Dan, “It’ll go free.”

    [Above: Mikey Schaefer photo of me climbing the penultimate arch pitch.]

    Continue reading "The Final Frontier" »

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