By Fred Bernard, with Laurent Bibollet
The Mont Blanc range is not a very big mountain range, but it is steep. It has become a kind of laboratory for skiers, mountaineers and climbers from around the world. Laurent and I consider ourselves somewhere is the middle as we are ski-mountaineers, IFMGA mountain guides and part of the Peakpowder guide team.
The Mont Blanc range sees tons of action because of its fast and easy access, with cable cars reaching higher altitudes in minutes. The idea of doing a steep ski traverse of the Mont Blanc range from its most easterly point to its most westerly point came to me about eight years ago. For some unknown reason, it had never been done; no one had tackled this challenge.
Above: Laurent Bibolet traverses Les Courtes, one leg of the team's traverse of the Mont Blanc range. Photo: Fred Bernard
Continue reading "A Steep Ski Traverse of the Mont Blanc Range from East to West" »
By Kristo Torgersen
“It starts as rain or snow falling on Scotland’s highest mountain—Ben Nevis. Either as rain or melting snow it percolates the thin layer of peat soil until it reaches the granite rock and unable to penetrate it, runs under the surface until emerging in Coire Leish or Coire na Ciste. The outflows from these two mountain lochans, located well over 3000’ above sea level, make their way spilling over the blue and pink granite rocks of the mountain’s rugged north face until they join together as the Alt a Mhullin continuing on in the valley between Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg.” —Ben Nevis Distillery
These poetic words adorn a bottle of gold-medal whiskey from the oldest legal distillery in Scotland, Ben Nevis—the source of distinguished single malts and the mountain crucible of British alpinism. This is where generations of alpinists, whether in wool knickers or Gore-Tex, developed mountain equipment and cut their teeth for expeditions to the great ranges of the world. It’s a place renowned for terribly stormy weather and long approaches to “short” climbs. It’s a place that honors style and demands an honest Scot’s prudence to climb routes only in “full” wintry conditions. It’s where Yvon Chouinard visited over 40 years earlier to test himself on Scotland’s hardest routes and compare the performance his own curved-pick Chouinard Zero ice tool with the angled-pick design of his Scottish contemporary, Hamish MacInnes. And it’s where Walker Ferguson, responsible for field testing all of Patagonia’s most technical products, has brought us to be guinea pigs with our own latest prototypes.
Above: Jon Bracey navigates the exit on Gemini, Ben Nevis, Scotland. Photo: Kristo Torgersen
Continue reading "Whiskey on the Rocks – Looking for answers in Scotland" »
By Willie Grayeyes
My friend Leonard Lee works in the oil industry across San Juan County, Utah, both on and off the Navajo Nation. He oversees oil and gas wells and the crews who work them.
So it may surprise you that Leonard is also the Vice-Chairman of a Native American organization that intends to protect 1.9 million acres of land as a national conservation area or national monument in San Juan County, Utah.
The Bears Ears proposal was developed by Diné leaders like Leonard who were asked by U.S. Senator Bennett in 2010 if they had an opinion on public lands management. Never having been asked before, Navajo elders began telling stories. Hunters, gatherers and medicine men worked with conservation scientists to draw culturally important and sacred places onto maps. At the same time, spiritual leaders took their long-buried hopes and offered them to the winds as prayers for a place we call Bears Ears.
Above: Cedar Mesa is one area that would be protected by the Bears Ears proposal. Photo: Josh Ewing
Continue reading "Protect Bears Ears – Mutton Stew, Fry Bread and the Anatomy of a Public Lands Movement" »
By Luka Krajnc
Coming to Patagonia with big goals can be an unpredictable thing.
Tadej Krišelj and I found ourselves at the wrong place below the triangular snowfield on Cerro Torres’ east face surrounded by snowflakes, spindrift and the first signs of avalanches. Backing off was more of a lesson than a failure and a few hours later we were squeezing under a dripping boulder bivy surprised by the snowy outcome of the relatively good forecast. The Patagonian weather had lived up to its reputation.
The next morning the sun welcomed us with its warmth which was perfect for drying the soaked equipment and regaining some climbing motivation. It became obvious that the good weather window hadn’t disappeared, it just came later than we expected. Walking back to Chaltén in such weather would have been a crime, so we took a rest day at Niponino and switched to backup plan mode.
Above photo: Tadej Krišelj
Continue reading "#VidaPatagonia – Blockbuster, a new route on the west face of Mojon Rojo" »
By Dylan Johnson
Things have changed. That old "live simply" ethos Jenna and I lived by, roaming around the desert and mountains in our '83 Dodge Prospector van (with a sci-fi mural on the hood and velvet interior), feels a bit like a past life. Climbing these days is tightly packed between a life of airports, computers, conference calls and meetings—logging huge numbers of hours running my architecture practice. Time at home is spent cradling Olivia (our newborn) in the middle of the night or jogging alongside Emma (our two year old) as she rides her bike to school for the first time—or planning weeks in advance for a few hours out to dinner with Jenna on a cherished "date night." All that, and Jenna works harder than I do.
This time of year however, like a high school kid checking their Snapchat feed, I obsessively glance at my NOAA weather app: point forecast saved for the 49th parallel, just east of Mount Baker. NOAA doesn't work in Canada, but this ridgeline at the southern edge of the North Cascade's Chilliwack range is close enough.
Above: Heart of Darkness on the north face of Mount Slesse, North Cascades, British Columbia. Photo: Jim Nelson
Continue reading "The Climbing is the Easy Part These Days – A report on the FA of Slesse's Heart of Darkness, Colin Haley and Dylan Johnson, 8 March 2015" »
The Copp-Dash Inspire Award, sponsored by Black Diamond Equipment, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia (with additional in-kind support from Adventure Film Festival, the American Alpine Club, Jonny Copp Foundation and Sender Films), announced the 2015 winners of the climbing grant established in memory of American climbers Jonny Copp and Micah Dash who were killed in an avalanche in China in May 2009, along with filmmaker Wade Johnson. In addition to providing financial support to prospective expedition teams, the goal of the Copp-Dash Inspire Award is to provide mentoring before and after the expedition to help the climbers bring back and share inspiring multimedia stories of their adventures.
Above: Photos from a trip Jonny and Micah made to Chamonix in 2008 where they shivered through the night on the West Face of the Petit Drus. Photos: Jonny Copp
Continue reading "Announcing the 2015 Copp-Dash Inspire Award Recipients" »
Patagonia climber Alexander Megos made the third ascent of Lucid Dreaming (V15) this week on the Grandpa Peabody boulder in the Buttermilks. It was a double-milestone effort for the German phenom.
“Feels like a DREAM but it’s not. Finally took down my hardest boulder ever and as well my longest project ever!” Alex said on his newly created Instagram account.
Photographer Ken Etzel was there to capture the climb and share some details.
Continue reading "Lucid Dreaming [Updated with video]" »
We’ve been watching the updates with bated breath and now all of us at Patagonia are thrilled to congratulate Tommy Caldwell and his partner Kevin Jorgeson on the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite Valley. Tommy first conceived the idea of the climb in 2007 and, seven years later, summited the route on the afternoon of January 14, 2015 after spending 19 days on the wall—and with much of the climbing world viewing the last pitches via live video stream. Longtime readers will be familiar with our coverage of the Dawn Wall dating back to 2010. It’s been a long haul and we couldn’t be happier for Tommy.
From Yvon: “When we first climbed the North American Wall on El Cap in 1964, we thought, ‘Well, that proves that any big wall in the world can be climbed.’ We never dreamed they could be climbed all free! Sending the Dawn Wall leaves Pope Francis with no choice but to admit our closest relative is the chimpanzee.’”
Above: Seven years of relief. An elated Tommy Caldwell at the top of the Dawn Wall. Photo: Chris Burkard
Continue reading "Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson Make First Free Ascent of Yosemite’s Dawn Wall!" »