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    Dirtbag Diaries: Making It

    by Fitz & Becca Cahall

    Dbd_making_itWe've all day dreamed about it – becoming a pro. What would it be like? Well, besides getting to do the thing you love everyday, you'd probably get free gear, meet incredible people, get your photo taken, maybe travel the world. You might even get paid. We call it living the dream. And it's good work if you can get it. But, how do you get the gig? And is it really all that it's cracked up to be? Zack Giffin and Timmy O'Neill share their stories of finding the spotlight and moving beyond it.

    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Making It"
    (mp3 - right-click to download - contains expletives)

    Visit for links to download the music from "Making It" or to hear past episodes of the podcast. You can subscribe to the show via iTunes and RSS, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]


    2013 Mugs Stump Award - Application Period Ends December 14


    The application period for the 2013 Mugs Stump award is quickly dwindling. Established in 1993 to honor the late Mugs Stump, the award provides grants to a select number of individuals and teams whose proposed climbs present an outstanding challenge – a first ascent, significant repeat or first alpine-style ascent – with special emphasis placed on climbers leaving no trace of their passage. Interested parties have until December 14, 2012 to apply. Visit the official Mugs Stump Award page for application details.

    We asked a few Patagonia ambassadors to share some memories from trips they were able to take because of the Mugs Stump Award.

    Steve House: “The MSA helped me fund my crucial, early expeditions in Alaska. Yet as my ambitions expanded, the award kept pace, helping me to launch an expedition to Nuptse in Nepal, attempts on Masherbrum and Kunyang Chish in Pakistan and successful climbs of K7 West and Nanga Parbat's Rupal Face.”

    Marko Prezelj: “Mugs Stump Award is a special stimulation in the process of trusting climbing ideas that are beyond instant reach. Inspiring confidence is very powerful support. Thanks for all that.”

    [Above: Naisa Brakk in the Charakusa Valley. Photo: Marko Prezelj]

    Continue reading "2013 Mugs Stump Award - Application Period Ends December 14" »

    A Good Ride

    by Kelly Cordes

    Kc - SD bike IMG_5834

    Shadows crept across the pavement, clouds reflected stars and headlamps crawled slowly up the road, bicycles under a full moon at 12,000 feet.

    A month later – just last week, in fact – I parked my beater Honda and stood on the sidewalk outside of Supercuts, on my way home from Patagonia meetings in Ventura, pondering the merits of going out on top. I’d spent five days in a bright red Camaro. Such sweet perfection.

    Our Estes crew had gone for a full-moon bike ride up Trail Ridge Road, in Rocky Mountain National Park – a friendly, fun ride. In it for the experience, you know. We left the parking lot, and Scotty D, Michael B, and me went out front, maybe-kinda fast. Freakin’ dudes. Can’t you guys do anything without it being a race?

    [Above: Scott DeCapio trying to lull us into complacency. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "A Good Ride" »

    2012 Recap from Hell – The 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell

    by Sonnie Trotter, with photos by Lucas Marshall


    I couldn’t help but laugh. Seeing Tommy Caldwell in a mohawk, a pair of bright green short shorts, and a hot pink sleeveless t-shirt was too much to take. In a way, he reminded me of Kelly Cordes, but I can’t put my finger on why. Anyhow, that’s another story, and this one is all about the shortest day of my life – the 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell.

    Now, one might think by climbing for 24 hours straight that it would feel like the longest day, but that’s the paradox. It’s so much fun that it goes by really fast, and in the end, you wish you had more time.

    [Above: Sonnie Trotter and Tommy Caldwell, team Bonzo s Montreux, in full effect. Photo: Lydia Zamorano]

    Continue reading "2012 Recap from Hell – The 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell " »

    Mikey Schaefer Makes First Free Ascent of Father Time (5.13b) on Yosemite's Middle Cathedral

    by James Lucas, with Mikey Schaefer


    The granite burned my forehead. I slumped my body further onto the wall, hoping it would support me. I cried. For the past two hours I seared my finger tips on the hot rock of the Boulder Problem, a twenty-foot section of unforgiving crimps that guarded my path to free climbing El Capitan’s Freerider. I’d spent 16 days over the past year toiling, working, and wanting to send the route. It was destroying me. I stared across Yosemite Valley at Middle Cathedral, El Capitan’s dark brother. How do people complete these enormous routes? [Above: Home in the clouds. Photo: John Dickey]

    The Dark Brother

    For over two years, Mikey Schaefer worked on his mega project. From the Boulder Problem I watched Mikey toil on the cold rock of Middle Cathedral, pushing a line through immaculate slabs and onto the steep headwall of the northwest face. On his fortieth day of climbing, after hand-drilling 113 bolts from marginal stances, after questing on the wall searching for a free passage, after doing the majority of this work alone, Mikey summited. This was the beginning. The route needed to go free.

    Continue reading "Mikey Schaefer Makes First Free Ascent of Father Time (5.13b) on Yosemite's Middle Cathedral" »

    Armenia Bound

    by Majka Burhardt, with Kate Rutherford


    Any climbing trip starts with a conversation. Kate and mine went something like this.

    Kate: “What’s your fall look like?”
    Majka: “October’s wide open.”
    Both of us: “Want to go somewhere good?”

    We considered Norway but were scared off by the rain; Germany was a strong contender but neither of us wanted to drink that much beer; and as crack climbers (aka sport climbing on tufas feels demoralizing) we were seeking a new ascetic in both the climbing lines and the surrounding culture.

    [Above: The basalt columns of Armenia. Photo: Gabe Rogel]

    Continue reading "Armenia Bound" »

    In Dag We Trust – A Rock Climbing Trip to Turkey's Ala Dag Mountains

    by Jonathan Thesenga


    “You’re going sport climbing at Antalya?” That was the question nearly everyone asked me when I told them that Brittany and I were headed to Turkey for a three-week climbing trip. A fair assumption – you gotta dig into a third or fourth level of research before you read about any sort of climbing in Turkey besides the bolt-clipping paradise of Antalya. A cushy sport-climbing vacation to the Mediterranean coast, however, was not in the travel plans this time around – we were headed for central Turkey’s Ala Dag Mountains, a Teton-esque range of rugged limestone peaks, walls and spires.

    [All photos by Jonathan Thesenga (@jthesenga).]

    Continue reading "In Dag We Trust – A Rock Climbing Trip to Turkey's Ala Dag Mountains" »

    Beyond and Back: Father Time

    by Jeff Johnson


    Middle Cathedral: the ugly stepbrother of El Capitan that sits just across the valley, shoulders slumped, hiding his dark north-facing flanks that almost never see sun. The monolith hosts many seldom-climbed classics: Stoner’s Highway, the Direct North Buttress or DMB (more commonly known as the “do not bother”), Quicksilver and Mother Earth, to name a few.

    In the fall of 2010, Mikey Schaefer asked if I’d like to check out the Smith-Crawford way over on the right side. “Sure”, I said, thinking, I can always follow. Making our way up the first few pitches I was surprised by the quality of rock and how good the climbing was. At each belay I noticed Mikey scrutinizing the rock to climber’s left. I should have guessed he was up to something. The next thing I know we’re back up there with a bolt kit, hooks, and an assortment of pitons, hand drilling from small stances and marginal gear placements. Note to self: always think twice before accepting an invitation to climb with Mikey Schaefer.

    [Above: Mikey Schaefer rests on a relatively large stance as he contemplates his gear options. Photo: Jeff Johnson]

    Continue reading "Beyond and Back: Father Time" »

    Pull Half Dome – A Paraplegic Climbing Attempt [Updated with video]

    Words by Timmy O’Neill, Photos by Justin Bastien


    Nothing imagined, nothing created, nothing ventured, nothing gained. These thoughts come to mind as I am painstakingly carrying my brother Sean, a t-12 paraplegic, uphill through jagged talus and clawing bushes. It is dark, I am sweating profusely and the rescue coil of rope that supports Sean's legs and his combined weight of 140lbs cuts into the back of my neck and forces me to take micro rests every few minutes. We had just failed on the northwest face of Half Dome, having gained about 700-feet of exposure. Sean and I were climbing with a 23-year old wall rat from Luxemburg named Ben Lepesant and he, like Sean and I, were more than uncertain of the outcome of our adaptive adventure.

    [Above: Timmy and Sean O'Neill in front of their objective, the Regular Northwest Face of Half Dome. Yosemite National Park, California.]

    Continue reading "Pull Half Dome – A Paraplegic Climbing Attempt [Updated with video]" »

    The Phreenix – Copp-Dash Inspire Award Leads to New Route in Ragged Range

    Words by Jeremy Collins, Photos by James Q Martin


    The Phreenix, (5.11, 800m, Phoenix Wall on Mount Dracula, Vampire Peaks, Ragged Range, Northwest Territories, Canada, North America, Planet Earth)

    A year and half ago, I sat at a dive bar in Kansas with Pat Goodman. Bob Seger jammed some "Old Time Rock & Roll" on a bejeweled jukebox in the background. Halfway through a batch of chips and salsa, I told him I was looking for a unique climb to do as far north as possible that included good, unclimbed rock, culture, and wildlife.

    He smiled, took a sip of local brew and began to tell me about "The Phoenix" a 2,600-foot wall of perfect granite that had been climbed but not free climbed. On top of the climb was an untouched ridge of porcelain snow and ice leading to Peak 2451, also unclimbed. All in all, a 3,500-foot vertical route on one of the big remaining un-free-climbed features in North America. It was love at first bite.

    "There's a caveat, though," he whispered. "If you want to go, you gotta go with me."

    Sip. Smile. Handshake.

    [Above: The Phoenix Wall. "The Phreenix" follows the prow of the formation.]

    Continue reading "The Phreenix – Copp-Dash Inspire Award Leads to New Route in Ragged Range" »

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