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    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

    Sonnie&Tommy_1

    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

    17_home

    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

    1_armenia_rock

    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]

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

    by Jonathan Thesenga

    Parmakayya

    “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.

    DSC01717
    [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

    004

    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

    02_201209210026JB_D03

    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

    12_Q&Collins

    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" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Crash and Burn

    by Fitz & Becca Cahall

    Crash_and_burnDrive it until it dies. That's the motto I lived by as my truck, Crash, crisscrossed the West. Family members would doubtfully ask, "Are you sure you want to drive there?" I did. Friends would ask about Crash's well being as though he was my aging dog. Though I knew the day was coming, I was still blindsided when the gears ground to a halt on my way to Yosemite. Could my belief in Crash transcend beyond the hulk of metal?


    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Crash and Burn"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)


    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to download the music from "Crash and Burn" 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]

    Of Ideals and Actions

    by Kelly Cordes

    Perhaps an overly dramatic title. After all, it’s just climbing, and it’s supposed to be fun. That’s the cliché, anyway. Though often a disingenuous one.

    Then again, part of what we love about climbing is the escape from the daily b.s. of today’s world, the immersion into a place where we can move freely in wild places and act however we wish.

    Yes, act however we wish.

    Since the 1974 first ascent of Cerro Torre, by Italy’s Ragni di Lecco team, only three new routes have been established to its summit without using the Compressor Route’s bolt ladders to get there.

    I thought it would make for a cool story. (Cool side-note: Patagonia field testers and ambassadors were involved in all three of those ascents.) So I developed the idea and storyline, got audio and interviews from Rolando Garibotti, Colin Haley, and Hayden Kennedy, narrated the intro and transitions myself, recorded some field sounds, and selected and arranged the photos. We had audio and video gurus polish things up. The result, below, is a narrated slide show that rolls-through in video format.

    Continue reading "Of Ideals and Actions" »

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