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    Here We Go... Another Climbing Season in Patagonia

    By Colin Haley

    01

    "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]

    Continue reading "Here We Go... Another Climbing Season in Patagonia " »

    Two New Products I Want to Rave About – M10 Jacket & Knifeblade Pants

    By Colin Haley

    Here is a quick blog post that doesn't include any cool climbing stories or photos, and will only appeal to gear nerds, like myself. I want to take a minute to rave about two new Patagonia products, the updated M10 Jacket and the new Knifeblade Pants. No one at Patagonia has asked me to make this blog post, and in fact, as I type this out, I'm not sure if they'll even put it up on the Patagonia blog.

    My motivation is simple and selfish. Often the very best Patagonia alpine products are discontinued after only one year on the market because they don't sell well enough. This is why some pieces which are now a cherished staple, such as the R1 Hoody, were once discontinued. I used the new M10 Jacket and the Knifeblade Pants on almost every climb I made this past season in Patagonia and they are the best alpine shell jacket and pants I've ever used – which leads me to worry that they won't sell well and will therefore be discontinued. Ironic, yes! So, I simply want to explain why I like these two products so much, in the hope that I'll be able to keep ordering them for years!

    I know that people often view product testimonials with skepticism, and obviously for good reason. I can assure you that my endorsement of these two products is 100% honest, and that I wouldn't take part in a product testimonial of a product I didn't like, even if I were asked to do so. Even for a product that I do really like, like the new Encapsil Parka, I wouldn't yet write a product testimonial for it, simply because I haven't yet used it enough to be 100% sure of what I am writing.

    So, here goes...

    Continue reading "Two New Products I Want to Rave About – M10 Jacket & Knifeblade Pants" »

    Climbing Season in Patagonia – Patagonia Vertical, the book

    By Kelly Cordes

    Patagonia_Vertical_256

    Guidebooks come in all forms. The kind that I like the most are more than mere guidebooks; they have bits of history, interesting information and stunning photos. They inspire me. By necessity, they can only be written by a true expert. They don’t hold my hand, but they have the essential info, the things you need to know, while giving you the credit of assuming that – in the case of alpine climbing, anyway – you already possess a basic level of competence. Which, seems to me, is fair enough for an alpine climbing destination like the Chaltén Massif in southern Patagonia, Argentina.

    The massif is home to so many stories, so many legends, so much vision from such great climbers from around the globe; some from previous eras, some still active, some just getting started.

    One of Patagonia’s greats is Rolando Garibotti, who grew up in Bariloche, Argentina. He first visited the Chaltén Massif in the mid-80s – back then, El Chaltén had a single house. Garibotti was 15 years old, and he and a friend climbed Aguja Guillaumet. His passion had been ignited, and it’s been burning ever since.

    [Above: One of the last pitches of Cerro Fitz Roy’s Supercanaleta. The summit can be seen in the upper left. Photo: Rolando Garibotti]

    Continue reading "Climbing Season in Patagonia – Patagonia Vertical, the book" »

    Climbing Season in Patagonia - La Via Funhogs

    By Colin Haley

    01

    My good friend Dylan Johnson has managed to briefly escape his responsibilities as a new father and self-employed architect to come down to El Chalten for some alpine adventure. Since he is only here for a whopping two weeks, and since he arrived exactly at the end of the enormous, two-week weather window, he was understandably a bit stressed as to whether or not he would get to go alpine climbing while here. Given these circumstances, we have been watching the weather forecasts like hawks, looking for every possible opportunity to do something in the mountains. Last week we hiked into the mountains to try something off the Glaciar Fitz Roy Norte, but with very high winds when the 3am alarm went off, it ended up being just another hike with heavy packs.

    Every year, Patagonia ambassadors, along with climbers from around the world, visit the small town of El Chalten in Argentina. Their goal: climb huge granite peaks in the Patagonia region, some of the most challenging in the world. Follow the updates from our ambassadors and friends on these Patagonia channels and #vidapatagonia:

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    After looking at the weather forecasts on Friday morning we wrote off alpine climbing for the weekend, and figured we'd go bouldering in the afternoon. However, while eating our pre-bouldering empanadas, we watched the skies getting clearer, and rationalized that perhaps the weather forecast was good enough for alpine climbing after all. So, it wasn't until 3pm that we made plans to try Fitz Roy the next day, and not until 6:30pm that we finally started hiking towards Laguna de los Tres. We reached our bivy at Laguna de los Tres at dusk, and lay down for a few hours of sleep.

    [Above: Colin harnessing up at the bergschrund below La Brecha de los Italianos, with an awesome sunrise over Lago Viedma. Photo: Dylan Johnson]

    Continue reading "Climbing Season in Patagonia - La Via Funhogs" »

    AAC's Young Gun Awards

    Cordes - P1010054 Last week we posted about some major grant deadlines and mentioned that, contrary to popular notion, most of the grants go to trips other than cutting-edge adventures. In fact, the AAC just announced the latest recipients of their biannual “gateway grant” – the Mountain Fellowship Grant, which awards young climbers (age 25 and under) tackling ambitious projects in remote areas. The award is 100% endowment-funded, and I love how it helps aspiring dirtbags undertake adventures they couldn’t otherwise afford.

    Many of the recipients over the years have evolved into America’s top climbers, and, as such, I suppose it’s contributed to the decline of many a potentially respectable lifestyle. Good stuff (I know, call me a bad ‘Merican – my advice to the kids: Go on adventures! Don’t work too much, and don’t buy into it all! Live cheaply, stay out of debt and go explore!).

    Where were we?

    Oh yeah, it’s my favorite of all the grants – I didn’t even start climbing until I was 25, and so I’m especially amazed by some of the adventures these “kids” do (I’m dating myself, I know, but indeed I’ve been writing about the perils of getting old, so…).

    Congrats to the young guns getting after it everywhere, including those who recently got some help from the Mountain Fellowship Grant:

    • Scott Bennett (25)—$600 from the Rick Mosher Fund for a possible first ascent of Cerro Pollone’s East Peak, Argentina.

    • Tyler Botzon (21)—$400 for to attempt on Ama Dablam, Nepal.

    • Christopher Carter (21)—$400 for ski mountaineering in Altai Mountains, Mongolia.

    • Sean Dormer (22)—$1,000 from the REI Challenge Fund for possible first ascents in Arrigetch Mountains, Alaska.

    • Hayden Kennedy (20)—$400 for a possible first ascent of the North Face of Chamlang, China.

    • Jewell Lund (24)—$400 for climbs in Kara Su Valley, Kyrgyzstan.

    • Jacon Mayer (23) and Max Talsky (23)—$600 each from the Boyd Everett Fund for the Cassin Ridge on Denali, Alaska.


    [Four years ago to the day, Colin Haley, 22 at the time and on his Mountain Fellowship Grant-awarded trip to Patagonia, gets psyched to lead the crux pitch of a new link-up on Cerro Torre. We did our route from Jan 5-7, 2007 - the grant for that route/trip was just for Colin – I was 38 at the time! Photo: Kelly Cordes]


    Tracing the Edge - Episode 9 with Colin Haley

    Colin Haley used the Cascades as a springboard onto the world's hardest-to-reach summits. The range's fickle weather, arduous approaches and complex glaciers were perfect tests. Summit by summit Haley connected the dots until multi-day outings like Mount Shuksan and Mount Slesse became day trips.

    Stay tuned for the series finale next week. You can catch up on previous episodes at patagonia.com/tracingtheedge.

    [With thanks to Bryan Smith and Fitz Cahall]

    Tracing the Edge Episode 6 with Colin Haley, plus New Dirtbag Diaries Short

    Colin Haley used the Cascades as a springboard onto the world's hardest-to-reach summits. The range's fickle weather, arduous approaches and complex glaciers were perfect tests. Summit by summit Haley connected the dots until multi-day outings like Mount Shuksan and Mount Slesse became day trips.

    The next episode, with Krissy Moehl, airs September 8. To catch up on the series, visit patagonia.com/tracingtheedge.

    Tracing the Edge is a project by videographer Bryan Smith and writer Fitz Cahall, host of The Dirtbag Diaries. Hit the jump to hear the newest Dirtbag Diaries Short. Patagoniac parents will definitely appreciate it.

    Continue reading "Tracing the Edge Episode 6 with Colin Haley, plus New Dirtbag Diaries Short" »

    Introducing Tracing the Edge a Ten-Part Video Series featuring Gerry Lopez, Colin Haley & Krissy Moehl

    [Tracing the Edge playlist, kick back and watch episodes 1-5. Video: Fitz Cahall & Bryan Smith]

    Our friend Fitz Cahall, who you know from The Dirtbag Diaries, and his partner Bryan Smith have created a new 10-part video series, Tracing the Edge, that peers into the lives of three Patagonia ambassadors. You saw the first four episodes in the Tin Shed. Today we're picking up the series with episode five. Read on for some background on the project from Fitz, then watch episode five with Gerry Lopez. You can look forward to a new episode every week from here on out.

    Adventures don’t always begin at trailheads. They can start in the most mundane places. Take for instance this dorm room at the Banff Centre for the Arts I’m currently calling home. The bedspread is the most wonderful floral pattern. Just lovely. Canadian reality TV is just as inane as its American counterpart – you lose just as many brain cells watching it, so I don’t. Whenever I’m here, lovely Banff always provides perfect working weather – steady rain.

    Continue reading "Introducing Tracing the Edge a Ten-Part Video Series featuring Gerry Lopez, Colin Haley & Krissy Moehl" »

    Alaska 2010 with Colin Haley: Dracula and Cassin Simul-Solo

    09c

    Bjørn-Eivind Årtun and I have just come out from a 37-day trip to Denali and Mt. Foraker, which was partially funded by a Mugs Stump Award and the Norwegian Alpine Club (NTK). Here is a report of what we did. [Bjørn-Eivind high in the Messner Couloir on our first visit of the expedition to Denali's summit. Photo by Colin Haley]

    Editor's note: Patagonia ambassador Colin Haley takes the mic today for a recap of his recent trip to Alaska. Colin and Bjørn-Eivind Årtun won a Mugs Stump Award grant for the climb they would attempt on this trip: A single-push first ascent on the southeast side of Alaska’s second-highest peak, Mt. Foraker, one of the biggest unclimbed faces in the central Alaska Range. How did it go? Pull up a chair, grab your beverage of choice and enjoy a great read from one of America's premiere alpinists.

    We flew onto the Kahiltna Glacier on May 13, and immediately started up Denali’s West Buttress route to acclimatize. We soon established a basecamp at the 14,200 ft. camp on the West Buttress to stay for a while. On May 21 we attempted to climb and ski the Orient Express route, but turned around and skied from 17,500 ft. in the face of dangerous wind slabs. On May 25 we climbed to the summit of Denali via the Messner Couloir and returned to the 14,200 ft. camp in 9:15 roundtrip. On May 29 we climbed to the summit of Denali again via the West Buttress route in 8:10 roundtrip.

    Continue reading "Alaska 2010 with Colin Haley: Dracula and Cassin Simul-Solo " »

    Bad Weather in Patagonia - Mikey & Kate Settle for Aguja de la “S”; Colin Solos Aguja Guillaumet

    Mikey_Schaefer_1

    [Approaching can be so miserable. Photo: Mikey Schaefer]

    By all accounts, the weather down in Patagonia this season has been terrible so climbers are taking what they can get. This has been the case for Patagonia ambassadors Mikey Schaefer and Kate Rutherford. After getting skunked on the larger features they had hoped to climb, Mikey and Kate finally got the chance on Monday to climb one of the smaller mountains in the Fitz Roy range.

    Aguja de la “S”
    Words and illustrations by Kate Rutherford
    Photos and captions by Mikey Schaefer

    A great way to climb in Patagonia is to allow your expectations to change with the prevailing winds, rise and fall with the amount of ice plastered to the cliffs, and be flexible. In the last week of our trip Mikey Schaefer and I got to actually climb something after waiting for the high winds of the last three weeks to pass. I put down my paint brush to check the weather on the Meteorogram, it looked more reasonable than before. There was a 36-hour period of low winds without precipitation. All the climbers in town rallied to head to the mountains.

    Continue reading "Bad Weather in Patagonia - Mikey & Kate Settle for Aguja de la “S”; Colin Solos Aguja Guillaumet" »

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