By Dave N. Campbell
Another day at work on The Nose, with the author and ranger Ben Doyle. ©Cheyne Lempe
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" »
By Dave N. Campbell
Sean O'Neill lead climbing the 2nd pitch of Jamcrack. ©Dave N. Campbell
Take a moment and imagine yourself in Yosemite. You are climbing up a steep rock face, above the trees, with Half Dome behind you, but you do not have the security of a rope that can pull you taut from above if you get tired or slip. Instead, you are lead climbing. Somewhere down below a friend is feeding you rope – you are tied in at the waist – and every ten feet or so, as you move upwards, you are obligated to wedge man-made devices into openings where the rock is fractured so you can clip your rope into them as a safety measure. You're putting your life on the line, trusting that the rope will eventually come tight on the most recent one of these devices if you fall.
Climbers refer to the procedure of lead climbing as being on the sharp end of the rope because of the inherent dangers involved and the accelerated focus that is required. And while advanced climbers constantly dream about being in this Yosemite scenario, I think it is fair to say that much of the rest of the population would find themselves in a nightmare.
Now picture yourself in this exact scenario – whether you are an experienced climber or novice – except that you are paralyzed from the waist down. This is where most of our imaginations trail off… but this spring in Yosemite Valley, paraplegic climber Sean O’Neill made this his reality by becoming the first “sit climber” to lead climb.
Continue reading "From a Wheelchair to the Sharp End – Story of the First Ever Paraplegic Lead Climb" »
by Dave Campbell
From standing guard over endangered sea-turtle eggs, to mapping oceanic pollution and starting one of the West's most successful wilderness protection organizations, our Environmental Internship Program provides Patagonia employees with opportunities to participate in the fight to protect the Earth's resources. It's been a while since we've shared an employee's story from the front lines, but Dave Campbell, author of today's post, proves that it was worth the wait. Dave, a pro sales rep for Patagonia, spent 2 months this summer in the Far East collaborating with The Nature Conservancy China on an environmental project. Here's Dave:
It was February 2005; my Tibetan climbing partner Luo Rijia and I had just pulled ourselves onto the summit of Aotaimei Mountain in China’s Sichuan Province, becoming the third team ever to reach its 17,523-foot summit. Half of our climbing rack consisted of Luo Rijia’s hand forged pitons and most of the satellite peaks around us had virgin summits. We were standing above one of the last regions of the world to shelter reclusive animals like the giant panda and golden monkey. For a moment I felt like I was in a land forgotten by the outside world and time, though with 1.3 billion people and the inertia of the world’s fastest growing economy just over the horizon, it was hard to not wonder what would soon become of Aotaimei and the last wild regions of the Middle Kingdom.
In spring of 2011, I spoke with our environmental department about my personal interest in working with The Nature Conservancy in China; as a result they offered to cover my regular wages for two months while I volunteered overseas as part of Patagonia’s Environmental Internship Program. Within a month I was on a plane crossing the Pacific.
Continue reading "Journey Through a Scroll Painting" »
Last year, six groups of Patagonia employees ventured out to explore, document, and help protect various wildlife corridors in the U.S. Among those groups were Dave Campbell and Andrew Marshall, who travelled north in hopes of spotting caribou along the corridor located in the lush region of southeast British Columbia.
These citizen-naturalists were participants in Witness for Wildlife, a Freedom to Roam initiative. As a co-founder of Freedom to Roam, Patagonia has, for three years, supported efforts to protect the critical wildways that animals must have to move and survive in the face of pressure from human development and climate change. Witness for Wildlife needs more volunteers dedicated to chronicling and protecting wildlife corridors - visit www.witnessforwildlife.org to become a citizen naturalist, and read the following story by Patagonia employee Dave Campbell to get inspired.
Last spring Patagonia’s environmental department announced that they’d pulled together funding to sponsor select employee groups to travel to and document critical, at-risk wildlife corridors within North America, as part of the Witness For Wildlife and Freedom To Roam campaigns. Coworker Andrew Marshall and I took interest in the endangered mountain caribou corridor of the Selkirk Mountains of B.C. and after an extensive amount of research, we found ourselves on the road headed north.
Andrew and I identified a low elevation old-growth cedar forest deep inside the Goat Range Provincial Park and decided to access it via Wilson Creek. The weather was clear when we parked and while hiking up a two-track paralleling lower Wilson Creek it almost seemed like we were in for a smooth outing. However, within a half hour we encountered a large mass of wood debris where a bridge used to be at the first tributary, and after a messy crossing we were unsuccessful at finding a trail on the other side.
[Photo courtesy Conservation Northwest ©2010 Patrice Halley]
Continue reading "Tracking Endangered Mountain Caribou - Patagonia Employees Help Witness for Wildlife" »
We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our Athletes & Ambassadors are responsible for putting the latest designs and fabrics through the paces before we'll add a new product to our lineup. But just because something reaches our shelves doesn't mean testing is over. Once a new item shows up in our catalogs, our Customer Service staff gets busy ground-truthing the latest offerings. They know the questions our customers will be asking, and turn that attention to our gear.
Field Report: Climbing El Cap, Yosemite Valley, early October 2010
Conditions: Kinda like rock climbing, kinda like paddling whitewater.
Products Tested: Nano Storm, M10 Jacket, R1 Hoody, Rain Shadow Jacket
Tested By: Dave Campbell, Patagonia Pro Sales
There’s a saying in China: If you’re ‘one in a million’, then there are more than 1,300 people just like you here. Climbing El Capitan in the 21st century is a similar scenario; during peak season, handfuls of climbers top out on various routes each day. Things have changed greatly since 1965 when TM Herbert and Yvon Chouinard did El Cap’s first ever ground-up first-ascent via the Muir Wall.
Nevertheless, El Capitan will always be there to offer super-surreal experiences to those who wish to paddle out onto its vast sea of granite. Earlier this month we were caught high on the wall in one of the worst storms I’ve seen roll through Yosemite Valley. Below is a report about how our Patagonia clothing - and spirits - handled the abuse.
[Caleb enjoying the views from Salathé Wall. Photo:©Dave N. Campbell]
Continue reading "Product Testing - Getting Soaked on El Cap" »
Today's post is from Patagonia Customer Service Representative, Dave Campbell. A climbing guide and instructor, Dave recently put his skills to use to lead a couple of Patagonia colleagues (one of them, his boss) up a Yosemite Valley icon, one that holds a special place in the founding of our company, the Lost Arrow Spire. Here's Dave . . .
As a child I always regarded Halloween as my chance to run totally wild. It was the best shot we had as kids at letting our imaginations wander free; sometimes into a dark unknown where we got scared, other times into a colorful Peter-Pan mindset where anything was possible. As an adult I always feel as though an important part of me is fading away when I let another Halloween pass without a bit of sheer and unfiltered wildness and a good scare. Simply getting drunk at a rowdy Halloween costume party doesn’t cut it.
This year I set out with fellow Patagonia Customer Service lads Rob Flesher and Andrew Marshall on a mission—to Yosemite Valley to climb Lost Arrow Spire and set up a Tyrolean traverse 2,700 feet above the Valley floor. In order to pull off this semi-outlandish stunt we had to first hike 3000 vertical feet up to the Valley rim, rappel off the edge to a notch where the spire meets the main wall, and then climb a few exposed sections up the outside of the spire…and then do all of the rigging for the Tyrolean traverse.
[Rob Flesher on his way back to the Yosemite Valley rim from Lost Arrow Spire. Photo, Dave Campbell]
Continue reading "Fear and Laughter on Lost Arrow" »