Let's do this! From April 25 - 28, 2013 the 5Point Film Festival will take over your senses, transport you to another place and leave you inspired for adventure. Join us. Visit 5pointfilm.org for more information and tickets.
Weblog for the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Visit Patagonia.com to see what we do.
Back in 2007, author Christine Byl sent a juicy little story entitled “Innard Mongolia” to our fledgling blog. Today, we welcome Christine back to The Cleanest Line with congratulations on the publishing of her first book, Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods by Beacon Press.
The first half of Dirt Work is set in Montana's Glacier National Park. This excerpt, from the second chapter, finds the novice traildog out with a new crew in the Middle Fork district on Glacier's west side.
One of my first days in the Middle Fork
resembles my firsts nearly everywhere in Glacier: out of my element, eager to
get in, following along quietly until the former state gives way to the latter.
This particular day found my own crew leader sick and me shipped off for the
day with Brook and his Middle Fork guys to get a jump-start on the heavy
clearing in the Coal Creek burn. I knew Brook by reputation only.
Thirty-something, wiry, hyper, and flat-out hilarious, Brook was at the center
of some of the most outlandish pranks and stories in the trails canon. He was
drawn to drama, calamity, and excess. Brook loved attention. If he was on a
search and rescue, he’d end up on the local news, and you could see why. He
told a monologue worthy of a one-man show, complete with pantomime and
imitations. He teased until the butt of the joke was ready to throttle him,
stopped just before he was resented. His crews worked hard, hiked hard, drank
hard, laughed hard. I was eager to see him in action.
[Above: Fording Riley Creek. Photo: Gabe Travis]
By Steve Graepel
I remember the feeling more than the sound; a palpable ‘crack’ shattered through the bones of our house. At first we thought it was a car accident or maybe a gas explosion, but as we looked out the bay window to the north, we knew it was far worse... a mushroom cloud vigorously boiled up over the Portland skyline.
The youngest of the Cascade volcanoes, Mount St. Helens has always had the geological temperament of a teenage girl, marked by no less than four Current Era outbursts rivaling that which we experienced the morning of May 18, 32 years ago today. The peak's personality played a prominent figure in Native American oral history. According to the Klickitats, she was caught in a love triangle with two brothers who destroyed villages and territory while vying for her attention. As punishment, the chief of the gods turned all three to stone: Adams to the north, Hood to the south, and Loowit, to the west, became Louwala-Clough—or smoking mountain.
[Above: Mount St. Helens's yawning breach from the northwest. Photo: Steve Graepel]
Editor's note: Hard to believe it's been five years since The Dirtbag Diaries was born onto the Internet. There have been so many good stories, so many inspiring people. Now, we can't imagine an Internet (or this blog) without them. Thank you Fitz and Becca for all your hard work. And thank you to the fans of the show for your passionate support. Here's Fitz and here's to five more years:
The Dirtbag Diaries turns five. This also happens to be our 100th episode. To celebrate the occasion, we reached out to our collaborators, our contributors and our friends and asked for ideas. I pitched them a bunch of ideas. They shook their heads. Their response was resounding. "We want to hear your story, the story of the Diaries," they said. Our intern, Austin Siadak, stepped forward to do the interview and relay the story. The tables were turned. By nature, we like our creation stories simple. An idea appears in the void. A light bulb goes off. The apple hits Sir Isaac Newton on the head. In reality, creation stories are messier, more complicated and more interesting than abbreviated elevator pitches. They are a sum of parts. So here goes.
Listen to "Origins"
(mp3 - right-click to download)
Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to download the music from "Origins" 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]
Scott scrambles up to Cache Col and drops his pack besides mine. We've been moving just over two hours since the trailhead and have stopped to get our first glimpse at the route before us. Our goal is the Ptarmigan Traverse – a 35-mile off-piste, haute route traversing the southern upheaval of the North Cascades.
This terra incognita was first explored in July of 1938 over a period of 13 days. The Ptarmigan Climbing Club made numerous first ascents along the route – an effort that is still recognized as one of the greatest feats in the North Cascades… ever. Their report was never published, and due to tumultuous world events, the traverse wasn't repeated for 15 years. In September of 1953, Dale Cole, Bob Grant, Mike Hane, Erick Karlsson and Tom Miller reversed the route and published their report in The Mountaineer. It was this second traverse that turned the Ptarmigan Traverse into the classic it is known as today. Miller’s photos were published as a book, The North Cascades (1964), and later submitted as supporting documents in a bill sent to Congress that established the North Cascades as a National Park (1968).
[Above: The author jogs up to Cache Col from Cascade Pass. All photos courtesy of Steve Graepel]
When will it snow? It's the question on the lips of ski town locals throughout the West as fluttering flakes have been late to arrive. Sill, the winter provides opportunity: tacky mountain bike trails usually buried under feet of snow, ice climbing on routes normally inaccessible, and ice skating on remote alpine lakes. John Dittli says the skating has been epic in the high Sierra. While others have bemoaned the lack of snow, John has seized the extended window to ice skate on multiple lakes – many more than a typical year allows. He may even secretly hope that the snow remains at bay for a little longer. In the spirit of making the most out of a situation, we present the Year of Big Ideas 2012 – goals from friends, pros and creative thinkers. And no matter what 2012 brings, we'll make sure there's more lemonade in all we do.
Listen to "The Year of Big Ideas 2012 - Frozen Lemonade"
(mp3 - right-click to download)
Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to download the music from "Frozen Lemonade" 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.
Mike Colpo, associate editor of this blog and frequent contributor (as “localcrew”), died suddenly on December 7 while trail running on his lunch hour near the Patagonia Distribution Center in Reno. He was 36.
[Above: Mike and Skeena share some love. East Humboldt Range, Nevada. Photo: Old School]
All of us who worked with him are in shock: Mike was young, fit and apparently healthy, his loss unexpected. And Mike was so modest about his talents and accomplishments that, now that he has gone, we’re coming to realize how much he took with him. He was a graceful writer and fine editor and a Zen-like master of the 140-character Tweet. He was a committed, and knowledgeable environmentalist who had a special love for Nevada’s wild places. He was a monster on his mountain bike and his beloved Xtracycle, an excellent backcountry navigator, telemarker, fly fisherman and alpinist who took a month out every summer to guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Wyoming.
Guys like Mike never just disappear though. He’ll pull away and maintain a pace you can’t quite match. You see him cresting the hill way ahead and dig deep to catch him. He’ll drop in on the pow stash and you’ll just see him, a speck on the horizon until you’re not sure he’s still there at all. But like all adventure hounds, he’s there somewhere, among the trees and tall grass, his nose to the ground, thinking and looking for something fun. –Team Bacon Strip from “R.I.P. Mike Colpo”
After a well-deserved summer break, Fitz is back with another episode of The Dirtbag Diaries.
The Underdog is the most potent myth in America. It pervades film, pop culture, music and sports. Politicians use it to frame their campaigns. Professional sports teams use it to psyche themselves up before big games. In theory, we've always liked the long shot. Is this special type of hero just a myth or is the underdog real? Contributor Brendan Leonard thinks it's real because he's seen it in person. Jayson Sime was a small town Iowa kid from the tough part of town. He was told he wouldn't amount to much by his teachers and hazed by his peers. The greatest successes require the most difficult obstacles. From north of nowhere to a career in politics to Mount Shasta's summit, Jayson has overcome. Maybe heroes are real. To be in their presence is a powerful thing. Can you learn how to emulate the underdog by watching one?
Listen to "The Way of the Underdog"
(30:38 - right-click to download MP3)
Actually, Fitz wasn't totally relaxing over the summer. He posted his annual Dirtbag's Playlist Volume 6, a special episode that highlights the music from all of last year's podcasts. He and his partner Bryan Smith also released The Season 2 video series.
Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to download the music from "The Way of the Underdog" 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.
Like flocks of swirling swallows or shimmering schools of tropical fish, our customers swoop in with mysteriously synchronized concerns and questions on a regular basis, prompting the need for ready answers. Times like these, nothing would be more handy than magically beaming knowledge out into the ether. Our very own Old School is here to do just that. He's stepped back from the front lines to answer some of these more popular questions.
How Do I Wash My Down Jacket?
Perhaps it due to all the warnings about the perils of wet down, but it seems a lot of people are afraid to wash their down jacket. Down is remarkably tough stuff and though wet down has virtually zero insulation properties, getting it wet doesn’t hurt it in the least. Washing a down jacket is not much harder than washing a pair of jeans.
There are 3 things you’ll need to wash your down jacket: down soap, a front load washer, and a dryer with reliably low heat. While you can use regular detergents, they can strip away the natural oils in down and don’t always rinse out cleanly so I recommend using a cleaner specifically designed for down. I find NikWax® Down Wash works really well but there are several other effective down cleaners on the market.
I’ve long had this idealistic notion that the ends don’t justify any means. It’s why I’m a stickler for truthful reporting of climbs. The half-truths, clever omissions and misrepresentations we sometimes see – and I learn about too often in my work – are just different forms of lying, and for what? If you can’t be honest about climbing, what else in life do you lie about?
But who cares…it means little – unless, on a fundamental level, we think that truth matters. I think that it does.
So what, then, if someone is dishonest – or just inept – and they serve a greater good?
60 Minutes recently aired a damning indictment of Greg Mortenson, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated humanitarian who founded the Central Asia Institute. The Institute has educated tens of thousands of young children, mostly girls, in rural and grossly neglected regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson, a former climber, started his organization after a failed attempt on K2 in 1993, when, he claimed, Pakistani villagers helped nurse him back to health and he promised to return and build a school. 60 Minutes and Jon Krakauer – author of a 75-page article, Three Cups of Deceit (How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way) – allege significant fabrications in Mortenson’s best-selling book, Three Cups of Tea, and its follow-up, Stones Into Schools. Worse are the allegations of serious financial mismanagement, including a woefully low percentage of CAI’s proceeds actually going to schools, and large sums being spent on publicity and travel for Mortenson’s books and speaking engagements, for which he, not the CAI, receives the proceeds.
[Above: A Central Asia Institute school along the road to Hushe, Northern Areas, Pakistan. Photo: Kelly Cordes]