The Cleanest Line

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    Viva Los Fun Hogs – A #Funhogging Origin Story

    By Jeff Johnson

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    I used to dread the summers on the North Shore of O’ahu, Hawai’i. Famous for its winter surf, surfers from all over the world come to see what they are made of during a certain time of year. In the summertime, the waves go away and the crowds dissipate. My friends and I dreaded the four months of flatness. We eventually realized if we remained surf-centric we would have been primed for the loony bin. So we began embracing other ways to entertain ourselves.

    We got into paddleboarding, which was perfect for staying fit for the next winter season. Then we got into outrigger canoe surfing and bought a four-man for the job. This eventually led to building a six-man sailing canoe to circumnavigate the island. Then a few of us bought one-man canoes for times when no one else was around. During the summer, our beach was packed with a fleet of ocean craft, ready for any condition, waves or no waves. Eventually, we all started looking forward to the summer months. No crowds, a flat, beautiful ocean, and all sorts of ways to enjoy it.

    [Above: The author has finally joined Instagram. Follow his antics at @jeffjohnson_beyondandback. #funhogging]

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    Beyond and Back: Father Time

    by Jeff Johnson

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    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]

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    Beyond and Back: Fred Beckey

    by Jeff Johnson

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    I first met Fred Beckey about 6 years ago at the Crossroads Cafe in Joshua Tree. He was sitting at a corner booth surrounded by young women (in their 40’s), empty pint glasses, and wearing an ear-to-ear grin. I was told he had more first ascents than anyone in the world. He was in his early 80s and still going at it. We were introduced and the first thing he said to me was, “What?” I hadn’t said anything yet. Aside from his earing aid, which he never uses, Fred was as vibrant and alive as a twenty-year-old. He still is.

    Throughout the years Fred has stopped by the Patagonia offices in Ventura to break up his long road trips. It’s always a treat. Everyone in the building can recognize that voice when he enters the photo department and hovers over Jane Sievert’s desk, commenting on photos and offering beta for obscure climbs.

    [Above: Portrait of Fred in Ventura. December, 2010. Photo: Jeff Johnson]

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    Beyond and Back: Protest the Dams

    by Jeff Johnson

    During such dire times as we are in now, I would like to pass on this story I wrote in 2008. It is an outtake from the book 180° South. It has never been published. During the making of the film I spent a few months down in Chile hanging out with fishermen and gauchos and land conservationists. I was honored to have heard their stories told around campfires, sitting beneath the stars with the sound of rivers flowing nearby. I saw with my own eyes where the dams are to be built and the land and livelihoods that are threatened. Along with this story I’ve attached photographs I’ve taken of people who are on the front lines and who have much at stake. Some of these photographs have been published and some haven’t. I want to thank them and all of you who have risen to the occasion. The fight is not over.

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    [Gaucho Eduardo Castro. Valle Chacabuco, Chile. All photos © Jeff Johnson]

    Valle Chacabuco

    It was early. The sun was still behind the mountains. I was stuffing my sleeping bag into my backpack when one of the gauchos approached me.

    “Café?” he suggested as he handed me a leather bota bag. “Es bueno.”

    “Sure,” I said as I offered one of the three Spanish words I know. “Gracias.”

    I lifted the bladder up high, tilted the nozzle over my mouth and squeezed. I coughed, spat and bent over, rolling the liquid around in my mouth. I wasn’t expecting red wine.

    “Café?” I asked, wiping my mouth off.

    “Si,” he said with a laugh, “Café rojo.”

    I took another mouthful. “Si,” I said, “Bueno.”

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    Beyond and Back: 180° South/Yvon Chouinard

    by Jeff Johnson

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    Its been over a year since the initial premiere of our film 180° South at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. After that we had a west-coast tour. Then, for the next four months, it played at selected theaters around the country. There were some international shows as well – Spain, Australia, Japan, Canada, to name a few. It was an honor to have the opportunity to present the film at some of these venues and host Q&A’s afterward. I wish I could have been at them all.

    Every once in a while Yvon Chouinard would make it to one of these shows. While shooting the film we had spent long days and weeks together in remote Patagonia, climbing around and surfing a bit. It was quite a contrast to meet up with him again in these cities, in theaters, speaking to large audiences. But he has this casual way about him where he seems right at home just about anywhere.

    [Above: Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost. Photo: Tom Frost Collection]

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    Beyond and Back: 180° South Tour

    by Jeff Johnson

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    Around the turn of the century Chris Malloy and I stumbled across a forgotten film called Mountain of Storms and it had a great impact on our lives.  After six years of dreaming and scheming up our own adventure, then four years of non-stop hard work, now a decade has passed and our dream has finally come to fruition: the film and coffee table book 180° South, an ode to our heroes and their old film, and the place that inspired it all: Patagonia.

    We had the grand premiere this winter at the Santa Barbara Film Festival to a sold-out crowd at the Arlington Theatre.  Since then there have been a few scattered screenings around the U.S.  I had the pleasure of presenting the film a few weeks ago at the 5 Points Film Festival in Carbondale, Colorado.  What an awesome event that was!  I can’t say enough good things about the founder Julie Kennedy and organizer Beda Calhoun.  They treated us like one big family and put on a stellar event.  I could sit for hours and watch those films, which I did, each one inspiring me in different ways.  If I were to give you an in-depth report on the eclectic people I met, and the awe-inspiring films I saw, I know I’d leave someone out.  So, I’ll just mention one person: Patrick Rizzo.  We totally hit it off.  Maybe its because I grew up skateboarding, or because I was raised near Berkeley (where he’s from) and I know that all skaters from Berkeley are beautifully out of their minds.  Hanging with Patrick was like returning home, then forgetting where I am.  He’s one of the main guys in a film called Second Nature.  On their longboards he and his buddies bomb hills in the Sierra’s, reaching speeds of 60 MPH, often filming each other and passing the camera around casually.  There’s trippy meditation scenes, underwater footage (for some reason) and animation that has no apparent meaning.  Love it.  Dig it.  But you probably won’t want to do it.

    [SB Film Festival.  On stage Q&A.  Rick Ridgeway, Yvon Chouinard and Danny Moder.  Photo: Jeff Johnson]

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    Beyond and Back: Indian Creek

    by Jeff Johnson

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    I’ve dreamt of Indian Creek for years but had never made the voyage. Now I had an excuse. The Patagonia Design Offsite was to be in Utah this month and I wanted to attend. This would be my first trip to Moab and Indian Creek. I picked up my friend Bill Beckwith in San Francisco. The drive to Indian Creek was supposed to be around 15 hours. For us it took 24. We’re idiots, I know. Lots of music, lots of talking, long stretches of silence. We got lost.

    Bill and I often climb like wussies. Instead of going for it, we’ll just yell, “Take!” and hang for a bit before moving on. But this time we made a deal. Every “take” costs you $5. This could get costly therefore forcing us to climb like real men.

    [The Bridger Jacks after the storm. Indian Creek. Photo: Jeff Johnson]

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    Beyond and Back: Rivers Cuomo

    by Jeff Johnson

    I said in my initial entry that I would occasionally talk about or mention product. This is only because I am very passionate about technical product. I love it when a piece of gear works exactly how it was intended when used in the conditions it was designed for. For instance: when I'm making an anchor on the last pitch of the day and the sun drops below the horizon, a stiff breeze whips up the face and I unclip my Houdini jacket from my harness, unravel it from its perfectly compact ball and throw it on. All cozy and warm with a big smile on my face I sit on the ledge and belay my partner up to me. Or out on the town during a cold winter night in San Francisco I'm wearing my Das Parka and my friends are making fun of me saying, "Look at the Michelin Man … what a kook!" Then it's three in the morning and we're wasted, we don't have a ride, we can't get a taxi, and we're lost in Golden Gate Park. I just lay down in the wet grass all cozy and warm, a big smile on my face. "Who's the kook now," I say as I curl up in my Das Parka. These are the precious moments you remember and they are the reasons why you buy quality products you can trust.   

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    Beyond and Back: SAVAGE

    by Jeff Johnson

    JJ_savage_1Phew … I’m back! Finally. Got back a couple months ago after being out of the country for half a year. Long story, too long. I’ll get to that later.

    You know how it is when you come back from traveling; an estrangement occurs. Re-entry is tough. You gotta take it slow. So I disappeared into Yosemite Valley for the spring.

    One morning while wandering through Camp 4 looking for a climbing partner, I came across Scott Parry. A friend had introduced us before but it had been brief. I’m always a little wary of climbing with strangers. You never really know what you’re getting into till it’s too late. And half of climbing is spending a lot of in-between time together: long approaches, re-racking on ledges between pitches, beers at the end of the day, etc. You better enjoy this person’s company or the experience might leave you bouldering most of the time, by yourself.

    [Scott Parry climbing "Steppin Out" 5.10d, Yosemite Valley. Photo: Jeff Johnson]

    At first impression Scott was intimidating to me: reddish hair pulled back into cornrows, braided pigtails, reading glasses and an intense, all-encompassing look in his eyes. His generic, industrialized work-wear was all but ripped to shreds, at the shoulders and at the knees. Gnarly. But maybe it was his nickname that rattled me: Savage as some call him, a result from his penchant for climbing off-widths, where he says, “You gotta dig deep to climb off-widths – get in there and go savage.”

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    Beyond and Back: Your Backyard

    by Jeff Johnson

    JJ_backyard_1Sometimes you forget about your own backyard.

    While passing through Ventura the other day I had heard about a building south swell. So I hooked up with Patagonia Surf ambassadors Mary Osborne and Chris Malloy and headed south. We ended up posting up all afternoon at a spot north of Malibu. The crowd was fairly thick but the waves were consistent and the conditions were absolutely beautiful.

    I've been all over the world chasing waves in remote settings, looking for those rare moments when it all comes together. And there I was at a well-known surf spot just minutes from one of the most densely populated sprawls on earth. I stood there in the sand looking at perfect, overhead rights, peeling off a barnacled rock through a field of colorful kelp -- glassy yet textured by a warm, off-shore breeze, the light getting better every minute as the sun dipped down over the dry headland to the west. I paddled out for a few waves then set up shop on the beach.

    [Mary Osborne enjoys perfection close to home. Photo: Jeff Johnson]

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