The Cleanest Line

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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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    Beyond and Back: Camp 4 and Stuff

    by Jeff Johnson

    JJ_camp4_1

    The other day while wandering around Camp 4 in Yosemite I ran into Patagonia ambassador Timmy O’Neill. He was hanging around the SARS site with his brother Sean and some guy named Aron. Timmy asked me if I wanted to climb the Manure Pile with him and Aron. “Sure,” I said. Walking to the parking lot I saw that this guy Aron was missing his right arm. Hmm, I thought. You never know with Timmy. He’s always up to something interesting.

    Once at the Manure Pile Timmy started talking about his experiences working with the disabled. He has just started a non-profit organization for disabled athletes called Paradox Sports. Check it out at: paradoxsports.org It’s really cool. Recently he and a few buddies took his paraplegic brother, Sean, up the Salathé Wall on El Capitan – that would be Sean’s third ascent of the Captain. Timmy went on to say that most of the people he has worked with were born without the use of their appendages or whatnot. But Aron was different. He lost his arm around five years ago in a climbing accident. That’s when it occurred to me. This was Aron Ralston, the guy who got trapped by a rock in Colorado and had to cut his arm off to get free and survive. Now he’s way into climbing. He’s had a special prosthetic arm that has two hook-like tools on the end. He can hook onto little crimpers, wedge the cam hook-like device into tiny cracks, or simply jam the thing into wide cracks. It’s fairly new so he’s just getting used to it.

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    Beyond and Back

    by Jeff Johnson

    Editor's note: We're stoked to introduce a new feature on The Cleanest Line from Bend to Baja author/photographer Jeff Johnson. Jeff's work has appeared in The Surfer’s Journal, Surfer’s Path, Alpinist, Surfing, Surfer and the Patagonia catalog. When we don't have him chained to a desk at Pat. HQ in Ventura, Jeff wanders the planet looking for good surf, good climbing and the perfect photo. Prints of his photographs are available through his Web site: jeffjohnsonstories.com. Stay tuned for more Beyond and Back stories from Jeff.

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    Liz and Belinda

    JJ_beyond_1

    This is one of my favorite photographs from the last trip we did together. This is Liz Clark (left) and Belinda Baggs (right). They are anchored in the Osa Peninsula, south Costa Rica. Liz is teaching Belinda some of the basics of sailing: pulling the anchor, running the windless, hoisting sails, etc. Three guys in a panga motor up and circle the boat. The guy driving starts yelling to Liz saying that his friend knows her. “Alright”, she says, “cool.” It’s obvious that the guy is drunk, wasted even. “I’ll bring him by!” he yells as he catches himself before falling overboard backward. “Cool,” says Liz.

    An hour or so later I see the panga coming back through the moorings. There is a new guy astride the gunwales. He’s got his shirt off. He’s running his hands through his hair, slicking it back, and assessing the tattoos on his arms. I take a seat at the other end of the boat. I’m close enough to the girls if they should need any help and far enough away so as to not be a threat to the guys in the panga (I want to give this guy all the room he needs)...

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