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    Making a difference, one kid at a time

    Downsized_0212111724 As a book editor at Patagonia I work in obscurity, helping writers make the best of their story. I like it that way, but don’t often hear about how the projects I work on impact their readers. So an email from a great friend in Santa Barbara about the impact that 180° South – a film directed by Chris Malloy, with a companion book published by Patagonia – had on his son, Max, it caught me by surprise. Here, with my friend Matt Wilson’s permission is that email.

    Break-through weekend at our house. Max has really found surfing, not boogie boarding and 2-second rides at some beachbreak. Thursday through Sunday we went to Campus Point every day.

    Thursday he took his shortboard and even on the small waves he could get up and surf. I took the fly rod and wet-waded for a short halibut, and a lot of kelp… . On the drive home he talked about taking the longboard and how maybe he should try it out. I told him about how we saw Lard Hamilton riding a SUP on TV and that when the waves are smaller it just makes sense to use the ‘right board.’

    [Max out at Campus Point. Photo: Matt Wilson]

    Continue reading "Making a difference, one kid at a time" »

    Swimming the Ka'ie'ie Waho Channel

    2_haleiwa dock This story comes from Patagonia friend Mike Spalding about the swim he and some friends did from O’ahu to Kaua’i last fall. -Ed

    The Ka’ie’ie Waho Channel from O’ahu to Kaua’i is the longest between the main Hawaiian Islands at 72 miles. No one has swum it: Obstacles like sharks, unpredictable and strong currents, Portuguese man-of-war stings and trying to find a calm period in the trade winds defeated the prior three solo attempts.

    The winds were down on November 20th, a good sign for our attempt. Our swimmers were all experienced: marathon ocean swimmer Linda Kaiser had previously swum all the Hawaiian Island channels except the Ka’ie’ie Waho Channel; Michael Spalding who on his attempt to swim the Alenuihaha channel was bitten by a cookie cutter shark; Randy Brown and Joel Swartz both experienced cold water swimmers from San Francisco; and Michelle Macy, a renowned marathon swimmer from Oregon. Billy Brown from Kaua’i would also join us on his first long-distance swimming adventure.

    [The swim escort boat at the dock in Hale’iwa. Photo: Mike Spalding]

    Continue reading "Swimming the Ka'ie'ie Waho Channel" »

    Choose Your Own Storytelling

    Kc - siyeh P1030455 The comments got me thinking. I’m talking about the comments on my last post, about adventure and youth. So many shifts, twists, turns, contradictions and evolutions that keep life interesting, and keep adventure and individuality alive.

    How do these shifts interplay with our desire to share our stories? Several commenters – here and on the Facebook repostings – mentioned the climbing media. Indeed there’s likely some truth to the climbing media paying more attention to the more popular and quantifiable forms of climbing. People want it. Ratings and numbers have always had the ability to capture and categorize in ways more easily understood than any attempts to articulate adventure. That doesn’t mean that adventure climbing is dead. Maybe we just don’t hear about it as much.

    Or maybe, like adventure itself, we just have to search harder for it. The stories are out there.

    [An awesome adventure, but I can’t tell you where. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

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    Are Parks Protecting the Wildlife and Places They Were Created to Save?

    Elephant patrol As a former director with the International League of Conservation Photographers, Trevor Frost has been keeping a close eye on the world's imperiled places for years. Cleanest Line readers might recognize some of the stories Trevor has helped bring us, such as the Rios Libres series (dedicated to protecting Chile's free-flowing rivers) and, more recently, an initiative to protect the Sacred Headwaters region of western Canada. Today's post is an update on Frost's latest work - this time he's turning his attention to the world's "paper parks," those places that have been set aside - in theory - to protect the world's endangered landscapes and wildlife. Trevor offers this update on what's really going on:

    Parks or protected areas remain our best tool for safeguarding wildlife and wild places and that is why more than 100,000 parks dot the globe protecting reefs and rainforests and mountain ranges. But while some of these parks are doing a great job, many, some would say a majority, are failing to protect the wildlife and wild spaces inside their borders. A closer look at the parks that are struggling often reveals there is little to no on-the-ground-protection for the parks in the form of park rangers, equipment, and even boundary signs to mark park borders.

    [Rangers in Sumatra typically conduct their patrols on foot, but are known to take advantage of alternative transportation when available.  Photo: Rhett A. Butler, 2011, courtesy of Trevor Frost and]

    Continue reading "Are Parks Protecting the Wildlife and Places They Were Created to Save?" »

    Don't Wait for Good, Go Find It

    There always something unpleasant in the news. Worse, this queue of sad stories is never-ending; the high notes don't last long before they're pushed off the front page to make way for the latest updates about unfolding unrest of some kind or another. That makes news like the kind we're sharing today that much sweeter. It's an update from patagonia friend and adventure photographer, Trevor Clark, about a cool new project he's working on. He's set aside paying work in hopes of capturing a story about some good being done in the world.

    Trevor's project is unique for a number of reasons, but the one that got our attention was this: it's an assignment he's given himself, based on his belief in the power of positive stories.

    Obviously, a photographer needs to sell their pictures to make money. The odds are of doing this are greatly increased when said photographer can go on-assignment for a publication. Trouble is, "[in the current economy] no magazine is going to pay to send me to Africa no matter how good the story is," says Trevor.

    He went anyway. No money. No promises. Just the belief that a good story deserves to be told.

    Continue reading "Don't Wait for Good, Go Find It" »

    Prescott-area Film Festival to Benefit a Friend in Need

    BCFF-Tour-Poster-bean A close friend of Patagonia is currently facing a fight for his life. A Patagonia Climbing Ambassador, past NOLS instructor, and outdoor photographer, Bean Bowers grew a fast and large circle of friends through his combination of irrepresible energy and positive spirt. A backcountry skiing accident in December resulted in a broken femur, a serious injury that was quickly eclipsed by complications that arose during his recovery. It was then that a large brain tumor was discovered. The tumor has been removed, but Bean's fight has just begun. Bean has been diagnosed with renal cancer and friends are rallying to support him as he faces an incredibly difficult fight, and the staggering medical bills that go with it.

    His alma mater, Prescott College, in conjunction with some of Bean's friends and colleagues, is helping to host a fundraiser Gear Swap and Film Festival to provide support in his fight for life.
    March 8th, 2011 -  Afternoon and Evening in Crossroads Community Room
    GEAR SWAP - 4-6 PM
    Bean's Prescott friends and loved ones are urging anyone who can to please come and join the rally to help one of their extended family members. There will be a raffle or silent auction of donated goods. To participate in the Used Gear Sale, contact John Farmer or David Lovejoy. Sellers are asked to contribute 10-20% of their earnings to the cause. The suggested donation for Backcountry Film Festival attendess is $10/person - give more at the door if you can. All proceeds will go directly to Bean.

    Bean's climb to recovery is just beginning. As he said in a recent note to friends: "Just feed me the rope, I'll get it up there!"

    Phosphate Mining: Sealing Southern Idaho's Fate?

    JWattIdaho-2 Flipping through travel planners and vacation ads, southeast Idaho sounds much like the glorious west of old. A wild untarnished space, home to elk, moose, deer, and many other species of wildlife, with hundreds of miles of rivers and creeks, all bursting with wild native trout. It is. Or at least was.

    Editor's note: Photographer, climber and family man Jeremiah Watt offers today's story for Cleanest Line readers. He writes about a corner of our country not often visited - and how the area's blessing of desolation is the very thing that has allowed it to become home to a mind-blowing number of Superfund sites.

    Today, it is home to 17 Superfund sites, thanks to phosphate mining giants Simplot, Agrium, Monsanto and Rhodia. The phosphate here is primarily used as fertilizer and the herbicide RoundUp. Currently 16,987 acres have been mined with an additional 7,340 acres slated for development. In addition 15,000 acres have been leased and 50,000 acres are identified as containing economically viable phosphate reserves. In total 2,500 square miles – an area larger than Rhode Island - have the potential to be permanently scarred or destroyed from the effects of phosphate mining. Ninety-five percent of this land belongs to you and I.

    [Sunrise on the Blackfoot River. Photo: © Jeremiah Watt]

    Continue reading "Phosphate Mining: Sealing Southern Idaho's Fate?" »

    Cordillera Blanca Expedition Seeks Mountaineers


    Mountaineers take note: Put your skills to use helping monitor air pollution in the vertical environment of the high Andes. Read on for more details or visit the American Alpine Club's informational page. Hurry - the application deadline is midnight, February 19th.

    In June and July 2011, the Deep South Section of The American Alpine Club is spearheading an environmental mountaineering expedition to Peru’s highest mountain range. The Cordillera Blanca contains the highest concentration of mountains higher than 6,000 meters (19,685 ft.) in the Western Hemisphere, as well as the highest mountains in the Tropics. The purpose of the expedition will be to work with local and national governments, NGOs, and academic environmental experts to develop and institute a mountain-air-pollution-impacts monitoring program.

    Cordillera2 Section mountaineers and other AAC mountaineering scientists will be spending 2-4 weeks in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca, where the group will team with local climbers. The team will collect valuable environmental samples from elevations too high and remote for most scientists to be able to visit. The data collected by members will assist local land managers and scientists to determine the environmental impacts of local and global air pollution and global climate-change impacts on the Andes Mountains. Volunteer mountaineers are needed to help complete this project.

    The American Alpine Club's Executive Director, Phil Powers describes the role mountaineers will play in this research: "The high altitude ice on our planet holds extraordinary fresh water resources in places to which climbers have unique access. These are the water towers of our world. Climber scientists play a special role collecting data from locations that house key early indications of the effects of climate change but are very difficult to access."

    Core sample The AAC's member mountaineers will work with local climbers from the Mountaineering School of Marcara, the region's eminent mountaineering institution. Key mountains near the continental divide of South America will have their environment sampled and documented for air pollution impacts. Mountaineers will scale the complete vertical aspect of these key mountains to obtain these samples and data. It is expected that snow and ice will be sampled from 4,500 to over 6,300 meters in 500-meter increments to obtain a vertical and horizontal profile of impacts on the range.

    Get more details about the upcoming expedition in this interview with AAC Deep South Section Chair, Chadwick Hagan and expedition co-leader Frank Nederhand.

    [All photos courtesy American Alpine Club's 2011 Expedition site.]


    53 and Growing - Announcing the Opening of Our Latest Patagonia Stores

    1grand opening honolulu “Opening a store is like a marriage: you want it to be forever and you want everyone to be happy,” says Robert Cohen, Patagonia’s VP of global retail.

    With the August opening of Patagonia Honolulu, and the December opening of Toronto and a second store in Santiago, Chile, we’ve tied the knot three times this year and are now up to 53 Patagonia-owned stores worldwide. It’s a veritable Big Love! (There also are a slew of single-brand Patagonia stores owned by Patagonia dealers everywhere from Antwerp to Burleigh Heads.) Three more Patagonia-owned stores are in the works this year in Kichijoji and Chiba, Japan, and San Sebastian, Spain.

    “It’s unreal the way our store count is growing” Cohen said. “We realize there’s a limit to our growth. But 53 stores around the world isn’t that many. The number of places we aren’t is enormous.”

    [The grand opening of our Honolulu store on December 12 was a Who's Who of the surf side of the company. There was food, live music and a silent auction benefiting our environmental partners on the islands. Photo: Morgan Maassen]

    Continue reading "53 and Growing - Announcing the Opening of Our Latest Patagonia Stores" »

    Picture Story: Imagine The Pasayten

    Pacific Northwest climbers know John Scurlock for his stunning mountain images. His aerial photos have contributed to countless adventures, providing inspiration and aid to climbers looking to hone-in on details of remote peaks. John is a paramedic by trade, and a photographer and pilot by obsession (he’s working on a coffee table photo book, to be published by Wolverine Publishing in November). While his images usually lead to climbers daydreaming about future ascents, the other day, when John flew over Slate Peak on the southern edge of Washington’s Pasayten Wilderness, it brought him back 38 years. - Ed

    Scurlock photo - Slate Gold

    Imagine The Pasayten

    Thirty-seven years ago, at the age of 19, I was a backpacker northbound on the Pacific Crest Trail. In late August of 1973, atop Slate Peak, I finally reached the edge of the great and mysterious Pasayten Wilderness. Five weeks of solo travel seemed trivial now that I was about to step into this incredibly lonely, windswept jumble of peaks that lay in front of me. I was in awe, and felt as if I were the first, although of course I wasn't. Looking back on that day, I wonder what it takes to sustain those feelings as the years pass by, as life wears away at us, as we come to realize that there are always distant boundaries, as our romantic views of wild places fade with the responsibilities of adulthood.

    Scurlock photo - Slate lookout Yet, for some reason that I can't explain, I still get that same sensation whenever I journey back up to Slate. I never guessed back then that I would someday have the enormous privilege of photographing some of the greatest peaks and ranges of the western US and Canada from the air. But through all those travels and adventures, that wonderful corner of the North Cascades is a constant pull. To stand at Slate, to climb Mt. Lago, to dip my hand in the sublime Dot Lake, to endure lightning at Horseshoe Basin, to be tent-bound in the Ashnola highland with a late fall storm whistling through the larches, the jingle of hobbled mules nearby in the snowy dark: these are my visions of the Pasayten and the North Cascades, and the sustaining heart of my own wilderness imagination.

    --John Scurlock, originally written for The Wilderness Society

    [Top - Pasayten Sunset: Slate Peak & Gold Ridge. Above, right - The fire lookout tower on Slate Peak. Photos: Scurlock Photo]

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