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    From the Trenches series - +1 Core for Winter Climbing

    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. Kelly Cordes is our guest Trencher today, fielding a question that is at once simple - and surprisingly complex: How do you dress properly for ice climbing? - Ed

    Kc - TC vest Some people don’t like winter climbing because, surprise surprise, it’s cold. But it’s also beautiful – the stillness, the ever-changing medium, the winter light. Fun only in retrospect (Type II fun)? Not necessarily. The trick, or one of them, is to keep your body temperature just right. But you don’t want to inhibit mobility, since trying to climb while bundled-up like Ralphie from A Christmas Story isn’t much fun, either.

    Here’s one simple pointer: wear an extra layer in your core, or torso. I call it my “+1 Core” layer. We’ve long known, courtesy of physiologists and backed by our own experiences, that when push comes to shove our bodies prioritize shunting warm blood away from our extremities and toward our more vital areas. By wearing an extra layer in your torso to keep key areas toasty, you get serious bang for your buck warmth-wise, while maintaining arm mobility. It’s a similar concept to that old saying from granny: if your toes are cold, put a hat on (surely the reason all shirtless bouldering bros wear a beanie). I, and many other climbers, believe that this whole “core warmth” thing helps me get away with wearing thinner, more dexterous gloves while winter climbing – nothing is worse than fumbling with gear in big gloves. Well, frozen fingers are worse, but that’s kind of my point, too. Like granny says.

    [Tommy Caldwell misunderstands the vest concept. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

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    R.I.P., Shoe Tree

    Shoe tree Back in 1986, Life magazine christened the 250 miles of US Highway 50 between Fallon and Ely, Nevada with the moniker “The Loneliest Road in America.” In a classic example of turning lemons into lemonade the Nevada Department of Tourism seized on the title and began a marketing campaign complete with loneliest road signs, survival guides and passports that could be stamped at various destinations along the route. Whether because of that marketing push, or simply the increased popularity of the American Southwest, Highway 50 isn’t nearly so lonely anymore. I count myself among its more frequent travelers.

    To be sure, Highway 50 in central Nevada is still wonderfully desolate and real landmarks are few and far between. One of these was the Shoe Tree. As trees go it wasn’t all that spectacular; a lone cottonwood standing next to a perennially dry creek bed 110 miles east of Reno. What made the Shoe Tree special is that it was festooned with thousands of old shoes either hanging off the branches or just as likely, lying in a massive pile below the tree. As is often the case for such things, the origins of the Shoe Tree are apocryphal. All the stories are similar, starting with a couple, either recently or about to be married, and either traveling to - or maybe from - Reno, and an argument that ended or began with shoes being thrown into the tree, ostensibly so the bride wouldn't be able to run away.

    [The Shoe Tree frames central Nevada's Desatoya Range on a chill winter day. Photo: Kirsten Mashinter.]

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    30% Off Sale - Select Fall & Winter 2010 Styles, now through Jan. 26


    From now to January 26th, scoot over to or your nearest Patagonia store (Outlets not participating) and get 30% off select Fall and Winter 2010 styles.* Find jackets, pullovers and insulation for all your outside pursuits, as well as cozy threads for the down-time between. There's something for everyone, all at a price that's a little lighter on your wallet.

    Save 30% on fall & winter styles

    [Jordan Hieronymous motors home with some free booty, perfect for springtime rock skiing. Zion, Utah. Photo: Eric Draper]

    Arne Backstrom Revelstoke Tribute

    [Arne Backstrom Revelstoke Tribute. Video: Subaru Freeskiing World Tour.]

    The Subaru World Freeskiing Tour put together a nice tribute video for our late friend and ambassador Arne Backstrom. The video was released in conjunction with this week's Revelstoke leg of the World Freeskiing Tour which Arne won last year. Head over to the official website to catch up on the standings and watch the live stream from Canada.

    From Yellowstone to Reno

    Skye-HOL10 catalogOn the inside back cover of our 2010 Holiday Catalog is an image that originally appeared on the cover of our 1990 winter Kid’s Catalog. Not one person here in mail order even worked for Patagonia back then but nonetheless it’s a picture many of us know well. The photograph is of a little girl looking out her window at a buffalo munching grass on a snowy day in Yellowstone National Park. The reason we all know it so well is that Skye, the little girl in the picture, has worked here since 2004. When the picture reappeared in the current Holiday Catalog, I knew there must be a story behind that Yellowstone childhood and how she came to work here at Patagonia.

    The story begins in England where her mom (a Brit) and dad (an American) met while in college. They married and returned to the US, living in Boston where her dad found work as an operating technician at Massachusetts General Hospital. But the story really gets under way in 1973 with a newspaper ad, an ad for the Winter Keeper position in the Canyon Village area of Yellowstone National Park (think The Shining). Only this job didn’t entail watching over a huge hotel, it involved watching over some 200 summer cabins perched on the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. He was offered the job (Skye is pretty sure he was the only applicant) and after talking it over with his wife, she decided that doing it for a year might be fun; because, she figured, you can survive just about anything for a year. So they packed up their old Saab and their new baby (Skye’s sister Emma) and headed west.

    [Photo Top: Skye at home in Yellowstone. Photo: Steven Fuller]

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    Beyond Factory Audits with the FLA

    Cara Audit Photo No one likes to be audited – even those who spend their lives auditing other people. Our Social and Environmental Responsibility Director Cara Chacon was reminded of that fact when she was suddenly informed last June that the Fair Labor Association (FLA) would be paying Patagonia a visit the following week.

    Cara found out about the visit when she ran into some representatives of the FLA at a member meeting in Washington, D.C. The FLA is a nonprofit comprised of companies, universities and civil organizations dedicated to improving working conditions around the world and have established a reputation for the highest auditing standards. The reps didn’t say it was actually an audit, however, Cara was suspicious.

    [Patagonia Social and Environmental Responsibility Director, Cara Chacon, participates in a vendor audit. Photo: Julie Netzsky]

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    Adrift in the Sage Brush Sea

    Patagonia’s environmental internship program is sending about 20 employees into the field this year to volunteer with nonprofit environmental groups around the world. The company pays employee salaries and benefits for up to a month while they work in D.C., Kenya, Kauai and other locales. Jim Little, an editor in our marketing department, recently spent eight days in the great outdoors with members of the Nevada Wilderness Project (NWP). Here’s his account.

    IMG_7449 Adrift in the Sagebrush Sea

    Loaded to the gunwales with tents and sleeping bags, ice chests stuffed with food and hoppy beverage, in early October we drove north from Reno in a rented Tahoe to spend a week adrift in the Sagebrush Sea. I was tagging along to experience and write about a 4-million acre landscape the Nevada Wilderness Project, Oregon Natural Desert Association and other groups want to connect and protect as a Sage Grouse Conservation Area for the benefit of the threatened game bird and some 30 other sage brush-dependent wildlife.

    As you might imagine, rigorous field study entails great sacrifice: hiking soaring escarpments, witnessing herds of swift-hoofed pronghorn, soaking in soothing thermal pools and taking to the air in a private plane arranged by LightHawk for a two-hour over-flight. It also meant hanging out with bright, well-informed (and highly entertaining) people determined to preserve a massive landscape for the benefit of all.

    Sage grouse – the bird best known for its thunderous wing flapping, comical mating ritual and sage-infused meat – was once so prolific in these parts that when it took wing flocks darkened the sky. Today, its habitat in decline, sage grouse populations in some areas of the Great Basin are leaning toward extinction. The conservation area would restrict cattle grazing, oil and gas development, poorly conceived renewable energy projects (yes, there are some) and off-road vehicle use that jeopardize sage grouse and the other wild animals. Without a protected conservation area, the bird will most certainly end up on the Endangered Species list, which would put a stop to all activities that threaten it, though by more draconian means.

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    Conservation Photographers Focus on Canada's Sacred Headwaters

    _MG_3587Nacimiento-de-dos-rios We first learned about the work of the International League of Conservation Photographers through their compelling work on behalf of threatened regions in Patagonia. This summer, they've been lending their honed expertise and incomparable imagery to the fight for some of Western Canada's most treasured landscapes. We're pleased to share this story, from National Geographic Explorer and award-winning author, photographer and researcher, Wade Davis, on behalf of Canada's Sacred Headwaters region.

    * * *

    In a rugged knot of mountains, in the remote reaches of northern British Columbia, lies a stunningly beautiful valley known to the first nations as the Sacred Headwaters. There, on the southern edge of the Spatsizi Wilderness – the Serengeti of Canada – are born in remarkably close proximity three of Canada’s most important salmon rivers: the Stikine, Skeena and Nass.

    [A calm lake in the Sacred Headwaters. Photo: Claudio Contreras, courtesy of iLCP]

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    180° South Tour Schedule Update; Yvon Chouinard to Introduce Oct. 28 Screening in New York


    Those of you living in the New York area have two chances to see 180° South very soon –  this Saturday (10/23) and next Thursday (10/28). The event on Thursday the 28th promises to be extra special as Yvon Chouinard will be in town to introduce the screening which is a benefit for Riverkeeper, New York's clean water advocate.

    This Saturday's event, which is part of Mountainfilm New York, will be no less exciting as Jeff Johnson, Timmy O’Neill, and Rick Ridgeway will all be in attendence. There are also Saturday (10/23) screenings in Colorado and (heads-up U.K. readers) Wales.

    Hit the jump to see the latest 180° South tour schedule.

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    Patagonia Ambassadors Create Running Tradition with Japan's Shinetsu 5 Mountains Race

    Shinetsu Patagonia Running Ambassador Krissy Moehl took top honors at the recently held Shinetsu Five Mountains Trail 110K in Japan's Shinetsu Highlands. This year marks the second running of the race, a labor of love born from the vision of another Patagonia Running Ambassador, Hiroki Ishikawa. Takayuki Kakihara, of Patagonia Japan, offers this introduction to the Shinetsu race. Krissy's own introduction and race reports follow after the jump: 

    The "Shinetsu Gogaku Trail Running Race 2010 ~ Art Sports x Patagonia Cup," produced by Patagonia Ambassador Hiroki Ishikawa was held in the Shinetsu highlands that spread across the Niigata and Nagano prefectural borders from September 18th (Saturday) to 20th (Monday). The "Shinetsu Gogaku," used in the title of the event, points to the 5 mountains that exist in the Shinetsu highlands. These mountains have long been deeply intertwined with the lives of the people residing at the base of these mountains and have attracted worshipers as a sacred place.

    Krissy aid The race which welcomed its 2nd year had a course of 110km, the longest course amongst
    domestic trail running races in Japan. This race also included many features that Hiroki Ishikawa had experienced in the various trail running races that he had participated in (mainly in North America), such as Japan's first-ever trail running event with aid stations. These allowed the family members and friends to provide support for the runners and set-up areas where pacers were allowed in to provide safety for the runners during the night hours. The race this year had a total of 542 runners (460 men and 82 women) who entered and 384 runners (225 men and 59 women) completed the race. Shinetsu Gogaku:

    [Top - photo courtesy Shinetsu Five Mountains Trail 110K. Bottom - Krissy Moehl takes off from an aid station, with a gentle push and a mountain of encouragement from race organizer Hiroki Ishikawa. Photo: Sho Fujimaki]

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