The Cleanest Line

Weblog for the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Visit Patagonia.com to see what we do.

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    What Inspired You?

    We recently received this email from Ross Curwen, a reader from, as he says, "rainy old England."

    RossJust a letter saying thanks to The Cleanest Line community from rainy old England. About a year ago I injured my shoulder. This meant I had to cut right back on two things pretty huge to me: surfing and climbing. I was a bit mopey for a bit.

    I needed to have something to maintain my fitness. Gyms, road running, cycling are all good but they're missing something. That's when I found trail running, through the Patagonia site. I don't have the huge expanse of mountains and national parks but I am spoilt with miles of cliff paths and dartmoor close to hand.

    A year later and I am hooked. I love the rhythm of the trails, the temperature changes on your face emerging from dappled tree lines onto exposed cliffs. Like a lot of people in the community it becomes a bit of obsession. I'm at work knowing I've got shoes and a head torch waiting for me and trails to conquer later.

    I wouldn't have this drive without reading the submissions on The Cleanest Line. I read the stories of all the different sports, trips and adventures and it inspires me to make my own. So all in all thank you to all of you and keep going as you are.

    This short letter got us thinking about how we got started doing the things we love to do. Surely, we thought there are lots of interesting stories out there among our readers and we thought it'd be cool to hear some of them. If you have a story to tell, by all means chime in!

    I'll go first...

    Continue reading "What Inspired You?" »

    Skimo in Black

    by Kelly Cordes

    Bang. The gun went off. I was wearing a suit. First time in a couple decades or more (for the suit, not the gun). All black, like Johnny Cash.

    But I wasn’t robbing a train or singing the Folsom Prison Blues; I was doing a randonee ski race. Don’t think I’ve done a formal race in nearly 20 years – maybe since I was the first woman finisher in the Seattle Marathon. And this was a sprint race, a distance I’ve never been good at, but so what.

    Kc - dojoe costumeIMG_3877(LR)

    [The Gimpy Man in Black before the race at Eldora Resort. Photo: Cordes collection]

    I’ve been loving ski touring, a.k.a. randonee, a.k.a. ski mountaineering – skimo for short. I love how stupid that name sounds, too. I’m not a skimo. You’re the skimo. The gliding motion is easy on my cankle, and allows me glimpses of that feeling I love more than anything: moving in the mountains.

    Continue reading "Skimo in Black" »

    Backcountry Film Festival - Ready to Make You Backcountry Famous

    How many ski movies have you seen that were shot in July and August - in North America? A deep and abiding snowpack across the West (coupled with a cool, wet, and stormy June) has yielded what is, for most of us, an apocryphal anomaly, the "July ski season." Sure, the guys up in the Cascades and north of the 49th make it a habit of enjoying turns all year, but for the rest of us, winter is rapidly fading memory once the fireworks fly.

    Not this year (check the stories from Tahoe, A-Basin, and The Bird). Which is precisely why it's a great time to rally the brethren and sistren, grab your boards, and head for the hills to document this season of epic deepness. For your efforts, the Backcountry Film Festival is ready to provide a screen and an audience of thousands across the country. So whether you're getting fired up to shoot some fresh footage or ready to pull out the powder vids you shot back in the frosty months, read on to find out how to submit your work to the Festival.

    Deeppopecrop
    [Photo courtesy Winter Wildlands Alliance/Backcountry Film Festival. Skier, Sam Pope - KGB Productions. Photographer: Tuck Fauntleroy]

    Continue reading "Backcountry Film Festival - Ready to Make You Backcountry Famous" »

    Flip Through the New Ridebook 2010 and Get Psyched for Ski Season

    Today, I'm stoked to share our latest effort towards digitally evolving the Patagonia catalog -- hopefully you've already seen our Online Surf Catalog and Environmental Initiatives E-Book for 2010. This new little flipbook was designed for the Patagonia Facebook page -- see the Ridebook 2010 tab -- so it's not as functionally robust as the Online Surf Catalog but the content is no less inspiring. Inside you'll find a bunch of great ski and snowboard photos, a powder-filled video by Sweetgrass Productions and clothing recommendations for the upcoming ski season. Something else the Ridebook has over the Surf Catalog is the ability to embed with full functionality on websites and blogs.

    We invite you to visit the Patagonia Facebook page and give us a quick Like. We share good stories and links without overloading your news feed, and answer your questions on our wall. Feel free to share the Ridebook with your Facebook network or by embedding it on your blog. And, as always, we appreciate your feedback on these new ventures.

    Here's to a snow-filled season. Hope all of you get your fill this year.

    Backcountry Film Festival - Call for Submissions

    Deeppopecrop Time to dust off those great video clips you shot last ski season and polish up your best footage, because the Winter Wildlands Alliance is gearing up for their annual  Backcountry Film Festival and they're seeking your submissions by September 15th. Now in its sixth year, the Festival continues its focus on grassroots filmmakers who tell compelling and entertaining stories of backcountry, nonmotorized recreation and environmental preservation.

    When they say "grassroots," they mean it. From the Festival website: "You don't need a degree from a film school. You don't need footage shot while dangling precariously, camera in hand, from an ice wall in the Rockies. All you need is a compelling story, some quality footage and a keen eye for a fun, educational or juicy topic."

    This year's categories are:  Best Short Short (under 5 minutes), Best Environmental Message and Best of Festival.

    Films entered into the festival should be short - no longer than 30 minutes. In keeping with the Winter Wildlands ethos, these films should share a thought-provoking, interesting story of backcountry, nonmotorized recreation. A strong focus on environmental themes is at the heart of the Festival and the Wildlands mission, so stories focusing on conservation, preservation and stewardship are encouraged. The sponsoring organization being the Winter Wildlands Alliance, aspiring entrants should heed their direction to only enter films that take place during winter, or have a very clear relation to winter. Regarding formats, the Festival warmly welcomes whatever your creativity can conjure - documentaries, fiction, experimental, you name it.

    The Film Festival gets noisy in Boise starting November 4 before taking to the road and hitting over 30 locations throughout the nation.

    Submissions must be in DVD format, received in Winter Wildlands Alliance's Boise office by September 15, 2010 and include three copies and a $20 submission fee. See festival rules for more information and address to which you may mail your submissions. You may also contact Shelley Pursell at spursell@winterwildlands.org  or 208-343-1630 for further details.

    [Photo courtesy Winter Wildlands Alliance/Backcountry Film Festival. Skier, Sam Pope - KGB Productions. Photographer, Tuck Fauntleroy.]

    Winters of My Life, Howard Weamer

    I first met Howard Weamer back in 1977 when a couple of friends and I decided to ski into the Ostrander Hut in Yosemite. Sporting rented wooden 210 cm skis, low-cut Alfa boots and Tonkin Cane ski poles, we waxed up the skis, loaded up our framed Kelty packs and off we went. I should mention that none of us could ski at all.

    At least 10 exhausting hours later we finally arrived at the hut, where we were greeted by John Muir. At least that’s what we thought in our breathless stupor; Howard, with his huge beard, certainly evokes the famous conservationist. Over the years I’ve become at least a bit more competent on skis and I’ve visited the hut a dozen times or more and have gotten to know Howard fairly well. We’ve spent many an evening discussing the merits of the latest and greatest telemark equipment and various ski routes all over the Sierra. Beneath his quiet demeanor lies a gearhead with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Sierra backcountry. 

    I’m convinced that Howard has done more backcountry skiing in the Sierra than anyone alive. Once, while passing through Ostrander on a trans-Sierra ski tour to Mammoth, we stopped in to say hello. Howard asked about our route and offered a few suggestions, upon learning we were headed up to Mt Lyell his eyes lit up and he explained that route could be a bit tricky but all we had to do was head for the sawtoothed ridge and aim for the gap where one tooth is missing. It was the perfect beta.

    Howard is also a highly acclaimed photographer who still shoots in film with a large format camera. To see some of his amazing images, visit his website.

    Filmmaker Jonathan Burhop has just completed a short video on Howard and his 35 years at Ostrander and we're honored to share it here. Enjoy!

    Winters of My Life from Jonathan Burhop on Vimeo.

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