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    The Unacceptably High Cost of Labor – How a deeper dive into our supply chain led to a new Migrant Worker Standard

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    Imagine paying $7,000 to get a job. That’s what some labor brokers charge migrant workers in Asian countries to place them in factory work in Taiwan, where many factory jobs go wanting these days. The practice is considered an acceptable part of doing business, though brokers regularly charge above legal limits. Transportation, work visas and other essentials are included. But paying that kind of money for a factory job is an almost impossible burden for workers already struggling to make a living.

    It creates a form of indentured servitude that could also qualify, less politely, as modern-day slavery. And it’s been happening in our own supply chain.

    Above: Rita Tseng is a social and environmental responsibility (SER) field manager for Patagonia based in Taiwan. Here she meets with migrant workers during a factory audit. She is accompanied by our partners at Verité and their team of expert field staff and interpreters who speak the native languages of the workers. Photo: Jeannie Chen

    Continue reading "The Unacceptably High Cost of Labor – How a deeper dive into our supply chain led to a new Migrant Worker Standard" »

    Dirtbag Diaries Podcast: Live from 5Point Vol. 8 with Frank Sanders and Tommy Caldwell

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

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    In our fifth annual Live from 5Point Film Festival, we interview Frank Sanders and Tommy Caldwell.

    Frank spent his youth climbing on the East coast. His path took a turn in 1972, when he hitchhiked west and saw Devil’s Tower for the first time. Now, at 63, Frank owns and guides out of Devil’s Tower Lodge. He shares the story of his journey and what it’s like having found his place.

    Over the last seven years, Tommy has spent month long chunks of time focused on climbing The Dawn Wall, the hardest big wall free climb in history. On January 14, he and his partner, Kevin Jorgenson, pulled over the top of El Capitan into a swarm of cameras and microphones. He talks to Fitz about what it’s like to end a seven-year relationship with a project and how his life has changed now that people outside the climbing world recognize him.

     


    Listen to "Live From 5Point Vol. 8" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.

     

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    Tommy Caldwell and Fitz Cahall chat on stage during the making of this episode. Steve's Guitars, Carbondale, Colorado. Photo: James Q Martin

     

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes, music credits and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and DoggCatcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production. Graphic by Walker Cahall.

     

    Earthquake in the Langtang Valley

    By Colin Haley

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    I got on a plane in Vancouver around midday on April 16. I was exhausted. After a four-month season in Patagonia, my six weeks back in North America turned out much less restful than I had imagined. Conditions had been excellent, and I couldn’t keep myself from going out in the mountains a bunch. The downside to my most successful ever season in Patagonia is that I was swamped with requests for photos, requests for writing, and a huge pile of related e-mails. I barely slept my last couple nights in BC, staying up late trying to catch up, and then finally closed my computer to head to the airport. I hadn’t caught up—not even close—but I was out of time. I finally just forced myself to let it go: “No one’s gonna die because you didn’t reply. It’s only e-mail.”

    Editor's note: Our hearts go out to all who were impacted by the recent earthquakes in Nepal. You can find ways to help at the end of this post. We're grateful to Colin for allowing us to share this story which first appeared on his personal blog, and we're so glad he's home safe.

    After a couple hours in the airport in Guangzhou, I boarded a plane for Kathmandu. In the last few days I had put in a lot of time to make sure I had all the necessary equipment packed, but beyond gear I don’t think I’ve ever started a climbing trip so clueless and unprepared. I’d never been to Nepal before, and knew almost nothing about it. I borrowed the Lonely Planet guidebook from some young Australian guys next to me on the plane, and did some last-minute studying. Around midnight on the 17th, I arrived at the house of Raphaelle, a young woman who is half Nepali and half French. My climbing partner, Aymeric Clouet, had arrived from France early that morning, and he stayed up to greet me.

    Above: This is the room in Gualboo’s lodge where Aymeric and I had been sleeping. I’m lucky that I happened to get up from my nap 15 minutes before the earthquake began. Photo: Colin Haley

    Continue reading "Earthquake in the Langtang Valley" »

    If GMOs Are Safe, Why Not Label Them?

    By Rose Marcario, Patagonia, CEO

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    When Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, began writing about GMOs in the early 2000s, he started by asking a reasonable question: “What does a clothing company know about genetic engineering?”

    The answer, he said: “Not enough.” And neither does anyone else. In the proliferation of GMOs, Yvon saw a serious threat to wildness and biodiversity.

    More than 10 years later, the prevalence of GMOs in everyday food products has risen sharply—but basic consumer awareness remains low.

    An alarming bill before Congress aims to keep it that way. The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014 (H.R. 4432) will remove any requirements for manufacturers to label foods containing GMOs. Even the misleading name of the bill suggests an intention to leave us in the dark.

    Above: Patagonia Provisions Wild Sockeye Salmon comes only from abundant, sustainable runs—we never use farmed or genetically engineered salmon—and our Tsampa Soup uses only organic, non-GMO ingredients. Photo: Amy Kumler

    Continue reading "If GMOs Are Safe, Why Not Label Them?" »

    A Steep Ski Traverse of the Mont Blanc Range from East to West

    By Fred Bernard, with Laurent Bibollet

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    The Mont Blanc range is not a very big mountain range, but it is steep. It has become a kind of laboratory for skiers, mountaineers and climbers from around the world. Laurent and I consider ourselves somewhere is the middle as we are ski-mountaineers, IFMGA mountain guides and part of the Peakpowder guide team.

    The Mont Blanc range sees tons of action because of its fast and easy access, with cable cars reaching higher altitudes in minutes. The idea of doing a steep ski traverse of the Mont Blanc range from its most easterly point to its most westerly point came to me about eight years ago. For some unknown reason, it had never been done; no one had tackled this challenge.

    Above: Laurent Bibolet traverses Les Courtes, one leg of the team's traverse of the Mont Blanc range. Photo: Fred Bernard

    Continue reading "A Steep Ski Traverse of the Mont Blanc Range from East to West" »

    Dirtbag Diaries Podcast: The Modern Dirtbag

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

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    In the golden days, dirtbags lived to climb. They didn’t work, have permanent addresses or sponsors. They ate leftovers off of tourists’ plates and slept in beater cars or in caves. They stayed in one place only as long as the weather allowed for climbing. Now, our modern world of fees, time limits and locked dumpsters has made it nearly impossible to live that way anymore. Dirtbagging is dying—or at least that’s what some people claim.

    Join Matt Van Biene for a day in Yosemite’s Camp 4 as he talks to climbers of all different ages, nationalities and backgrounds. Is dirtbagging dead or alive? What does the modern dirtbag look like? Well, you decide.

    Matt’s photographs from Patagonia were recently featured in The Alpinist. Check out the article here.

     


    Listen to "The Modern Dirtbag" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.

     

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes, music credits and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and DoggCatcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production. Graphic by Walker Cahall.

    Have a great weekend everybody.

    The Fisherman’s Son – My vision for Punta de Lobos

    By Ramón Navarro

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    When I was growing up I wanted to help my dad, and be exactly like him: a fisherman. Then a couple of guys blew into town with surfboards and wetsuits and I said, "Wow, this is amazing," and then I wanted to learn to surf more than anything in the world.

    So I learned to surf and started to travel the world, but I figured out pretty fast that the best place to surf was right at home. We have big waves, small waves and the traditional fishing culture I love. Nothing could be better.

    While traveling, I saw many similar coasts around the world that had been polluted or were scarred forever by out-of-control developers. I saw places that were pristine before, but had already been ruined. I realized the coast that I loved so much was also under threat—from pulp mills, sewage pipelines, dams and senseless development.

    Above: Ramón and his dad, Alejandro, organize their gear. Photo: Jeff Johnson

    Continue reading "The Fisherman’s Son – My vision for Punta de Lobos" »

    Whiskey on the Rocks – Looking for answers in Scotland

    By Kristo Torgersen

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    “It starts as rain or snow falling on Scotland’s highest mountain—Ben Nevis. Either as rain or melting snow it percolates the thin layer of peat soil until it reaches the granite rock and unable to penetrate it, runs under the surface until emerging in Coire Leish or Coire na Ciste. The outflows from these two mountain lochans, located well over 3000’ above sea level, make their way spilling over the blue and pink granite rocks of the mountain’s rugged north face until they join together as the Alt a Mhullin continuing on in the valley between Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg.”Ben Nevis Distillery

    These poetic words adorn a bottle of gold-medal whiskey from the oldest legal distillery in Scotland, Ben Nevis—the source of distinguished single malts and the mountain crucible of British alpinism. This is where generations of alpinists, whether in wool knickers or Gore-Tex, developed mountain equipment and cut their teeth for expeditions to the great ranges of the world. It’s a place renowned for terribly stormy weather and long approaches to “short” climbs. It’s a place that honors style and demands an honest Scot’s prudence to climb routes only in “full” wintry conditions. It’s where Yvon Chouinard visited over 40 years earlier to test himself on Scotland’s hardest routes and compare the performance his own curved-pick Chouinard Zero ice tool with the angled-pick design of his Scottish contemporary, Hamish MacInnes. And it’s where Walker Ferguson, responsible for field testing all of Patagonia’s most technical products, has brought us to be guinea pigs with our own latest prototypes.

    Above: Jon Bracey navigates the exit on Gemini, Ben Nevis, Scotland. Photo: Kristo Torgersen

    Continue reading "Whiskey on the Rocks – Looking for answers in Scotland" »

    DamNation Petition Delivery to the White House – Washington state residents please take action

    On Wednesday, January 28, a small team representing activists, moviegoers, customers and the entire Patagonia family delivered a petition containing more than 70,000 signatures—the online petition and postcards combined—to President Obama and his top environmental advisers. Created in conjunction with the release of DamNation, the petition brought together activist voices from all 50 United States and 60 countries around the world asking President Obama to crack down on deadbeat dams—starting by finding a path to remove four harmful dams on one of the nation’s most important salmon rivers, the lower Snake, and begin the biggest watershed restoration project in history.

    Above: DamNation Petition Delivery to the White House. Video: Patagonia

    Continue reading "DamNation Petition Delivery to the White House – Washington state residents please take action" »

    Protect Bears Ears – Mutton Stew, Fry Bread and the Anatomy of a Public Lands Movement

    By Willie Grayeyes

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    My friend Leonard Lee works in the oil industry across San Juan County, Utah, both on and off the Navajo Nation. He oversees oil and gas wells and the crews who work them.

    So it may surprise you that Leonard is also the Vice-Chairman of a Native American organization that intends to protect 1.9 million acres of land as a national conservation area or national monument in San Juan County, Utah.

    The Bears Ears proposal was developed by Diné leaders like Leonard who were asked by U.S. Senator Bennett in 2010 if they had an opinion on public lands management. Never having been asked before, Navajo elders began telling stories. Hunters, gatherers and medicine men worked with conservation scientists to draw culturally important and sacred places onto maps. At the same time, spiritual leaders took their long-buried hopes and offered them to the winds as prayers for a place we call Bears Ears.

    Above: Cedar Mesa is one area that would be protected by the Bears Ears proposal. Photo: Josh Ewing

    Continue reading "Protect Bears Ears – Mutton Stew, Fry Bread and the Anatomy of a Public Lands Movement" »

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