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    Freediving the Wreckage of Lelu Harbor

    By Matt Rott, photos by Matt Shepherd

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    It’s funny how easily we miss out on opportunities lying just under our noses—especially when we’re trapped in the narrow-minded, one-dimensional pursuit of something as fleeting as a wave. I’d been chasing the left-hander breaking into Lelu Harbor for nearly fifteen years, enduring lengthy flat spells and months of inclement weather conditions in hopes of scoring extra large northeast swells and rare west winds. Yet, after a decade-and-a-half’s worth of trips, waiting impatiently for waves that never seemed to arrive on time, I remained completely ignorant of the adventure awaiting 80 feet beneath the surface and a few hundred yards to the south.

    Continue reading "Freediving the Wreckage of Lelu Harbor" »

    Watch Tommy Caldwell Climb Pitch 15 (5.14c) on The Dawn Wall

    On January 14, 2015, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson made the first free ascent of The Dawn Wall on Yosemite’s El Capitan. Today we’re happy to share this exclusive video of Tommy climbing pitch 15, rated 5.14c—the first footage released by the film crew on the wall. 

    “The crux holds of pitch 15 are some of the smallest and sharpest holds I have ever attempted to hold onto,” Tommy wrote on his Facebook page. Four unique camera angles reveal those minuscule holds and the 1,300 feet of exposure under Tommy’s precarious foot placements. While multiple pitches of extremely difficult climbing remained above, the completion of pitch 15 was considered the last major hurdle to the eventual success of this seven-year dream project.

    Note: Pitch 15 was originally rated 5.14d, but was downgraded slightly after the completion of the route.

    With thanks to Big Up Productions and Sender Films.

    Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson Make First Free Ascent of Yosemite’s Dawn Wall!

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    We’ve been watching the updates with bated breath and now all of us at Patagonia are thrilled to congratulate Tommy Caldwell and his partner Kevin Jorgeson on the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite Valley. Tommy first conceived the idea of the climb in 2007 and, seven years later, summited the route on the afternoon of January 14, 2015 after spending 19 days on the wall—and with much of the climbing world viewing the last pitches via live video stream. Longtime readers will be familiar with our coverage of the Dawn Wall dating back to 2010. It’s been a long haul and we couldn’t be happier for Tommy.

    From Yvon: “When we first climbed the North American Wall on El Cap in 1964, we thought, ‘Well, that proves that any big wall in the world can be climbed.’ We never dreamed they could be climbed all free! Sending the Dawn Wall leaves Pope Francis with no choice but to admit our closest relative is the chimpanzee.’”

    Above: Seven years of relief. An elated Tommy Caldwell at the top of the Dawn Wall. Photo: Chris Burkard

    Continue reading "Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson Make First Free Ascent of Yosemite’s Dawn Wall!" »

    You Know What They Say About the Weather

    By Beau Fredlund

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    I'm sitting in a bar with Doug Chabot, director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. The man has more enthusiasm for snow science, alpine climbing and general life than about anyone I know. And the best part: it's infectious.

    We are both a couple beers deep before our pizza arrives. The conversation floats, with laughter and zest. We talk of the day, the avalanche activity we investigated and the landscape surrounding the tiny mountain town where I live and work as a ski guide. “It’s a special place, no doubt,” Doug says with authenticity. I nod my head and gesture with deep agreement. Nowhere else quite like it I figure, as far as quality mountain towns go. Obviously, the topography is an integral aspect, but it’s the weather and snowfall that sets the place apart.

    Above: Avalanche forecaster Doug Chabot, approaching the crown of a slab avalanche, just north of Cooke City, Montana. Photo: Beau Fredlund

    Continue reading "You Know What They Say About the Weather" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Flying Deep

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

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    There comes a stage in a great athlete’s career when the pursuit of technical difficulty takes a back seat. It gives way to simplicity, an aesthetic and possibly to an iconic style that leaves an impression on a sport. Will Gadd is one of the most accomplished mountain athletes ever. Most people know him as a climbing legend, but he also holds that stature in the fringe sport of paragliding where he has won competitions and held the single flight distance record for a decade. Last year, Will and renowned pilot Gavin McClurg embarked on a truly incredible trip down the spine of the Canadian Rockies. The goal was to create a continuous line through the air. At night, they landed in the alpine, slept and repeated the process–for 35 days. The trip changed Will’s perspective, not just on the craft, but on how he pursues adventure.

     


    Listen to "Flying Deep" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.

     

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes, featured music and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, RSS, SoundCloud and Stitcher, 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.

     

    Simply Southern Chile

    By Hank Gaskell

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    After my second trip to Southern Chile this past July, I have absolutely fallen in love with its simple way of life. More and more nowadays, it seems there is so much going on that it’s impossible to get ahead. Chile doesn’t know or care about that. Life there is content to just continue rolling at a steady pace, no one is ahead and no one is behind. Everyone is family. Our crew did a good job stepping back from our busy day-to-day lives to emulate the Chilean way. For two weeks, our “family” consisted of Otto Flores, Eala Stewart, Ramon Navarro, photographer Dylan Gordon, videographer Rodrigo Farias and my girlfriend Malia. Huge thank you to all; what a group of top-notch humans!

    Above: This is Eala and I negotiating a sketchy water entrance off the point in Buchupureo. Photo: Dylan Gordon

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    #VidaPatagonia – Hunger Games at Cerro San Lorenzo

    By Colin Haley

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    After years of climbing exclusively in the Chalten Massif, I have finally exposed myself to another location in the Patagonian Andes. I spent most of November underneath Cerro San Lorenzo, Patagonia’s second-highest peak, with my longtime friend Rob Smith. While El Chalten becomes a bit more like Chamonix every year, the rest of the Patagonian Andes maintain a similar climbing experience as twenty years ago, except that now one can get weather information via satellite phone.

    Editor’s note: Patagonia climbers will once again be sharing photos and stories for the duration of the climbing season in Patagonia. See it all on the Vida Patagonia trip page at Patagonia.com or follow #VidaPatagonia on Instagram.

    On November 10th we hired a pickup truck ride from Gobernador Gregores into Perito Moreno National Park and got dropped off at the end of the road. It took three trips over three days to haul all our gear and food into basecamp—an old hut, known as Puesto San Lorenzo. For the entirety of our three-week stay we did not see a single other human, although we did see tons of guanacos, and saw fresh puma tracks nearly every day that we hiked in the lowlands.

    Above: The main summit of Cerro San Lorenzo. The right skyline is roughly the South African route. Photo: Colin Haley

    Continue reading "#VidaPatagonia – Hunger Games at Cerro San Lorenzo" »

    Morning People

    By Heather Sterling

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    It’s early morning and our pre-dawn bedroom is see-your-breath freezing. But I’m curled up with my daughter Lily, snug in our cozy nest of blankets. I’m in that happy place between dreaming and waking. A habitual late-riser, I relish long, lazy mornings. I love adventure, I just prefer to initiate it after 9:00 a.m. and a good dose of caffeine.

    Suddenly, I am aware of him; my husband John. I open one eye and see him standing in the doorway, fully dressed for the day that I now remember we have planned to spend backcountry skiing. I suspect that the tea has been brewed and the car already loaded. My brow furrows and dark thoughts cloud my groggy mind.

    Above: Heather, John and Lily Sterling. Photo: Sterling Family Archive

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    Protecting Bristol Bay: Smart Money

    By Dylan Tomine

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    President Obama’s recent protection of Bristol Bay from oil and gas exploration may feel like a victory for fish and the environment, but I think it’s really about time and money. Which in this case, is just as good. Here’s why:

    Oil and gas reserves, as we know, are limited by however much is already in the ground and our ability to extract it. Sure, advancing extraction technologies (fracking, etc) can extend the life of a deposit, but unless we’re waiting for more dinosaurs to die, nobody’s making any new oil or gas.

    Salmon, on the other hand, if properly managed, are perhaps the ultimate renewable resource. By all accounts, the Bristol Bay salmon industry is one of the best managed fisheries in the world, producing a sustainable $2 billion annual fish economy.

    Above: Nushagak River, draining into Bristol Bay, Alaska. Photo: AlaskaTrekker (CC)

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    I Dream of Running

    By Greta Hyland

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    I dream of running, not figuratively but literally. In my dreams it is effortless, exhilarating. When I wake from these dreams I feel pumped and want to jump out of bed and run—there have been times at night when I have.

    For a while, running was a nightmare. I got tired. My legs felt like they were filled with sand. My lungs burned, everything hurt and I was miserable. I hated running.

    Then, one day it happened. I ran and it was exactly like my dreams.

    Continue reading "I Dream of Running" »

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