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    Tasmania: The Totem Pole

    By Sonnie Trotter

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    “Great climb, eh?” said a voice from up and over my right shoulder.

    “Yeah,” I replied, while clipping the anchor on After Midnight one of Mount Wellington’s most prized pitches and no giveaway at 24 (or 5.11d in Yosemite terms), “incredible, actually.”

    “Where you from?” the voice asked.

    “Canada!” I said.

    Above: Later in the trip, Sonnie Trotter begins to feel the exposure as he nears the top of pitch #2 of the Regular Free Route (5.12b) of the Totem Pole. He and his partner endured 18 hours of traveling time for this one amazing climb. Photo: Cameron Maier

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    Down the Indian Creek Rabbit Hole: An excerpt from ‘American Climber’

    By Luke Mehall

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    After El Capitan, my desire for wall climbing diminished. Perhaps it was growing older, or perhaps it was just my surroundings. The Black Canyon was no longer an hour away. Yosemite was no longer in my waking dreams every day. Durango was so close to the desert, and thus the desert became all that mattered to me in climbing. Just like wall climbing, the desert is a fantastic rabbit hole to go down.

    I started to view the desert in a multitude of ways. As a home. As a canvas to paint my art. My own field of dreams where I could return to a childlike state of being, with the hindsight of an adult. A place where I could progress my vision of what it meant to be an American climber.

    Above: North Six Shooter, Indian Creek, Utah. Photo: Keith Brett

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    Blame It on the Trout

    By Håkan Stenlund

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    At first light, a toucan comes flying over the patio and sits in an old tree in front of the house. The bird stares at me as I have my first sip of coffee. Then another toucan lands in the tree, followed by a whole flock. I get up and snap a picture of the birds as my guide, José Caparros, tells me it’s a rare sight. I take it as an omen, a good one. Then I take another sip, anticipating the day’s fishing as I wait in the shadows of the morning.

    We define fly fishing by many things, but down to the core it’s pretty simple: the fly in the water. You can talk about the double haul, the single spey, about sink lines or greased lines, about using everything from size 24 nymphs to size 4/0 Dee winged salmon flies. You can talk about how to set your hook. You can talk about all that—and even know all about that—but fly fishing is really just about keeping your woolly bugger in the water. About being a part of it.

    Above: You fish big, floating dry flies on Argentina’s Río Dorado. But the take is nothing gentle; you better hold on to your rod. Photo: Håkan Stenlund

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    Chaltén 2015-2016

    By Colin Haley

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    My previous Patagonia climbing season, climbing last year mostly with Marc-André Leclerc and Alex Honnold, had been my most successful yet. Among a bunch of other activity was the first ascent of the Travesía del Oso Buda, the first repeat and direct variation to El Arca de los Vientos, and a nearly complete, one-day Torre Traverse. It was the most successful climbing trip of my life, and I honestly thought that I would never have a more successful Patagonian climbing season.

    One year later, and to my surprise, I can say that this season has been my most successful yet. Of course that is mostly the result of the three big factors (good weather, good conditions, good partner) fortunately coinciding again and again, but I can also say that this year I’ve felt more psychologically strong than in years past. For whatever reason, something clicked for me this season, and I felt, I think, more confident than I ever have before.

    Editor’s note: Rolo Garibotti kicked it off and now Colin Haley concludes our Vida Patagonia coverage for 2015-16 with a collection of excerpts from his incredibly detailed end-of-season report.

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    Curacao’s Big Oil and Big Tarpon

    By Brian Irwin

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    “Fish, two o’clock,” shouted Norman Chumaceiro, my guide to tarpon on the idyllic island of Curacao, 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela. “Now they’re at nine! And six. They’re everywhere!” he exclaimed.

    If anyone could help me come tight on a tarpon it’s Chumaceiro, who, along with his friend Albert Macares, are the only tarpon fishermen on the island. They spend most weekends angling for the king in the Schottegat harbor, just east of the Santa Anna Bay, where luxury cruise liners amble in and out, unloading thousands of tourists to the island every day to shop the strip of waterfront, candy-colored Dutch-style buildings. As I cast feverously to the rolling fish, hundreds of them, I couldn’t help but to notice that this harbor, while thronged with more tarpon than I’ve ever before seen, was coated with a thin slick of oil.

    Above: Norman Chumaceiro points to pods of tarpon, sometimes many dozen, in the Shottegat Harbor, Curacao. Photo: Brian Irwin

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    Witness

    By Diane French

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    Fifteen minutes before my wedding, I’m standing in front of my sister in my dress. “Can you see it?” She scans me, tilting her head to each side. “No. Can’t see it. But here, take this anyway.”

    Two hours from now, when the hailstorm rolls in and turns my lips purple for all my wedding pictures, I’ll be wearing the brown wool wrap she’s handing me. But for now it’s draped over my arms to hide the road rash acquired just this morning on our pre-wedding mountain bike ride with the wedding party, when I clipped a handlebar in tight trees and ate it in the rock-choked dirt.

    Above: Between a rock and a hard pace, Diane French digs in for the stair section of the Backbone Trail. Salida, Colorado. Photo: Sacha Halenda

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    A Couple Good Ones

    By Jeff Johnson

    It’s 2002. Dan Malloy, the youngest of the Malloy brothers, is surfing in a contest at Sunset Beach on Oʻahu. He is 25 years old and upholding a foundation built by his two older brothers, which has made him the most hopeful of the Malloy clan to excel in the competitive surfing world. But it’s been a slow road. Although he is arguably one of the best “free” surfers in the world, his rankings on the pro tour show otherwise.

    Editor’s note: Thank you to our friends at YETI Coolers for letting us republish this story. It first appeared on the Yeti blog. Above: The Malloy Brothers. Video: YETI 

    For his brothers, there aren’t many expectations to fill. They know how difficult it is to do well at Sunset Beach, an arena notorious for big, funky, irregular surf. Regardless, the day is sunny, the water an opaque turquoise blue, and the waves are big—the size of telephone poles. Dan, trying to match his freakish, natural ability with the nuances of contest surfing, is more discerning than ever with his wave selection. Just before the end of his heat he catches a set wave. He makes the long drop, fading confidently back toward the towering whitewater, turns at the bottom, and pulls up into a giant tube ride. Dan disappears for a time that seems to stand still, and emerges out on the face. The crowd of spectators erupts. He can hear the hoots and crackling applause as he paddles in toward the beach.

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    Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

    By Eliel Hindert

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    The road has been my home for the better part of my adult life. That elusive space not quite here or there, but simply a collection of moments in between.

    Let’s rephrase that. The road has been where I’ve felt most at home for the better part of my entire life. Sure, I’ve had homes during this time period, even signed a few leases despite my better judgement. But it’s always that momentum, that inexplicable excitement of stepping over a threshold and knowing you won’t return to that place anytime soon, or ever, that keeps the movement constant.

    Above: Eliel Hindert threads a forest of needles into the volcanic crater of Ulleung-Do Island, South Korea. Photo: Garrett Grove

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    The Vida Patagonia

    By Rolando “Rolo” Garibotti

    Rolo and a handful of stoked Patagonia ambassadors and friends will be sharing images and stories of their adventures throughout the Patagonia climbing season. Follow along at patagonia.com/vidapatagonia. If you’re planning to make a climbing trip to the area, tag your photos with #VidaPatagonia to appear on the page.

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    The peaks of the Chaltén Massif are some of the most iconic in the world: jagged spires that shoot toward the sky. They offer everything a climber could desire, from excellent quality granite to uniquely wild rime formations. All this is set in a dramatic environment, with the endless Patagonian steppe to the east and the broad expanse of the Ice Cap, an enormous network of glaciers that drops into Pacific Ocean fjords, to the west.

    The weather in the massif is notoriously challenging and short-tempered, receiving the wrath of the “Roaring Forties,” strong westerly winds that sweep across the southern Pacific. While the region’s fierce reputation deters many, others find it inspiring. During the southern hemisphere summer, climbers from all over the globe convene in El Chaltén for a dose of some of the most fantastic, most intense and most fun alpine climbing on the planet.

    Above: Patagonia 2015. Photo: Mikey Schaefer

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    Unraveling

    By Austin Siadak

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    The pig squeals and groans in protest as I wrestle it back onto my sweaty body. I groan even louder. Seventy pounds of ropes, cams, pins, beaks, portaledges, tents, food, fuel and everything else for a month-long big-wall expedition bulge from my haul bag, digging deep into my spine. I’ve already carried two of these loads more than 15 miles into our base camp. All of us wobble around granite blocks, exhausted, knees buckling under the loads on our backs.

    “Look at this place!” someone shouts excitedly. The Patagonian big walls of Torres del Paine thrust upward from rocky moraines into a cloudless blue, a skyline as jagged as shark’s teeth. Three thousand feet of granite and snow loom steeply on all sides, beckoning in the bright sun. We whoop in joy and disbelief. These walls have consumed our thoughts for more than a year, and to finally stand beneath them is a dream made real. Now we get to climb.

    Above: A year of obsession and planning results in getting here and seeing this. On the road to El Chaltén, Argentina. Patagonia. Photo: Matthew Van Biene

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