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    The Nose Wipe – Removing Trash from The Nose of El Capitan

    By Dave N. Campbell

    1_me&benpoleI2
    Another day at work on The Nose, with the author and ranger Ben Doyle. ©Cheyne Lempe


    2004

    My partner shouted at the top of his lungs, causing me to jolt to attention and look down to him and our hanging camp. We were high on El Capitan’s Shield route, and I watched helplessly as a yellow dry bag containing our garbage from the past five days – including twenty-four crushed aluminum cans – grew smaller and smaller as it plummeted toward the ground. After a full twenty seconds of airtime, our bag exploded at the base of the monolith, firing shrapnel in all directions. The blast sent echoes to Half Dome and back.

    The yellow bag had been clipped in poorly and detached once I began hauling our supplies to the next station. (In climbing terms: the dry bag buckle was mistakenly clipped into the taut docking line and thus came loose when my partner lowered out the bags.) It was March and, fortunately, we had the wall to ourselves, otherwise the error could have killed someone. Our team was relatively inexperienced and also greatly relieved that we did not drop something vital, like a sleeping bag. Dark clouds lurked and when we finally reached the top we were pounded by a violent storm. We fought our way down the slippery descent in the dark, and somehow found our way to the Ahwahnee Hotel, where we slept on the floor next to a crackling fireplace. In the morning, we exited quickly, forgetting about the yellow bag debacle, and drove back to school without cleaning up our mess.

    Continue reading "The Nose Wipe – Removing Trash from The Nose of El Capitan" »

    The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get – A Paragliding Journey in the Pioneer Mountains

    By Gavin McClurg

    Paragliding_distance_record_jodymacdonaldphotography3

    I've been really fortunate in the last couple decades to explore many of the farthest corners of the globe – thirteen straight years of sailing, chasing wind and waves on a series of kitesurfing expeditions, which included nearly two full circumnavigations, and the last couple years, paragliding all over the Alps, South America, Central America, Africa and the Himalayas. Just like surfers chasing swell, pilots chase seasons and weather.

    Reggie Crist, a former Olympic alpine skier and friend of mine who lives here in Sun Valley is even making a movie about how athletes are like migratory animals, hopping on planes or jumping in cars chasing what they “need” be it adrenaline, or escape, or just pure fun. Animals, of course, are seeking food and shelter, which is all we really need as well. But for some people this other “need” is as urgent as the next hit is for a junky. Without it we find life marginalized, gray and drab.

    [Above: Gavin McClurg soars. Photo: Jody MacDonald

    Continue reading "The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get – A Paragliding Journey in the Pioneer Mountains" »

    I Dream Greenland

    By Lizzy Scully

    Breakfast spire

    I dreamed of climbing in Greenland for a decade. This summer I finally visited the southernmost reaches of that country and climbed in the Torssukatak Fjord with photographer John Dickey, Quinn Brett, and Prairie Kearney. Team Glitterbomb put up three first ascents: "Morning Luxury" (5.11-, 1400ft) on The Breakfast Spire, "Plenty for Everyone" (5.10+/11-, 1800ft) on the Barnes Wall, and "Four Quickies" (5.9, 400ft) on the Submarine Wall. I recorded the trip via video, audio, photo, and diary entries.

    [Above: The Breakfast Spire. All photos by Lizzy Scully]

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    Small Waves

    By Thorpe Moeckel

    Small surf

    Catching small waves, like catching small trout or raising food on a small scale, involves a spectrum of intricacies. It’s true that you can’t beat the gut-wrenching pleasures of surfing larger, more powerful waves. But we know that. We know all about big, groundswell waves and the adrenaline surges they inspire. They announce themselves just fine. Look at any surf magazine. You catch the drift. You know the fear, risk, reward, how they plunger you through.

    Editor's note: The lengthy flat spell we've been enduring here in Ventura makes today's post apropos. It's a long story, but an immensely pleasurable read due to the skill of the author. I hope you'll set aside some time to savor his words and slide into the small-wave state of mind. Photo: Bill Moeckel

    With small surf, or windchop, you have to be accurate to the point of dainty. There’s no muscling your position. It is a matter of degree: inches and quarters instead of feet. You tend to focus on other aspects of the sport when you ride small waves. Maybe focus is not the word but wander. The mind wanders. There’s no danger that demands you stay constantly alert. You’re either alert or you’re not. You’re in the ocean so you’re attentive no doubt. And there are many variables outside of the waves, outside of riding them. Studying the color of water could occupy a person for many lifetimes, not to mention the sand, sky, birds, and all their juxtapositions; that one can ride such small waves at all, that there is power enough has a lot to do with that – the ocean’s multiplicity, allness.

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    Chasing Snow into the Southern Hemisphere - Live Updates at #PursuitOfPowder

    By Eliel Hindert

    Forrest-Yoder_amiller-9

    We live our lives one step at a time. Steps filled with dust, snow, mud, ice, rock, and increasingly present pavement. Right foot in front of the left ad infinium that move us through space and time, changing our surroundings while our surroundings undoubtedly transform us.

    Take a single step over the equator and an invisible line is crossed from the Northern Summer into the Southern Winter. Take a couple hundred thousand more steps and you will find endless deserts dotted with snow capped volcanoes, immense glaciers colliding with lush rainforests, and temperate bustling metropolises seated at the feet of the icy mountain peaks that extend well above the surrounding clouds and pollution alike.

    ‘Winter’ is not simply a three-month period in North America when clouds fill the sky and icy airs settle around us. For me and my fellow Patagonia snow ambassadors, it is a search for a very different definition. One that encompasses an unrelenting drive to seek out spaces touched by winter’s hand twelve months of the year.

    [Above: Alex Yoder and Forrest Shearer hiking Nevados de Chillán during their #pursuitofpowder in Chile. Photo: Andrew Miller]

    Continue reading "Chasing Snow into the Southern Hemisphere - Live Updates at #PursuitOfPowder" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Home Front

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

    DBD_homefrontThere's a story that you may have heard kicked around in the newspapers and nightly news for the last few months. It's as unsettling as it is tragic. The rate of suicide among active military personnel, reservists, and veterans has increased to nearly 22 suicides a day. 22 every day, even as more resources are being allocated to prevent it – and finding a solution is likely as complicated as understanding why.

    Veterans Stacy Bare and Nick Watson know the struggles that service members face as they readjust to civilian life. Addiction. Depression. An overwhelming feeling of being out of place. But over time, both found a place in the outdoors and the surrounding community to recreate what they missed from the military, and to feel like they had really come home. And they didn’t stop there – they became determined to find a way to make that transition easier for other veterans too. Today, we bring you their stories and the story of how these two veterans are creating a community for other veterans on the home front.

    Warning: This episode does contain graphic descriptions of violence and adult language.



    Editor's note: If you enjoyed this episode, check out "A Lifeline Home" from 2007. 

    The Dirtbag Diaries is a production of Duct Tape Then Beer. Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes 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.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]


    ‘Medium-wave surfing’ in Spain and South Africa

    By Dr. Tony Butt

    Tony_6

    Sometimes, to find the best solution to a problem, one has to be unafraid of trying out unconventional or seemingly counterintuitive ideas. Sometimes you have to go back and look at the original problem in a different light and think about what you are trying to achieve.

    When looking for a place to surf, people often make the mistake of prioritizing the quality of the waves themselves over the quality of the experience of surfing them. For example, you might have a much better time sharing medium-quality onshore surf with three of your best friends, than trying to surf a world-class pointbreak with a 30 hostile locals. Or you might find the challenge of big, ugly surf in cold water more satisfying than perfect, easy surf in tropical conditions.

    [Above: Sunset Reef, a stunning wave with a stunning backdrop. Photo: Javi Muñoz Pacotwo]

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    The Final Frontier

    By James Lucas

    Final Frontier_Schaefer_1


    I screamed at the granite wall. The sound bounced off Yosemite’s Fifi Buttress and drowned into the roar of Bridalveil Falls. I lowered to the belay, where Katie stood at a small stance. I was six inches from a free ascent. It felt like six miles. I’d cleaned the route. Pulled out old gear. Placed bolts. Climbed on the pitches a ton. I’d trained hard. I stopped sleeping. Would the work ever pan out?

    Dan McDevitt established The Final Frontier, a Grade V 5.7 A3 route in 1999 with Sue McDevitt, Brittany Griffith and Sue’s sister Penny Black. He climbed the route again with Jim Karn, the first American to win a World Cup in climbing and America’s best sport climber in the '80s. While they were climbing, Jim Karn told Dan, “It’ll go free.”

    [Above: Mikey Schaefer photo of me climbing the penultimate arch pitch.]

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    Deep Water Soloing on Mallorca

    By Brittany Griffith

    BAG_6

    My ADD extends beyond the fact that I can’t finish vacuuming a room before checking my email, watering a plant or making fried rice from leftovers. It’s present in my climbing endeavors as well. But I do recognize what it is about, the different disciplines I appreciate most. My favorite thing about trad climbing: the adventure; my favorite thing about sport climbing: the movement; my favorite thing about bouldering: the no-hassle factor; and my favorite thing overall about climbing: it makes me try harder than anything else in my life. And yet, despite my love for all those forms of climbing that are typically found in the mountains or desert, I prefer to be on the beach. The seas and oceans somehow vitalize me more than the mountains.

    Enter deep water soloing on the Spanish island of Mallorca. It’s got it all: adventure, movement, low-hassle, you gotta try hard, AND it’s on the beach! After two weeks of climbing on perfect limestone above the sea I was hooked. Sign me up for Spanish classes, I’m moving to Mallorca. (Locals speak in Mallorquin, which is a form of Catalan, which, I’m told, is a mix of both French and Spanish. I speak French, so I figure I’m halfway there.)

    [Above: One of the first 7as we did at Cala Barques, Metrosexual, a classic line of jugs that's not too high above the calm sea. A perfect primer for the steeper, harder routes to come. All photos by Jonathan Thesenga]

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    Scramblin' Around the Sierras with Spoodle and Beater

    By Jasmin Caton

    Jasmin_10

    I have known Rich Wheater (AKA the Beater) and Senja Palonen (AKA the Spoodle) since my very first summer of rock climbing in Squamish. We were introduced by a mutual friend one morning at Starbucks (back then everyone hung out there to find a climbing partner in the morning) and they invited me to join them on a mission to climb Sunblessed on the backside of the Chief. Sunblessed was reputed to have a five-star second pitch of 5.10a crack climbing. Rich and Senja were kind enough to let me, a climber of a mere few months, lead this amazing pitch using their rack, and it was one of the most memorable days of my first climbing season.

    [Above: Our cosy camp below the Incredible Hulk. Photo: Senja Palonen]

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