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    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 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]

    Continue reading "‘Medium-wave surfing’ in Spain and South Africa" »

    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.]

    Continue reading "The Final Frontier" »

    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]

    Continue reading "Deep Water Soloing on Mallorca" »

    Scramblin' Around the Sierras with Spoodle and Beater

    By Jasmin Caton

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    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]

    Continue reading "Scramblin' Around the Sierras with Spoodle and Beater" »

    Viva Los Fun Hogs – A #Funhogging Origin Story

    By Jeff Johnson

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    I used to dread the summers on the North Shore of O’ahu, Hawai’i. Famous for its winter surf, surfers from all over the world come to see what they are made of during a certain time of year. In the summertime, the waves go away and the crowds dissipate. My friends and I dreaded the four months of flatness. We eventually realized if we remained surf-centric we would have been primed for the loony bin. So we began embracing other ways to entertain ourselves.

    We got into paddleboarding, which was perfect for staying fit for the next winter season. Then we got into outrigger canoe surfing and bought a four-man for the job. This eventually led to building a six-man sailing canoe to circumnavigate the island. Then a few of us bought one-man canoes for times when no one else was around. During the summer, our beach was packed with a fleet of ocean craft, ready for any condition, waves or no waves. Eventually, we all started looking forward to the summer months. No crowds, a flat, beautiful ocean, and all sorts of ways to enjoy it.

    [Above: The author has finally joined Instagram. Follow his antics at @jeffjohnson_beyondandback. #funhogging]

    Continue reading "Viva Los Fun Hogs – A #Funhogging Origin Story" »

    With All Apologies to Krissy Moehl

    By Kevin Alldredge

    Kevin_1c

    I AM NOT A CROSSDRESSER! Okay, so running 50 kilometers in a skirt technically makes a man a crossdresser but I’m not compulsively one, the act was more spontaneous or, perhaps, situational.

    Robert and I had been discussing the upcoming Mt. Cheaha 50K – “The Race to The Top of Alabama” – and we’d arrived at a goal of 5:30. This would be a PR for each of us in this race, his eighth and my third. A week before the race, in an exchange of emails, Robert described his status as perhaps less than what would be required for a sub-5 1/2 hour Cheaha performance. I cryptically emailed him back and advised that that I’d arrive in Birmingham with a strategy. “Good,” he replied, “I need all the help I can get.”

    [Above: The field gets funky prior to the start. All photos: Brooke Nelson]

    Continue reading "With All Apologies to Krissy Moehl" »

    Winter Sun

    By Patch Wilson



    I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Sumbawa last winter at Lakey Peak. The waves were really fun and a few days it was solid and pumping. It was my fourth time out there and it’s got to be one of my favourite places in Indo. I wanted to give a little back because the place has given so much to me.

    The area is struggling with rubbish control. When I first got out there, I was blown away by how much litter there is along the beach and shoreline. People coming from surrounding villages and the nearest city, Dompu, on public holidays just dump their rubbish on the beach. The locals realise what is happening and they do their best to keep the area clean.

    Continue reading "Winter Sun" »

    Days of Light – Alaska with the Malloy Bros.

    By Christian Beamish

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    You know it’s going to stay light until midnight in Alaska. Everyone knows this. But after three days here it still feels unreal and comes with a psychedelic quality of glowing sunsets that last four hours and never completely fade to night.

    Then there is the sheer vastness of the territory – the ice fields and snow chutes right down to the forests, the eagles, the bears, the humpbacks lolling in the lineups. The water is chalky at the glacier-fed rivermouths. And warm as the summer air feels sitting on the fantail of the trawler drinking a cold one in that endless afternoon glow, the water is still frigid.

    [Above: A headland with rock outcroppings in the corner of a long, black sand beach produced wedging left peaks, which Keith Malloy decimated on his trusty 6'0" FCD quad. His surfing was loose and coordinated despite maximum neoprene coverage in 45-degree water. Photo: Chris Burkard]

    Continue reading "Days of Light – Alaska with the Malloy Bros." »

    From a Wheelchair to the Sharp End – Story of the First Ever Paraplegic Lead Climb

     By Dave N. Campbell

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    Sean O'Neill lead climbing the 2nd pitch of Jamcrack. ©Dave N. Campbell

    Take a moment and imagine yourself in Yosemite. You are climbing up a steep rock face, above the trees, with Half Dome behind you, but you do not have the security of a rope that can pull you taut from above if you get tired or slip. Instead, you are lead climbing. Somewhere down below a friend is feeding you rope – you are tied in at the waist – and every ten feet or so, as you move upwards, you are obligated to wedge man-made devices into openings where the rock is fractured so you can clip your rope into them as a safety measure. You're putting your life on the line, trusting that the rope will eventually come tight on the most recent one of these devices if you fall.

    Climbers refer to the procedure of lead climbing as being on the sharp end of the rope because of the inherent dangers involved and the accelerated focus that is required. And while advanced climbers constantly dream about being in this Yosemite scenario, I think it is fair to say that much of the rest of the population would find themselves in a nightmare.

    Now picture yourself in this exact scenario – whether you are an experienced climber or novice – except that you are paralyzed from the waist down. This is where most of our imaginations trail off… but this spring in Yosemite Valley, paraplegic climber Sean O’Neill made this his reality by becoming the first “sit climber” to lead climb.

    Continue reading "From a Wheelchair to the Sharp End – Story of the First Ever Paraplegic Lead Climb" »

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