The Cleanest Line

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    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

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    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" »

    Of Rats and Men

    By Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll

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    If you are chained to a wall in a dark dungeon famished rats will slowly nibble at your flesh. You can kick, scream and quiver all you want but the rats will sluggishly keep nipping away until they reach your heart and your body goes lifeless. Then they keep going until there is nothing left.

    While that might seem like a torture scenario from the Middle Ages, I’ve seen it happen many times. When the bad weather comes, and stays, day after day, and you’re stuck in a tent, a cave or a portaledge, every day you wake up with renewed hope that is quickly crushed by the same old bad weather. Much like the rat slowly eating the corpse, the Patagonian weather has a way of slowly nipping at your motivation. It can transform the most eager and enthusiastic climber into an empty, burnt out, uninspired bum. And when the good weather finally comes, there is nothing left.

    [Above: Cold conditions during a summit attempt on Cerro Catedral, in Torres Del Paine, Chile. All photos courtesy of Sean Villanueva O’Driscoll]

    Continue reading "Of Rats and Men" »

    Running With My Devils

    By Steve Graepel

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    I remember running the 50K and getting off course but fighting back into third place, and I remember that it was hot... hotter than hell. And then... and then nothing...

    I don’t remember collapsing. I have no memories of kicking off good-Samaritan runners who pinned me down to the Prairie floor. I have no recollection of coolers of ice poured over my torso... packed around my groin, armpits and neck. I don’t remember soiling myself. No memories of my clothes being cut from my body in front of dozens of strangers. No memories of the ambulance ride to the local clinic or the life-flight to the Mayo Clinic. I don’t remember any of it.

    Three days later I woke with a plastic tube shoved down my throat. “What the...” I tried to spit out, but the words slipped out as a groan.

    “Cough it out. Cough it out!” shouted a blue silhouette as the corrugated tube ripped across my vocal cords. I chased the tube with vomit and then heard the familiar voice of my wife, calming my anxiety.

    Above: Mike James in Hells Canyon, Idaho. All photos by Steve Graepel

    Continue reading "Running With My Devils" »

    Throw the Line

    By Marta Czajkowska

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    Any wall climber will see that something is missing in that photo, trail line. The leader trails a small line so they can pull up a haul line to haul the bag. Right where the photo was taken, at the lip of the roof, Dgriff realized that he’d forgotten the trail line.

    "You have to throw it to me!" he shouted.

    "You know well enough that I can't throw," I replied as the sun was setting.

    "I'm going to either down-lead and re-lead, which is going to take an hour or so, or you have to throw the line."

    I started organizing my belay to gain time to wrap my head around the throwing. Dgriff yelled again using his favorite Kurosawa quote, "STOP STALLING AND THROW THE LINE OR WE WILL BE PLENTY DEAD!"

    [Above: David Griffith heads up the final 20-foot roof pitch of Wet Denim Daydream, Leaning Tower, Yosemite California. Photo: Marta Czajkowska]

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    Andre's Red Knickers – A Story About Boatmen's Rituals

    By Jeffe Aronson

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    “Hey, Reeg,” I say, watching him wading chest deep, offshore in the frigid river, well past sundown, when most normal river guides should be sipping scotch (as I happen to be). He is sponging off the scum line from his handmade dory, the Escalante, his beauty and dream.

    He looks up at my quizzical smile, offering up all I will get: his characteristically inscrutable look through a knowing gray beard and nothing more.

    He doesn’t talk much anyway, though I must admit he himself is probably expecting a typically smart-aleck comment from me. I must, of course, oblige. Over the years I’ve been observing, and finally have been drawn into participating in this little pre-Lava ceremony since I came to the Dories.

    [Above: The author and clients, thankfully still upright, in Hermit rapid’s Fifth Wave. Photo: Rick Box]

    Continue reading "Andre's Red Knickers – A Story About Boatmen's Rituals" »

    Dirtbag Diaries: Live from 5Point Vol. 5

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

    Dbd_mastWe're back for our third annual Live from 5Point event. The sun was shining, but Steve's Guitars was at capacity. Today we present the first two stories from Kevin Pearce and Chris Davenport. In 2009, Kevin was one of the best snowboarders in the world. On a training run, he had a major accident (his story is chronicled in the film The Crash Reel). Today, he talks about finding happiness after suffering a traumatic brain injury.

    Chris' career as a big mountain skier is impressive – numerous first ski descents of peaks, traveled around the world to ski, a two-time world champion. But I've always been impressed by Chris' creativity in the mission he chooses. Today, he talks about the aesthetics of the lines he chooses and what he loves about mountains, especially those close to home.


    Audio_graphic_20pxListen to "Live from 5Point Vol. 5"
    (mp3 - right-click to download)

    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com to download the music from "Live from 5Point Vol. 5", listen to The Shorts and pledge your support for the show. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes and RSS, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]

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