The Cleanest Line

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    Cochamó

    By Patch Wilson

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    In early 2014, I spent some time exploring the coastline around southern Chile looking for waves and generally just checking out a place that I had always wanted to visit. I ended up heading as far south as Chiloe which is the first island on the coast of where Patagonia starts. It had been a really slow start to the season for waves and so I found myself with my brother Phil and close friend Chris looking for other entertainment while we waited for swell.

    We had got talking to an English lady called Kate up the coast and she mentioned Cochamó. She told us about these crazy waterslides and pristine rivers, epic campgrounds and insane granite climbing faces. The place sounded so amazing we had to go and check it out for ourselves.

    Above: Horses cruised around the campgrounds the whole time giving the place an even wilder feeling than it already has. All photos by Patch Wilson

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    Cold-Water Bali or Myth?

    By Tony Butt

    Near fjord (elli thor magnusson)

    “Just go in,” said the woman’s voice. “There’s nobody there at the moment but the house is always left open. Yours is room two, upstairs.”

    I was calling ahead to the small guesthouse where we had booked a room. Slightly bewildered, I looked across at my traveling buddy, Martín. “It’s cool man, aquí no roban,” he said, in his usual mix of Argentine Spanish and colonial English. This place was nothing like the streets of Cape Town Martín had just come from, or the Buenos Aires he had grown up in. This was officially the safest country in the world, where the most serious violent crime might be a pub brawl between two drunken fishermen.

    Above: Somewhere near a fjord. Photo: Elli Thor Magnusson

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    Being There – A self-supported ski journey to the waves of northern Iceland

    By Léa Brassy

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    Léa Brassy and Vincent Colliard are based Biarritz, in the French Basque Country, and currently reside in French Polynesia. Léa is a Patagonia surf ambassador and nurse while Vincent, also a passionate surfer, focuses on polar explorations and guiding. Together, they’re on a Simple Voyage. In 2014, the couple made a unique trip to northern Iceland in search of uncrowded waves. The result is the story you’re about to read and an upcoming film, also entitled Being ThereAbove: Pulling a sled is pretty accessible but it takes a little practice to find the rhythm. Léa got it pretty quickly. Photo: © Vincent Colliard
       

    Winter in Iceland is ridiculously unpredictable. It can be beaten by wind and swell one minute and infused with silence and solitude the next. Drawn by the appeal of its wilderness, my partner and I dreamed of traveling there for a long time. Combining both of our passions for surfing and exploring, we decided to go self-supported, on skis, to the snowy valleys of the north in search of a unique experience.

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    All Better Now? The Refugio Oil Spill, Three Months On

    By Christian Beamish

    With ancestor chants evoking the original stewards of these shores, Chris Malloy, the Farm League crew and I put together a video short to comment on the Refugio Oil Spill. I did a voice-over at Todd Hannigan’s amazing recording studio based on some lines I wrote, but after a nip from the flask to loosen my chords, I went a little Kerouac and riffed poetic (or so it seemed at the time). And I wonder now about something I said.

    Above: Refugio – A Hell of an Oily Mess. Video: Chris Malloy  Still photo: Erin Feinblatt

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    Kiteboarding for a Cause

    By Jessica Salcido

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    For the past few years, a small group of kiters here at Patagonia have participated in Kiteboarding 4 Cancer, a spectacularly beautiful kite race in Hood River, Oregon designed to raise money for the survivor-focused nonprofit, Athletes 4 Cancer.

    Cancer has impacted all of our lives—we’ve loved and cared for friends, family, co-workers and acquaintances battling the disease. We know about the treatments, the medications, the prognoses. For survivors, however, life after cancer looks quite a bit different from the lives they put on hold. When treatment concludes survivors must bravely discover their new “normal” in a world where others can’t possibly relate to their unique situations. Often, with little traditional medical support, they must navigate an entirely new physical and emotional landscape, complete with physical challenges, changes in appearance and a lingering uncertainty about the future.

    That’s where Athletes 4 Cancer (A4C) steps in. This nonprofit is dedicated to sending cancer survivors to outdoor adventure camps. More than just another cancer support group, Athletes 4 Cancer’s Camp Koru utilizes the transformational power of nature and the spirit of determination required by outdoor sports to restore and rebuild lives after cancer.

    Above: Aerial view of the colorful chaos. Hood River, Oregon. Photo: Richard Hallman

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    Ten Tuamotus Days – Empowering the sisterhood

    By Liz Clark

    Last year I got to meet fellow Patagonia ambassadors Kimi Werner and Léa Brassy for the first time. Patagonia kindly arranged for all of us to meet upon the waters of some remote atolls in French Polynesia that have come to be my beloved backyard and playground. From all that I knew about them, I expected we’d have an enjoyable time but I never imagined that we would connect in such a way that, by the end of our time together, it felt like I had gained two sisters.

    All three of us enjoy very similar things—wilderness, wildlife, waves, conscious eating, etc.—but I feel like it was our open minds and hearts that made this time together so genuine and so special. Whether we were diving, sharing waves, giggling under the stars at night, wandering on the motu looking for coconuts or just watching the seabirds circle and dive, it was like they saw exactly what I saw: divinity, freedom, peace, respect. Being with Kimi and Léa in nature felt like being completely understood.

    Above:  the four-video series documenting Liz, Léa and Kimi’s time together in French Polynesia. Videos: Patagonia

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    The Rescue Box

    By Tom Doidge-Harrison

    Photo credit Tom Doidge Harrison 

    In its deep summer slumber, it is hard to gauge the latent fury this place can serve up to the unsuspecting. There are, however, clues to the power of this landscape that can both give and take in equal measure. The weathered faces of naked shale give evidence to deadly drops of tonnage. The natural order of the rounded boulders, hewn from the limestone shelf that extends at sea level, hints at unseen forces liberally applying Newton’s first law of motion to provide a natural floor, devoid of scale from most vantage points. But much of this runs in the background, as eyes are drawn to the beauty of the place itself.

    The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most cherished landmarks and for good reason. Numerous miles of stacked sea cliffs, gloriously abundant with bird life, are arranged such that each bluff and headland is curiously framed by the next. The beauty, as most surfers are well aware, extends out to sea a few hundred meters where deep lengthy lines of North Atlantic grunt are pulled into form atop a perfect anomaly of faults and features in the bedrock. Aileen’s is a wonder in a wonderous corner of the world’s original ‘island.’

    Above: The dangerously beautiful Cliffs of Moher, Ireland. Photo: Tom Doidge-Harrison 

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    For the Love of Honey

    By Hank Gaskell

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    His hands were unlike other farmers. Not calloused, hard, cracked and stiff, but broad, flexible and quick. He seemed not to mind the thick white suit we were both wearing or the suffocating screen helmet. I felt like I was going to melt away.

    The deeply forested Waiho‘i Valley on Maui has countless wild bee hives that are vital to the flowering ecosystem. Avocado, mango, guava, ohia, rainbow eucalyptus and wild ginger thrive in fertile soil that’s fragmented by dark lava veins. The Kapia stream ribbons down through it all towards the ocean. At the base of the valley, nestled in a dead mango stump, a hive plagued a local fisherman and his family.

    The gnarled location of the hive forced my friend Kenny to be more attuned and work more smoothly than usual—he had been doing this for twenty years. When the bees attacked he remained calm and focused. With surgeon-like precision he worked the hive, angling the box and gently adjusting the combs to fit snugly. His movements were clever and patient yet eager. The white suit clung to my sweaty skin, making it easier for the bees to sting me, but I watched intently. I was hooked.

    Above: My girlfriend Malia and I inspect a frame from one of our hives to see if it’s ready to harvest. Hana, Hawai‘i. Photo: Anna Riedel

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    The Chase: a tiny film

    By RC Cone

    Honestly, we went to Iceland to catch big fish. It was that simple. We wanted to bask in the late Arctic sun while bringing dreamy meter-long Atlantic salmon to hand. We wanted to drink whiskey afterwards, go to bed and do it again every day we could. What surprised us wasn’t our ability to check that mission off the list it was the insignificance that those goals held compared to what we actually discovered. The Chase: a tiny film is an ode to the friendships and experiences that were shared while chasing our passions.

    Above: The Chase: a tiny film. Video: Tributaries Digital Cinema

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    Mundaka: Surf but don’t touch

    By Tony Butt

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    When the first surfers turned up at Mundaka around the late 1960s and set their eyes upon those perfect lefthanders, they had no reason to think the waves wouldn’t be there forever. Almost half a century later, we now know that Mundaka is a very special wave, perhaps unique in the world; not just because of its perfection, power or length, but because of the miraculous circumstances that made it the way it is. Sure, there are waves just as long and hollow as Mundaka, but the vast majority break on immovable rock or coral platforms. Mundaka, on the other hand, relies on a rivermouth sandbar.

    In the early days, the overriding concern was how the surfers themselves could make the best of the wave. How could they improve board design and riding techniques to get in and out of those freight-train barrels as easily as possible? They had no idea that the principal concern would eventually turn from dominating the wave to protecting it.

    This article isn’t just about Mundaka, although Mundaka is the central theme running through it. It is also about estuarine systems, chaos, Nature and us.

    Above: The Mundaka sandbar behaving itself, winter 2014-15. Spain. Photo: Javi Muñoz

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