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    Whiskey on the Rocks – Looking for answers in Scotland

    By Kristo Torgersen


    “It starts as rain or snow falling on Scotland’s highest mountain—Ben Nevis. Either as rain or melting snow it percolates the thin layer of peat soil until it reaches the granite rock and unable to penetrate it, runs under the surface until emerging in Coire Leish or Coire na Ciste. The outflows from these two mountain lochans, located well over 3000’ above sea level, make their way spilling over the blue and pink granite rocks of the mountain’s rugged north face until they join together as the Alt a Mhullin continuing on in the valley between Ben Nevis and Carn Mor Dearg.”Ben Nevis Distillery

    These poetic words adorn a bottle of gold-medal whiskey from the oldest legal distillery in Scotland, Ben Nevis—the source of distinguished single malts and the mountain crucible of British alpinism. This is where generations of alpinists, whether in wool knickers or Gore-Tex, developed mountain equipment and cut their teeth for expeditions to the great ranges of the world. It’s a place renowned for terribly stormy weather and long approaches to “short” climbs. It’s a place that honors style and demands an honest Scot’s prudence to climb routes only in “full” wintry conditions. It’s where Yvon Chouinard visited over 40 years earlier to test himself on Scotland’s hardest routes and compare the performance his own curved-pick Chouinard Zero ice tool with the angled-pick design of his Scottish contemporary, Hamish MacInnes. And it’s where Walker Ferguson, responsible for field testing all of Patagonia’s most technical products, has brought us to be guinea pigs with our own latest prototypes.

    Above: Jon Bracey navigates the exit on Gemini, Ben Nevis, Scotland. Photo: Kristo Torgersen

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    Mile for Mile, Part 2 – The Run

    By Jeff Browning

    How do you tell the story of 106 miles in two days in a short and concise manner? It’s nearly impossible—similar to trying to restore an ecosystem and build a national park. So many little steps, so many little stories.

    Our route would take us through the new Patagonia Park. Starting north in the town of Chile Chico on the edge of the nearly 400,000-acre Jeinimeni Reserve, dropping into Valle Chacabuco on day one. Day two would take us through Valle Chacabuco to the Park’s headquarters, up and over Cerro Tamanguito and into the southern beech forests of Tamango National Reserve to end in the small village of Cochrane on the western edge of Lago Cochrane.

    Above: Mile for Mile: A Film About Trail Running and Conservation in Patagonia. Video: Rios Libres and Patagonia 

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    Go Simple, Go Solo, Go Now – The Life of Audrey Sutherland


    On February 23, 2015 a true heroine and friend of the company passed away. Audrey Sutherland grew up in California and moved to Hawai'i in 1952, where she lived to be 93. She raised her four children as a single mother, supporting her family by working as a school counselor. In 1962, she decided to explore the coast of Moloka'i by swimming it while towing a raft with supplies, the first of countless solo adventures by this remarkable woman. 

    Please read some shared stories from folks who were lucky enough to meet her. Photo: Sutherland Collection

    I met Audrey Sutherland, while editing her book Paddling North, at her house overlooking Jockos (named after her son of surfing fame) on the North Shore of O'ahu. She was in her late 80s and getting a little hard of hearing, but there was a spark in her eye and cast of her bearing that radiated her adventurous spirit. In the course of us reviewing the edits on her book I learned about her childhood in the Los Angeles foothills, her marriage to and divorce from a commercial fisherman, her move to Hawai'i, and how she raised her family by herself on the beach on the North Shore. 

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    Amelia the Tropicat: A Swell Companion [Updated]

    By Liz Clark, captain of Swell

    Amelia and Me

    I’ve had a few pets on Swell over the last nine years—most of them made their way aboard on their own. I don’t mind the geckos that often show up in a banana stock. They hide, so I rarely get to see them, but they are harmless and make cute coughing noises in the evening. I’ve hosted a wide variety of ants—from teeny fuzzy black ones to enormous shiny red ones. A roving wasp colony lives in my spinnaker pole from time to time, but we tend to give each other our space. Once a cricket turned up out of nowhere. I never saw him, but I adored his evening serenades until the day they were no more. While I was away on a trip to California, a newlywed rat couple from the boatyard where Swell was hauled moved aboard and raised four handsome rat babies who explored, chewed and pooped inside Swell from bow to stern. Their story had a rather gruesome ending … same song for the prolific cockroach family that sailed with me to Kiribati.

    Above: Liz Clark and her cat, Amelia, head back to Swell (outfitted with a kitty ladder in case water-loathing Amelia falls in the drink). Photo: Jody MacDonald

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    Dirtbag Diaries: Adventure 1000

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall


    It’s time for our annual Year of Big Ideas episode. This year, we talked to Alastair Humphreys, a 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Among other things, Alastair has walked across India, and 1,000 miles through the largest sand desert in the world, cycled 46,000 miles around the world in four years and rowed across the Atlantic.

    People often come up to him after his talks and tell him they wish they could go on the kinds of adventures that he does. Alastair believes that they can. Today, he explains what he’s learned about what it takes to make an adventure happen. Here’s to another year of big ideas, and to committing to them. Happy 2015.


    Listen to "Adventure 1000" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.


    Visit for links to past episodes, music credits and to pledge your support. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, SoundCloud, Stitcher and DoggCatcher, or connect with the Dirtbag Diaries community on Facebook and Twitter. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production. Graphic by Walker Cahall.


    You Know What They Say About the Weather

    By Beau Fredlund


    I'm sitting in a bar with Doug Chabot, director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center. The man has more enthusiasm for snow science, alpine climbing and general life than about anyone I know. And the best part: it's infectious.

    We are both a couple beers deep before our pizza arrives. The conversation floats, with laughter and zest. We talk of the day, the avalanche activity we investigated and the landscape surrounding the tiny mountain town where I live and work as a ski guide. “It’s a special place, no doubt,” Doug says with authenticity. I nod my head and gesture with deep agreement. Nowhere else quite like it I figure, as far as quality mountain towns go. Obviously, the topography is an integral aspect, but it’s the weather and snowfall that sets the place apart.

    Above: Avalanche forecaster Doug Chabot, approaching the crown of a slab avalanche, just north of Cooke City, Montana. Photo: Beau Fredlund

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    Simply Southern Chile

    By Hank Gaskell


    After my second trip to Southern Chile this past July, I have absolutely fallen in love with its simple way of life. More and more nowadays, it seems there is so much going on that it’s impossible to get ahead. Chile doesn’t know or care about that. Life there is content to just continue rolling at a steady pace, no one is ahead and no one is behind. Everyone is family. Our crew did a good job stepping back from our busy day-to-day lives to emulate the Chilean way. For two weeks, our “family” consisted of Otto Flores, Eala Stewart, Ramon Navarro, photographer Dylan Gordon, videographer Rodrigo Farias and my girlfriend Malia. Huge thank you to all; what a group of top-notch humans!

    Above: This is Eala and I negotiating a sketchy water entrance off the point in Buchupureo. Photo: Dylan Gordon

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    Mile for Mile, Part 1 – Arrival at the new Patagonia Park [Updated]

    By Luke Nelson


    The wind gusts, blowing spray from the water lapping on the banks of Lago General Carrera. Here I stand, eyes closed, feeling the cool mist on my sunburnt cheeks. When I open my eyes it’s still there, it feels like a dream, but it’s not—Patagonia spreads out all around me. I’ve long dreamt of seeing this place and now it’s blowing my mind. After imagining over and over what it would be like, how it would smell, how it would feel, it is far more than I had imagined it would be. The previous 39 hours have been a blur of driving, airports, flying, airports, loading gear, and more driving. But now it’s quiet, except the sound of the wind blowing across the lake.

    A little over four years ago, I finished a very challenging run through the heart of the Frank Church Wilderness area along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Ty Draney and I teamed up with Save Our Salmon to use a ridiculously long run to draw attention to that organization’s work to restore historic salmon runs. Despite our over-confidence and under-planning the run was a success—many people learned of the work being done through the story of our 154-mile journey.

    Above: Patagonia ambassadors Luke Nelson, Jeff Browning and Krissy Moehl get ready to hit the trails in the park for the first time. Patagonia Park, Aysén Region, Chile. Photo: James Q Martin

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    Paddle to DC: A Quest for Clean Water

    By Dave Freeman, video by Nate Ptacek

    The plastic sign posted to a tree in our campsite reads: “ALL FISH MUST BE RETURNED TO THE WATER IMMEDIATELY. FISH CONTAMINATED WITH PCBs DO NOT EAT.” Paddling through a superfund site is not typically part of a canoe trip, but on day 73 and 74 of our journey from Ely, Minnesota to Washington D.C., that’s where we find ourselves.

    My wife Amy and I are about 1,500 miles into a 100-day, 2,000-mile expedition to protect the million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from the threat of sulfide ore mining. We departed from the Voyageur Outward Bound School on the Kawishiwi River on August 24, 2014 where a flotilla of 20 canoes joined us on the water for the first mile. We paddled right past the proposed mine site of Twin Metals and followed the flow into the pristine Boundary Waters to begin our journey.

    Video: Paddle to DC: A Quest for Clean Water from Save The BWCA on Vimeo.

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    An excerpt from The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains by Barry Blanchard

    By Barry Blanchard

    Patagonia is proud to announce our latest publication: Barry Blanchard’s memoir, The Calling.

    With heart-pounding descriptions of avalanches and treacherous ascents, Blanchard chronicles his transformation from a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks to one of the most respected alpinists in the world. This is the story of the culture of climbing in the days of punk rock, spurred on by the rhythm of adrenaline and the arrogance of youth. It is also a portrait of the power of the mountains to lift us—physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually—and the depths of relationships based on total trust in the person at the other end of a rope. Includes climbs with renowned alpinists such as Kevin Doyle, Mark Twight, David Cheesmond and Ward Robinson.


    Chapter 1

    I SAW THE AVALANCHE COMING. It charged over the step of dirty brown ice above like a breaking wave of black water. It hammered back down into the gulley, driving into us like the fist of god, and I screamed.

    The avalanche slapped my crampons out from under me, and I was folded in half. I was going to die. The animal in me fought to force my hand into the torrent, to grab something solid. My crampons raked over the ice as I stumbled, thrusting my knees into the pressure of the onslaught, trying to get my feet under me. I shouted and I thrashed and the surging snow pushed my arms down at the same time that it swept my feet out to flap like rope-anchored logs in a strong current. My anchor leash was as tight as cable; it hummed with a high-frequency vibration that was transmitted into my bowels along the waist-belt of my harness. My senses where overcome; I didn’t know which way was up. I was terrified.

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