by Michael Kew
From “Coral Refuge, Ocean Deep,” Chapter 8
WOULD THEY DO IT IN PARIS?
It’s the second T-shirt I’ve seen today that poses this question, a lingering sting of animosity toward France’s three decades of nuclear testing in L’Archipel. France ignored a 1973 World Court request to stop the practice, sparking protest worldwide, including New Zealand’s delegation of a naval ship to the main atoll, and Peru’s severance of their French diplomatic relations.
Relentless global opposition to nuclear testing saw the French drilling bomb shafts beneath the lagoon in 1975. Rather than blasting motus in plain view, replete with ominous, “harmless” fallout, the endeavor cloaked the tests submarine.
[Above: Fletcher Chouinard on a virgin right-hander. Photo: Michael Kew]
Continue reading "Coral Refuge, Ocean Deep - An Excerpt from “Crossings”" »
by Brittany Griffith
I don’t have many heroes – Julia Child, Nakano Takedo, Florence Nightingale… and Arnaud Petit and Stéph Bodet. If you haven’t heard of Arnaud and Stéph, just Google, “World’s Most Adventurous Climbing Couple.” From Morocco to Algeria to Venezuela to the climbs of Ceüse above their self-built house, they’ve done first ascents in more countries than states I’ve been to in America (I still haven’t ticked New Mexico). They’ve traveled the world together, doing their climbs with style, with commitment, with an eye for the absolute best line. They are my climbing heroes.
[Stéph Bodet floats a 7c+ slab arête just before sunset. Photo: Arnaud Petit]
Continue reading "Heroes - Part One " »
Regular readers of The Cleanest Line are no doubt familiar with our musical Belgian climbing ambassadors Nico Favresse and Sean Villanueva (see Secret Passage, Asgard Jamming, Greenland Vertical Sailing). The boys just completed a big wall expedition in Venezuela and today we're happy to share the reports from their trip, with meaty details on two new routes at the end. So tune up and and tune in for the latest from Nico and Sean.
January 31, 2012
Ok, so we’re heading off on another big wall adventure! On February 5 we leave to go big wall jamming on the mythical tepuis of Venezuela. We’re going on a search for first ascents and virgin walls in the mighty jungle. Besides the difficulties of climbing and jamming, there will be all the interesting animals like snakes, spiders, scorpions, crocodiles, monkeys etc. and we sure hope they like our music.
[Above: Nico en route to his dream in front of Akopan, another beautiful Tepui. All photos: Xpedition.be]
Continue reading "Jungle Jamming Expedition with Nico Favresse, Sean Villanueva and Friends" »
by Kitty Calhoun
Iceland is frozen in time. Arriving there in February 2012, it was exactly as I remembered from 1998 when I was there to climb with Jay Smith and the late Guy Lacelle – grey, windy, and remote. It is the largest land mass along a mountain ridge that begins under the ocean, where the North Atlantic and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart. The soil is poor, so most food is imported or grown in greenhouses. The horses, sheep and cattle are 1,000-year-old purebreds, brought over by the Vikings. The quiet is only disrupted by the sounds of millions of birds born in the undisturbed sea cliffs.
My mission, along with Dawn Glanc, Pat Ormand, and Jay Smith, was to do as many first ice climbing ascents as possible in two weeks. Prospects looked good, since Iceland’s coast is barely eroded and most of the snow on the plateau above tends to melt and refreeze. Rapid changes in temperature produce wild features on frozen waterfalls such as tunnels, hanging umbrella-like roofs, and daggers that freeze horizontally. Iceland is not well-known in the climbing world and there are only an estimated 40 local climbers – most of whom find enough ice near Reykjavik to keep them content. Or so they led us to believe. In exchange for a slide show for the Icelandic Alpine Club, we diplomatically pried inside information from a very welcoming group. They confirmed our suspicions: the West Fjords, just below the Arctic Circle, was the mother-lode.
[Dawn Glanc and Pat Ormand on Angel of Mercy. All photos courtesy of Kitty Calhoun]
Continue reading "12 in 7 - A Report from Iceland" »
by Michael Kew
From “The Five Pillars of Lakshadweep,” Chapter 17
This room is moving. Trevor Gordon’s eyes are open and glazed, his pupils wide. It’s 5:04 a.m. He rubs his belly clockwise, breathes oddly, speaks flatly.
“Don’t let me pass out, man. We’ve got to stick together.”
Outside, pale moonlight glints off the warm Laccadive Sea. The 89-meter M/V Lakshadweep Sea sways from side to side, motoring east at nine knots while Chadd Konig, also in the room, is awakened by the lanky sleepwalker.
“I really need some fresh air,” Gordon slurs.
The two step outside. Gordon’s balance is off. On the bulwark he rests his elbows. His shoulders feel sore. So much surfing lately. So many great waves. With Konig he ponders the universe and watches the sea slide by.
[Above: Patagonia ambassador, Trevor Gordon, eyes wide in Lakshadweep. Trevor also drew the cover art for Crossings (below). Screengrab: Michael Kew from "Laccadive Hollows"]
There, beyond the horizon, Somali pirates prowl for big boats like this. The isolation of Lakshadweep’s palmy atolls has lured the slitted eyes of East African predators who, armed with grenade launchers and Kalashnikov rifles, seek ransom for seized cargo. Can be any cargo, really. Freighters and oil tankers are preferred. Unfortunately the Lakshadweep Sea holds nothing but islanders and Indians, 260 of them, bound for the port city of Cochin. It’s a 21-hour sail.
Continue reading "Excerpt from Crossings, a New Book of Surf Travel Stories by Michael Kew " »
by Lydia Zamorano
13 tips for on-the-road yoga when it's too cold to practice outdoors:
1. Have at least a 6 by 3 foot level floor, and a nice traveling companion who doesn't mind making space for your swinging limbs.
2. The more height the better. A fiberglass raised roof works well. Being 5 feet tall works very well.
3. A little buddy.
4. A pee bottle if it's cold and your partner doesn't mind you getting too comfortable with them.
5. A small broom to keep it free from last nights food crumbs and hair. Where does all the hair come from!?
[Above: Morning meditation in Bishop, California. Photo: Andrew Burr]
Continue reading "Van Yoga" »
by Dr. Tony Butt
One would think that the early nineties would be a relatively late stage to discover new surf in Europe. When I set off from Cornwall to Galicia in November 1992 in a van with two mates, all we were expecting to do was satisfy our own curiosity. Nobody we had spoken to in the UK seemed to know about any surf further west than Rodiles but we were sure there would be a thriving surf community west of there. It was just that we had not heard about it. We would start in Baiona, just north of the Portuguese border, and work our way around the coast. We had the whole winter.
Needless to say, with three people in a small van for several months, rain every day and nothing to do between surfs, and a van plagued with mechanical problems, it was a fairly hardcore trip. In the end, the trip only worked through strict military-like discipline and co-operation between team members.
After spending the first two months scouring the coast of Galicia for waves with a fine-toothed comb, all we found were huge close-outs on sandbars half a kilometre offshore. We endured day after day of rain, endless coffees in smoke-filled bars and conversations with crazed Galician fishermen, all of whom warned us not to go in the water along this treacherous part of coast, aptly named La Costa de la Muerte.
[Above: The author rides a different wave on a different day in northern Spain. Photo courtesy of Tony Butt]
Continue reading "El Berberecho" »
by Patch Wilson
A friend of mine, Nick Pumphrey, who I grew up with surfing, skating and generally causing mayhem, now lives in South West France. He has called Hossegor home for about six or seven years now. Now turned semi-professional photographer he still works the summers in bars and restaurants and sleeps in his van to save money so that he can head on missions throughout the winter. His van holds this amazing quiver of longboards, single fins, alaias, bodyboards and swim fins. All the wave-riding equipment you could need for whatever one of the best stretches of beachbreak in the world could throw at you.
[Me cruising on my Fark Quad. Photo: Nick Pumphrey]
Continue reading "Les Landes" »
by Crystal Thornburg-Homcy
After more than a week camping in Patagonia with Jamie Sterling, Jack McCoy, and Mel and Kenny, founders of 1% for the Planet member Sol Raiz Organics, along with their crew, we regrouped and repacked for the coast. While we were in Santiago packing our surfing gear, we heard that the nearby ski resort, Valle Nevado, still had snow and was closing for the season. We decided to make a day trip to visit the over 10,000-foot-high mountain.
The drive up the mountain was as thrilling as hearing the “Wild Bull” breathing outside our tent. The sharp turns and steep cliffs with no guard rails looked down onto car cemeteries. With no coca leaves to chew on the altitude was getting the best of me; I closed my eyes and tried to relax. Our whole drive we didn’t see one patch of snow, just dirt. We were all wondering if there would actually be any snow at the top. I was ecstatic to get out of the car finally to discover a white-capped mountain with patches of mud. It had been almost eight years since I’d been snowboarding, a sport that I’ve love to do at least once a year my whole life growing up. I guess I had been so focused lately on traveling to other coastlines in search of waves that I neglected visiting snowy peaks.
Continue reading "Back to Patagonia - Part 4" »