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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.

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    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.

    Continue reading "An excerpt from The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains by Barry Blanchard" »

    Liz Daley 1985-2014

    By Josh Nielsen, Caroline Gleich, Alex Yoder & Forrest Shearer, photos by Garrett Grove

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    Earlier this week, we received the tragic news that Liz Daley, a former Patagonia snow ambassador, was killed in an avalanche on Monday in the Fitz Roy Massif region of Argentina. Our hearts go out to Liz’s family and friends.

    Liz was an amazing person known for her warm outgoing personality, matched by a smile and laugh that left a mark on anyone who spent time with her. While at Patagonia, Liz worked closely with the snow product team, inspiring design, testing gear and helping to refine what is now our current women’s line. Truly passionate and skilled, Liz had a unique combination of both snowboarding and climbing talent that took her on many adventures around the world, which we always enjoyed sharing.

    Continue reading "Liz Daley 1985-2014" »

    The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 3

    By Christian Beamish

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    “Check out that fin,” my buddy, Dillon Joyce, said.

    And there it was, 50 feet off the stern, an unmistakable dorsal, weaving in a slow “S” through the water. Wasn’t the sharp triangle-shape of a whitey, and as we were five- or six-miles out from Santa Cruz Island on our long sail back to the mainland, my best guess is that we were seeing a rather large blue shark. Nothing fearful about a blue shark, even if we sat a mere foot off the water aboard Cormorant. And compared to the wild ride of the day before, we were content to enjoy the light winds and the sight of thriving sea life in the Santa Barbara Channel.

    Editor’s note: If you’re just joining us, catch up with Part 1 and Part 2.

    I’d ordered a new pintle, cast in bronze by Classic Marine in the UK, fixed the rudder and returned to Santa Rosa to retrieve Cormorant. It happened that Dillon, a young surfer from San Clemente with whom I’ve sailed the islands once before, was planning a hiking trip out there and we agreed to travel together. Solitude has its place, but the safety and company of a good friend is priceless. The ranger had offered to give us a ride out to the backside of the island, as hiking with all the gear for the return sail would be impractical, and he met us at the dock.

    Above: A very simple arrangement: The haliyard runs through a hole in the top of the mast and ties off on a cleat—no stays, no fuss. Photo: Dillon Joyce

    Continue reading "The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 3" »

    The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 2

    By Christian Beamish

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    When the pintle snapped I felt a moment’s disbelief and then something like panic spark down in my belly. But I tamped that feeling with a long drink of water and a pep talk, noting to myself that I was not injured, that I had plenty of food and water, and that the conditions were calm. Johnson’s Lee, a good anchorage on the southwest corner of the island, was about five miles down and I draped a sarong over the top of my ball cap and tucked it in to my long-sleeve shirt for sun protection, then leaned into steady pulls on the oars with the thought that I might meet someone at the anchorage who could help me.

    Editor’s note: In case you missed it, catch up with Part 1. Photos: Christian Beamish

    Coming in close along shore I had a good view of desolate beaches and the scrub canyons that led upwards, the water below was aquarium clear and revealing sand one moment, rock reef and kelp the next. At a corner of rock shelves and low dunes, two big elephant seals pushed against each other chest-to-chest without much enthusiasm for the fight, their percussive groans having no effect on the females in deep slumber further up the sand. I kept on, steadily rowing, not wanting to squander the momentum I had gathered. But I stopped occasionally for water and to shake the numbness from my hands. When a light breeze started up a couple of hours later I raised sail and steered with an oar, Polynesian style.

    Continue reading "The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 2" »

    The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 1

    By Christian Beamish

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    If I’ve learned anything in these recent years of open boat adventuring aboard my 18-footer, Cormorant, it’s that everything is fine until it isn’t. But also, as Yvon says, “The real adventure starts when something goes wrong…”

    Late July, 2014—Shoving off from Gaviota for the 27-mile crossing to San Miguel Island came with a new kind of anxiety, as I no longer travel solo in life but am now married with a soon-to-be three-year-old daughter. When the State Parks Lifeguard pointed to Natasha and our little girl, Josephine, and asked me if I was planning to bring them along, I vehemently replied, “Nooo!” aghast at the thought.

    But another thought came on its heels, and that was that if it this sailing journey was too dangerous to consider bringing my young family along, why was it OK to go alone? I’ve rationalized this by telling myself that I pick my days carefully (the forecast was for light-to-moderate winds), wear a lifejacket and lifeline, and carry a Spot satellite device if I really blow it and need to be rescued. So with the mental shrug of the shoulders that it takes to do these types of trips, I pulled Cormorant off the trailer, got her down the beach, and kissed my ladies goodbye.

    Above: High-seas selfie, 15-miles into a 27-mile crossing. All photos by Christian Beamish

    Continue reading "The Voyage(s) of the Cormorant, Part 1" »

    Red Shins

    By Craig Holloway

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    Back in February, I started volunteering for the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (OVLC), a nonprofit that protects open space through land acquisitions and conservation easements. They have a number of preserves scattered across the valley and the Valley View Preserve was their newest one. OVLC volunteers had already built two trails on Valley View and were now building Luci's Trail. While I was out on a hike I met Bill Brothers, a volunteer who said they could use my help building Luci's. I asked when could I start.

    On my first day, Rick Bisaccia, the preserve manager, had six of us clear a thick stand of poison oak. One volunteer cut the branches back with a chainsaw while I used a pitchfork to toss aside the leafy debris, wearing only a T-shirt and shorts. Two days later a bumpy red rash appeared on my arms and shins then spread to my back and face. The skin-crawling dermatitis stayed with me for a month.

    Above: I love Luci's. Ojai Valley, California. Photo: Craig Holloway

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    Dirtbag Diaries Podcast: Mother's Have It Hardest

    By Fitz & Becca Cahall

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    "I remember really quickly going from, 'Wow, I'm home, this feels great', to 'Holy s***, what did I do to my mom'?" says alpinist Kyle Dempster. "And that was the first time I saw how truly difficult it is for mothers."

    Today, we bring you two stories—one from Hilary Oliver, and one from Kyle Dempster and his mother, Terry—about the struggle of loving an adventurer. The struggle between loving them so much that you don't want to see them hurt, and loving them so much that you want to support them in pursuing their dreams—in doing the things that make them tick.

    This story was originally inspired by one of Kyle's blog posts by the same title. You can find more of Kyle's writing at Through My Eyes.

    You can find Hilary's writing at TheGription.

     


    Listen to "Mothers Have it Hardest" by The Dirtbag Diaries on Soundcloud.


    Visit dirtbagdiaries.com for links to past episodes, featured music 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. The Dirtbag Diaries is a Duct Tape Then Beer production.

    [Graphic by Walker Cahall]

     

    2014 Bike to Work Week Recap

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    Reno Recap

    By Gavin Back

    The numbers are in from Patagonia’s Bike to Work Week and this was the Reno DC’s best year yet!

    We had a total of 118 people riding for a total of 4,550 miles ridden. This means a total of $4,550 donated to an awesome local non-profit, the Kiwanis Club. Kiwanis seeks to promote cycling and bike safety, and distributes bikes to children in the Reno area. We would like to thank the members of Kiwanis who took time to visit the Reno DC prior to Bike to Work Week and helped Casey and Eric tune our bikes. All four of you did a great job keeping us safe on the road—thank you.

    Despite bragging being somewhat gauche: Ventura, you guys need to step it up!

    Continue reading "2014 Bike to Work Week Recap " »

    Stepping from Sand to Pavement – San Sebastián Surfilm Festibal 2014

    By Tom Doidge-Harrison

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    Travel in all its various guises is at the heart of surfing, so it was appropriate that there was a little of it involved for most of the people—Patagonia or otherwise—at this year’s Surfilm Festibal in San Sebastián, Spain.

    They say that change is good and that exploring new places nourishes the soul, but Nora, my three-year-old daughter wasn’t letting on if it did. Changing time zones with a small child is a test of a parent’s reserves of patience. From her perspective, though, once we were in country and with day time operations revolving around Patagonia’s San Sebastián surf store—a casual glance away from the acres of white sand that make up La Playa de Zuriola—she’d died and gone to bucket and spade excavation heaven. Happy child, happy parents, happy days.

    [Above: The author chats with Otto Flores after a morning surf, just out the door from Patagonia San Sebastián. Later, customers were invited to make their own handplanes with the tools in the foreground. Photo: Mat. Turries / www.nordicsurfersmag.se]

    Continue reading "Stepping from Sand to Pavement – San Sebastián Surfilm Festibal 2014" »

    My Best Surf Session

    By Laurel Winterbourne

    Cheering friends on

    Head-high peaks stacked in perfect rows, warm clear water, and glassy surface conditions were not the reasons for the best surf session of my life. Sometimes it’s about more than that. If you were asked to describe your most memorable surf session, what would you say? Would you scroll through your memories of surf trips to the South Pacific, or an epic day at your home break with no one out except you and the dolphins? That’s what would have come to mind before my experience with the athletes from the High Fives Foundation.

    While surfing with this crew of hilarious, inspiring, adventurous folks, I found new meaning to surfing and, more importantly, the contagious element of positivity. The High Fives Foundation is a non-profit group, based in Truckee, California, that supports the recovery of severely injured athletes and helps get them into adaptive sports. I was lucky enough to join the group on a surf trip to San Onofre, California. This is where the adventure began and my life changed. It’s a beautiful thing when something that you love and are passionate about opens your eyes a little wider and forces you to reevaluate your perspective.

    [Above: Cheering on friends. All photos: Trevor Clark]

    Continue reading "My Best Surf Session" »

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