The Cleanest Line

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    The In-Between

    by Zoe Hart

    Thanks to Patagonia Climbing Ambassador Zoe Hart for today's post. A recent trip from her new home (Chamonix) to her old one (New Jersey) triggered some thoughts on the directions life's paths take us. Her story originally appeared on the Dutch mountain travel site Bergwijzer. -Ed

    I woke this morning to my husband, Max, lamenting the snow that was falling outside our window. I’m legally blind without my glasses, but even without them, I could see fuzzy white saucers of snow falling in our back yard. Falling, no actually accumulating on the hedges! It’s supposed to be June, spring, birds, our garden growing, limestone climbing in the sun, sunny granite cracks up high. 

    P1000128

    Spring is SUPPOSED to bring rain for the neatly lined rows of tomatoes, lettuces, carrots that our eighty year-old neighbors meticulously plant, and care for, with the aid of a ski pole for balance. Spring is supposed to bring rain to nourish the little mountain flowers that grow besides the trails.  Flowers that will capture my eye for a moment on an approach to a big route, allowing me to forget the objectives that we are heading for and the nervous excited feeling of that twists in my belly.  Spring supposed to feed the wild berries that sprout in the bushes on the approach to limestone crags.  A sweet explosion of strawberries and raspberries plucked from the branches as we saunter to a crag.

    What I’m realizing though, is that there’s no supposed to in nature, and that there are a lot of in-betweens in our lives.

    [Topping out on a mixed route on Pointe Farrar, a day out in my backyard. Photo: Maxime Turgeon]

    Continue reading "The In-Between" »

    Postcard from Chamonix: Wedding Gifts

    by Kelly Cordes

    Kc - max zoe hotel IMG_0293

    “Just follow the scent of love and eternal commitment!” JT said.

    We were lost already. Or maybe not.

    “Yeah, c’mon! There’s booze!” Brittany chimed in.

    Zoe looked beautiful. And Maxime, what a handsome devil, fancy suit and all. And the ceremony? Short and sweet. (Ceremonies in France – at least if this was representative – are brief, and then you get to the important part: celebrating looooove!). Pretty vows, some nice words, then some papers – kind of like they were signing a car loan. Formalities finished, it was time to celebrate. To the reception, all aboaaarrrd!

    Editor's note: In the midst of our grief from losing Bean, Kelly Cordes lifts our hearts with a story about the joyful marriage of two Patagonia ambassadors: Zoe Hart and Maxime Turgeon. Congratulations Zoe and Max!

    We found our way to the Montenvers train station (I can’t recall how finding the train station in downtown Chamonix, just a few blocks from the wedding ceremony, became an issue…), had a drink, piled into train cars and started singing.

    [The happy newlyweds (that’s Max on the left, Zoe on the right) outside the Hotel. Photo: Kelly Cordes]

    Continue reading "Postcard from Chamonix: Wedding Gifts" »

    Girls Gone Wild Gypsy Van Chronicles—Part Two

    by Brittany Griffith

    Creek scenic

    As we barreled down I-70 headed for Moab, I suggested we try Ziji on King of Pain tower, which is part of the Bridger Jack formation at Indian Creek. I handed her the Mountain Project topo and her eyes lit up.

    “Four pitches long and only two pitches of 5.12!” She seemed relieved—it wasn’t nearly the amount of climbing as Moonlight, which meant we wouldn’t be as rushed and the route wasn’t going to be as continuous.

    Editor's note:Patagonia ambassador Brittany Griffith is back behind the wheel of Gypsy Van barreling down the road with Zoe Hart for Part Two of the Girls Gone Wild Chronicles. Be sure and read Part One first if you missed it.

    We started down the rough 4x4 road that led to the Bridger Jacks. There was a sweet campsite leading up to the towers, and I wanted it. Problem was, Gypsy Van wasn’t really built for 4x4’ing, but I had faith in her. I rolled her into a particularly steep, rocky section. Zoe clutched her armrest like an “oh-shit” bar, her eyes focused on the track ahead.

    “Are you sure?” she whispered, attempting to conceal her doubt of Gypsy’s prowess.

    “Yeah, maybe you should get out for this one, and make sure I don’t rip the propane tank off the bottom.” She jumped at the chance to get out and was quickly posted uphill to guide me through the gnarly section of rocks and sand that were the road.

    [The endless walls of Indian Creek at sunset. Photo: Zoe Hart]

    Continue reading "Girls Gone Wild Gypsy Van Chronicles—Part Two" »

    Girls Gone Wild Gypsy Van Chronicles—Part One

    by Brittany Griffith

    Zion campsite Like a father handing his teenage daughter the keys to the family car for the first time, JT worrisomely handed me Gypsy’s keys. Gypsy was the newest addition to our family, a big white 2010 Mercedes Benz Sprinter Van. I gently grabbed the keys while simultaneously executing the extremely athletic lunge required to get myself into the driver’s seat of the big rig. My good friend Zoe Hart was already seatbelted in the passenger’s seat, attempting, for Jonathan’s sake, to hide her enthusiasm.

    Editor's note: Patagonia ambassador Brittany Griffith shares the first of a two-part story with us today. Look forward to more from Brittany and her husband (and fellow Patagonia climbing ambassador), Jonathan Thesenga, in the near future.

    “Alright… no speeding, no texting, no drinking and no sketchy bivies at rest areas or truck stops,” JT sternly instructed me. “If anything goes wrong with the van, call me first. Don’t try to fix it on your own.”

    I felt bad for JT. This was Gypsy's first extended roadtrip and he had to stay behind to work his job at Black Diamond. He had spent the previous two-month's worth of evenings building out Gypsy from an empty panel van into a super-deluxe road trip machine, complete with recycled-denim insulation, stove, sink, fridge, queen-size bed, benches, folding table, cabinets, cupboards, ceiling fans, heater, cork paneling, bamboo and paperstone counter tops, and interior and exterior LED lighting. Gypsy was rad.

    I leaned out the window and kissed Jonathan goodbye, then backed Gypsy out of the driveway into late afternoon traffic. “Whooooo!!!!” We hollered and honked the horn, leaving behind a dispirited Jonathan and began our Girls-Gone-Wild Gypsy Van Road Trip.

    [Home sweet home: Brittany unloading the Gypsy Van. Photo: Zoe Hart]

    Continue reading "Girls Gone Wild Gypsy Van Chronicles—Part One" »

    In My Backyard

    by Zoe Hart

    As the days counted down to departure, I couldn't help but laugh. Max's normal organized nature, the mechanical engineer in him, had been affected by the chaotic nature in me, the eccentric literature major, turned mountain guide.

    There are two types of travelers/packers. The ones who make lists, pack a week in advance, weigh their bags to the exact weight limit, choose one shirt over the other (not both), have their itineraries printed, and show up to the airport two hours in advance. The other is me! I'm one of the types who pack the night before and is up until 2am doing laundry, packing, repacking, battling with zippers to squeeze in that cute extra shirt, town shoes, and skirt -- just in case. I am chronically over-limit, desperately smiling at the check-in agent hoping not to pay a fortune. It's my bag exploding on the scale; underpants, sports bras flying, until the airline agent is sufficiently embarrassed, or annoyed, and says, "don't worry about it, that's good enough." That's me up at the wrong ticket desk because I didn't bring the flight info, or arrived just in time before the check-in closes.

    Continue reading "In My Backyard" »

    Zoe Hart Becomes Fourth American Woman to Earn IFMGA Mountain Guide Credential

    Zoe_hart_patagonia_2_2 A big CONGRATULATIONS goes out to Patagonia Ambassador Zoe Hart who just passed her Ski Mountaineering Guide’s exam to earn her IFMGA mountain guide credential! This makes Zoe the fourth American woman to earn her IFMGA, or International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations, status. This is the highest level of credential available by a professional mountain guide anywhere in the world and is recognized in over 20 IFMGA member countries.

    [Zoe Hart tapes up on St. Exupery, Patagonia, Argentina. Photo: Maxime Turgeon.]

    As some of you may know, since 1997 it has been possible for American guides to earn their international certification through the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). At this point in time there are approximately fifty American IFMGA guides in the country. To accomplish this, one must take a series of courses and pass three exams: Rock Guide, Alpine Guide, and Ski-Mountaineering Guide. Additional courses are required as well, including Wilderness First Responder and an American Level 3 Avalanche certificate. To put this in perspective each course and each exam lasts between 7 and 14 days, and you are required to have a certain number of guiding days between each course and exam! This is a long, arduous, and often expensive process of educational courses culminating in certification exams.

    Patagonia is a benefactor partner and has long been a big supporter of the AMGA’s mission.

    [Editor's note: Steve House was the seventh American to earn an IFMGA pin, way back in 1999, and was a former director of the AMGA's Alpine Guide program. "Pin" refers to a highly coveted cast-pewter pin IFMGA guides traditionally wear to identify themselves to fellow mountain guides. The only American women to earn IFMGA pins are Kathy Cosley, Margaret Wheeler, Olivia Cussen and, now, Zoe Hart. Way to go Zoe!]

    Christmas Cracks and Kisses

    by Zoe Hart

    On_belay_2 I think that Christmas changes lots over time. From the days as a little kid, opening each door of an advent calendar, and leaving chocolate chip cookies (which my mom definitely ate!!) and carrots for Santa and his reindeer to keep him going to each good little boy's and girl's house delivering treats, writing Christmas wish lists, hanging lights, and spending time with family and friends (this year I sadly didn't get to ring in Christmas with my family, but I carried them in spirit on Christmas day, and thank them for their support, encouragement and understanding of all of my adventures) to what we dream of as young adults.

    [Belaying Kirsten Kremer on Christmas Eve. St. Exupery, Patagonia, Argentina. Photo: Maxime Turgeon.]

    Santa did show up this year though. I guess I was a good enough girl not to get coal, or, in Patagonia, it would be storms. My letter to Santa wished for sunshine, clear skies, beautiful hand cracks, granite spires, and a summit with some of my favorite people. It all came true. A week of rain and grey skies parted just before Christmas. We packed our bags and headed the seven hours back up the trail to high camp, Maxime, Kirsten Kremer and myself. The day was sunny and clear, a bit windy, but nice by Patagonian standards. We made it to camp around 3pm, set up tents, packed our bags and hoped the forecast was right.

    Continue reading "Christmas Cracks and Kisses" »

    Early Season Ice

    by Zoe Hart

    Zoe_saphire_bullets_107 The fall begins to bring grey weather, and we endorphin junkies and fresh-air addicts begin to get itchy. Trapped indoors as the rock gets desperately cold on the finger tips, the sun begins to hibernate, and there is not enough snow to strap toys to our feet. So we start pulling on plastic or hanging upside down from dry tooling crags with huge aspirations of climbing HARD this winter.

    Whispers float through the valley. It does not matter if that valley is Canmore's Bow Valley, or the Ouray's San Juans, or the Alps' Chamonix Valley. It is like the childhood game of telephone. The keeners rise early, scraping frost from the dashboards, sipping coffee en route to the crag, juggling butterflies of excitement and nervousness at the first day of swinging tools. Keenness and ambition often outweigh reason, and long approaches are made for thin slivers of ice, half-formed routes, and unprotectable climbs. More often than not, the day is spent making a long drive and approach to scare the crap out of yourself on one pitch, and then to boldly back off and walk away blaming it on the conditions.

    [Zoe Hart, January 2007, back on the ice the day after getting her cast off. Photo: Maxime Turgeon]

    Continue reading "Early Season Ice" »

    Chasing Glaciers Update

    A lot has happened since we first told you about the Chasing Glaciers project featuring Patagonia ambassadors Alison Gannett and Zoe Hart. Zoe injured her ankle pretty early in the trip but she healed well enough for the team to successfully make the first female ski descent of Mt. Workman. Congratulations to Alison and Zoe for this accomplishment and for helping to spread the word about global warming.

    There was however a very scary time after summit/descent day. The trip’s photographer, Bill Stevenson, became separated from the team and had to spend the night on the glacier, under a rock, in not much more than his Retro-X fleece. The team had no idea where he was or if he was okay. Watch this video to see how it all turned out. Then head over to chasingglaciers.com and get caught up on all the videos from the trip -- click “Expedition Videos” in the left nav to access the archive.

    One Percent for the Planet
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