Patagonia September 2019

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Today the park is declared but not developed ... so it remains mostly wild.

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38 New Mexicans are tough on egos and quick to share beers, and the climbing is bold but joyful.




When you bring in the good guys, the bad guys go away.




When marching makes more sense than gym class.

Activism 06 Whose Future? Our Future. 16 Not Another Pipeline Climb 20 Kraftwerk 30 R1® TechFace Jacket 34 The Red Book 38 Nano-Air® Hoody 40 Roy




50 Running to the Bottom of the World 57 Houdini® Air Jacket 58 FFFKT 69 Endless Run Tights Mountain Bike 74 What Good Neighbors Do 84 Nine Trails Waist Pack 8L 89 Capilene® Midweight Bike Jersey Sportswear 92 For the Love of Fleece 94 Market Tote 96 Sunnyside Up 100 Boys’ Fjord Flannel Shirt Just One More 102 Tommy Caldwell Previous: Sierra Robinson, member of Earth Guardians, gets the crowd riled up at a youth climate strike in Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, on May 17, 2019. Jeremy Koreski Next: Youth protest in Italy. Stefano Guidi 05



Whose Future? Our Future.

DORA ROQUE T T E 16, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Earth Uprising In Brazil we have the Amazon forest—​​ the richest in the world. Our president, Jair Bolsonaro, now wants to combine the agriculture and environmental ministries into one. But one destroys and one protects. Since his election, illegal deforestation has gone up. If the Amazon forest is gone, the entire world will suffer. Photo: Bruno Machado

Translation: If you’re not going to act like adults, we will.

When marching makes more sense than gym class. BY M A DA L I N A P R E DA

There’s something undeniably cute about kids

border of Germany and Poland. Watching these

down London during rush hour several times this

protesting. They paint their signs—and faces—in

kids, I wondered once again if their message

spring. We were talking about climate grief, and

primary colors, add some glitter. They smile and

would get through. We already know all we need

how many of the kids her age are coping with anx-

laugh as they huddle for selfies. Yet if they seem

to know, and we’ve known it for a long time.

iety at the thought of a climate breakdown.

playful, they’re also serious. The millions of young

The year I was born, 1988, Dr. James E.

“We’re too young to go,” she added. “There is

women and men who’ve taken to the streets in

Hansen, a top NASA scientist, testified in the

still fire in us and I think we can do it. I wouldn’t be

the last year know that their generation has been

Senate that he was 99 percent certain that global

doing this if I didn’t think we could do it.”

dealt a losing hand, and that the grown-ups are

warming was happening and that it was caused

Earlier this year, as the youth strikes reached a

dropping the ball.

by humans. In his testimony, Dr. Hansen said the

peak, the UK and Irish governments became the

“The basic problem is that basically nothing

greenhouse effect was making extreme weather

first two countries to declare a climate emergency.

is being done to halt—or even slow—climate and

events like heat waves and droughts more fre-

The European Parliament elections this spring saw

ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful

quent and intense. In a post-testimony New York

the highest voter turnout in decades and Green

words and promises,” Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-

Times interview, he said, “It is time to stop waffling

parties won more seats than ever before.

old Swedish activist, told the Houses of Parliament

so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong

in the UK in April. “This ongoing irresponsible

that the greenhouse effect is here.”

behavior will no doubt be remembered in history

“With action comes hope,” says 16-year-old Saoi O’Connor from Ireland. “We are feeling more

We did way worse than waffling. As oil com-

hopeful than we’ve been in a long time. We talk

panies like ExxonMobil poured millions into dis-

about tipping points a lot with climate change.

Inspired by the Parkland, Florida, students

information campaigns to sow doubt about the

People are saying 11 years, 5 years … We don’t

who walked out of class to protest gun violence

urgency of the crisis, we pumped more carbon

know when exactly we won’t be able to go back.

in March 2018, Thunberg first went on strike from

emissions into the atmosphere, trapping more

But I think we’re hitting a social tipping point.

school in August of the same year. She was soon

heat in the atmosphere and contributing to

People are beginning to see it’s the biggest issue

followed by more and more students worldwide

deadly heat waves, devastating hurricanes and

of our time.”

who started striking from school every Friday.

an endless fire season in the American West.

At Patagonia, our school-skipping days are

By March 15, 2019, more than a million school-

This May, an instrument located on a volcano in

mostly behind us (and, if we’re honest, we mostly

children from over 100 countries played hooky

Hawai‘i recorded the average level of carbon

cut class for a strong swell). But we’re inspired by

during a global day of strikes.

dioxide in our atmosphere at 415 parts per mil-

the #fridaysforfuture protests, and the global mobi-

I spent that day in New York City with middle-

lion, the highest it’s ever been in human history

lization of youth around climate. We also believe it

and high-school students as they went from the

and well beyond the threshold of the 350 ppm

shouldn’t fall on them to do our homework for us.

United Nations headquarters to city hall to the

considered safe. Within days of that reading, we

There are many reasons we’ve failed as a soci-

American Museum of Natural History in hopes

also learned that at least one million species are at

ety to respond well enough to the climate crisis,

that they’d be heard. If you aren’t old enough to

risk of extinction because of human activity, which

including some—irrational exuberance—that have

vote and you don’t want to be left with an unin-

is bad news for humans, too.

served us well at other times. The luckier amongst

as one of the greatest failures of humankind.”

habitable planet, marching makes more sense

The kids lying “dead” in front of the UN read

than gym class. “School won’t matter in the future

this news, too, and have taken it to heart. Why

ronment, and are happy to keep riding the wave

if we’re too busy running from extreme weather

hasn’t everyone?

of denial. If these kids show us one thing, though,

events,” said Alexandria Villaseñor, one of the organizers of the school strikes in NYC. During the strike, I watched as kids anxiously took their places in front of the UN, holding up

us look around and see a stable, temperate envi-

As I watched them, I realized, too, that they

it’s that it’s not too late to change. We can start

weren’t just making a statement; these kids were

small, simply by showing up. Looking for moti-

showing us how to cope, by finding each other

vation? Look to them. And on September 27, on

and sticking together.

the anniversary of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring,

signs like YOLO (You Only Live Once) with an

“When someone dies young, you think they

join people of all ages for a global Earth Strike. As

image of Earth as the first O. When one of the kids

went too early,” says 15-year-old Shifra Morris-​

Greta Thunberg said after Scotland’s prime min-

gave a signal, they all lay down on the ground in

Evans, when we spoke later, in May. “That’s how

silence—a “die-in”—and a warning that the climate

we feel about our planet.”

crisis could shorten their lives. As they lay there,

Morris-Evans is a member of XR Youth, the

I recalled my first die-in against the expansion of

youth arm of Extinction Rebellion, a European

a strip mine, in 2014, in Lusatia, an area on the

protest group (and Patagonia grantee) that shut

ister declared a climate emergency back in April, “Activism works. So act.”

Madalina Preda is an activist and the editor for environment at Patagonia.


SI ERRA RO BI N SO N 16, Vancouver Island, Canada Earth Guardians, Permaculture teacher

Every time we turn on the TV, we hear stories of climate change disasters or kids being shot in schools. Some days I am terrified and scared, but when I’m standing with a group of other people who care just as much as I do, it’s a celebration. When I was 14, I became a certified permaculture designer and I’ve been teaching regenerative design practices in elementary schools and universities. We’re building a food forest in a school in my community on Vancouver Island, which experiences poor food security. We are teaching kids of all ages about regenerative farming. We work together, listen to awesome music, work our shovels, work the soil and we love it. It’s so much fun! There are many things we can do to spark change. Find your own place. If you are an artist, paint a picture of what you wish to see. If you are a musician, write a song about it. Find a way to bring activism into what you like to do. Photo: Jeremy Koreski

A N I CA RENNER 15, Melbourne, Australia School Strike for Climate Australia

We are at an age when we are still figuring things out. Our bodies and personalities are changing. We are grappling with our identity. We have school. We are figuring out how we fit in the world and with our friends and our families. Our hormones are all over the place. If, on top of all of that, you’re also experiencing the effects of climate change, it’s all too much to deal with. This January was the hottest month on record in Australia. In February, Tasmania experienced multiple bush fires. My friends there couldn’t go to school for weeks because the fires were too dangerous. We’re striking from school and sacrificing our education because if we don’t act now, climate change will prevent us from going to school for much longer than one day a week. The youth won’t go away until politicians start putting people’s interests first and we know our futures are safe. Photo: Julian Meehan


I SR A H IR S I 16, Minneapolis, Minnesota Youth Climate Strike US It’s important to talk about the amount of low-​income, people of color who are affected by climate change. The numbers are drastic, and I don’t think people care. That’s one of the bigger problems. It’s important to protest, but our responsibility doesn’t end there. We have to make sure more people take action and, if they’re eligible to vote, vote for the right people. Photo: Matt Eich

ALEXA NDRI A V I LL ASEÑ O R 14, New York City Earth Uprising, Fridays For Future During our first global day of strike on March 15, it felt like we were patted on the head. Media were sharing cute pictures of kids, instead of talking about why we are striking and what we are asking for. The same thing is happening with fossil fuel industries: It’s all for profit. But the climate crisis is real, it’s not for clickbait. I started an organization called Earth Uprising, focusing on climate education to mobilize students to take direct action. We want to bring climate change into the school curriculum and encourage peer-topeer education. I am working on building a global youth council with ambassadors from every country—we have about 50 right now—who will build the movement in their communities and hold their countries accountable for their commitments in the Paris Agreement. We need adults to help us. We are leading the movement, but we need adult allies. Protect us, advocate for us, keep us safe, and support us financially. Photo: Joel Caldwell

SHIFRA MORRIS-EVANS XR Youth is a rebellion and young people like that. It’s a positive way to channel the attitude “I don’t want to do what people tell me to.” There are parties and dancing and it’s fun. We are not about disrupting people and making individual people aware. It’s more about disrupting the running of the country so that governments care. One of the climate strikes’ asks in the UK is to lower the voting age to 16. I can’t vote and I feel very underrepresented. I wish on behalf of all youth

16, London, United Kingdom XR (Extinction Rebellion) Youth

that our voices as young people are respected and heard. XR Youth doesn’t advocate for lifestyle choices. It’s great if you make them, and you should do so as much as you can. For example, I don’t fly, but if you must, I won’t judge you. If you can, join a regional XR group in your part of the world. If there isn’t a regional group, look for a school strike. If you are feeling brave, start your own regional group. It can be a few friends

getting coffee, talking about climate, and then it grows to 200 people gluing themselves to a senate building. Learn more about how to join XR Youth at Photo: Talia Woodin

NIZGUI G OMEZ 16, Los Angeles, California Communities for a Better Environment The air in Wilmington is dirty. When visitors come to this town near the Port of Los Angeles, they say it smells like rotten eggs. But many of us can’t even smell it anymore because we’re used to it. It’s weird that they can smell it, but we can’t. It’s scary, too. Our bodies shouldn’t be used to this. It makes me wonder what else aren’t we noticing that is affecting us? Low-income communities are being pushed aside, while the more affluent neighborhoods are getting clean energy first. They have green buses and other green initiatives, which is great, but our community needs clean energy more because we are being directly impacted by these oil refineries. We don’t want people from the outside to take over. Support us, donate to our organization, give a helping hand but take a step back. We are a community, and we know what’s best for our community. Nizgui Gomez (left) and fellow CBE activist, Isabel Alvarenga (right). Photo: Michael A. Estrada Coming this winter, a short documentary featuring the young women of Communities for a Better Environment and their frontline battle against oil drilling in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles.


JA M I E MA R GO L I N 17, Seattle, Washington Zero Hour We are the most diverse generation. We understand more than any other generation that we are growing up in a world where racial justice is part of the problem. We’re not trying to impose our ideas on communities. We don’t have a status quo that we need to protect. We listen to communities who are saying climate change is a human rights issue. Photo: Tilly Yama

SAO I O’CO N N O R 16, Cork, Ireland Fridays for Future, Ireland Every Friday I strike from school holding up a sign that says, “The emperor has no clothes.” It’s in reference to a fairy tale in which a lot of adults are pretending something isn’t happening, until a young person calls it out and everybody wakes up to the reality that was right in front of them. What we youth want is for politicians to listen to the scientists. We don’t have the answers, but they do. World leaders have access to all these leading experts who can give them solutions, but they fear changing their ways. The reality of climate change is scary. The easy reaction we’re seeing from world leaders is to turn away. That it can’t be real. I understand why they are scared, but they need to do something; otherwise, we will elect other politicians who will. Photo: Shamim Malekmian


Not Another Pipeline

Thirteen youth climate activists are taking to the courts to protect the Mississippi River and the people who depend on it for survival. BY L I S S E T F U N

Brent Murcia crosses the lively Mississippi

This crisis doesn’t affect everyone the

River every day by bridge on his walk to

same, either. Power Shift Network is try-

class at the University of Minnesota in

ing to stop climate change by involving

Minneapolis. The sunset sometimes paints its

youth in direct efforts to stop these fossil

gray murky waters a dusty pink, mirroring the

fuel projects—especially the youth from

clouds, and birds soar overhead. On a good

the communities of color or low-income

day, Brent might spot a bald eagle gliding

communities hit first and worst by the

by. The river means a lot to the 24-year-old.

climate crisis.

And for good reason: He relies on it for drink-

After all, this movement needs represen-

ing water. So do another 18 million people.

tation. According to an independent report,

His appreciation for the river—his

293 environmental groups surveyed in 2014

dependence on it—is, in part, why the col-

saw staff or boards that were no less than

lege student is now in court. He’s one of 13

84 percent white. That’s despite the fact that

youth intervenors challenging the legality of

nonwhite people care even more than white

Line 3, a pipeline project that would pump

people. Survey after survey shows this. As

760,000 barrels of oil sands from the fields

far back as 2003, a national study from the

of Alberta, Canada, under the longest river

University of Michigan found that black

in the US, all the way to a terminal near Lake

people were more likely to eat less meat

Superior. They’re the first group of young

or drive less—both environmentally friendly

people to intervene in a lawsuit over a

behaviors. As recent as 2017, the Yale Pro-

pipeline project—​and all with the support

gram on Climate Change Communication

of Power Shift Network, a national environ-

found that more Latinos believe climate

mental coalition dedicated to mobilizing

change is real than non-Latinos, and they’re

the collective power of young people. They

more worried about it, too.

help bring individuals together to work

That’s often because they know harmful

with membership organizations, effectively

environments more intimately: Blacks and

developing leadership skills through one-

Hispanics bear a disproportionate burden

on-one mentorship.

of air pollution that comes from white com-

What these youth intervenors want is simple: They want a future.

munities, according to a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sci-

The intervenors, all younger than 25, are

ences, published earlier this year. People of

doing what they can to stop climate change,

color also are exposed to more pollution

which is a direct result of the extraction, pro-

from cars, trucks and—you got it—power

duction and consumption of fossil fuels like

plants. These power plants (often refining

oil sands, notoriously known as tar sands.

the junk that travels through these oil and

Fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases like car-

gas pipelines) spew dangerous particulate

bon dioxide and methane, which are the

matter that can lodge itself in a person’s

culprits behind the climate crisis.

lungs or heart when inhaled.

And well, this 1,031-mile long pipeline

these fields; they require a boat. Their tall

college students and recent grads just spent

would carry some of the dirtiest fuel in the

grasses grow out of lakes and are tucked in

two years going toe-to-toe with the legal

world. Extracting the oil from Alberta’s

the north-central—and really wet—part of the

muscle of the fossil fuel industry.”

apocalyptic oil fields requires more energy

state where they attract the hungry beaks

As the case moves through the courts,

than other lighter oils, according to the

of the emerald green-necked mallard and

they’ve hired legal counsel from the Univer-

Canadian government. This energy source

Canadian geese. The Great Lakes tribes, col-

sity of Minnesota’s Environment and Energy

is also harder on air quality, spewing aero-

lectively called the Anishinaabe people, eat

Law Clinic to represent them. The coolest

sols into the air where it’s mined. Oil sands

this rice as a traditional food. Wild rice is a

part? Their attorneys are no older than 26.

are serious biz; that’s why Power Shift

part of their identity and culture.

The courts are proving effective in

Network is focusing its resources on crude

Youth climate intervenor Nina Berglund

delaying another crude oil pipeline: the

oil pipelines. There’s the highly controversial

would know. The 19-year-old is Northern

Keystone XL Pipeline. A federal district court

Keystone XL Pipeline, the Trans Mountain

Cheyenne and Oglala Lakota and grew up

judge paused it last year due to the State

Pipeline in Canada and, of course, Line 3.

eating wild rice in Minnesota.

Department’s failure to measure its poten-

“Stopping the flow of specifically tar

“They’re trying to destroy us because

tial impacts on climate change—a Federal

sands oil out of Alberta, Canada, is, to me,

without clean drinking water, you can’t sur-

law mandate, not an environmental law

one of the most direct and tangible ways to

vive,” she said. “You can’t drink water if the

legal tactic. President Donald Trump, how-

confront the climate crisis at the scale we

oil’s in it. We can’t eat wild rice if that oil’s

ever, issued a presidential permit in March

need to,” says Akilah Sanders-Reed, a youth

in it. We can’t hunt and fish like we could

attempting to void the court ruling, and the

climate intervenor and the oil-free organizer

if there’s oil contaminating these lands and

legality of that will likely wind up back in

for Power Shift Network.

the waters.”

the courts.

While Keystone and Trans Mountain

Nina has been an activist since she was

Young people can’t afford for things to

would be brand-spanking new, Line 3 would

14 and quickly found her place among envi-

get worse. That’s why Power Shift Network

replace a nearly 60-year-old line in need of

ronmentalists in 2016 during the Native

exists. These young people need people to

repair. Here’s the issue: The plan is to just abandon the old pipe in the ground, which the environmental impact statement says could potentially contaminate the soil and water as it ages. Plus, the route’s changing— and this time, oil would be running beneath the Mississippi River, twice.

“You can’t drink water if the oil’s in it.”

So not only would this project exacerbate the current climate crisis by keeping the world tied to greenhouse gas-emitting

American resistance, led by the Standing

support and guide them. At the end of the

fossil fuels; it also poses a potential threat

Rock Sioux Tribe, to stop the Dakota Access

day, this fight is a personal one. The youth

to a major waterway—and the homelands of

Pipeline in North Dakota.

will have to lead themselves.

Minnesota’s indigenous people.

Now, she’s upgraded to challenging the

That’s why they’re in the courts—to set

While the pipeline would avoid cutting

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for

an example for their peers and ensure them

through tribal reservations, unlike the exist-

granting Enbridge (the Canadian energy

all a future: a habitable planet with clean air

ing line that passes through, the new one

transport company) a key certificate for this

and safe drinking water. They won’t take no

would still be within 5 miles of the Fond du

pipeline. The legal journey began in July

for an answer.

Lac Reservation and 3 miles of the White

2017, and it could drag on well past the fall.

Earth Reservation, as the project’s environ-

The youth themselves handled all their

Lisset Fun is an environmental journalist

mental impact statement notes. That’s still a

legal writing, witness designations and cross-​

based in New York. A Latina, she regularly

few miles too close.

examinations. In the courtroom, these young

covers issues around the environment

Many vocal Native American oppo-

people were not just kids. They were experts.

and race.

nents to the pipeline also worry about their

“We really know the legal record on

sacred wild rice fields, for which Minnesota

this inside and out,” Brent said. “It’s really

is famous. But no one can walk through

powerful that a group of high school and



Kraftwerk Alex Megos could be the best climber in the world … if he learns how to fail WO R D S BY A L E X LOW T H E R P H OTO S BY K E N E T Z E L


Alex Megos is driving his aging Volkswagen down the curvy roads that thread the valleys of the Frankenjura. It’s June in rural Bavaria, where rolling green meets broad blue. The pavement reveals an occasional storybook village arrayed around a church steeple. Alex has made this hour-long trip, from his parents’ house to the crag, more than a thousand times. The windows are down. Taylor Swif t’s infectious, by-now dated single “Shake It Off” is turned up loud on the stereo. What Alex is doing along to it, at great volume and with great enthusiasm, could graciously be called singing. He knows the words by heart, as he does with most of her hits. He only started “listening to music” a couple of years ago, but she’s his favorite artist and he has an apparent

schoolboy crush on her. He daydreams about taking her climbing one day. “I mean, she might have fun,” he says. ”We could sing a bit in the car. She could help me out with the lyrics. Sometimes I don’t get what she says because she’s mumbling a bit so I could ask her, ‘What was that line again, Taylor? Could you repeat that a bit slower, Taylor? Thank you very much, Taylor.’” The plan today is to film Alex on a historic route called Wallstreet, which was the world’s first 5.14b (8c). The climb was put up by local hero Wolfgang Güllich in 1987 and marked the midpoint of a nine-year period during which Güllich personally expanded the boundaries of climbing difficulty four orders of magnitude, largely here in the Frankenjura. It was a pattern of progress driven primarily

Above: Alex takes a break from training. A poster of the legendary Wolfgang Güllich on Action Directe keeps watch. Erlangen, Germany. Previous: Alex sticks the iconic crux move—a dead point off a right-hand mono to a terrible pinch—on the FA of Perfecto Mundo, one of the hardest routes in the world.

by one person, likely unmatched in the sport’s history. And it might have continued, had it not been stopped short by his tragic death in a car accident in 1992. Alex, now 26, was 17 the first time he did Wallstreet, and he’s repeated it several times since. It’s not important that he properly redpoint the route for the camera today. We’re working on a film project with him, and the idea is to show Güllich’s legacy of hard climbing in the Frankenjura. Alex idolizes Güllich and, as a proud Frankenjura local currently considered among the best climbers in the world, he is the apparent heir to his legacy. Alex recognizes this and has, to some extent, made himself in Güllich’s image. But today he has nothing to prove, least of all to the film crew. All he really needs to do is string a

few moves together at a time. Low pressure, times. “I don’t have it,” he says. “I’m too weak.” low expectations. Alex gets quiet. The scene gets quiet. In his The crux of Wallstreet breaks down to six mind, he should be able to crush this route moves between minuscule holds on a bulge at without a second thought. It’s only 8c. He sits the top of the 55-foot route. As Alex gets to the in his harness, limp, shoulders slumped, starcrux, things start to go wrong. When he falls ing at the skin of his fingertips between efforts. off the second move, he reacts almost quizzi- “I’m just such a piece of shit,” he says, almost cally. “Huh. Well. That didn’t feel good.” The under his breath. air in the woods is still, humid and, despite the Most climbers would chalk this up to bad canopy’s shade, a bit warm—all bad signs for a conditions. Publicly, Alex has never blamed climber looking to pull a long way between the anything but his own weakness for failures. route’s small, slick pockets and edges. Starting In the time I spent with him for this story, he from the beginning of the crux, he keeps try- never made any excuses privately either. “If it’s ing. He’s making long, static reaches to holds, too hot, too humid, the holds are wet, whatbarely catching them and then futzing with ever. If you’re strong enough, the route is still placement of fingertips for a long time before climbable,” he says. “There are no excuses.” groaning in frustration, trying to adjust his feet His climbing gets worse. He decides to go and then just letting go. This happens several to the ground. A second try after some rest 21

doesn’t go any better. He’s done. He packs H e’s in a b e t ter m o o d t han ye s terquickly and leaves alone, making a dark joke day. “Yesterday was a fuckin’ bastard,” he when I bid him a safe drive on the Autobahn: says, taking a sip of tea. His English has a “Don’t worry about me. Only strong climb- g-​dropping Yorkshire twang picked up from ers die in car accidents in the Frankenjura.” spending lots of time climbing in Sheffield; He heads for the gym where he trains for the Teutonic undertones are negligible. I ask three hours before heading home. how he slept. He says, as if it were mechanical, After he leaves, Ken Etzel and I make eye “Fine, yes. I fell asleep. I dreamed about the contact. Ken is directing the film. The look on route. I woke up. Ready to train again.” I ask my face must have said, “What was that?” Ken which route he dreamed about. I assume he replies with raised eyebrows and a quarter-​ means Wallstreet or his big project at Céüse, shrug of admission. At this point, he’s spent France, which is where we were supposed nearly four months living with Alex and filming to be days ago. But his answer surprises me: him, and he’s been friends with him for years. “Perfecto Mundo.” He’s been present for some of Alex’s proudest Alex made the first ascent of Perfecto moments, and also for some of his lowest. Ken Mundo in May of 2018. It was his hardest rock says it boils down to this, “[Alex] just puts so climb so far and likely the second-​h ardest much pressure on himself. His ultimate goal is bit of roped climbing ever done (after Adam that he wants to become the best climber in Ondra’s route Silence), clocking in at the astrothe world. That’s it. And right now, anything nomical grade of 5.15c. But most significantly, else will be failure. And that’s not acceptable.” at three weeks’ worth of trying, it was his long­ In terms of finger-​s trength-to-weight ratio, est successful project to date—a monumental Alex is perhaps the strongest rock climber in achievement considering some climbers will the world. But he isn’t the best. “Strongest” is labor for years over one route. relatively absolute. “Best” in climbing is more Projects where the outcome is uncertain complicated. It involves innovation and consis- contain an idiosyncratic cocktail of elements. tency of performance over time, and it means Over time, they turn into sieges against the pushing difficulty into dimensions the sport dissolution of belief, periods of regression hasn’t known before. Generally speaking, this and downright depression. They turn into involves lots and lots of failure over long peri- anxious offensives against ticking seasonal ods of time, something Güllich was familiar or trip or life clocks. They’re a real and true with. Russ Clune, an American climbing patri- mindfuck that comes to a head every time you arch who was good friends with Güllich during tie in to try the thing once again. his golden decade, says, “Wolfgang took This dire situation is then exacerbated failure in stride, like anybody who’s going to by the peculiar economics of rock climbing accomplish something difficult—​it’s a road just where, if you haven’t redpointed the thing— littered with failures. And that’s what makes haven’t climbed to the top without falling the great climbers. They don’t get beat down off—then it doesn’t matter how many times by failure. It spurs them to do better.” you’ve almost done it, or how many times you’ve tried it, or that you know the whole The next morning Alex is eating a leisurely climb with an intimacy usually reserved for breakfast in his parents’ backyard, just outside the nether regions of lovers. You might as of the prosperous university town of Erlangen, well have never touched it. There’s no grey near Nürnberg. Alex wears a loud yellow area. Failure is total unless there is success. Hawaiian shirt clashing unabashedly with flowThis all-or-nothing equation makes proered, bright-red boardshorts. Proportionally jecting, which is such a fundamental part of very skinny legs protrude from the shorts. Zero difficult rock climbing, a forbidding prospect of the shirt’s buttons are buttoned. The gap in for a climber whose relationship with failure is the shirt displays a hairless torso strapped with as historically troubled as Alex’s. He continues the kind of striated muscle that brings to mind to struggle with it today. “I hate failure,” he a medical illustration. Breakfast is tea (never told me. “I fuckin’ hate it.” coffee) and a tub of thick yogurt mixed with a Perfecto Mundo, it seemed, marked a fastidious assortment of plant-based protein turning point—a sign that Alex could face powders, which he eats straight from the carton. down the specter of failure, that he could


put sustained effort into a route and get far enough out of his own way to eventually clip the anchors on something properly difficult. It was exciting. I talked to him on the phone the day he did Perfecto Mundo. He said, “I don’t want to sound arrogant, but this is the first hard route I’ve done—in a way this marks the beginning of climbing hard for me, I think.” This remark raises some big questions: If it took only three weeks to do 5.15c (9b+), how hard could he climb given three months? What about three years? If 5.15c marks the beginning of hard climbing, where can he end up? Where is he expecting to end up? On the other hand, if three weeks of projecting has left him hungover—still dreaming about the route and avoiding taking on his next big goal—would he be able to persevere through a years-long project? Up to this point, doing routes quickly was probably the most notable thing about Alex. It’s what made him famous. Completing a route onsight is the opposite of a longterm project. It’s walking up to a route with no prior knowledge, maybe checking it out from the ground, and then tying in and doing it. Onsighting something difficult signifies a level of mastery, and it’s a hallowed designation. It’s also what made Alex a household name when he made the world’s first onsight of 5.14d (9a) in 2013. It was his specialty from a young age, largely thanks to his competition background, which places priority on doing routes correctly first try. (Climbing competition routes are set with increasing difficulty; essentially the winner is the person who gets the highest on their first try.) Alex started competing shortly after his father (who learned to climb in a university program from Güllich) taught him how to climb at age 5. At 8, he was winning local youth competitions. At 13, he was part of a regional youth team, which is where he met the two men who still coach him today, Dicki Korb and Patrick Matros. Dicki is 53, with a perfectly shaved head, a strong German accent and a penchant for aggressively colorful clothing. (This, I suspect, is where Alex gets it—the flowery jams, the ever-present yellow T-shirt; at one point Dicki espoused his aesthetic by cribbing dualsport legend Neon Deion Sanders’ line and

Projects where the outcome is uncertain contain an idiosyncratic cocktail of elements. Over time, they turn into sieges against the dissolution of belief ...

Alex records every route he climbs that’s 8a or harder, a list that numbers in the thousands at that grade. Here he documents his FA of Perfecto Mundo, shortly after sending.


Above: Alex takes a lap on Biographie, the first 5.15 in the world, which he did in three tries several years earlier. Céüse, France. Previous: He may be one of the best rock climbers in the world, but Alex still appreciates the dirtbag culture of climbing—case in point, waking up in the rain at a closed gas station on the way to Céüse, France.

twisting it to fit, “Look good, feel good, climb good.”) Dicki watched Alex climb the day they met. “Really fast, we saw a prodigy standing there with his big shoes. Compared to the other kids—they were good—he was something completely different.” This quiet, elfin kid, tow-headed and blue-eyed, who always asked for the music in the van to be turned down, Dicki says, never got pumped. “It was like, okay, we have to take care of this guy.” Alex never wanted to rest, and he never wanted climbing days to end. “My psyche level was 10 out of 10,” he says about his early days. “All I wanted to do was go out on rock every day. I would go home at lunch and pack my backpack. After school I wouldn’t even go inside. I would open the door and throw in my schoolbag, take my climbing pack and then I was off on my bike to go catch the train to go climbing.” He did that for years. Dicki’s main task was slowing Alex down, to have him build


his base so the tendons and joints could keep up with his muscle growth. “Alex’s gift is his motivation,” he says. “It’s an intrinsic motivation.” He reenacted a scene explaining to Alex what a rest day was. “No, Alex, no. This is a rest day. ‘What?’ A rest day. ‘What is a rest day?’ A rest day is when you don’t climb. ‘What? No!’ He doesn’t want to hear this.” Alex was walking the forests of the Frankenjura, following in Güllich’s spandex steps, ferreting out hard, somewhat forgot ten routes, while the other kids were in padded gyms grabbing all the lime-green holds in a row. “This gives a lot of different impressions of different kinds of movements,” his father Jorgos says. “It’s like a library in his head, and he has thousands of different ways of moving on the wall. And in competitions, he just has to take the right book off the shelf.” When he started competing as a kid at the Europe-wide level, Alex dominated. Two

years in a row he won the European youth championship, despite the presence of the young Czech juggernaut Adam Ondra, who is the same age. Between 2009 and 2010, he won nine out of ten European Youth Cups, which nobody had done before or has done since. This kind of success fed his obsession with climbing, his motivation and also his expectations, which were simple: Win. “As a child he knew he was having this feeling of being good, being exceptional,” his father says. “And in the meantime he had so many successes, and this gives him proof to himself that he is on the right way.” But being a prodigy has its drawbacks. Alex’s’ parents said they used to be nervous watching him in competitions as a kid, not because they had high expectations of him or were anxious on his behalf, but because if he didn’t win it would put Alex in a foul mood for days. “He just wouldn’t speak,” his mother,

Anna, says. They could do nothing about it. he subscribes to a consistent solution: Banish “It was like a sickness.” weakness. Get stronger. One of Güllich’s most The day after Alex told me he was still dreamAt age 18, when he went from competing famous lines after all was, “There’s no such ing about Perfecto Mundo, we are still in in the Youth division to climbing against ex- thing as too much power.” Erlangen waiting, nominally at least, for the perienced adults, he stopped winning—often Alex figured out where the first bolt was, weather to clear at Céüse, France, where Alex failing to make finals. He took the defeats put his shoes on and set off from the ground, was supposed to be working on his project. hard. He stopped competing for years after. not sure which of the two routes he would finish. In the meantime, he trains. Alex trains mostly Some people speculated that he’d burned “I got to the point where the route splits, and I by himself, frequently two sessions per day— out on the competition scene. Others said he was actually considering just, you know, taking one at the gym in Nürnberg that’s good for couldn’t take the defeats and quit. “There are the easy exit because I thought, ‘OK, I’ve got a climbing, and one at the gym that’s good for some people who are really naturally good at good chance of onsighting that.’” But he had training. It’s actually sort of fun to watch him stuff. And when you’re really naturally good at come to Spain to climb harder routes so he fig- train, more so than most people anyway. For something, that’s great—for starting out,” says ured he’d climb as far as he could until he fell instance, he is very, very good at pull-ups: He’ll Clune. “But you also miss, I think, a process of off, then check out the rest and try to send the take the smallest edge of the Beastmaker 2000, being able to suck. If you’re gifted, in a way route quickly. “That’s why I clipped every draw about a quarter-inch deep, and hold it almost you are cursed because it’s so much harder on the way up, because I was keeping in mind a foot out in front of him for the entire pull-up. to learn how to not be gifted when you hit a that if I fall I don’t have to pull up as much.” And He just levitates, body perfectly still. And he wall. To pass further means you have to learn then he found himself at the last bolt. “I was doesn’t stop pulling when his chin is level to his how to deal with failure.” really pumped and really at my limit and looked hands; he stops when his ribcage is. He has an Alex shifted focus to climbing outdoors up and saw the anchor.” He clipped it. “I didn’t uncanny ability to remember beta, too. I once instead, and in this less pressurized environ- realize, until after, what I’d done.” watched him devise and memorize a 45-move ment, where the competition is always more It was the first time anybody had onsighted sequence in three minutes. He remembered it personal, and winning (and thereby losing) a 9a. Alex didn’t say anything about it. Toni the next day. doesn’t manifest in quite the same way, he Arbonés, who runs the climbers’ camp at “I figured out that training is easier for the thrived. He sent his first 14b (8c) in 2009. A Siurana, heard somebody talking about it and mind than trying a hard route. It gives the month later he did his first 14c (8c+). To the called the Spanish climbing magazine Desnivel mind a break,” he says. “I go to robot mode outside world he would periodically show up with the news. The magazine called Alex and and just do four or five hours of training. As in international climbing media as a young wrote it up. Alex went climbing the next day soon as you walk out of the gym it’s fine again, kid climbing high grades in a few tries. If he as usual. As soon as he got back to the camp- you know? Your mind is not on the rings anycouldn’t do a route, he would simply give up ground that evening, “I felt it explode,” he said. more. Not on the fingerboard. You’re satisfied and move on to the next one. “Everything changed when that happened.” and not thinking anymore about it.” Then in 2013, when Alex was 19, he made a trip to Siurana, a well-known limestone crag in Spain. On day two, he was looking for the famous route La Rambla, a benchmark 5.15a (9a+), when, confused by a guidebook, he found himself in front of Chris Sharma’s Estado Crítico. It shares a start with another easier route, but breaks right at about 20 meters and gets the fabled grade of 5.14d (9a). The first person to climb 9a was Wolfgang Güllich when he did the FA of the most famous sport climb in the world, Action Directe, in 1991. When it comes to onsighting, some people find a high vantage point to check out the holds, some bring binoculars to find small clues, some spend an hour or more sifting out what they think the beta will be. All sorts of sport-climbing shenanigans. Alex doesn’t do shenanigans. They’re kind of antithetical to his whole scene, his Weltanschauung, if you want to get German about it. No sticky rubber kneepads for kneebars, no stick clips, no two different shoes for sending, no tricky During filming, Ken Etzel shot hundreds of Polaroids from behind upside-down beta. If he can’t do something, the scenes, including this one of the crew in Spain.


Compare this to his mindset during a difficult project. “When you’re trying a hard route your mind is constantly occupied by it. Twenty-four hours a day. You go home and you think about the route. You’re lying in bed and you can’t fall asleep, you’re thinking about the route. You dream about the route. You get up and you again think about the route. And that is hard for the mind, being occupied all the time by that one thing.” But even at the gym the undone route at Céüse haunts him. An unmarked series of custom-​shaped wooden grips tick tacks its way up the relatively secluded 45-degree wall at Café Kraft. (Kraft means “force” or “power” in German and the original Café Kraft was a restaurant in the Frankenjura that Güllich and his crew used to frequent.) The holds are a replica of the crux of his project, a V13 (8B) boulder problem, and they are predictably horrendous. The whole thing starts to seem impossible when you imagine the 5.14 climbing to get to it and the 60 feet of 5.15 climbing that comes after it. Alex touches the holds lightly. “Well I think the project is hard. It’s definitely harder than Perfecto Mundo, that’s for sure. It’s harder than anything I’ve ever tried, but that’s all I can say.” Progress isn’t always linear. A while ago now, when Alex was two weeks into working on Perfecto Mundo, Ken texted me a video of Alex on the crux of the route. It’s a V10 or V11 boulder problem that involves a right-hand mono, a left-hand pinch and a right-hand pinch near the lip of a large 45-degree roof. Ken had pointed his phone at the screen of his laptop when he was reviewing some footage with Alex, so you can hear them reacting to what’s going on in the shot. He sticks the first joint of his right middle finger in the crux mono; adjusts it in its shallow holster three, four, five times; switches footholds, backstepping the left; and throws to the left-hand pinch, which, although I’ve never touched it, looks bad. Imagine a broad globule of limestone about the size of a melted hockey puck with tiny tufa lumps that appear to be the only things that make it usable on a 45-degree wall. The left hand moves a long way, maybe four feet, to this pinch. He grabs the hold, gets his feet back on the wall and tries to readjust. The first pad of his right middle finger is still in the mono, at his waist. He stops. He looks quizzically at his left hand on the hold, then down at his feet. 28

The skin on a fingertip can sense a difference in texture one one-hundredth the size of a grain of sand and, whichever corrugation on the glob isn’t hitting the best spot, Alex knows he doesn’t have the hold right. He won’t be able to move off of it. But instead of just dropping off, he turns and gives Ken, holding the camera, a very German appraisal of his situation: “Do you see how my fingers is fucked up on the hold?” He pauses, gesturing with his nose at his left hand. He looks around, futile, the whole time hanging on. “I can’t fucking move.” He pauses another second and shakes his head. “I can’t move. Take!” When he says “take,” his voice goes up a register. He drops out of frame. If you’re watching the clock, his hands are on the crux holds of likely the second hardest route in the world for more than 13 seconds before he drops off. He goes from full beardown hucking to a moment of silent contemplation, to a surprisingly reasonable analysis of the difficulties of his situation. The clip ends with Alex and Ken in the background cracking up at the sequence. He still has work to do, but the laughter at the end of the clip is a good indication that Alex has improved his relationship with failure. He was in the throes of a hard project, already 10 days deep into it, and was able to look at one of his efforts and crack up at the absurdity of it. He sent the route a few days later. We did finally make it to Céüse. After a few more days of training (and an impromptu trip to see Taylor Swift live at a concert in Manchester), Alex was ready to work on the route again. He didn’t send the route on that trip, but one day, sitting under its mountaintop crown of perfect limestone, Alex reflected on the future. “My goal is to climb as hard as I possibly can. Whatever that means. I know I haven’t reached my limit yet, so I just want to test it out.” He then promptly put it out of reach. “I’ll never be satisfied with what I have climbed because I’ll always feel that I should have been able to climb harder. Which is alright.” So far, Alex has made three trips to try the pro­ ject, but hasn’t managed to do it yet. In the meantime, he’s been injured, recovered, and has shifted his attention on qualifying for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Alex Lowther is the creative director of film and video at Patagonia. Right: Sunset whipper.


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THE RED BOOK Lessons from Yosemite’s first climbing guidebook


“I have this idea,” Mikey texted last October. “Let’s climb all of the suggested routes from the Yosemite red-cover guidebook.” I agreed immediately. The tattered copy of A Climber’s Guide to Yosemite Valley, arrived in the mail less than a week later. First published in 1964 by the Sierra Club, it was the first stand-alone resource for the hundreds of routes put up over the previous three decades. I was intrigued by the idea of experiencing those early days of Yosemite climbing and seeing this place I knew intimately in a different way. He texted one stipulation, “No online research, we can only use the info in the guidebook.” A project like this could take multiple seasons to tick off the recommended classics, which apparently ranged from “short scrambles to the most demanding routes yet accomplished.” A few looked short and relatively easy, others would require long days, and the majority read like historic footnotes scattered across the Valley. Even though Mikey and I had met over 20 years ago scrap-jumping leftovers in the

rely on scant info about unknown climbs with no previous knowledge. Plus, Mikey threatened to throw my phone out the window. We topped the formation after weaving together various cracks and shallow dihedrals linked via low-angle face moves. It was a readand-run, simul-climb mission that rewarded us with a twilight portrait of El Capitan, a perspective I’d never had before. I felt both the immensity of the moonlight and its sudden smallness within the greater expanse. It was enlivening to climb a quality route that I didn’t know existed, and it reminded me of something I’ve often felt—that when the trail ends and the climb begins, the world is made anew. The rain pelted down as we dashed the short, slanting walk to the left side of Reed’s to find the Iota, a series of squeezes hidden behind a thick-cracked slab capped by a Lodge cafeteria, we’d yet to tie-in together. jumble of monumental boulders. I gamely The fact that it would be to uncover old-school started up a low-angle chimney but quickly choss piles and not to establish a new-wave reconsidered as hail accumulated on every test piece was a nod to our roots as toilers in edge. Steve Roper, the guidebook author, search of obscure challenges. It was appropri- writes that the recommended climbs “are ate that all the climbs we’d be pursuing were usually distinguished by good rock, a lack of put up before we were born. dirt and good protection.” It was the last one “They can publish a key to a climb, but they that worried me, considering the wet rock. have no key for a climber,” wrote David Brower, The idea of becoming part human pinball then executive director of the Sierra Club, in and part pencil eraser was enough to resort his publisher’s foreword to A Climber’s Guide to direct aid, foot in sling, yard on rope. I felt to Yosemite Valley. He was referring to the dan- absurd for using direct aid on a 5.4 put up in ger of the dilettante who knows just enough ’56 until Mikey quipped, “Dude, the rad dads to get into trouble. But I believe he was also would be proud of your style.” I realized that alluding to the climber’s commitment to the using such an antiquated guide was a bit like lifestyle. Just as minimal weight is required to taking fashion advice from a 1960s Vogue. reach the summit, maximal belief is needed to First ascents are like good seats in a theleave the ground. Climbing is a blend of tread- ater: The obvious ones are taken immediately, ing lightly while thinking deeply. just as the significant features are often the We went in April—a trip shoehorned last easiest way up, and we’re often instructed to minute between Mikey’s impending trip to “follow the prominent weakness.” Lunch Ledge, southern Chile and mine to Joshua Tree. I done in 1933 on Washington’s Column, was hitched into the Valley for our rendezvous the first modern-day roped climb in Yosemite under threatening s tormy skies with an and was long the most popular. It consists extended weather forecast that was even of 300 feet of ramps and broken buttresses more bleak. Never ones to miss even the dotted with bay bushes and pine trees. The slightest weather window, and with a few Column’s Direct route, a committing Grade III hours of remaining light, we decided to go that calls for a full day, continues skyward for for the northwest face of Middle Cathedral, another 800 feet. reached via the Gunsight gully, still filled with The process of trial and error practiced early-spring snow. The ’64 Red Book is to the over years of multipitch climbing creates latest Valley guide what the landline is to the a strong sense of direction as you see and smartphone—a relic—and that was the point, to feel the line overhead. Mikey and I covered

Right: “The Yosemite walls are much steeper now than they were when I was looking for routes up them before World War II, but I still remember how good it was to have Yosemite’s smooth granite at hand and barely underfoot.” David Brower, A Climber’s Guide to Yosemite Valley. Previous: “Yosemite Valley offers the rock climber the ultimate challenge in this country. Here he can fi nd climbs ranging from short scrambles to some of the most demanding routes yet accomplished. The variety of climbing is almost unparalleled.” Steve Roper, A Climber’s Guide to Yosemite Valley. 34


ground quickly, worming our way through the multitude of chimneys that were described as “evil-looking” and “rotten.” And Roper’s assurance that the climbing was “moderate but strenuous” was welcome. We took breaks to eat and chat, often bringing up the names and stories of our friends who are no longer alive. As we traced the topographical maps of these climbs we unconsciously encountered the icons that remain alive within the

legends. On top, we coiled the rope and took in the soul-piercing panorama of Half Dome’s northwest face. Climbing requires a diverse reading list— not only topo maps and route descriptions, but also weather, hazardous terrain, your partner’s skill level and commitment and, most importantly, intuition. Guidebooks provide inspiration. Turning to a resource like the ’64 Red Book that’s more than 60 years old speaks

to the breadth of our communal experience. The brotherhood and sisterhood of the rope is another big “why” for me as, with every friend and climb, these guidebooks transform facts and figures into a family album.

Timmy O’Neill is a Patagonia climbing ambassador, ophthalmic tech and cofounder of Paradox Sports.

Left: “No one can seriously deny the fact that Yosemite Valley is the most influential and important rock climbing area of this country. It is also true that the finest rock climbers in the country have had their origin—as climbers—in the Valley.” Steve Roper, A Climber’s Guide to Yosemite Valley. Illustration below: Al Macdonald

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Will Sharp on a steep V6 during an extended morning warm-up. We enticed Will to come out to Roy and spend a week with us during the winter. He brought his mobile coffee shop, “Carabiner Coffee,� and served fresh French roast to climbers visiting on the weekends. To his left is an excellent V10 smartly named ROYGBIV. Will was the only person I was able to talk into climbing the tall classics like Icarus for photos. Eric Bissell 39

ROY The patchwork history of public lands that transformed the area around a

small New Mexico town into a worldclass bouldering area


We left the Mills Canyon Rim Campground, where we’d been living for three cold January weeks, just before dawn on our last morning in New Mexico. I pulled over to the north side of the historic main street in the aging village of Roy to get a photo of the iconic water tower, flushed with morning light. A man walked up to me, stomping the cold from his feet, his palms showing through his worn wool gloves, his hood cinched so tight over his ears that I could only see the center of his face and the frost on his mustache. We talked about the canyon and the cold this winter. He raised his eyebrows when he heard we were camping at the canyon rim where the temperatures dropped into single digits. I assured him that we had a propane heater in our drafty VW van. He told me that he and his friends used to run around in the canyons and scramble on the rocks. But now the town is fading. There used to be seven bars in Harding County. Roy’s last remaining bar had recently closed its doors. I’d been in Roy for a month, climbing and taking photos with my partner, Jane Jackson. The place felt different than when I first started coming here in 2013, after moving temporarily to New Mexico for a relationship. The relationship drifted apart, but during that time I discovered a tiny, adventurous, laid-back climbing community and that rock is everywhere in the state. That’s when I was first introduced to the canyons outside the town of Roy, twoand-a-half hours northeast of Santa Fe. For a

California climber, it was incomparable. At first the stories of boulders, and lack of pictures, seemed more like Don Quixote myths than a climbing destination—​ironically, a windmill marks the turnoff from the highway. But the giant Dakota sandstone blocks, scattered through the Kiowa Grasslands, are very real. In those early years we chased bread crumbs left by William Penner and Tom Ellis, the climbers who first dedicated themselves to Roy. Theirs was a strong word-of-mouth policy. There were no secrets, but locations and boulders weren’t revealed until you could be there in person with them. Roy stayed off the map for nearly a decade, even in the age of social media. It was empty and wild, the canyons were elaborate, varied and massive. Word eventually spread and Roy is now a known spot among climbers around the country. But the way I describe it can’t be separated from the few years that I was able to go there with only a few friends, experience the empty canyons and climb rocks with no chalk except our own. Each person’s image of a place begins at a different point in time. One day it belongs to the wind and a dusty history and you’re the foreign object on the landscape. Then it’s a climbing area. On Main Street there’s a barber shop, but pulling alongside the façade reveals grasses and vines that have overtaken the interior. The first time I went to the corner café on Main Street, which is now called Lonita’s, the

locals paused, forks up, to stare at me. When we stopped by on this trip, another group of climbers was already in a booth. The waitress asked us whether we’d been camping and climbing. On rainy days, young kids park here on their laptops and research climbs. On this trip, I watched a college outdoor club spread out in the overflow camping on their first trip to the grasslands and wondered what their reference point will be for this place. It’s still possible to get lost in a new canyon each day. But the main areas have more cars at the trailhead, and the chalk is now too thick to fully wash from the holds between seasons. Now amidst the porcelain lollipop holders and American flag paraphernalia, Ma Sally sells climbing chalk and tape. Still, there are days when it’s possible to have the place mostly to yourself. Our friends rolled in from Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Los Alamos on the weekend. Campfires burned and whiskey spun around the circle while one friend told stories of growing up in the tiny mining town of Madrid, south of Santa Fe. Another friend told a story about getting a jump from a state trooper near Wagon Mound when their Tacoma shorted on the highway after multiple stream crossings searching for new boulders. Someone else in the group once found a dinosaur bone by the Canadian River and held up a chalky hand to demonstrate the crooked claw. We lay on crashpads to watch the lunar eclipse. The wind howled and the pack of dogs barked at animals out of sight in the darkness.

Inset: A lone building leans away from a century of wind near the historic town of Mills, New Mexico. Mills was named after Melvin Mills, who established an audacious orchard along the Canadian River. A complex trolley system brought produce from the canyon bottom to the surface of the plains where it was then shipped to towns around the Southwest. The orchard was destroyed in the early 1900s by a massive flood and never recovered. Right: Emerging from the canyons onto the plains at the end of a day bouldering. 40

The big lines anchor Roy’s climbing. Twent y- to 40-foot problems like Icarus, Beautiful Pig, Hokusai’s Wave, Best Western bridge between solo and boulder problems. As you climb on the smaller problems, these bigger lines loom overhead waiting for the right day. If you love the movement of climbing, the bigger the problem the more climbing you get to do. The highball, more than anything else, defines Roy climbing. This group of friends had explored many of the canyons (not all of them), but we left the car at the campground and revisited what could be walked to. One of the best parts of climbing here is that the jumbled streambeds and canyons hide more than can be experienced in one trip. We spent the day warming up in the sun and then headed into the tight streambed hemmed in with large pines. Jane worked out the beta on a dark lichen-painted face with perfect edges. Anywhere else it would be considered a tall problem, but Roy’s surplus of big lines quickly distorts your perception of a standard-sized boulder. In the evening we headed downstream and discovered a sweeping slab with a singular hole halfway up its 18-foot face. Unsure about the reach, I measured the distance with a stick and compared it to my max ability. From tiptoes I could grab the top. We figured out the bottom crux and I stood dynamically off my right toe in

the pocket. For a second, nothing but the toe remained on the wall until my fingers just grabbed the top. Climbing a new problem is like picking out a familiar face in a crowd of strangers—everything is abstract, and then a piece of the chaos comes into focus. New Mexico is not a simple place. Before climbers arrived in the area around Roy, this was, and still is, ranchland. Before cows, the plains were covered in bison. Bison anchored an ecosystem of grassland that was the foundation to the previously nomadic lives of multiple tribes including Comanche, Apache and Kiowa. Records indicate that humans have lived here for 13,000 years. And in 1932, a road crew unearthed spear points within the matted masses of wooly mammoth bones. There is no barrier between past and present. The landscape is desolate in patches but fertile and complex in others. The sky bursts into color at sunset unlike anywhere in the world. High-elevation swells harbor green fores t s and snow y peaks. Communities like the Acoma Pueblo or Taos Pueblo have existed in the same location for centuries. The mixture of Spanish heritage (and colonialism), Native American pueblos and ranching create a patchwork history unlike any place I’ve ever lived. The accent is unique, the architecture is almost all adobe, and the

food, most of it slathered in red and green chiles, is unbelievably good. I keep coming back because the canyons are complex to hike, New Mexicans are tough on egos and quick to share beers, and the climbing is bold but joyful. Climbers go places to climb. But the associations of a place create meaningful experiences. In archaeology the idea is that the context, more than the artifact, is where the vast majority of understanding waits. It’s why an arrowhead removed from its resting place holds little insight into the story of its owner. Climbing here is as much about the rising song of rusty cattle gates being opened and closed as it is about tall, dark-red Dakota sandstone boulders. Roy reminds me of the pleasure of climbing outdoors. Of discovery and bushwhacking, of climbing rocks without names. Just outside town a few cows huddle behind a wilting billboard to break the exposure to grassland winds. East of the cows, the morning light shimmers in mirage, creating the illusion of a floating island of land. Snow takes advantage of the cold morning to cover the rolling brown. It’s a strange place to be looking for rocks to climb. After a decade working as a climbing ranger in Yosemite National Park, Eric Bissell now works at the intersection of public lands and recreation through media and climbing.

Above: There are few established trails in the Kiowa Grasslands: lots of bushwacking, no cell service and not a patch of pavement once you leave the main highway. Right: Jane Jackson on a V6 near the campground. The color, texture and shape of boulders varies drastically from canyon to canyon in Roy. This shaded, streamed problem glows with lichen. Previous: Jane Jackson tops out an unmanned V2 overlooking the year-round Canadian River. In the background are a few remaining Osage orange trees from the Mills Orchard Ranch.

For days on giant blocks of near-perfect sandstone Scouting boulders scattered through old ranchlands in the Desert Southwest, spotting old friends on dusty pads, one more burn by headlamp after the sun goes down.

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Next: Running along the edge of the coast, just before a storm rolls in. Península Mitre, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Rodrigo Manns




Running to the Bottom of the World

Patagonia is a geographic area located on the southern end of the American continent and shared politically between Chile and Argentina with the Andes Mountains serving as a natural border. The region is well-known, but extremly wild, and conservation has played an important role. It’s also the primary reason we decided to take a trip to explore the “bottom of the world,” mostly on foot. Last February, my girlfriend and I drove from Santiago toward southern Chile, with a plan to run through some of the wildest places on Earth. Our first stop after a long road trip down the continent and across the Straits of Magellan was Karukinka Natural Park (“last land of men” in the native language) on the island of Tierra del Fuego. It’s a private park, part of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is an outdoor laboratory in this southernmost end of the continent. Preserving the different ecosystems of Tierra del Fuego is an essential goal of the organization, and we were impressed with their vocation and energy. One of my favorite things about running in Patagonia was moving through the forest. The ground offers so much cushion it almost feels like running on carpet. The guanacos were very curious every time we went through a group of them. The sunset at this latitude was unlike anything we’d ever seen, and the skies at night seemed so close you’d think you could touch the stars. Our next stop was Yendegaia National Park, located in the heart of the Cordillera de Darwin. To understand this place, it’s important to know a few pieces of southern Chile’s conservation history. Livestock and cattle ranching has long been one of the dominant industries in Patagonia. It was also an activity that encouraged one of the biggest genocides in the history of the continent and exterminated the First Nations who lived in this area. Scars of this industry are still evident all over Patagonia. Eventually these lands were sold and bought by organizations that saw an opportunity to restore and protect these places. The Conservation Land Trust purchased Yendegaia, and in 2014 donated it to the Chilean government, which declared the area a national park. Today the park is declared but not developed; there’s no infrastructure, so it remains mostly wild.

Exploring South America’s public lands on foot

But here’s where things get interesting. The Chilean government is now building a road with the army, who is in charge of opening a path across the land. This road will allow connectivity to the country and access to the park, but it will also change this place forever. As the army works in the area with explosives and big machinery, they’ve denied public access, which could have ended our journey. But I believe in order to achieve goals and

WO R D S BY F E L I P E CA N C I N O P H OTO S BY RO D R I G O M A N N S Morning ritual. After a round of maté and a light breakfast, Felipe laces up for a new day of exploring.

do something you feel very passionate about, you need to step up and take risks. We had a low likelihood of getting caught, so we gave it a shot and came up with a plan to sneak in and access the park, allowing us to get deeper in the mountains to experience this magnificent place.


Today the park is declared but not developed; there’s no infrastructure, so it remains mostly wild. 54

the channel and the site of the southernmost trail in the world, was our last destination. It seemed doable but when the port closed for two days due to extreme winds, we weren’t sure we would get there. Then the gods decided to give us a chance. Packed and ready for the last two days, we got the phone call saying the navy was green-lighting boats, so we grabbed everything and went to the port. With the weather forecast and the little time we had left, it didn’t look like we would be able to do all that we wanted. So we had to be strategic. The first day we hiked in as far as we could and set up camp in one of the most special places I’ve ever been. We could see Cape Horn from camp. Beyond that piece of land in the distance lies nothing else—all the way to Antarctica. The next day we put on our running shoes and started toward Monte Bettinelli peak, and I’ve been in really remote areas before, but

declaring it an official protected area in the

this time, the experience was different. It was

province. This fight has been going on for 30

utterly wild and exceeded all expectations.

years without any concrete actions taken by

From there we drove to Ushuaia, known as

the government.

the southernmost city in the world. We stayed

All of this was reason enough for us to

with friends whom I met in a race a few months

check it out. We got in touch with Adolfo, one

before. Fede and Facu were waiting for us and,

of the main activists in Ushuaia, who’s spent

as good trail running hosts, they had plans laid

more than 20 years guiding people in Penín-

out for us. We went deep in the mountains and

sula Mitre. He was taking a group of scientists

followed high-ridge traverses, passing by gla-

on horseback to study a colony of sea lions on

ciers, tundra, rivers and forests along the way.

the coast of the peninsula and kindly offered

We also learned about a place called

to take us there. We were able to run and meet

Península Mitre, which we knew little about

them at the end of each day. Spending time

except that it’s the corner of the island that

with them gave us an interesting perspective

extends toward the Atlantic Ocean. When you

on the area’s history, what makes it so unique

look at it on the map it looks like the actual

and the continued threats to its protection.

“end of the end.” It’s also one of the last truly

Península Mitre is a wild and indomitable

wild places in Argentina, a country similar to

place, but also heavily impacted by humans’

Chile where extraction of natural resources is

actions. The traces left by the livestock industry

an ongoing pressure. Península Mitre has also

are still very fresh and contrast deeply with a

played an important role for wildlife. Many

place that is so magnificent. This is a corner of

different species migrate here every sum-

the world where nature rules everything. The

mer as it’s rich in resources from the ocean.

wind, the tides, the rain and snow, and the lack

Locals have pushed the Argentine Parliament

of fresh water forces flexibility and learning

to protect Península Mitre, and many non-

how to live comfortably in this harsh environ-

profit organizations, scientists, tourism and

ment that offers such high rewards. Running

guiding organizations, conservationists along

here is one of the most special opportunities

with some politicians have joined forces to

I’ve had in my life.

take action. They want to regulate the use

At this point we’d been on the road for

of these public lands and ultimately push for

over seven weeks. Navarino Island, just across

from there to Lake Windhond. It’s the farthest south you can run on the southernmost trail in the world. The next day, we woke up tired to snow falling gently. Running on trails is a different way to connect with places and the people who live there. The more we learn from the natural world, the more likely we are to get involved and respect it. We were glad to see the many efforts to protect these places at the bottom of the world—for the species who live there, for future generations and for us. If we could all understand that conservation isn’t just intended to protect a beautiful place, but rather it’s a tool we have to protect our planet, then I think we would all place more value on its importance. Running trails is a great place to start.

Felipe Cancino is an activist, trail runner and outdoor educator.

Above: Horses are a nonnative species in Tierra del Fuego, but they’ve become a part of the wildlife on the island. Lef t: An unexpected hot day in Ushuaia encourages an escape to the knife-edge ridges and alpine lakes of Glaciar Los Vascos. Previous: Traveling on foot through these remote locations involves a good amount of problem-solving and a mixed set of skills.


Paso Le Cloche in strong winds, making the tricky terrain even more difficult. Ushuaia, Argentina. Rodrigo Manns 56

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I found an old index card in my Sierra High Route book that read: Dobbiamo credere nei miracoli prima di osare chiederne uno, an Italian phrase meaning, “We must first believe in miracles before having the audacity to ask for one.�



Fastest Fish Fourteener Known Time on the Sierra High Route W O R D S B Y J E N N S H E LT O N PHOTOS BY KEN E TZEL

I picked it up on a whim at the ranger station in Bishop 2012. I was there finagling a permit that would look more or less legal for my attempt to break the men’s speed record across the John Muir Trail starting the next day. And there it was in my hand, the same way a plastic $20 Timex watch had been on my wrist since I started running in high school. One day it wasn’t there and then one day it was, part of me forever. I’m not sure why it called to me, as I had no intention of reading it then. The next four summers of my life would be consumed with the JMT. I’m also not one to spend $17 on a book, especially not a guidebook that I knew would sit on a shelf. Books are objects of motion, not acquisition. They are for lending, trading, sharing, discussing. Destroying from a life well-lived.




The cover is unremarkable: Sierra High Route: Traversing Timberline Country, Second Edition, Steve Roper. The title is printed over a photo that refuses to catch your eye. The photo isn’t out of focus or poorly composed, it just lacks a certain sharpness, as if taken by a person with horrible eyesight. You see a wind-ravaged tree, right of center, which adheres to the rule of thirds. And some rocks, not big enough to be boulders, not flat enough for sitting. The background (a generous term as the photo has about as much depth as a sardine tin) suggests a blurred mountain skyline. It captures more the experience of spotting the back of a whale than the feeling of gazing upon the jagged towers of the Minarets, which I know those mountains to be.

And if all that isn’t insult enough. Above the mountain, there’s the sky. In the photo it is a cloudy, ocean grey. For anyone who has spent any time in the Sierra, which John Muir affectionately nicknamed “The Range of Light,” this mucky sky is not the version they remember, let alone the version they would choose for the cover of a book. The white-hot Sierra Nevada sky is not, like the book cover suggests, a lady of understatement. She is a ham, a ballbuster, a town crier. She starts the day shouting in oppressive blue, and by 10 a.m. she is a dangerous flirt, puffing her chest with fast-swelling cumulus. Most days she is just toying with you. But when she decides to open up—which she supposedly does less often than any mountain range of her size—she makes up for all her harmless


foreplay by unleashing storms so dark and furious that they can only be described with one word: horrific. I have never weathered summer storms as bad as the ones I have somehow survived while traveling in the Sierra. But the cover of the book is a bored purgatory of neither glorious day nor howling storm. In a world of “Look at me, look at me!” the second edition of Steve Roper’s Sierra High Route is silently praying that you pass over it. Or under it, on the wildly popular JMT, as most but a handful of people thankfully do each year. In the summer of 2018, I decided to be among that handful.

Silence. “If I work a 9-to-5, I think I will be dead in a year.” After pressing send, I dropped my phone onto the floor of my van. My old self would have thrown the phone into the woods. My old self would have screamed, punched something, cried, drank a beer or five. My old self could run 100 miles in under 15 hours, made her living off running farther and faster than pretty much anyone alive. She was a bad ass, but she was also kind of an ass. The best part of breaking myself as badly as I had is that I had to let go of everything. There were the first three months in bed. Friends warned me that with an injury of that magnitude, I would go through all the stages of depression. The cheerier friends told me I would finally have time to write a book. One friend told me that I would finally realize that I was a lesbian. I was prepared for anything.

Things weren’t going well. In truth, they hadn’t been going well for a while. I’d dumped my boyfriend, who loved me but not every single last one of my imperfections, and bought a van, which seemed like the sexy thing to do But every day I woke up and things were at the time. Except the van was not one of the fine. I was shocked. I’d look over my shoulder sexy vans you see when you think of “living the expecting to see a dark cloud approaching. dream.” It was tiny. It looked and handled like a But there was nothing there. Just the white wall toaster on wheels. I broke my leg. Twice. of my friend’s spare bedroom. And something Usually, I need a little chaos to thrive. It’s I had never felt before. A quiet calm. I spent how I carved a career out of running 100-mile the days breathing. I know I was supposed to races—because they were unpredictable. I be doing something productive. But breathing grew up listening to punk music. One friend seemed like plenty. nicknamed me “Jenntropy,” a play on the funMy phone buzzed, breaking the silence. damental rule of the universe: It always takes “You’d be dead by the first Friday.” less energy to destroy something than to build That night, the night I quit running, I it. That chaos, not order, is how all systems opened the book. It was that or get a job. For lean. Although in these last years, it felt like I’d three years, I’d carted it around. Inexplicably, leaned too far. out of the hundreds of books I owned, it was But I’d never thought about quitting before. the only one I kept. My imaginary friendship It had been a year and a half since the accident with Roper started then. that broke my leg a second time, and I could run for about five minutes. Then the pain was The Sierra High Route breaks down into sometoo much. All the mind-numbing hours of phys- thing like this: ical therapy, of retraining my muscles how to The Start: Roads End Campground, on the walk, had done nothing. high-desert western flanks of the mountain I texted my best friend, the one who was range; closest city is Fresno. with me when I crashed. The one who called The What: Follow the Sierra crest, undulatthe rescue and also looked the rescuers in ing from tree line to alpine; avoid dropping the face and told them that I wasn’t leaving into the valleys whenever possible. my skis behind. Who visited me every day in The Length: Around 195 miles with 59,000 the hospital and then gave me a bed in her feet of climbing. home to heal. The Objective: Cross all 34 mountain pass“I think it’s time to throw in the towel.” es, mostly unnamed on maps (in some cases She responded immediately, as if she’d Roper has given these passes his own name). been ready for this since she’d found me in a The Difficulty: A boulder-jumping, scree-​ pile in the snow. sliding, scrambling trek with no ropes or rock “You fought hard. It’s ok.” climbing skills necessary, unless you are three “Maybe I’ll get a real job.” feet off route, in which case things get spicier.


The Actual Difficulty: Roper does not provide a line on a map to follow. The High Router is supposed to stand on a mountain pass, and read a vague description of how to most safely descend it. The High Router should also try to figure out, from Roper’s written descriptions, which of the dozens of mountain passes seen in the distance she should aim for next. The Best Part: The Delusional Roper Friendship. Following Roper’s written descriptions to go from point A to point B is the lifeline for every High Router. Everyone forms a relationship with Roper, referring to him as a capitalized He. As in, “I wish He would have stopped waxing poetic about the stag He saw one time in that fucking meadow and would have given a rat’s ass that I needed to contour left to avoid getting marooned in some Class 4 slab deathtrap. But otherwise His descriptions were beefy today compared to yesterday.” This relationship is a constant rotation through sentiments of ecstatic fondness, irritation and varying degrees Stockholm Syndrome. The Usual: It is estimated that about 10 people do the entire route each year. The route is divided into five sections. Upwards of fifty people complete one section each summer, averaging about a week for each section. It is common to go days without seeing another human. The Finish: A popular redneck camping area called Mono Village on the northwest boundary of Yosemite, where the trekker can purchase such kingly rewards as malt liquor, Pringles and a gray-tinted banana. I was sold. I’m not sure what the opposite of lonely is. Is there a language where a word for this exists? I’ve thought about this a lot. The closest definition I’ve been able to come up with, is that feeling inside you when all the spaces are filled. The mountains have always made me feel this way. Bed rest made me feel this way. Nothing else ever has. I liked Roper, and I wanted Roper to like me. Here was a man who wrote an entire book about how to cross a mountain range, while providing as little practical information as possible about where to actually go. He’d tell you to cross a river at the bottom of a valley, and then to reach your next mountain pass, miles of trail-less travel away, he’d say things like, “Head in an easterly direction, eventually aiming for a reddish band of cliffs.” But when

it came to useless information, he was more forthcoming. Like the stag example. Or, he’d offer a full page to tell you about his favorite tree, the whitebark pine. In his defense, it is a fascinating tree. It grows short, squat and gnarled in the high alpine. Sometimes it seems to grow right out of granite rock. Roper is quick to tell his readers that John Muir would sleep on its fallen needles, claiming them superior to any sleeping pad or mattress provided by the industrial world. Which could be good information, because, by following Roper’s scant directions, his readers are certain to spend more than a few nights stranded in an alpine sea, huddled under the branches of a whitebark pine to protect them from the wind, as they wait for the light of the next day in search of the elusive reddish cliffs somewhere to the easterly. That entire page dedicated to the white-

summer to the Sierra High Route, I can say journalism. When I asked her to carve out a with authority that Muir never slept on the week in early summer to recon the first secfallen needles of a whitebark pine, because tion of the High Route with me as her last the only difference from sleeping straight on hurrah in her home mountains, it was not a a granite slab is that in the morning you have hard sell. pine needle indentations in your skin. No, that “Just promise me you won’t ever use the bastard cut entire branches off the pines to word ‘fast-packing,’” was her only stipulation. make his insulating mattress. He lived before “What does that word even mean?” the time of Leave No Trace, and that is fine. Mo is also a runner. Only months earlier, I’m just saying that this omission of informa- on the very day that I was getting the metal tion nearly killed me. removed from my leg, she finished 55th at That night I read the whole book. By morn- the Boston Marathon. She’s no slouch. Still, ing, I had a plan. I’d spend the first part of the my question was not without merit. summer hiking parts of the route, as recon. Mo, equipped with a master’s degree And then maybe by the end of summer, my from Harvard, spent years in the Sierra waitleg would be healed. If all went well, I could ressing at Red’s Meadow, the only restaurant try for the fastest time across the route. If it on the John Muir Trail. After handing one too didn’t go well, then, whatever. I’d have spent many burgers to backpackers who were quick one more summer in the mountains, desper- to brag about how fast they had completed ately lost and cold but with all my spaces filled. certain segments of the trail, Mo knew that

bark pine would be the reason I decided not to pack a sleeping pad. This was a bad idea—a decision that left me to experience some of the longest, coldest nights of my life. But I don’t blame Roper. Roper was unwittingly relaying the misinformation of John Muir. I’m no historian, but after dedicating an entire

I also have real friends. One of whom is named Mo, who I knew also had Roper’s book idling on her bookshelf. After 15 years of living in Mammoth Lakes on the east side of the Sierra, she was moving to Michigan at the end of the summer to take a job teaching

when she finally hung up her apron and hiked it herself, she would not be one of those people. In fact, she would be the opposite: She would see how slowly she could hike the entire trail. Some days she made it as few as three miles. She ran out of food, although she had




brought along some mushrooms that both curbed her appetite and put a spring in her step and chants in her head. When she finally detoured off-trail to the Muir Trail Ranch resupply, which is located near the halfway point, the village was closing up for the season and the employees were emptying the cupboards. They made her a sandwich. She devoured it so quickly that they made her one for each hand, for free. “Hey! Are you impressed with our tarp?” I asked the guy camping a few spots over. He said yes. It was our first night and we’d hoped to be further along, camping in solitude at the banks of an obscure alpine lake on the High Route, past this crowded trail. Our crack of noon start time had blown this plan. We had four nights and five days ahead of us, after which Mo would peel off and I would continue solo for six more days. The sun had been down for about 30 minutes, and we’d just polished off our entire trip’s ration of tequila. Blowing our load early like that was a rookie mistake, but in our defense Mo had snuck a bag of sour gummie worms into the bear bag pack to use as chasers, and those are the kind of surprises that can get a person feeling recklessly festive. “A damn fine tarp,” I said, leaning back on a tree, pleased. I could see the tarp was not going to work, but I was buzzed enough to not cross that bridge tonight. Five days later I said goodbye to Mo. I was going to miss her. But I still had Roper. His words would guide me. I limped north. After leaving the main trail I went four days without seeing another soul. I had enough food for one more day on the trail. The next day would be a big day, and I would be out of food, but supposedly I would be able to cruise on easy terrain to Red’s Meadow, where Mo used to work and would be waiting to pick me up. If I got over the next two mountain passes before nightfall, the second of which Roper called “Shout-of-Relief Pass,” supposedly things would be a cakewalk compared to the last 10 days. I had my head down, power hiking up a steep 4-mile section of trail. I was relishing in the luxury of not having to navigate, but also noticing that trails made my limp more pronounced. I heard a rustle and looked up to see a man. I screamed bloody murder. He screamed bloody murder.

“You’re the first person I’ve seen in four days!” “You’re the first person I’ve seen in four days!” We stared at each other for a few minutes, letting the adrenaline sink away. He broke the silence. “Do you want to get high and eat chocolatecovered espresso beans?” I really needed to get over those next passes and I knew it was going to be close, even if I somehow managed to navigate it correctly, which hadn’t happened once since I’d been left on my own with Roper. Plus, I didn’t really like marijuana. “Absolutely.” We got stoned as bullfrogs and ate his entire ration of candy. I was about to head out as the first drops of rain fell. He packed a second bowl. I set up the tarp, mainly to show off. “Do you think I can get across the next two passes tonight if the rocks are wet,” I asked him. He was doing the High Route from South to North, and had just come from those passes. “If you hustle, you can do it, but I wouldn’t call it safe. He says to stay high and contour between the passes, but that will be sketchy.” “Yeah, He says that it will look impossible, but to go for it, and I will be able to find a route through all the cliffs. That’s why I’m concerned about all the rock getting wet.” Normally I wouldn’t take drugs from strangers, but this guy wasn’t a complete stranger. We hadn’t learned each other’s names, but we’d both been swapping stories of trying to follow Roper’s directions. Plus we’d both been referring to Roper as He, which is how I knew this guy giving me chocolate and marijuana was a good person. We believed in the same god. “Just get to Shout-of-Relief Pass without getting yourself killed, and then it is smooth sailing.” The rain stopped. I thanked him for the chocolate and the weed. I hadn’t had sugar in 11 days and I felt on top of the world. I wondered what I ever had against pot anyway. I made it over the two passes. Not without problems, but in the last days I’d learned to redefine what a problem was, just as I had learned to redefine what an impassable cliff was. Plus, I knew that when I got to Shout-of-Relief Pass, that all of the hard stuff was over, which kept my mood light. When I finally navigated all the cliffs, I crested the pass. I looked over and saw a gentle slope down to a green valley. I yelled, “Yabba Dabba Doobie!” I had made it.

Just one more miserable night and one day of easy terrain left. I cooked my last calories of couscous on top of the pass and, as the water boiled, I went to see what Roper had to say about the next section. That’s when I realized the book was gone. I went from the happiest girl in the world to having the biggest sinking feeling ever. Bigger than feeling my bones snap inside my ski boot. Bigger than realizing I may never run a painfree step again. I was in the mountains, and I was completely and utterly alone. I’d lost Roper. I cursed the book for being so easy to lose. I knew that the spirit of the route was not to go fast in the mountains, it was to get lost in the mountains. I was fine with getting lost. I just wanted His words with me, unhelpful though they might be. The old me would have chucked my couscous over the cliffs to the south in frustration. The new me chewed them silently. When I was finished, I packed my bag and then I started shouting. And shouting and shouting. All the shouts from the last year came out. If they weren’t shouts of relief in the beginning, they were shouts of relief by the end. There wasn’t any boss of me now. I was going to put one foot in front of the other, in any damn direction that suited me. I knew the carpet of rocks and wildflowers that unrolled beneath me eventually leveled out to a valley, and if I found willows they would lead me to a river that I would somehow find a way to cross, which would lead me to Red’s Meadow and Mo. I didn’t need someone else’s memory of a stag or directions to head for a mythical reddish cliff. It might take awhile longer than I or my stomach wanted. It definitely would take longer than my ego wanted. But it would all work out in the end. I could get lost on my own. I thought about my favorite lyric by The Mars Volta: “You’ve got to lose it to find it.” Maybe that’s what the opposite of lonely meant. Jenn Shelton is a Patagonia trail running ambassador.


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Left: Cassie Slemmer hammers out a quick post-work run in the foothills of the Cascades outside Leavenworth, Washington. Steven Gnam 69

Soil microbiologist Lydia Jennings and Patagonia global sport activist Clare Gallagher on a tour of one of the largest peaks in Arizona. This area will be greatly affected by the Rosemont Mine, a controversial project approved by the president but currently being challenged in federal court. Brendan Davis 70

Single track with a chance of snow

Fall is the season when temperatures can oscillate pretty dramatically between balmy and bitter cold. This makes it hard to dress for a run, especially a long one. Our trail running styles were designed for these kinds of days when you might have to ditch layers midway through, but want to be warm enough when you hit windy ridgelines or the weather changes unexpectedly.

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What Good Neighbors Do Thirty years of hopes, dreams and

dirty hands in the Pacific Northwest


Eric “EB Extreme” Brown scurries up the root wad, surveying the devastation that once was Cougar Ridge Trail. Located on the east side of Lake Whatcom, east of Bellingham, Washington, “Cougar” was once an unsanctioned downhiller trail scheduled for closure. Now it’s one of the area’s premier—and legal—rides. This section, however, is a mess of rocks, dirt and wooden tentacles, the aftermath of three enormous trees blown down in a recent storm. But EB isn’t daunted. The former online product manager and his wife, Courtney, moved from Seattle in 2008. As the trail director for the county’s mountain-​ biking advocacy group, the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition (WMBC), he’s been a fixture at civic meetings, public forums, races and events, and—of course—on Bellingham’s

trails. WMBC’s first paid, full-time employee talks as fast as he moves, crawling through the forest like a scruffy Tasmanian devil as he alternates between plans to reroute the trail, rebuild it or literally jack the stumps back into place. It’s why the unofficial “MTB Mayor of Bellingham” is so effective: He doesn’t battle challenges. He overwhelms them with a flood of optimistic ambition. My phone rings, showing a California number: Jim “Sully” Sullivan. He tells me to high-five “Rico Suave,” his nickname for EB. I do, then I tell Sully how amazing it is that Cougar is no longer illegal. He immediately corrects me. “I really suggest you don’t call them ‘illegal,’” he says. “Whenever hikers, horse folk or dog walkers go to a pretty place or connect two parallel trails, it’s considered a positive thing—a softball offense, at worse. When it’s bicycles, it’s illegal.” Banned from wilderness areas and national parks, in places like Montana, California, Idaho

and even Washington, bicyclists and environmentalists are often on different sides of conservation debates. But not in Bellingham. When it comes to (literal) hands-in-the-dirt activism, few are more involved than the mountain biking community. Led by the WMBC, they have helped pass green-fund levies and they show up to trail-work parties in the dozens, even when those trails will never see tire treads. WMBC’s blue and green tent is a fixture at events across Whatcom, emblazoned with their mission statement: “To preserve and enhance nonmotorized trail access in Whatcom County through stewardship, education and advocacy.” And the whole story began with illegal trash dumping, an espresso machine and some good neighbors. If EB is the mayor of two-wheeled Bellingham, Sully is its godfather—and their shared “office” would be Galbraith Mountain, the beating heart of Pacific Northwest mountain biking. And it’s a pretty damn ugly one.

Above: With Mount Baker peaking over the horizon, Mark Allison (left) and Bonnie Burke (right) get ready to drop in on SST, a Galbraith classic. Right: Eric Brown (front) and Reid Parker (rear) route a new climbing trail across the slopes of Stewart Mountain. Previous: Brooklyn Bell (front) and Sakeus Bankson (rear) ride through Washington’s oldest state park on Double Down. 74

Tucked to the east of the San Juan Islands, about 80 miles north of Seattle and 60 miles south of Vancouver, British Columbia, “The City of Subdued Excitement” is home to nearly 90,000 people. It’s also home to three national mountain-bike companies and four custom-​bike builders, a bicycle car-rack company, a trail-​ building tool company, a seat-post company and Freehub mountain bike magazine. It has as many bike shops as breweries (13, as of early 2019). The two-wheeled trend extends across Whatcom County, a largely rural chunk of land stretching east from Bellingham and over the crest of the Cascade Mountains. According to a 2015 analysis by Recreation Northwest, outdoor recreation generates an annual $705 million in revenue for the county and 3,728 jobs. Unsurprisingly, Bellingham is also a conservation town. Perhaps the most telling proof

Eric Brown, the unof ficial Mayor of Bellingham Mountain Biking.

Officially named Lookout Mountain, “Galby” does not include the huge, second-growth forest surrounding us, complete with ferns and multiple waterfalls. It does, however, include the clearcut we rode through to get here: The 1,785-foot prominence is a working forest, and has been regularly logged for decades. But it’s also home to 65 miles of world-class single track, where on any given day you can find dozens of mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners and even a few horse riders. Every other car in town seems to be loaded with bikes, and every road with bicyclists. Nearly all of them are headed to Galbraith. “You can’t live in Whatcom County without running into somebody who spends time on Galbraith,” says Rich Bowers, director of the Whatcom Land Trust. “Bellingham has had mountain bikers involved and physically working on Galbraith for 30 years, and that helps build a reputation.” Sully first visited Bellingham in 1974, on a bicycle tour between hot springs on the West Coast; in 1979, he bought a house at the base of Galbraith and started an espresso repair business. Though he didn’t mountain bike— the sport had only been “invented” two years before—few people were more familiar with “fat-tire bikes.” He’d grown up next door to the legendary Tom Ritchey, one of the first mountain bikers, in the shadow of California’s Mount Tamalpais, arguably its birthplace. 76

rides expanded, some reputable characters appeared among their “gaggle of nut jobs.” “When you bring in the good guys, the bad guys go away,” Sully says. “We had police officers, doctors, firefighters and people in the public prosecutor’s office. We’d pass along a license plate number or a dumper’s description, and they’d have to go clean up their mess. Let me tell you, those sorts of activities stopped.” Mountain bikers had become Galbraith’s unofficial guard force, and people noticed—​ including the logging company that owned most of Galbraith and gave the new user group a warm welcome. With a 3,000-acre backyard to roam, Sully began organizing Saturday rides as well; in a few months, they were drawing 60-plus people each week. To harness this momentum, in 1987 Sully and a core group of riders “coalesced” into Bell-

of that is outdoor recreation’s impact on the ingham’s first official mountain bike advocacy region’s landscape: Recreation Northwest esti­ group. The Whatcom Independent Mountain mates it contributes from $6 billion to $10 billion Pedalers and Yo-Yos, or WHIMPYS (shortened to a year in ecosystem services. “WHIMPS” in the early ‘90s), could put on racSully started riding in the early ’80s, and his es, manage large projects, lobby for positive house soon became Bellingham’s mountain-​ development, and have a voice in local conbike gathering spot. On Tuesday nights, a servation policies. The first Greenway levy was handful of “crackpot psycho ceramics” would one of them; first passed in 1990, the propmeet for a shot of espresso and “range” along erty tax funded habitat preservation, parks, the trails and old 4x4 roads in the hills sur- trails and open spaces. Sully was a founding rounding town. board member. “You should have seen Galbraith,” he says. “It was gouged up by four-wheelers and dirt In 1996, Sully returned to California to recover bikes, access gates were yanked down, and from a second open-heart surgery. He passed people regularly dumped garbage around the reins to then-vice-president Mark Peterthe mountain. That’s why it’s important to put son, who oversaw what was both a glory era ‘mountain’ in front of ‘bikers.’ That clarifies right and one of internal conflict. In the early 2000s, away we’re nonmotorized.” freeride mountain biking was on the rise, a For Sully, that wording held a special impor- style of riding that incorporated jumps, drops tance. In California, he had witnessed the vehe- and precarious wooden stunts, often dangerment resistance the first mountain bikers faced ous to ride, highly impactful to construct and as they were banned from nearly all the trails. usually done in secret. Free riding’s rebellious, “Everything that starts in California inevitably moto-esque mindset fueled the conflict beworks its way to the rest of the nation,” he says. tween conservationists and mountain bikers, “I wanted to establish us as courteous members and in Bellingham it immediately generatof the outdoor community. Anyone can show ed tension with other user groups and the up once, but we were dependable. We were cross-country-leaning WHIMPS. good neighbors, and they saw us as a young, “The early generation, guys like Jim Sullivan energetic group who showed up and did stuff.” and Mark Peterson, had a real conservation ethTo avoid resistance in Bellingham, Sully made ic,” says Mitch Friedman, founder and executive friends. He talked with dog walkers, hikers, bird- director of Conservation Northwest. “These watchers, neighborhood associations, even the freeriders, who were into the gear, the speed, Backcountry Horsemen of Washington, making the adrenaline rush, would cut down trees to sure his group’s work made sense for everyone. build ramps and things like that. I was trying Galbraith-area residents began calling him to to persuade WHIMPS’ leadership that this was report illegal activities, and as the Tuesday night bad for their movement, that being better

The best kind of traffic jam. A posse of bikes marks the top of Double Down while the owners survey a section of rocks and roots at the start of the trail.


citizens would be better in the long term—let’s April 18, 2011, as a crowd filed into Bellingham work together and set a higher standard.” High School’s gymnasium. This became a significant issue in 2002, Two years before, Trillium had deeded their after the group organized a landmark access 3,000 acres on Galbraith to developer Polygon agreement with Trillium Corporation that made Financial, in lieu of an $18 million debt. Then on the WHIMPS official stewards of Galbraith. April 11, 2011, Polygon announced they were Peterson and vice-president Darren Clark knew closing Galbraith to the public. In response, if they could legitimize and point the freerid- Peterson invited Blair Murray, Polygon’s land ers in the right direction, that standard could manager, to a public forum at the school. be stratospheric. Bill Hawk and Matt Durand “The mayor was there, the city and county offered a reputable bridge between the fac- council members were there,” says EB, who’d tions: Both freeriders, they were also both local been involved in the premeeting negotiations. teachers. The two joined the WHIMPS board “And 500 mountain bikers showed up with a of directors in 2004—where they helped tear few days’ notice on a weeknight. It was crazy.” down all the wooden stunts on Galbraith, some Shortly after, the company agreed to keep of which they’d helped build. Galbraith open. “That was rough,” Peterson says. “There were a lot of hard feelings. But I really think The hillside is steep. Really steep. If it were any it was a key moment in the club’s history, that less so, the thick salmonberry and devil’s club tearing down everything was what allowed us would be a thorny nightmare, but on the flanks to rebuild into what we are today. It proved we of Stewart Mountain they serve as a veggie bewere legitimate, that we knew how to compro- lay, allowing us to swing across the slope with mise to reach long-term goals.” a modicum of safety. Below us, the slope of It paid off. The freshly dubbed WHIMPS gray-green columns of fir and hemlock plungMountain Bike Coalition earned their nonprofit es for 2,000 vertical feet into the dark waters status in 2005, and over the next decade miles of Lake Whatcom. of new multiuser trails wormed their way across EB and Reid Parker think it’s the perfect the mountain. But all of this was in limbo on place for a mountain bike trail.

Below: Bonnie Burke (front) and Eric Brown (rear) play follow the leader on their way down Cougar Ridge, a formerly unsanctioned, downhill-oriented trail linking Galbraith to the reconveyance’s southern side.

The two weave between Douglas firs in search of a friendlier way forward, pausing every 100 feet to tie pink flagging around a branch and mark a GPS waypoint. Parker is the conservation and parks steward for Whatcom County, and the duo will repeat this hike at least twice before county planners review the route for environmental impacts and potential for landslides. Then they’ll return with shovels, five-gallon buckets, volunteers and a few backpacks of beer. The first clearing is a mess of rotting slash, remnants of the area’s most recent clearcut— and, as of 2014, the last. In the early ’90s, a series of landslides ripped off these same slopes, the result of a century of logging. The slides threatened residents and polluted the lake, and with Conservation Northwest’s support, more than 5,000 citizens successfully petitioned the state legislator to direct the landowner, the Department of Natural Resources, to come up with a management plan to protect the Lake Whatcom watershed. Founded in 1957, the DNR manages 5.6 million acres across Washington, under a trust mandate that requires them to use the land to generate revenue for public schools, state institutions and county services. The counties can only take back these trust lands to create parks, so Conservation Northwest led a coalition with just that purpose. After a decade of tumultuous negotiations, in 2005 Whatcom County began planning a huge preserve spanning both sides of Lake Whatcom. The decision fanned tensions within WMBC: Some members opposed the reconveyance, and Peterson, EB, Hawk, Durand (who took over as WMBC president in 2013) and other prominent advocates urged their peers to reconsider. The turning point came in 2012, when the DNR closed a trail network east of Bellingham, undermining the agency’s formerly recreation-​ friendly reputation. Faced with an opportunity almost four times larger than Galbraith, the mountain bike community quickly became the loudest pro-conservation voice in the room. “Mark was very supportive, and there were times he was frustrated with WMBC,” Friedman says. “And there were tense times with Eric and others, because they needed to represent the whole of WMBC, including those with a different ethic. But they were invaluable; we couldn’t have done it without them. Eric was a core part Right: Teach ’em young. Wielding her own purple-painted hoe and rubber boots, Cloe Brown helps her dad during a trail day on Galbraith. The bimonthly work parties regularly draw dozens of volunteers, including families and riders of all ages.

When you bring in the good guys, the bad guys go away. of that, and we could count on him to turn out its 50-plus miles of trail “in perpetuity.” Using mountain bikers in great numbers at public It’s 60 degrees when we finally emerge, funds from the same Greenways Program Sully hearings. They were good citizens.” scratched and soaked, from Stewart’s forested helped create, the coalition purchased permaIn March 2013, the Whatcom County Coun- slopes. EB and Parker are at the truck, discuss- nent recreation and conservation easements cil voted to set aside 8,840 acres of former tim- ing logistics over a topo map spread across the from the logging company, with the city conberland for conservation and nonmotorized tailgate. In 2017, WMBC broke ground on the tributing $2.75 million and the Whatcom Land recreation. The 4,593 acres encompassing bottom half of the Chanterelle climbing trail, Trust, $250,000. WMBC took responsibility for Stewart and the 4,251 acres on Lookout offi- the first of the reconveyance’s 95 future miles. a new, much-needed $300,000 parking lot, as cially became part of Lake Whatcom Park: the We’ve spent the morning mapping the second. well as all trail maintenance. seventh-largest locally managed park in the EB traces our path on the map, before divThe deal wasn’t perfect; the land remains a nation, protecting a quarter of the total Lake ing into WMBC’s long list of ambitions. One is working forest. But the conservation easement Whatcom watershed, the source of Belling- just north of Stewart, another 3,300-acre DNR permanently prohibits any development on the ham’s drinking water. The development plan parcel which WMBC hopes to tie into the recon- mountain, which encompasses 1,000 acres of includes 95 miles of new single track, largely veyance trail system. While it would remain trust the Whatcom watershed and connects green open to mountain bikes. land, it could channel new, recreation-​based spaces like the reconveyance and the ChuckaThis momentum continued into 2015 at opportunities to nearby logging communities nuts. And it always will, regardless of changing Larrabee State Park, a 10-mile drive from Gal- like Kendall and Deming that have struggled politics or ownership. braith’s southern trailhead. Washington’s first in recent years. “Buying the easements is a permanent solustate park is 2,683-acres of waist-deep sword “As we reach these rural towns, we want to tion that’s not just based on legislation,” says fern, waterfalls, lakes and gloomy old growth support the type of economy that both attracts Bowers. “We always thought national parks straddling the sandstone spine of the Chuck- tourism and provides an outlet for the kids and were sacrosanct, but now that’s unclear. In 100 anut Mountains. Starting at the Cyrus Gates families that live in these areas,” he says. “That will years, Galbraith will still be a mountain biking Overlook and ending at the stony shores of be a big component to what we do in the future.” area, but also a place for hikers, runners, dog Clayton Beach, the Double Down Trail twists But EB gets most excited about the mon- walkers or just families walking in the woods.” its way down the entirety of the “Chuckies” grel forest across the ridge: Galbraith Mountain, Sully, however, was never worried about fir-​covered, 1,800-vertical-foot western slope. Bellingham’s misfit mecca. The reason, however, Galbraith’s fate, especially after his visit to WMBC built the downhill-only, mountain-​ is one I’ve never heard before: Since 2002, ac- Bellingham in October 2018, where he and bike-specific trail in 2015 with the park’s cess to Galby has hinged on a month-to-month Peterson were presented with WMBC’s Lifetime approval—the fruit of a 20-plus-year partnership agreement, an uncertainty that prevented the Achievement Awards in front of 700 mountain reaching back to Peterson’s involvement in the local tourism industry from promoting the trail bikers. Trust is just what good neighbors do. 1994 Chuckanut Master Development Plan. system and WMBC from securing public grants. “You can accomplish things standing alone, The Chuckanuts were also the site of WMBC The culture, economic growth and citizen activ- but like any endeavor, to be really effective you and Conservation Northwest’s most recent ism that mountain biking has inspired over the have to join hands and work together,” he says. collaboration: Mount Blanchard, a short slide past 30 years could, technically, have ended “That’s what established us as the good guys.” south along the range. After a decade of citizen with 30 days’ notice. activism, in 2018 the state legislator designated “Here we are, building miles and miles of trail the 1,600-acre chunk of DNR-​managed lands every year, spending all these volunteer resourc- Sakeus Bankson moved to Bellingham, Washas the Harriet Spanel State Forest. It draws es, on the hopes and dreams it would eventually ington, in 2004. After seven years as editor over 100,000 visitors a year, and will never be guaranteed forever,” he says. “Some people of Freehub mountain bike magazine, he now be logged. said we were crazy, but it was all in good faith.” lives in a 17'9" RV with his wife, Jamie, and “Along with Galbraith, the Lake Whatcom That trust proved well-founded. In July 2018, their 35-pound border collie mutt, Moxie. Reconveyance and Mount Blanchard are two the City of Bellingham, Whatcom Land Trust and Left: Cougar Ridge is a mix of roots, rocks and raw loam, so issues that really engaged mountain bikers Galbraith Tree Farm, LLC—who bought the land it’s important to let your brake fingers rest during the occaand conservationists together,” Friedman says. from Polygon in 2017—​entered into an agree- sional smooth stretch. Bonnie Burke keeps it wide open on “Those were both vital coalitions.” ment securing public access to Galbraith and one of the trail’s high-speed sections. 81

Fully sunny with a chance of showers. Linnea Rooke takes advantage of a clear March day at Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park, a dense cluster of trails outside of Issaquah, Washington. Paris Gore

A cure for seasonal confusion

For a few months each fall, physics takes a break in the Pacific Northwest: snowstorms at 40°F, monsoon rain dumping from clear skies, fog that wavers between muggy and icy by the minute. This seasonal confusion creates some of the best dirt in the world: rooty, puffy loam that offers a full-spectrum testing ground for both riders and gear. Linnea Rooke put our MTB outerwear through the wringer (literally) to ensure it would survive rain, roots and meteorological insanity.

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$149.00 I 24587 I 0-18/even I Regular fit I 278 g (9.8 oz) all styles imported


Ride low, get rowdy, stay prepared NINE TRAILS WAIST PACK 8L Full-sized backpacks are ideal for long trail days but can be overkill on hot-weather rides and yo-yo laps, or through spicy terrain. Patagonia’s MTB-specific Nine Trails Waist Pack keeps your back free and gravity low, with enough room to stay prepared. On chunky descents, the contoured, wraparound hip belt secures your gear even when your tires aren’t; on balmy days or big rides, the mono-mesh back panel wicks sweat; and the 1.5-liter HydraPak® reservoir and dual stretch water-bottle pockets make staying hydrated easy. And when the day’s mission includes some greasy roots or hungry rock gardens, the divided, workbench-style front pocket organizes tools and tubes, and can be overstuffed to hold bulky items like kneepads. Hardy, lightweight DWRcoated Cordura® nylon withstands weather and the inevitable on-trail abuse—because, let’s be honest: The roughest rides are often the best ones, and a backpack shouldn’t weigh you down. Imported. Nine Trails Waist Pack 8L $119.00 I 48400 I One size I 380 g (13.4 oz)


Zanskar is a mountainous, predominantly Buddhist district in northern India that has for centuries remained exclusively accessible by trail and largely free of Western influences. The only road, a single-​ lane gravel 4x4 track, climbs a 14,400-foot pass before ending at the city of Padum—when not buried in snow, that is. That’s all changing as the Indian military constructs the first yearround highway up the Zanskar River, accessing almost every village. Mary McIntyre, Carston Oliver, Nicole Baker and Eric Porter set out on a single-track traverse through Zanskar before the road’s completion, where surprise storms forced them to seek refuge on that same highway. It was curiosity, however, that motivated Porter onto this wicker bridge above the Tsarap River (next page). Photos: Mary McIntyre

Next: In the van, into the pan ‌ cakes. Space may be limited in a 1985 Volkswagen Westfalia, but culinary creativity is not. Jane Jackson takes a dive into the spice drawer while making breakfast in southern New Mexico. Eric Bissell 88

A shoulder-season workhorse CAPILENE® MIDWEIGHT BIKE JERSEY Autumn riding can be some of the best of the season; autumn weather, however, can mean switching through layers by the quarter mile. The Capilene® Midweight Bike Jersey is the ideal shoulder-season trail companion, warm and stretchy enough for a midlayer, soft and breathable against the skin, and sturdy enough to brush off snagging foliage. Smooth, wicking recycled polyester fabric makes it easy to toss on or take off layers, while a diamond-grid back fabric traps warmth and rapidly wicks moisture. A longer back hem, flat-seam construction and bike-specific tailoring form to your posture and prevent chafing, whether you’re over the bars on the way up or out of the saddle headed down. The three back pockets are hefty enough to hold water, food and tools, and can even replace a pack—a jersey that lets you avoid stopping every time you adjust your dropper post. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. Imported. Men’s Capilene® Midweight Bike Jersey $79.00 I 23910 I XS-XXL I Slim fit I 230 g (8.1 oz) women’s available online



For the love of fleece When you need an extra layer, our soft, durable fleece styles will be a companion for life that never goes out of style. For everyday warmth and comfort, these classic styles are made with recycled materials. Imported.

Women’s Woolyester Fleece Pullover This classic, everyday, all-around layer is rendered in a 46% recycled wool/46% polyester/​ 4% nylon/4% other fiber fabric blend. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. $139.00 I 26950 I XS-XL I Regular fit

Women’s Classic Retro-X® Vest Windproof, warm and with a feminine cut, the Retro-X® Vest is made with breathable polyester fleece (86% recycled) and lined with soft, moisture-wicking polyester mesh. $149.00 I 23083 I XXS-XL I Regular fit

Women’s Lightweight Synchilla® Snap-T® Pullover Providing everyday warmth and comfort, this classic pullover is made with Synchilla® 100% recycled polyester fleece. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. $119.00 I 25455 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit

Men’s Better Sweater® 1/4-Zip A warm, low-bulk quarter-zip pullover made of soft, sweater-knit 100% recycled polyester fleece. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. $99.00 I 25523 I XS-3XL I Regular fit

Men’s Classic Retro-X® Jacket A versatile jacket made from 100% polyester (50% recycled) sherpa fleece with a bonded windproof membrane to keep you warm in cool and windy conditions. $199.00 I 23056 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit

Men’s Los Gatos 1/4-Zip A warm, easy-wearing quarter-zip pullover made of 100% polyester (30% recycled) high-pile fleece. $99.00 I 25890 I XXS-XXL I Regular fit

A thing for all your things MARKET TOTE This sturdy, 100% organic cotton canvas bag has durable, reinforced handles that connect with a two-layer bottom to support heavy loads. Keys, sunscreen and all the extras are easy to access with an internal stash pocket. Original artwork is printed using PVC- and phthalate-free inks, and we reduced the amount of scrap fabric generated in our production process. Fair Trade Certified™ sewn. Imported. Market Tote $29.00 I 59280 I 221 g (7.8 oz)

Sunnyside Up Last November, Fitz Caldwell (age 6) finished his first multipitch climb, Sunnyside Bench in Yosemite National Park. He did it with his dad, Tommy. WO R D S BY F I T Z CA L DW E L L ( I N T E RV I E W E D BY H I S DA D ) P H OTO S BY AU ST I N S I A DA K

Tommy: Do you remember this day going climbing with Austin? Fitz: It was scary! T: Tell me about your day. F: Some of the parts were, one of the parts was scary. And the rest of the parts I just got up so fast. T: Do you remember what it was like when we started? F: A crack? T: We climbed up a big crack. And were there other people there? F: Yeah. T: Do you remember how many pitches the climb was? F: Um, 50?



F: Um, well … I just felt stuck. T: And then what started to happen. F: I cried. T: Yeah, you cried a little bit. F: Because I was like, ooww. T: And then what did we do to try and comfort you? F: Lift me over? T: What happened before that? Austin, remember Austin, he held you and tried to comfort you for a while and then Mommy was down in the valley. Ingrid: And I was with Mommy. T: And you were with Mommy. And Mommy yelled up, “You’re doing great, Fitzy,” but she was so far away that we couldn’t really see her. Remember that? And so you got scared, but then you got through the hard part of pitch four. B: How did you get through it? F: Daddy lifted me across from the crack over to the easy part. T: So what happened when you saw the top? You gotta say it. F: I was climbing so fast then, and when I saw the top I was at like such a speed, Daddy couldn’t even catch up. T: Fifty pitches! No.

T: Explain to me what the rock felt like?

F: Five?

F: It was hard and fun. It was hard and easy.

T: Five. And do you remem-

Becca: What parts were easy?

ber the name of the climb. F: No

parts except the crack.

T: Sun …

B: What was hard about the crack?

F: Sun … Sunnyside Bench?

F: Well, it got too hard.

when you got to the top, how did you feel? F: Better, way better, way better. Way way way way way way way way way way better. T: The way I remember it, you were so excited you didn’t stop talking about it for like half a day.

T: Sunnyside Bench, good job! Okay,

I couldn’t even get up.

walk me through it. Just start at the

B: What was happening.

F: Yeah.

bottom and tell me all the details

F: I got stuck!

B: Do you think if you wouldn’t have

you can remember going up.

B: How did you get stuck?

F: Look, I made a circle! Daddy, don’t


F: Well, pretty much all the

T: That’s right, that’s totally true. And then

Were your feet slipping?

B: Did you feel proud of yourself?

had that hard part … do you think it would have been as fun getting to

put your arm there. Well … um. I saw

F: I was stuck inside the crack.

the top? Or do you think the hard part

lots of people and the first group

T: What happened when we got most

made the top feel even better?

of people we saw. And then not so

of the way up, when you got stuck?

much at the second. Like two.

What did you feel like inside?

F: The hard part made the top feel even better.


Cozy flannels for boys BOYS’ FJORD FLANNEL SHIRT Kids are our toughest customers. If a top is itchy, forget it. Anything too tight or bulky won’t do. Clothes that pass muster must stand up to tree climbing, sliding down rocky slopes, wading in streams and run-ins with pavement, mustard and ketchup. It’s a lot to ask of a garment. So when it came time to design a cool-weather shirt for kids, we turned to tried-and-true flannel. Invented in Wales over 500 years ago, and first made of wool, flannel fabric was known for its durability, warmth and its napped or brushed surface. We use 100% organic cotton for our Boys’ Fjord Flannel Shirt. The yarns are ringspun for strength and softness, and the fabric is garment-washed to give it the traditional texture. The result is a sturdy shirt that provides just-right warmth. Imported. Boys’ Fjord Flannel Shirt $55.00 I 62610 I XS-XXL I Regular fit Girls’ and Baby Fjord Flannel Shirts available online


Tommy Caldwell (with his daughter, Ingrid) takes a break shortly after he and Alex Honnold set a new speed record on the Nose on June 6, 2018. They finished the 3,000-foot route in a time of 1:58:07. Photo: Austin Siadak

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Prsrt. Std. U.S. Postage PAID Patagonia, Inc.

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Unwanted Mailings If you are moving, send us your old and new addresses. If you’ve received this catalog in error, received a duplicate or want to remove your name from our mailing list, please call us at 800-638-6464.

100% Recycled Paper This catalog is made with FSC®certified 100% postconsumer recycled paper. Not a single tree was cut to produce it. For over 25 years, we’ve printed our catalogs on recycled paper; we switched to 100% postconsumer recycled paper in 2014.

100% PCW

This catalog refers to the following trademarks as used, applied for or registered in the US: 1% for the Planet®, a registered trademark of 1% for the Planet, Inc.; Fair Trade Certified™ , a trademark of TransFair USA DBA Fair Trade USA; FSC® and the FSC Logo®, registered trademarks of the Forest Stewardship Council, A.C.; HeiQ®, a registered trademark of HeiQ Materials AG; and HydraPak®, a registered trademark of HydraPak, Inc. Patagonia® and the Patagonia and Fitz Roy Skyline® are registered trademarks of Patagonia, Inc. Other Patagonia trademarks include, but are not limited to, the following: Better Sweater®, Capilene®, Houdini®, Micro Puff®, Nano-Air®, R1®, Regulator®, Retro-X®, Snap-T® and Synchilla®. Prices are valid through January 31, 2020. © 2019 Patagonia, Inc.

SEE YOU AT THE STRIKES Adults are encouraged to join youth climate strikes the week of September 20–27 and to remind their elected officials that there’s no room in government for those who

On the cover


deny the climate crisis. To save you a step, here’s a draft “excused-absence note” for

15, Washington, D.C.

employers from Anica Renner, an Australian climate activist (see page 10).

Youth Climate Strike US

To whom it may concern, I’m writing to ask if you can

parent who

please excuse my mom/dad/

live in as will have a safe climate to and other students around

lear whether I

ay. At the moment, it is unc

didn’t make it to work yesterd

I grow up, so I asked them

the world as we strike from

climate future. We can’t do

to join me

school for a safe p we can get.

it alone. We need all the hel ding.

erstan Thanks so much for your und

My generation is probably the last that have a chance to reverse or halt climate change. The climate is going crazy. We’ll see even more natural disasters and mass migrations, and the global economy will be affected. All of that is very concerning for someone who is going to grow up today. Older generations will feel the effects, but they won’t be living with them their whole lives. We need to treat climate change as the primary issue of our times. Meet more youth activists starting on page 8. Cover: Matt Eich

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