As you may have already heard, January 29th, 2018 was an historic day for Chile and for Tompkins Conservation. On a clear summer afternoon, we welcomed President Michelle Bachelet to Patagonia Park headquarters to sign the decrees creating the network of Patagonia parks, solidifying the pledge we both signed in March 2017 to create five new national parks and expand three more. I was proud to represent TC on behalf of Doug and our team members and partners around the world. After 25 years of work, we can hardly believe this day finally arrived.
The collection of land and infrastructure we donated for Patagonia National Park Chile alone took 14 years of work and many partners. Supporters from Hong Kong to Laguna Beach, from schoolteachers to investment banking executives, employees, volunteers, and partners of Conservacion Patagonica and The Conservation Land Trust have made immeasurable contributions to this shared endeavor – This grand donation and parks creation, the largest of its kind in history, would not have been possible without all of your help. The one million acres given by Tompkins Conservation, combined with nine million acres of federal land designated by the government, will expand Chile’s national parklands by over 10.3 million acres. The signing of these decrees cements Chile as one of the global leaders in conservation today.
President Michelle Bachelet and key ministers sign the national park decrees, January 29th, 2018. Photo: Linde Waidhofer
The one million acres given by Tompkins Conservation, combined with nine million acres of federal land designated by the government, will expand Chile’s national parklands by over 10 million acres.
In an era filled with very discouraging news about the daily destruction of our beautiful planet, we hope this day is a reminder to everyone that there are still ways to fight back. After the announcement, The New York Times published my op-ed “Protecting Wilderness as an Act of Democracy,” which may serve as a reminder that the continuing degradation of wilderness is not the only path forward.
Doug and I have always been firm believers that a country’s natural masterpieces are best held and protected by the public for the common good. National Parks are the gold standard of conservation—they belong to everybody. They remind us that we are part of something larger than ourselves. National Parks, monuments and other public lands remind us that regardless of race, economic standing or citizenship, we are all part of the community of Life.
Kristine Tompkins and President Michelle Bachelet visit the Patagonia Park cemetery and the grave of Douglas Tompkins just before the donation ceremony. Photo: Dani Casado
The story of the creation of these parks, this wild legacy, belongs to us all. I am forever grateful for your involvement, the work we have done together, Doug’s incredible vision, and this spectacular commitment by the government of Chile. We hope you can all take a moment to enjoy this unprecedented step towards the protection of wild nature.
Snow-making has been called a Band-Aid to the bigger problem of warming temperatures.
Patrik Duda / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm
In the height of ski season this year, blades of grass and patches of dirt still dot cross country ski trails in Aspen, Colo. Conditions like this present a conundrum for professional skiers: Their livelihood relies on snow and cold temperatures, but essentials like travel and snow-making come with an environmental cost.
Simi Hamilton is one of the fastest cross country skiers in the world, and before the snow fell this season, he hit the pavement in his hometown of Aspen on roller skis. Training without snow is something Hamilton is getting used to. Year after year, he watches the snow line move further up the mountains.
“We would be in the high Alps at 6,000 feet trying to train in mid-January and we’d still be training on just, like, a two-foot deep platform of man-made snow and there’s just green grass next to the trails,” Hamilton said.
Olympic cross country skier Simi Hamilton trained on roller skis in his hometown of Aspen, Colo., last fall.
Elizabeth Stewart-Severy/Aspen Public Radio
A missed turn on this ribbon of snow means skiers get grass stains, and that’s the new reality of cross country skiing. Warming temperatures mean a later start to winter. Even after winter hits, more precipitation is falling as rain rather than snow. The lack of snow means ski areas have to fill in the gaps.
“There’s not a whole lot ski resorts can do other than buff out snow-making,” said Auden Schendler, vice president for sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company.
Most of the snow that cross country skiers race on is artificial. Resorts and cross country race venues across the world blow huge piles of man-made snow. They truck it across the landscape to create ski trails, and some resorts are even storing manufactured snow through the summer months to be sure they can provide skiing early in the season.
This sets up a tricky situation: a warming climate is undeniably detrimental to the ski industry. But Schendler said the man-made snow solution is just a Band-Aid, and one that actually aggravates the problem.
“You’re using a very energy-intensive fix to deal with a changing climate and the fix cannibalizes the very climate you care about,” Schendler said.
As global temperatures rise, researchers have tracked an upward trend in both the number of resorts that are making snow, and the number of acres they cover with the artificial stuff. Elizabeth Burakowski studies changes in winter climate at the University of New Hampshire.
“It is a challenge for professional athletes to say, walk the walk when it comes to carbon emissions,” Burakowski said.
But snow-making technology is becoming more efficient, according to Burakowski. In terms of global greenhouse gas emissions, the industry is “probably a drop in the bucket.”
Nonetheless, athletes like Olympic cross country skier Noah Hoffman are aware that every drop counts.
“We see the changes to the climate on a yearly basis, and yet, we’re burning huge amounts of fossil fuels flying from venue to venue, and then the snow that we ski on is incredibly energy intensive,” Hoffman said.
Hoffman tries to offset the harm caused by his Olympic skiing dream by speaking out on environmental issues.
“I don’t know how to settle those two sides of the coin in my own mind,” he said.
But he thinks it starts with acknowledging his own role in contributing to the problem.
Had a few beers, turned on the tele and watched Valley Uprising last night. Nice way to remember Jim. Climbed with him occasionally in Rocky Mt. Nat. Park in the early 70’s. He taught me a lot but most importantly it was fun to wander around the mountains with him. rōbert
On February 12, Jim “The Bird” Bridwell, captain of numerous El Cap voyages of physical and psychological expansion, inventor, writer, thinker and fashion setter died of complications from hepatitis C. He was 73.
By Duane Raleigh | February 16th, 2018 … Rock and Ice
I last saw Bridwell five years ago at the Ouray Ice Festival.
“Come here,” he ordered during an evening event, a flea-market type gathering of gear makers and climbers. “I’ve got a pecker to show you.”
Bridwell reached into a pocket and slung out a junkyard of gear, the fruit of an ever-evolving vision he had had about 30 years ago when he sawed one arm off of an anchor-shaped nut, the Chouinard Crack-N-Up, to make a micro pin for times when the RURP was just too big.
Bridwell was in his late 60s but he seemed to have not aged—even when he had been young he had looked old. Years of sun and privation and maximum effort had famously given him the face of a plowed field. It was said that he had “the head of a 70-year old, body of a 25-year old, attitude of an 11-year-old.”
Bridwell was a tinkerer. He looked for an edge. A sliver of creativity occupied his mind like a burst of light through a cracked door. There was the rock shoe with a swim-fin toe for slotting into thin cracks. It was beautiful except when there wasn’t a crack. Another invention, the chalkbag, found greater popularity. Paisley shirts set off with a colorful bandana had their turn, too. The handlebar moustache would have caught on, but no one else could grow one like him.
Bridwell materialized in Yosemite in the early 1960s when the establishment of Robbins, Harding, Pratt, Sacherer, Et al., were still making hay, but were soon to split, having grown up or died.
The Bird inherited the kingdom and decreed a new game, free climbing. The throne fit him. When he had arrived in Yosemite there were just two 5.10s. By the time he left, around 1980, there were so many routes of that grade and miles harder, he had to develop a sub-grading system of a, b, c, and d to tell them apart.
Standout lines of his from his prime included Freestone, Wheat Thin, Outer Limits (Yosemite’s first rappel-bolted route, in 1971), Butterfingers. When he felt like he was too old to free climb at a world-class level, Bridwell grabbed iron and banged out the hardest walls in the world.
Yet Bridwell’s brand in Yosemite went beyond achievements—he was the evolutionary link between the old and the new, taking youngsters John Bachar, John Long, Ron Kauk, Dale Bard, John Yablonski, Dean Fidelman, and others under his wing. A decade older, he was a father figure. “Bridwell’s Boys,” who later became The Stonemasters, were the crew on his ship and they sailed the granite sea plundering treasure. There was the first one-day ascent of El Cap, with Long and Billy Westbay. A free ascent of its Stovelegs. A string of fierce nail ups, the Sea of Dreams being his Pieta. Over 100 first ascents in all. In his prime Bridwell was likely the best rock climber in the world, and he climbed hard well into his 50s, making his final FA on El Cap when he was 57. “For sheer production of routes,” wrote Long in a 1970s feature for Mountain, “he is unparalleled.”
Fidelman remembers meeting Bridwell in 1974. “I was 16,” he says. “I ran into Largo [John Long] in the parking lot. He asked me if I had any dope, and led me to a tent in the back of Camp 4.
“Jim was inside, they both proceeded to smoke ALL of my weed, that’s how I met JB, I was awed to meet my hero. Jim was a father figure to all of us … I went climbing with him shortly after we met. I struggled to lead a pitch and got frustrated and embarrassed. Bridwell asked me to sit with him on the ledge, he told me that it wasn’t important to him how hard his friends climbed.
“He said, ‘I’m not friends with climbers, I’m friends with people.’ I’ve always taken this lesson to heart.”
Besides projecting motivation like a solar flare, Bridwell brought longhair and joblessness (he “had a disdain for labor”) to Camp 4, becoming one of the first professional climbers, and in a time when being the best climber in the world might earn you a free rope. “I was never tempted by money,” Bridwell said. “If I had been, things could have gone badly.”
On rock, Bridwell was a technical master, bold but calculating. He disdained soloing, saying: “I don’t need to solo, I got friends.”
He was a hippie, but not in the traditional sense of say, Oddball in Kelly’s Heroes. He was anti-establishment, but could fit in when he needed to.
In Yosemite for the long haul, Bridwell founded YOSAR with John Dill, a “true patriot,” in 1970. He scraped by, drawing the occasional wage by saving a life or recovering a body and “canning,” rummaging through trash for bottles and cans for their redemption deposits. He didn’t need much. Camping was free. Food was “scarfed” from tourist leftovers in the cafeteria, and smokes were “damps,” discarded cigarette butts with a few puffs left. Later, when fame caught him, he would be sponsored by Camel cigarettes.
Driven by his background in athletics, Bridwell erected the outdoor gym by the Columbia boulder and trained. Climbers still work out there.
When Bridwell wasn’t in the Valley he made it as a ski patroller at Squaw Valley and a climbing guide in the Tetons, a duty he considered as lowly as Mozart teaching the kazoo. He wrote books and articles, gave slideshows and did stunt camera work, rigging and consulting for Hollywood, notably on Cliffhanger.
Bridwell’s father, a WWII pilot who later flew for Pan Am, would have preferred that Jim follow his lead. He did, for a time, intending to put in two years at college then join the military, get his wings and move on to the private sector. Offered a full-ride scholarship to Purdue, he instead went to San Jose for its track program and majored in psychology. “There were lots of crazy people so it would be easy to find work if you could handle being with crazy people,” he wrote in an unpublished article for Rock and Ice.
When the Vietnam war flared up, Bridwell cooled on his military ambitions. He decided, “not to go to war and kill other humans at the dictate of a specious government,” and dropped out and said he later dodged the draft.
In 1964, inspired by Maestri’s (now debunked) ascent of Cerro Torre, Bridwell dedicated himself to achieving a singular goal: to climb Cerro Torre himself.
With that pot of gold in mind, Bridwell climbed in Yosemite until, as Long wrote, “Yosemite and Bridwell were synonymous.” In 1979 Bridwell did climb Cerro Torre, via the Compressor Route in just 36 hours, and arguably made the first ascent of the route itself—Maestri hadn’t bothered to climb the summit snowcap, and Bridwell had had to drill rivets up the final summit headwall, implying that Maestri hadn’t even climbed all the rock.
Bridwell’s ascent of Cerro Torre, with Steve Brewer, established him at the forefront of alpinism, an achievement most remarkable because he was a fledgling alpinist who had hardly worn crampons at that point..
Bridwell, with Steve Brewer, made the first alpine ascent of the Compressor Route on Cerro Torre, in 1979. Arguably, this was the route’s first ascent, as Cesare Maestri never stepped foot on Cerro Torre’s summit.
Jim Bridwell, born July 29, 1944, advanced modern big wall climbing and inspired generations of climbers who came after him.
Bridwell’s list of accomplishments includes hundreds of first ascents in Yosemite, with notable ascents in Patagonia, and Alaska. He advanced modern aid climbing techniques and founded what is likely the most famous search and rescue outfit in the nation, YOSAR.
Bridwell emerged in Yosemite during the mid-60s and promptly began putting up first ascents up El Cap. He served as a bridge between golden-age Yosemite pioneers like Royal Robbins and Warren Harding and the Stone Masters era of renowned climbers John Bachar, John Long, Ron Kauk, and Dale Bard.
Climbing Icon Jim Bridwell Remembered
In 1975, he was on the first team to climb The Nose of El Cap in under a day, accompanied by John Long and Billy Westbay. This ascent spurred a competition among climbers to see who can climb it the fastest.
Other notable ascents include the first complete climb of the controversial Compressor route in Patagonia on Cerro Torre, and the first ascent of the East Face of the exposed Moose’s Tooth in Alaska.
During his heyday, Bridwell was one of the strongest climbers in the world. But he didn’t stop young, making his final first ascent on El Cap at the age of 57.
Bridwell died of Hepatitis C complications and is survived by his wife, Peggy, and son, Layton. His son started a GoFundMe at the outset of his health complications, and described where the disease may have originated. It serves as a lens into the wildly adventurous and daring personality that was Bridwell.
“My mom suspects he could have contracted from any number of his adventures but more likely than not it came from the tattoo he received from the Headhunter’s during his cross navigation of Borneo back in the 80’s when I was a kid,” said Layton.
Give Him Enough Rope
Whether you call him irresponsible or avant-garde, mountaineer Jim Bridwell is definitely on the edge
~ May, 1986
Exhausted, the three men race against heavy clouds hurtling across a smoke-gray sky. They complete a snow cave to cache their climbing gear, which they’ve backpacked up the glacier, when Jim Bridwell casually suggests they wait out the approaching storm in the cave. John Bachar and Mike Graham are astonished. Bridwell knows as well as they that the blizzard will last for days. They only have lightweight sleeping bags and a little food. Then Bachar and Graham recall that for the past six to eight hours Bridwell has seemed serenely detached. He’s expressed childlike wonder at pretty flowers. As the first snow falls, he grins inanely. Bachar and Graham look at each other, and the look says, “What is this guy on?”
Several days later, at base camp, Bachar and Graham announce they’re abandoning the expedition, an attempt on the unclimbed east side of a peak named Cerro Torre, in Fitz Roy Park in the Argentine Andes. And so Bridwell finds himself alone in Patagonia, the eerie region of high winds and twenty-day storms at the tip of South America. He has no partners; the sensible thing would be to head home at once.
But Jim Bridwell is a notorious renegade of mountaineering. He packed dozens of tiny window-panes on alternative reality for recreational use around park headquarters.
Jim Bridwell, a paisley-clad climber who pioneered new routes up some of the world’s most formidable rock faces, including the prow of El Capitan — a granite monolith in California’s Yosemite Valley that rises twice the height of the Empire State Building — died Feb. 16 at a hospital in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 73.
He had liver and kidney failure from hepatitis C, his wife, Peggy Bridwell, told the Associated Press.
Mr. Bridwell made historic climbs in the Alaska Range near Denali and in the Andes of Patagonia, and in 1982 was part of an expedition that became the first to circumvent Mount Everest, trekking 300 miles around the mountain and over some of its 20,000-foot sister peaks.
But in a five-decade climbing career, he was most closely associated with Yosemite National Park, where in the 1970s he led a group of renegade climbers that dropped acid while bouldering, filched food from the park cafeteria and idolized the strength of Bruce Lee and the psychedelic rock of Jimi Hendrix. They called themselves the Stonemasters. A more fitting name, climber Lynn Hill once joked, might have been the “stoned masters.”
Archers indulge in a raucous competition, cheering teammates and jeering opponents. Here archers celebrate with a ritual dance after a teammate hit the narrow target.
The host of the Winter Olympics, South Korea, excels in the summer game of archery. They grabbed gold medals in all four categories in Rio.
But the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan may be less than awed. Bhutan claims archery for its national sport, and archers pay no heed to the plunging temperatures of winter when they compete propelling arrows across a field.
And if you think of archery as a decorous game, think again.
A Bhutanese archer draws and releases. Contestants must propel an arrow across a field that is 140 meters (460 feet) long, twice the distance of the range used in the Olympics.
In a recent tournament in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, archers competed with full-throated abandon. They hooted and hollered their way through the competition, encouraging their teammates, and deriding their opponents, marrying gusto and ritual.
With every arrow that hits the mark, Bhutanese archers line up, face the target, and break out in a traditional song and dance.
Legend has it that the father of the first king used his archery skills to vanquish a general of invading British forces in 1864. Judging by the competition underway, mastering those skills is no mean feat.
Archer Yeshey Norbu stands under a carved wooden canopy and through an interpreter describes the game. Half the members of each team shoot, while those not shooting gather on the other end of the field around the small target. It’s festooned with streamers of different colors, which archers wave back at their teammates to signal where their last arrow landed.
Norbu explains that, “You score one point when the arrow is very close to the target, at an arrow’s distance.” Interestingly, there are evidently no referees in Bhutan’s game. “You score 2 points when it’s a hit. You score 3 points if you hit the bull’s-eye,” he says.
The first team to reach 25 points wins the game.
The target is a narrow board, and the length of the field makes hitting it all the more remarkable. When an archer lets loose an arrow, it must travel 140 meters (460 feet) — twice as long as the range used in the Olympics.
On the sidelines, archer Uygen Thinley ponders that difference. Speaking in a mixture of English and Bhutan’s native Dzongkha, he borders on disdain. When an Olympian hits the mark, Thinley says, “We don’t really appreciate it all that much.”
Recently, New York museums have presented retrospectives of all three of the most influential artists of Brazil’s postwar avant-garde. Lygia Clark, with her hinged-metal sculptures you can fiddle with at will, filled the top floor of the Museum of Modern Art. Lygia Pape, known for bold, participative performances and sculptures of iridescent gold filaments, appeared at the Met Breuer. And Hélio Oiticica was the man of the hour this summer at the Whitney, live birds and all.
The generation that set the stage for them, however — the one that established Modern art in Brazil in the early 1920s — has received less attention here. You’ll have to go back to the Guggenheim’s 2001 blockbuster “Brazil: Body and Soul” for the last big-ticket appearance of Modernist painters like Emiliano di Cavalcanti, Cândido Portinari and, above all, Tarsila do Amaral (1886-1973): the most popular artist of the last century in her home country, but still little known in the United States. Her mature paintings, featuring oversize bodies in flowing, stylized landscapes, provoked the modern Brazilian penchant for antropofagia, or “cannibalism,” that Clark, Oiticica and Pape would all draw from. In the art of Tarsila (like a Brazilian soccer star, she is always called by her first name), Brazil found a new cultural confidence that said goodbye to European envy and consumed Western, African and indigenous influences with equal relish.