By Design

Wilford’s speedometer crests 110 mph, and though sunglasses hide that crazy spark in his eyes – the shimmer that people like him all seem to have – I think he’s mellowed some. He’s got kids now, and says his wife would kill him if he rolled the car. He’s been in seven rollovers, though he’s sure to note that he’s only been driving in five of them (“It sounds kind of excessive when people say seven, like I might have a problem”). He’s also survived scores of harrowing situations in a 37-year climbing career that certainly places him as one of North America’s best true all-arounders – rock, ice, big-wall, mixed, real-deal alpine. Steve House describes him perfectly in his book as “A climber’s climber.” Wilford’s the real deal, even if he’s mellowing. He tells me that his son is the wild one now, a three-year-old terror who proclaims, “I’m not afraid of anything!” and, from the stories, regularly shows it. Something about the apple and the tree…

I love that youthful mindset.

Anyway, we’re heading to Moab for the week for a product design meeting for Patagonia. Should be productive, with lots of accomplished gear geeks brainstorming, and good fun with friends – both fellow ambassadors and employees from hq in Ventura.

Product development usually starts with ideas based on a need, or a problem to be solved, and then emerges into prototypes, discussions, re-working of prototypes, testing, more discussions, more refinements, and never-ending tweaks.

Once a product comes to market, someone needs to write about it. That’s where I come in – at least partly, since I write some of the catalog copy (I’m also one of their alpine ambassadors, thus the product development involvement). Just finished a big round of copy yesterday, leaving me mentally fried. I made-up some creative copy block leads that I’m not sure will fly, we’ll see. Sometimes, when I hit a creative wall, instead of doing the usual (giving up and pouring another marg) I’ll dream up my own products – with copy. I’ve got a bunch of them. It’s fun. Here’s one:

Aggression Tank

Nothing says “don’t fuck with me” like the latest addition to our Lifestyle line. To accompany your sick tats, shaved head, and “Whatchyoulookin’at?” scowl, maximize the intimidation factor this season in our Aggression Tank. An ergonomic mp3 pocket seamlessly boils your blood with the fury of the latest Limp Bizkit album, and a hidden stash pocket keeps the crystal meth out of sight. Cut tight to the fifth intercostal space along the ribs, but with a baggy, flattering fit below the sternum, it’ll show off what’s really important: The guns, baby, the guns.

Colors: black (155) • black (155)

I don’t know where I was going with any of this, but it’s great to be in the desert, was great to ride over with one of my climbing heroes and to boulder together at Big Bend, and it’s great when, at least sometimes, things all work out the way you’d have designed it if you could. Somehow it reminds me of Mark’s telling me about his son, all fired up after a night of trick-or-treating, holding his bag of candy above his head and shouting: “Never give up!”

4 thoughts on “By Design

  1. Hey Kelly, have fun in Moab! And write about any exiting new gear you come across.
    As a side note, it would be great if you wrote about training or how do you prepare yourself in between climbs.
    I’m one of the less fortunate people that have to work for a living so my climbing is sporadic at best, specially since I moved to the US.
    Have a good one!

  2. Thanks much, Uri. Good idea, and someone else suggested that as well. Will post some training stuff here at some point, probably starting with the more general overview of my training — have some notes and such. Indeed it can be time consuming to get fully prepared, and during my busier times of year it’s especially tough and I have to be more efficient then (I make my living with writing and editorial work; a little extra from sponsors and the like, but 95% comes from slaving behind the keyboard — most of it relates to climbing world stuff, though, which is great!). Fortunately, I can schedule work/play as needed, which is why I’m usually typing until 2am or so. But I do know of several people with regular-schedule, full-time, year-round jobs who also have families and manage to do big alpine trips and stay super fit for it. Still trying to figure out how they do it, maybe they don’t sleep? Pretty amazing!

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