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The Lost Valley

^ click to watch

Just released, the film “The Lost Valley”is a piece I filmed on assignment for Arcteryx clothing.  We travelled to a remote valley of Northern Patagonia in Argentina and had one hell of an adventure.  Please watch, enjoy, share! Big thanks to Arcteryx and my teammates: Will Stanhope, Paul McSorely, and Marc-André Leclerc. I am glad we all made it back in one piece.

'35' awarded Best Short Mountain Film at Banff!!

Just heard the news that ‘35’ was awarded the Best Short Mountain Film at the 2013 Banff Mountain FIlm Festival.  This film began as a labor of love and turned into something beautiful with the help of all those involved. A big thanks goes out to the team at Duct Tape Then Beer and Semi-Rad

Here is what Banff had to say about ‘35’:

“In just five short minutes, this inspiring film captured the hearts of all the jury members and left us all grinning. One man’s personal journey of fulfilling a climbing goal for his 35th birthday teaches us so eloquently about gratitude, following our dreams, how the ordinary can be amazing, and the importance of not missing the magic in life. Derek’s story, conveyed in such a beautifully crafted visual style, was so inspiring, that after seeing this film, you just can’t wait to get out there and write your own.”

Watch 35 Here

Personally I am so honored and grateful for the entirety of experience that this project provided!

An Ode to Rain

The rain is often greeted with enmity in people.  It is dismissed as a nuisance, a depressing form of weather that at best might wash your car for you and at worst becomes an excuse not to get out and enjoy nature’s beauty.  While making the drive across Hwy-2 from Seattle to Leavenworth (a drive I’ve performed countless times from when I was 16) the weather unleashed a torrent of precipitation.  This time though, I noticed the almost unbearable beauty of this otherwise typical northwest day and a drive I typically hammer out in two hours turned into a five-hour journey. Cruising through the ever-changing landscape on the brink of the changing seasons, what a folly it seemed to confine rainy days to a paradigm that funnels them into a day not worthy of reverence.

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In Spirit

It could be said that every good adventure begins with a question that needs answering. 

“What’s it like over there?”

“Will I be able to do that?”

“Will I find whatever it is I’m searching for?”

And the answer?  Well… the answer has to be lived before you truly know.

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Matthew Van Biene in Patagonia | NW Alpine

I wrote a quick review for my friends at NW Alpine.  They make high quality climbing clothing that actually works FOR you, as you’ll read in the review.

Patagonia

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Joel below the 4000’ east face of Fitz Roy at dawn

Here again I find myself in the position of not having updated this blog for far too long.  I owe this one to technical difficulties. 

I’ve just returned from a few months in El Chaltén, Argentina.  This pleasant town gives access to some of the most amazing alpine climbing to be found anywhere in the world and, let’s be honest, it’s no secret.  Climbers from all across the globe descend during the austral summer months to get a chance to test themselves amongst these granite giants.  For my partner, Joel Enrico and I, we went down their with one goal in particular: climb Fitz Roy.  Within two weeks a massive weather window arrived giving us the chance we hoped for.  Seizing the opportunity we headed into the hills alongside our friends Austin Siadak and Cheyne Lempe.  

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Austin Siadak behind the camera.  It’s a tough job.

I’ll spare the details, but after some trial and error, we found ourselves climbing the Care Bear Traverse: a link-up of Guillamet, Mermoz, and FItz Roy.  Three days of climbing and a summit bivy on Fitz Roy has left an impression in my psyche that will not fade for a lifetime. We managed more stellar climbing in the range and got to explore much of the area.  Suffice to say that my imagination is sparked and I am inspired to return, hopefully next season.

When not climbing, because of the modern forecasting models we are privy too, most climbers can hang back in town until the next weather window.  El Chaltén is a charming town filled with friendly locals, good food, and an abundance of street dogs.  I enjoyed more than my fair share of empanadas and formed many new friendships during my stay. 

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Austin again working hard.  This time polishing off some Estepa made empanadas.

So why didn’t I post any updates while sitting out weeks of bad weather? Just prior to me leaving for Argentina my computer mysteriously died.  I could turn it on, but then it would sputter, cough, and hangout in a load screen forever.  This rendered me technologically inept to keep up with busy work such as blog update, photo edits, etc.  Im back in the states now, plugged back in (slightly begrudgingly), and back to work.  Feel free to drop a line, stay in touch, or get together for drinks, laughs, and adventure.

Peace and Love

-MVB

Gone with the Wind

Lately I have been rocking a not-so-awesome mustache. This is mostly because my electric shaver ran out of juice before I could complete my grooming whilst in the desert and less because it had been Movember this past month, and frankly dear… I don’t give a damn.

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Rainy Rest Day

I find myself just outside of Zion National Park in Springdale, UT. Staying with friends and climbing long crack systems is a hell of a way to spend a few days. Luckily the weather held off until a proper rest day so I can log some computer time. [get ready for shameless plug]  If it wasn’t a day to chill inside I might be outside in the elements.  When there is weather to brave and mountains to climb I can always rely on my NW Alpine clothing to keep me warm, dry, and looking good!  Yeah, but in all seriousness, NW Alpine is a great little company based in Portland, OR and owned by my friend Bill Amos.  Bill’s focus is on making simple, effective clothing for alpine climbing.  Looking good is not necessarily a concern, but the folks at NW Alpine seem to nail that pretty good too.

I’ve enjoyed a few adventures with Bill over the years and one of them was out to a little known knook along the Crooked River called Tower Town.  Last year a small cadre of us went out to enjoy some solitude, bromance, and to heckle Tyler who planned to make the second ascent of the Eagle’s Claw… 41 years after the first.  How does an aesthetic tower go unclimbed for over forty years that lies within fifteen minutes from popular Smith Rock?  Well, the rock is total shit and Tyler has a penchant for sadistically enjoying terrifying aid climbing.  (Think pounding pecker’s and RURP’s into a seam made of hardened mud)

Yikes.  But Tyler managed to pull it off and I snapped some photos in the process. Now some of those images can be found in the NW Alpine catalog!  

So if you are looking some layering solutions to your next mountain adventure, check out NW Alpine, it should suffice to say that you will be happy you did.

Currently, the weather outside still appears inclement. Clouds are swirling in the afternoon light. The wind pushes and pulls against the native pines and Joshua Trees. This diverse landscape is in the midst of changing seasons. The colors of fall are beginning to blend with those of winter, which is a good time to have a camera in hand. I do think I’ll at least go for a walk.

Whoa!

Well it has been roughly three months since my last update. It would honestly be silly to give a detailed recap of the past three months. A lot has happened of course and many stories could be told. I am still photographing, climbing, loving everything I do. I seem to have a tenacity to find what I enjoy and pursue those avenues, almost to a fault. Today I am in Yosemite, enjoying all that this magical place has to offer. The scenery, the people, the climbing. All are world class without a doubt.

First off, I recently updated the website with new images and now video!  Yes, some of the films I have recently completed are now displayed, as well as select images from the past few months.  Pleas take a look!

Since Alaska, I managed to team up with good friends for a few first ascents on the SE face of Big Kangaroo in the washington pass area.

Mark Allen exploring new vertical terrain

 I completed a photo shoot for an upcoming alpine climbers training manual written by Steve House and Scott Johnston.  I meandered down to Smith Rock for the Craggin’ Classic and had the pleasure of making a short film to document the community and energy of the weekend.  I also purchased a ticket to South America, the destination being Argentine Patagonia.  My good friend Joel Enrico and I are travelling down there in hopes to climb what are heralded as some of the finest peaks in the world.  It seems a rare treat to be able to travel to such a destination and give ourselves to the mountains.  As John Muir once said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”  In preparation we have convened here in Yosemite and plan to climb together throughout the west until our departure in January.  The least I can say is that my heart and energy feel boundless amidst such inspiring people and landscapes, or in a nutshell, the psyche is high!

Climbers eying the next pitch on “Monkey Space”, Smith Rock

Diana is always laughing. Tuolumne Grove, CA

Simple beauty and simply beautiful, Sarah stands amidst a giant.  Tuolumne Grove, CA

So this is a quick update to whereabouts and intentions.  I do plan on MUCH more frequent updates so I can delve into more details as adventures unfold.  

Peace, Love, and Rock Climbing :)

Product Videos for Patagonia

Here are some videos produced by Patagonia that I filmed footage for back in April.  Austin and I teamed up yet again for a quick trip (back) to Ouray for one final day of filming with Vince Anderson and Hayden Kennedy.  We lucked out in that the one day we had planned to film, the weather turned from 70 degrees and sunny to hovering around 32 degrees and dumping.  Perfect for filming product footage for alpine clothing.  It was a rugged day of shooting and put us and our equipment to the test as we filmed almost non-stop for eight hours, ticking off the shot list and feebly trying to keep our gear dry.  Not all footage is ours, but (most) of the ice climbing footage of Vince and Hayden is from that great day.

Cheers to Patagonia, Hayden, Vince, and Austin.  And Tyler Stableford for hooking up the gig.

-MVB

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