Thursday, November 6, 2014

The poseur's guide to Yvon Chouinard

Rock-climber/ethical buisnessman Yvon Chouinard founded clothing company Patagonia.
Photograph by: Courtesy Banff Centre , Swerve

The poseur's guide to Yvon Chouinard

By Jacquie Moore, Swerve October 30, 2014

While a flannel shirt and hemp pants will ensure you look the part of a rugged, arts-loving rock-climber, boning up on the biography of Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival guest Yvon Chouinard will ensure you sound the part, too.

Falcons First: Before he became America’s most famous rock-climber/ethical businessman, Yvon Chouinard was a falconer. In 1953, at the age of 14, he joined the Southern California Falconry Club and learned to train birds for hunting—a hobby that required him to climb cliffs to find falcon aeries. Just saying “aeries” instead of “nests” will convince others of your seasoned outdoorsmanship.

Climb Every Mountain (First): Chouinard became famous in mountaineering circles in the 1960s when he crossed several “world’s-firsts” off his list. He participated in the first ascent of the North American Wall in California’s Yosemite Valley and (local trivia = bonus Poseur points!) he was first up the north face of Mount Edith Cavell. Most important, Chouinard became famous for his focus on the use of a rock’s natural features, a style that altered climbing culture.

Forging Ahead: In 1957, Chouinard started making steel pitons on a coal-fired forge for use in climbing, and sold them out of the back of his car. A casual mention that aluminum chockstones based on his design from those early days are still manufactured will go a long way in convincing others of your deep knowledge of climbing (keep your soft, unblistered hands in your pockets).

Virtuous Vests: Eventually, out of Chouinard’s forge came Patagonia. Forty years in, it’s a hugely successful outdoor-wear company and a vanguard of corporate social responsibility. Poseurs: Do not remove your Patagonia Nano Puff Vest no matter how warm it is inside the Banff Centre.

Busy Beaver: Chouinard is the producer of the new doc DamNation that takes destructive “deadbeat dams” to task. Chouinard will be in attendance at the festival in Banff to present and discuss the film. Note: Repeated disruptive hollers of “Damn dams!” will not score you extra Poseur points.

Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival: Saturday, Nov. 1 to Sunday, Nov. 9 at The Banff Centre, 107 Tunnel Mountain Dr., Banff. Tickets and schedule at

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