I've always been a fan of Patagonia kit, there was just something aspirational about it when I was really getting into the Outdoors game. You didn't find it in a lot of stores and the cost of their classic Mountaineering jacket was always that little bit silly ( that said my first Gore-tex was the classic Berghaus Mera Peak which at the time was the most expensive jacket they did ). I had heard and read about the founder Yvon Chouinard plenty of times, especially when it came to the drive for a more green approach to business ( which if truth be known I didn't take seriously until much later on in my career ) so I had always been looking for an excuse to buy his book 'Let My People Go Surfing - The Education of a Reluctant Businessman'.
Role on Christmas and a bit of cash in my pocket walking through the Lake District town of Keswick ( we were supposed to be on the hill, but the snow was a little too epic ) and the purchase was easy.
So what was this book like? Well to be honest it was more 'interesting' than 'gripping'. This is a man who has struggled with the concept of business since setting up the classic Chouinard equipment many years ago. It is enlightening to read about his approach to staffing and making sure that you look after your own people ( hence the title ). Patagonia is still a very successful business and you do get little glimpses into how this has been acheived ( most notably the amount of CEO's the company has had ), but the main issue being presented in this book is that a company whatever size can and indeed, should be making a difference to the world. What is also very interesting is the transparency of the company. The say and they do. Having seen my fair share of greenwashing and even companies abusing the 1% for the Planet foundation that the author set up, it is refreshing to go back to the originators and see how it should be done.
I've never been a fan of business qualifications, especially the dreaded MBA which for some reason people hold in high esteem, ( I like the authors MBA - Management By Absence ), but if these courses are to have any credibility this book should be on the reading list. It should also be read by anyone who sits in the car on the way to work questioning the way things are done. In this book, you may just find some answers ( or at least a new path to some ).
This leads me to the next book I picked up. I have run into references to Steph Davies on various outdoor sites for a fair few years and seen her pop up on Twitter talking about some scary wingsuit flying in the Alps, but didn't know she had written a book. Then randomly I saw an old rock climbing movie on a plane trip and also saw her on TV ( albeit as a background story to Dean Potter setting a slacklining record ). So in looking up more about slacklining ( which does look awesome ) I ended up on her blog thinking about climbing again ( been a long time since I had been on a rock face ). I picked up her book 'High Infatuation: A Climbers Guide to Love and Gravity' online and from page one I was gripped.
Avoiding the standard autobiographical layout, this book is more of a collection of thoughts and experiences. The running theme is the challenge of living a life driven by challenges. How can it effect your personal life, how can you put down any roots living a nomadic lifestyle and how hanging 1000ft from a cliff face can form friendships for life. It is almost like reading a diary of sorts, but you really do get carried a long from Patagonia to Moab, back to Patagonia and off to Yosemite and back again. It's a crazy trip and there isn't an end. I challenge anyone to read this and not want to pack everything up in a battered old jeep and head to the hills. The only thing that challenged me in this book was the 'Aid Climbing' . Being a British climber the concept of taking a hammer to a rock is totally alien and in a strange sort of way I did get the impression that the author was starting to feel that too. Either way it is a good book to read and blog to follow.
Need another outdoorsy book to crave the interest...suggestions welcome!