Yvon Chouinard

Written by 9:35 am 2019, Books, Featured, Fly Fishing

Patagonia Releases New Book About Yvon Chouinard

“Some Stories: Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport” —Patagonia Releases New Book Featuring Yvon Chouinard’s Iconic Storytelling, Favorite Writings and Life Lessons

“Some Stories: Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport” — Patagonia Releases New Book Featuring Iconic Storytelling, Favorite Writings and Life Lessons of Yvon Chouinard

Yvon and a young monk near Jakar, Bhutan. 1985. Photo by John Roskelley

Early in “Some Stories: Lessons from the Edge of Business and Sport” (Patagonia, April 2019, hardcover), Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard recounts being elected secretary of his falconry club when he was 15 years old. Keeping the minutes was his first writing assignment outside school, and the previously unpublished “Southern California Falconry Club” documents one of the most formative times of his life. 

Adult club members, including Tom Code, then a graduate student at UCLA, taught Chouinard and others falconry and climbing, which was necessary to reach nests. These pursuits also gave the young man a solid foundation for his love of the outdoors and fierce environmental activism.

“The thin, crushed eggs we found were the first evidence implicating DDT in the demise of the peregrine falcon in North America,” writes Chouinard. “There were no falcons east of the Mississippi River and few pairs left in the West. Tom [Code] and a few friends developed a captive breeding and release program that pulled the peregrine back from the edge of extinction. Now the peregrine is a common bird all over the country.”

For nearly 80 years, Chouinard has followed his own advice, pursuing outdoor adventures, business excellence and environmental activism with equal fervor. Since 1950, he has captured the lessons and revelations he’s learned in articles and books, personal letters and poetry, introductions and eulogies.

“Some Stories” is Chouinard’s collected writings. The 464-page book features his favorite stories through the years of falconry, fly fishing, surfing, backcountry skiing, climbing and environmental activism—ultimately showing us why he has never retired.

yvon chouinard
Yvon in the Black Dihedral, North America Wall, El Capitan, Yosemite. Photo by Tom Frost/Aurora

The book includes 56 of pieces of Chouinard history illustrated with 250 photos, many never published before. The result is a compilation of the man’s provocative thinking, his skilled storytelling and sense of humor, and a picture of the evolution of his thoughts and philosophies. The book marks Chouinard’s place in the Golden Age of outdoor sport and preserves his unique legacy in business, sport and environmental activism.

Angler and author Thomas McGuane, arguably our country’s greatest living writer, eloquently endorses Yvon Chouinard and the book: 

“I know of no better example than Chouinard of what entrepreneurial Americans do best combined with our original, charitable and democratic impulses—themselves as endangered as the planet itself. Chouinard’s book displays his excellent, idiosyncratic writing—direct and unbeholden to customary or unexamined thinking. Free of sermonizing, it is the best possible result of a life of thoughtful action.” 

The first half of the book includes dispatches from young Chouinard about his misfit days in Yosemite Valley, selling pitons and carabiners from the back of his car, and personal stories of his misadventures, including an attempt to earn some extra cash that cost him 18 days in an Albuquerque jail.

photo by Kirk Ridgeway

Selections cover Chouinard’s exploits in outdoor sports through the decades: climbing, skiing, kayaking, fly fishing and surfing—his favorite pastime for 30 years. Journal entries recount his first ascent of El Capitan in 1964 with Tom Frost and Royal Robbins, which made the evening news and was the first time Chouinard’s parents discovered the seriousness of his climbing pursuits.

In “Bhutan Brown Trout: Here Be Caddis,” Chouinard recounts his 1985 attempt to climb Gangkhar Puensum, which at the time was the highest unclimbed mountain in the world. The trip went sideways because of unreliable Chinese and Indian military maps, so he abandoned the effort and went fishing. 

“On another river, just outside Thimphu, the air reverberated with a deep Ohmmmmm coming from hundreds of chanting monks in the monastery nearby,” he writes. “I wasn’t having much luck, so I sat on the bank, taking in the chants and searching my fly box for answers.”

A monk approached, which terrified Yvon Chouinard because it is prohibited to fish within a mile of temples and monasteries in the strictly Buddhist nation. When he reached the frightened angler, however, the monk selected a gray nymph from the fly box and handed it to him. 

“On the first cast, I hooked a twelve-inch brown and released it. The monk clapped and laughed from deep in his belly, just like the Dalai Lama.”

The second half of the book centers on Chouinard’s commitment to the planet with articles and essays on climate change, voter engagement, the fight for public lands and corporate responsibility. In the final pages, he  presents Patagonia’s new mission statement: “We’re in business to save our home planet.” With it, Chouinard entreats every person’s obligation to reflect on, commit to and act on this mission. 

“Some Stories” is printed on 100% post-consumer-waste recycled paper. Buy online at Patagonia.com

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