I first met Yvon Chouinard in the water. He sat out the back at a small pointbreak quietly waiting for sets. For an hour I just watched him surf, and there was something about him that reminded me less of a businessman, or even an environmentalist, and more of my dad and uncles, who were pipeliners and cowboys. Finally, I worked up the gumption to introduce myself.
In that first meeting, he told me about some of his favorite fly-fishing spots and turned me on to a recipe for buffalo meat. When a set swung his way, however, he didn’t hesitate to break off. When he paddled back out, I told him that I’d seen Mountain of Storms, his obscure 1968 movie that documented his overland adventure to Patagonia, and that my friend Jeff Johnson and I wanted to someday follow a route like his to Patagonia. He sat up on his board, looked out to sea, and said, “Well, you’d better go now. The bastards are damming the place to hell and poisoning all the river mouths with pulp mills.”
Some time later, I met with climber and filmmaker Rick Ridgeway. He listened as I told him how inspired I’d been by Mountain of Storms, and that I wanted to film a road trip that combined climbing and surfing. Before long, we brainstormed an idea that excited us both.