180° SOUTH: Conquerors of the Useless

The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life. It’s so easy to make it complex. The solution for a lot of the world’s problems may be to turn around and take a forward step. – Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia

180 Degree South Patagonia
Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins were just surfing and climbing, looking for the next greatest wave and challenging mountains to climb. In 1968 they hopped in a van and drove from California to Chile, going on an adventure that would forever change their lives.

After returning to the U.S., Yvon founded what later became Patagonia and Black Diamond Equipment companies. Doug founded The North Face, which at the time was a camping and climbing equipment company, and later went on to found ESPRIT, the global apparel company.

Yvon, Doug, and Doug’s wife Kris have become foremost conservationists, and are very focused on educating people about the environment, developing awareness, and preserving land. It is a monumental task, but they are making small but meaningful inroads with their efforts.

I had heard about this new film called 180° SOUTH: Conquerors of the Useless, and was fortunate to be asked by the production company to watch an advance release copy.

180° South explores this philosophy of simplifying our lives to further the world. It is a captivating and eye opening film, filled with adventure, surfing, rock climbing, mountaineering, and most importantly, a message about the future of our planet.

In their 1968 epic journey to Patagonia, “the last wild place on earth”, best friends Yvon and Doug learned about the fragility of our planet. They surfed, climbed, and explored, enjoying the greatest trip of their lives. This trip would clearly define the ways they ran their future businesses and influence others.

After recovering old video footage of the 1968 trip, the adventurer Jeff Johnson decided to follow in the footsteps of these legendary men and go on the same journey.

The film follows Jeff’s journey, as he travels to Patagonia, meets new friends on Easter Island, and sits down with Yvon, Doug, and Kris in Patagonia and learns about their conservation efforts. Adding to the adventure is his attempt to climb Cerro Corcovado, a gorgeous snow capped mountain along the Chilean coast, a peak where Doug made a first ascent in the 1990s.

The environmental message is clear and resolute, and with the gorgeous footage and fun adventure story as a backdrop, I’d highly recommend it!

Hiking Lady’s Recommendation: 5 of 5 stars

The film is starting its U.S. tour and will be available on DVD June 24, 2010 (currently only this boxed set book is available for purchase).

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