Behind the Great Pacific Iron Works store near Ventura Point is the small tin shed where Yvon Chouinard set up his blacksmith shop in 1966. The shed once housed Bob Cooper’s Australian Surf Shop and Morey-Pope’s shaping room. The location was ideal for everyone’s passion: surf and building the finest mountaineering gear in the winter, climb and sell the gear in the summer. Chouinard Equipment Company went on to redesign and improve virtually every tool used in mountaineering, from carabiners to crampons. In 1973, the company branched out to make outdoor clothing under the Patagonia label.
The journey that started an American subculture. In 1968, five friends Yvon Chouinard, Doug Thompkins, Chris Jones, Lito Tejeda Flores and Dick Dorworth left Ventura, California in a Ford Econoline van. Three and a half months and 16,500 miles later, they arrived at their destination Patagonia. Their first ascent of Fitz Roy’s Southwest Buttress the so-called ‘Californian Route’ was not the only upshot of the trip. Thompkins went on to found Esprit and The North Face, and Chouinard founded Patagonia, providing inspiration for the generations of dirt bags who would follow in their footsteps.
Winner of the Best Film Award at the 1972 Trento Film Festival.
It all started with Malinda Chouinard buying up some fleece produced for making toilet seat covers and teddy bears and reversing the material so the pile was on the inside and the backing was on the outside. Technological outerwear 1969/1970.
Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost, his business partner from 1965 to 1975, outside the Tin Shed c. 1966. During their partnership, the two men rethought and redesigned nearly every piece of equipment used by climbers. Summer-long climbing trips inspired innovation.
Fun hogs (from left to right) Doug Tompkins, Yvon, Dick Dorworth and Lito Tejada-Flores in the yard in front of the Tin Shed, 1968. The four friends were soon to drive that Econoline van down the Pan-American Highway to Patagonia, Argentina, for six months of climbing, surfing and skiing. The film that came out of the trip, called Mountain of Storms, is a cult classic. Tompkins, wearing love beads here, founded The North Face and, later, Esprit. He now lives in Patagonia with his wife, Kris McDivitt (former CEO of Patagonia, Inc.) where they run their foundation.