Testing taken to the Extreme

early season ice

Man, its boney out there. We’ve had more wind than snow and more core shots than face shots. Mammoth Mountain did a pretty amazing job opening the top for Thanksgiving weekend regardless, only to have record winds strip the mountain bare a few days later. Its now January 10th, and the High Sierra had more snow in August than it does now.

And I hope I am not jeopardizing my wholly-earned reputation as a true ski bum when I say I have barely noticed. I’ve enjoyed thrashing on the Oakley line of technical outerwear even without too much snow. I have dodged rocks while skiing the Bloody Couloir in the Sethmo Jacket and Pant, ice climbed at the local crag outside Mammoth Mountain in the Sethmo softshell jacket, and dodged tourists on Mammoth Mountain in the Jake Pant and No Exit glove. Heck, I think the Sethmo softshell even made it into a couple Vegas Casinos during a climbing trip to Red Rocks. That’s the whole point to having functional garments that do it all.

Early season did bring us a few storms, so we went for our annual pre-season Bloody Couloir tune-up. We stumbled up the apron in full sun with 2 inches of snow covering treacherous talus, only to wallow in waist deep snow towards the top of the north-facing couloir. With these conditions, the temps do drastic swings – from sweating to frostbite in just a couple hours. I think Cedric got frostbite in the couloirs. In these conditions, its important to have adequate and accessible ventilation; and the Sethmo Gore-tex pant and jacket nailed it. The pant has inside vents and outside zippers – helping to create better air flow and ventilation while still being being quick and easy to close up when we entered the couloirs. The jacket has good pit-zips, and also an interesting vent zip on the right chest pocket. I always wanted a layering system that vented all the way to the base layer in this area, as I think it would serve a higher purpose than pit-zips. It’s an interesting idea that could be explored more.

In the last few days here at Mammoth Mountain, we have been watching the jetstream split out over the Pacific, forcing high North winds down into Mammoth. It’s as cold and windy as can be in Cali – single digit temps and triple digit wind gusts. So I had a good chance to test out the Great Ascent pant and No Exit Glove. I was thankful for the Great Ascent pant’s insulated lining and Gore-tex shell during this cycle. It certainly made riding lifts in these conditions more comfortable. I also really liked the location of the cargo pocket. Its located down away from the waist line, making access (especially wearing goggles or a backpack) a lot easier. The No Exit Glove is another product from Oakley that has made huge strides over the last few years. Leather gloves have the best feel and warmth for riding in the mountains, while the wrist straps prevent that dreadful feeling of watching your glove tumble 3000 feet down the line you just climbed up.

Keep up the good work guys. Ski you soon I hope

Mark