Earlier this month Kevin Back of Powder Magazine very graciously brought a few of us heli skiing in Girdwood / Alyeska, Alaska with the Chugach Powder Guides.
I took the opportunity to continue to put our new soft shell fabric, Polartec Power Shield Pro, to the test in the field (it’s tough work but has to be done).
We arrived on a rare blue-bird day in Anchorage with views of Denali and a beautiful ride south along the Turnagain Arm to the resort in Girdwood. That night the clouds picked up, a storm moved in and we were blessed with about 40″ of light fresh powder over the next 36 hours.
Alaska this time of year can be surprisingly warm and damp (tip – bring multiple pairs of goggles for cat / heli skiing in Alaska) – so it was an excellent environment to really put Polartec Power Shield Pro through its paces.
That’s me in the video tele skiing in the pinkish raspberry outfit (that’s what happens you let engineers pick the sample fabric colors). I took some heat from the guides and other groups of skiers – but all in the name of fabric testing…
We skied in a range of conditions from the high teens Fahrenheit to the mid 40′s – everything from blower powder to heavy wet snow – howling winds to baking sunshine.
Throughout the week, I wore the exact same set of clothes (occasionally adding another layer of Polartec Thermal Pro high loft when temperatures dipped). I was super impressed with the comfort range Polartec Power Shield Pro offers – wind resistant enough, yet allows some true airflow through the fabric to keep from overheating. The jacket and pants also did an excellent job of moving moisture vapor away and keeping me dry inside both by venting sweat vapor and by keeping the wet snow and water out (even when kneeling in slush to clamp down my Black Diamond O1 tele bindings and leashes).
Overall the trip was a total success – great conditions delivering over 80,000 vertical skied and Polartec Power Shield Pro outperformed what either a traditional hardshell or traditional softshell could have done. It was the perfect balance for widely variable conditions. This fabric is available Fall 2010 in North America from The North Face in the Kishtwar jacket and in Europe will be offered by TNF, 66 North, Eider, Millet, TrangoWorld, Norrona, Montura, and Lowe Alpine. Check it out.
PS – these photos and video were shot and edited by Adrian Glasenapp – thanks Adro!