Piolets d’Or and Polartec


The nominees for the 2013 Piolets d’Or (Golden Ice Axe) have been announced and Polartec® is hugely honored to have sponsored and outfitted 2 of the 6 expeditions nominated for this prestigious award.  Since its inception in 1991, this has continually been the most distinguished award in the mountaineering world.

Polartec® Challenge Winners Kyle Dempster, Hayden Kennedy and Josh Wharton have been nominated for their ascent of the south face of Baintha Brakk in Pakistan (aka The Ogre).  This 7,285 meter peak had never before been summited from the south and had in fact, only been summited twice before this.

In addition, the Russian team comprised of Dmitry Golovchenko, Alexander Lange and Sergey Nilov have been nominated for their ascent of the 7,284 meter Muztagh Tower, also in Pakistan.  The climbers on this 17-day ascent of the never before attempted northeast spur were outfitted in Polartec® NeoShell®, the most breathable waterproof fabric on the market.  Check out this video produced about their attempt.

For  more info on these and the other nominees, please visit: www.pioletsdor.com

Polartec Challenge Grant Winners Climb New Routes on Mt. Bradley

The Sum Of Its Parts (Alaska Grade V, AI6, M7, A2, 4,000’)
Heavy Mettle (Alaska Grade V, WI5+R, M6, A0, 4600’)
Expedition Report First Release – May 1st, 2012
Story and Photos by Peter Doucette

Silas Rossi and I just returned from the Ruth Gorge where we established two new climbs on Mount Bradley 9,104’. The first, completed on April 17th, was a 49 hour (camp to camp) effort that resulted in “The Sum of Its Parts,” Alaska Grade V, AI6, M7, A2. The route climbs 4,000’ to the summit on Bradley’s southern aspect via an obvious large cleft just right of “The Gift” (Blitz-House-Twight, 1998). Our line begins on a steep ice and mixed ramp that leads into a beautiful mixed corner that is capped by a roof at ~800.’ Mixed climbing to M7, and some creative aid out the roof allowed us to gain the major chimney system that continues the full height of the wall. The climb meets the west ridge just 300 vertical feet below the summit. After leaving camp at 4:00 AM on April 15th, we topped out Bradley at 9:00 PM on the 16th with the sun low on the horizon and promptly began our descent via the Bradley/Wake Col. The descent lasted through the night and deposited us back as base camp at 5:00 AM on the 17th. A faulty stove added to the appeal of an immediate return to basecamp.

The quality of the climbing was exceptional and offered many varied challenges. Because of the nature of the cleft we followed, however, route finding was not one of these challenges. “The Sum Of Its Parts” was climbed in 28 pitches, to a brilliant ropestretching finish, we dubbed “The Mind Shaft” due to its straight-forward appearance but mentally jarring exit. One of the climb’s defining sections included climbing the left wall of a wild chimney for 500’ that went at AI6 (AI5+ R). These pitches involved pastvertical “snice,” nearly show stopping anchoring, and a fair number of exclamations by both of us on lead. It was one of the most amazing single features we encountered on the trip.

Ample rest, a fresh foot of snow, and casual ski touring days affirmed our intentions on an impossible-to-miss line of ice that we’d stared at from camp since our arrival. On April 25th, we clicked into our skis at 2:00 AM to approach the striking line with a sizeable rack and plans to beat the early morning sun on the lower portion of this independent line located on the north side of Bradley’s East Ridge. Our second route, “Heavy Mettle,” Alaska Grade V, WI5+R, M6, A0, 4600’ begins by ascending the major couloir through short bands of rock (M6), between the prominent East Ridge and
“Welcome to Alaska” (Charon-Faure-Moulin-Ponson, 2002).

From high in the couloir we traversed left into a large corner system just below half height on the wall. Our route follows this corner for 1800’ of “snice” and water ice spackled into the back of the corner to eventually meet the East Ridge at ~8300’, (800’ below Bradley’s summit). Upon meeting the east ridge we continued up and over the summit by what we felt was the path of least resistance. This included one rappel to cross a gap in the ridge and avoid large cornices.

We climbed “Heavy Mettle,” basecamp to basecamp (below Mt. Dickey) in 43.5 hours with a 3 hour “rest stop” between the hours of 4:00 and 7:00 AM on the 26th. We summited at 1:00 PM and again descended the ridgeline, west, down through the Bradley/Wake Col, below the south face and eventually back up the Ruth Gorge to camp. We returned to camp at 9:30 pm. The final eight hours of post-holing reaffirmed our belief that skiing is a far superior method of travel no matter how rewarding the line of post holes looks over your shoulder.

“The Sum Of Its Parts” and “Heavy Mettle’’ are excellent and sustained in their quality. An incredible stretch of good weather and a deep desire to make the most of our first trip to the Ruth Gorge contributed to great outcomes. Silas and I are extremely grateful for the support of a 2012 Polartec Challenge Grant, and the sponsorship of Sterling Ropes, Outdoor Research, Brooks-Range Mountaineering, and Snap MyLife. We thank
everyone for the generous backing. Also, we’d like to thank friends in the climbing community for sharing their experience, photos, and other helpful information. This trip would not have been possible without everyone’s contributions.

Thank You,

Peter Doucette
Silas Rossi

2011 APEX Award Winners Available Now

Each year, Polartec honors the finest Polartec-based garments with a prestigious Polartec APEX Award. We announced the North American and European winners back in May. Most of these pieces are now available for purchase. Check ‘em out!

Polartec at the 2011 OutDoor Show in Friedrichshafen, Germany

Polartec Booth

Outdoor Friedrichshfen 2011 – 900 exhibitors and 20,000 attendees, all checking out the latest spring gear at the Germany tradeshow.  Popular items at the Polartec booth: Polartec NeoShell®, Polartec Power Shield Pro® and all the Polartec Apex Award winners.

Enjoying the Polartec booth

Of course, the best part about Friedrichshafen is THE PARTY!  Polartec throws the biggest and best party in town.

This year’s big hit was the party t-shirt!  This shirt is a collection of technologies including Repreve® 100, Polartec Power Dry® High Efficiency® with Polygiene® Odor Resistance and is bluesign approved.  Pretty much everything you could ever want in a shirt!

Friedrichshafen Party Photos:

Polartec 2011 Party T-shirt

Polartec Athlete Advisory Board Hard at Work in Chamonix

The weather in Chamonix provided ideal conditions to test fabric waterproofing.

For the 11 world-class climbers, skiers, mountaineers, runners, explorers and adventure racers on the Polartec Athlete Advisory Board, there’s perhaps nothing as painful as sitting under the fluorescent bulbs of a conference room for an eight-hour meeting. But, if that meeting will result in warmer, drier and lighter fabrics that help them perform faster, longer and more efficiently, they’re happy to put in the time. Of course, it doesn’t hurt if that meeting takes place in the international capital of mountain sports – Chamonix, France.

Polartec president Andy Vecchione addresses the group

This past week, the Polartec Advisory Board members traveled from around the world to Chamonix, carrying stacks of prototype baselayers, insulating layers and weather protection jackets they’ve been testing for past 6-12 months. The athletes joined a team of Polartec product developers and company leaders, including Polartec president Andy Vecchione and VP Jon Adelman, for a marathon meeting to discuss the latest in fabric technologies.

The athlete group, which was instrumental in the development of both Polartec Power Shield Pro and Polartec NeoShell fabrics, has been testing a wide variety of exciting new (and top-secret) Polartec innovations. The group has put those fabrics through the proverbial ringer, evaluating them for warmth, breathability, waterproofness and overall comfort. The athletes shared their opinions on their test garments and talked about what they would like to see in the next iteration of prototypes.

We can’t share exactly what innovations are coming from Polartec in the future, but based upon the enthusiasm at the end of the Athlete Advisory Board meeting, we can assure you that there are some really exciting, ground-breaking fabrics in the pipeline.

Climber Bill Belcourt talks about some of his favorite layers

Adventure racer Laurent Vallete shares his thoughts on a prototype Polartec fleece fabric

Climber Gord Betenia does a simple breathability check

Mountaineer Antoine Barthelemy compares two prototype garments

Skier Nick Devore pulls out a baselayer he hadn’t washed in months to test odor control. Antoine and Kelly Cordes show their dissaproval.

The Board found sunshine in nearby Courmayer, Italy.

NeoShell is Big in Europe

In the fight for the title of Best Thing Since Sliced Bread, there are few finalists: remote controls, inflatable hot tubs, the hot dog and bun toaster from SkyMall, those roller shoes that are all the rage with the kids these days, and Polartec’s new NeoShell fabric. I feel good about our odds.

We announced the launch of Neo at the end of 2010, and we just took the news to Europe and held a press conference at the ISPO show. Turns out, just like assorted cheeses and David Hasselhoff, NeoShell is also a big hit in Europe. If you forgot why that might be, here is a reminder.

The European launch was incredibly successful, as was the launch party. Check out a few photos below. I think Polartec’s Global Director of Marketing, Nate Simmons looks a little like Steve Jobs sans the black mock turtleneck, am I right?

Polartec NeoShell will appear in Fall 2011 collections from some of the best outdoor apparel brands in the world including 66 North, Mammut, Marmot, Montura, Rab, The North Face, Vaude and Westcomb.