Putting Power Shield Pro to the Ultimate Test

Sari and her race partner Pete Gaston happy to be home in Aspen

The Elk Mountains Grand Traverse is a 40-mile backcountry ski race that starts at midnight in Crested Butte and finishes in Aspen, CO. When it comes to fabrics and layering, there’s no better test for warmth, weather protection and breathabilty. Every year racers invariably have to contend with sub-freezing temperatures, howling winds and whiteout snow conditions, combined with brutally long, sweaty climbs followed by bone-chilling descents.

This past weekend, Polartec Athlete Advisory Board member, Sari Anderson made history at the race, finishing as one of two women on the podium for the first time in the event’s 14-year history. Sari is a professional adventure racer, mountain biker and ski mountaineer and this year’s race put all her skills to the test. You can read her full race recap here, but the condensed version is that she raced super-strong – breaking trail through over a foot of fresh snow for the lead teams for miles on end. She and her partner finished in third place overall, in just over nine hours.

One thing Sari didn’t have to worry about at this year’s race was her layering system. Here’s an excerpt from her race report:

Sari breaking trail along Richmond Ridge

Overall, my set-up performed beautifully, but there were a couple of standouts. First of all, I wore an awesome new jacket from Patagonia called the Knifeblade. It’s a minimalistic, anorak-style jacket made from Polartec Power Shield Pro – essentially a lightweight pullover softshell. While I watched almost everyone in the race shed layers on the climbs and then layer up for the descents, I never took the Knifeblade off. It kept me warm and completely dry while it snowed for the first few hours of the race, but breathed well enough so I didn’t overheat once the sun finally came out. Full disclosure – I’m on the Polartec Athlete Advisory Board – but this truly was the best aerobic outerlayer I’ve ever tried.

Another truly impressive bit of gear for this race were my gloves. My friend Doug Heinrich, the glove product director at Black Diamond, sent me a pair of Impulse gloves (made from Polartec Power Shield) to try and they were awesome. I wore them the entire race and my hands never got too hot nor cold.

Congratulations to Sari!

The Patagonia Knifeblade jacket, available in August 2011.

Sari with her daughter at the finish line.

Big Wall Cribs

This is a pretty entertaining video of Black Diamond pro climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson talking about their ‘crib’ on El Capitan. In addition to his sweet portaledge, Tommy (in orange) is rocking a Polartec Power Dry baselayer, perfect for long days of climbing on a big wall.

Big Wall Cribs with Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on El Capitan from Black Diamond Equipment on Vimeo.