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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mountain fashion?

I admit to having at one time or another wanting to be one of the "Guys".   Living in a mountain town or just hanging with your climbing buddies some times you want to look the part.  At some point most everyone does.

Dachstein sweaters or Francital  jackets come to mind from my past.    But a good puffy down sweater seems to be the status symbol these days.   Fashion?  It comes and it goes only to a nice mullet :)

So you have to imagine when I meet one of our NW gear reps what my thought is about the "climbing" clothing he is describing to me.   His side of the conversation was something like this.  " Merino wool sweater with a Primaloft 1 body, nice stand up collar and thumb holes on the sleeves.  Super, technical piece.   Beautifully tailored, athletic fit.  You can just image, someone really cool, getting out of their fancy Porsche in this one!"

I'd heard of, but knew zip about this particular company that Kurt represented.   In for a penny, in for a pound I thought as I had already spent most of my day meeting with Kurt and discussing another company he represented in the US, Boreal.

So when Kurt described, "someone really cool"  I already  had someone in mind :)

"cool guy" winning the Bogus Hill climb in his Porsche.

But come on...throwing a light weight, high powered Porsche around is fun but nothing compares to sinker sticks on really steep neve.   Even tossing a 2200#, 300hp Porsche around aint that much fun!.

So while I can grudgingly settle into old age driving a Porsche...doing it right in the USA means you either do it on a track or risk going to jail.    I find neither appealing even while wearing stylish clothing.

As one might imagine Kurt was now going to have his hands full if he was going to impress me with a "highly technical sweater".   But I do get the lingo.   Let me back up just a bit.  I am now down to the last couple of weeks before leaving on a trip.  Things are hectic and I am tight on cash.  The last thing I need right now is to be buying gear I don't need for this particular trip.  Even the time away from my work bench is more expensive that usual.   So looking at a new product line I know virtually nothing about isn't high on my priority list.

Once through the doors of the Sherpa Adventure Gear headquarters in Renton, WA, Kurt and I quickly get down to business.  The first item he shows me is the "stylistic and highly technical sweater".   It is called the "Mantra sweater".  Damn it!  I want one.  Even a black one.  Although flaming hot RED would have been a better color.  Or really bright blue.   I can't decide if it was the ever so subtle "Porsche" sales pitch or that I really like the sweater.  Likely a little of both.  Do they some how know I designed and built/rebuilt my own Porsche?  Am I overly paranoid? (yes...they say in unison)  I REALLY don't want to spend any cash today.  Worse yet he shows me the women's model.  Screw the Porsche fashion connection.  This is the version I want for myself.  The purple is HOT!  I should have painted my car THAT color.  Same set up as men's Mantra but with a hood.    My lovely wife is no ice climber but she wears a hoody or two almost everywhere when she isn't working in a suit.  I know I have to buy this one for her.  I'll likely not get another chance at wholesale pricing.   Damn it!   Like a fool, I blurt out..."Can I buy this for my wife?"    "Of course...."    "This guy is a total tool", I am sure Kurt is thinking.

We go through the majority of the SAG line, much of it designed for alpine climbing.  A couple of things I have not seen else where I decide  I'll  have to buy as well.   Thankfully Kurt and SAG decide I might be worth *giving* a couple of samples for testing, including my very own Mantra, in "cool guy" black.   I get to avoid the perils of an "athletic fit" that way :)    But out the door, I am still a few hundred down on cash.  I am just too damn easy!   No nada....Damn it!

I know what I want in my own climbing gear.  The hood or even just that huge stand up collar pattern...I want.   Besides her favorite purple, here is what I could see of Tracy's Mantra hoody.


I've already used my Mantra version over a Patagonia Sun hoody and under a EB down hoody on ice, depending on the conditions.  The use of Merino wool in the sleeves and the body insulation, in vest form, of Primaloft 1 is brilliant.  As I expected, it should be one of my main layers climbing ice in the up coming trip.  I admit I did wear it to dinner yesterday.  And Tracy gracefully commented, "You look so handsome".   Damn it!  The problem now is I'll need another one to wear while hanging out in the local Chamonix bistros and not smell like a goat.

And maybe a third one to keep clean and nice for the occasional dinner and the Porcshe track days when the Nomex isn't required......damn it!   ;-)
Ya, lucky for me, I now know the Sherpa Rep....Damn it!


Aaron Montgomery said...

Nice car. Its cool that you are still sporting the fuchs! A buddy of mine gets them made into 17-inches.


Dane said...

Thanks Aaron. I have run the 17s as well, likely the same guy building them as they came from OK. Been awhile so I don't remember the specifics. I've tried both and gone back to the 16"s because I like the lower gearing they offer for hill climbs. That even with a specifically purpose built short box. 15s' are good as well if I want to run sticky race rubber but the 16"s offer a good tire patch and compromise between 15 and 17s. Starts to sound a lot like ice tools or boots again when you start talking specific gear or "gears" and the compromises of each.

Hopefully someone got a good laugh out of my grossly tongue in cheek commentary this morning :-)

Dane said...

More on the car? I lost my head at one point and was going to sell it. Over that now.

But at least a good way to document the build.

The Porcshe community for this type of thing is about as tight as the alpine climbing community.

Ian said...

So who has the better sales pitch, your friend at SAG for getting you to buy gear you don't need (child's play really) or you for getting that pretty lady to marry you?

Runar said...

You're sales pitch isn't bad either. I had a good laugh and got this craving for a closer look at the Manta. You should get the sales rep to endorse you and have a link on your blogg.

PS: Could you post your thoughts on how you choose ice screws and your view of length (on ice screws)?

Dane said...

Runar, Glad you got a laugh, nice sweater for sure but the laugh was the real point. Ice screws?.....sure I'll add a little video to cover most of my thoughts on that..coming right up.

George said...

Well, if you're taking requests... how about some thoughts on "the 120 dollar question": new quarks or cobras? The quarks are out in the wild now and it seems like a tough choice.

Dane said...

Tough choice.....aint it :) Petzl tool fan myself, but own both and climb on Quark and Cobra.

Too many details to get into, so you are on your own for the moment.