Dan Simon and Kylene Wolfe, Product Managers for Eastern Mountain Sports came up to the North Conway Climbing School yesterday to spend some time with some of our most senior EMS Climbing School guides to facilitate our feedback regarding design and functionality of some of our clothing line. Combined, we wear this stuff guiding ice climbing, mountaineering, and back-country skiing all over the Northeast hundreds of days each winter. The focus of this meeting was on our “Ascent Series”, the most technical line-up of EMS labeled clothing. For an item to be included in our Ascent line it must be designed to be used in a high-angle technical climbing enviroment. These are not your typical “hiking clothes”, but pieces designed for extreme conditions where weight, durability, and performance requirements must all be perfectly balanced.
Kylene shows us a men’s and women’s technical soft shell, the “Approach Windstopper Jacket” coming Fall 2012. While we have carried this jacket for quite a few years it was feedback from EMS Climbing Guides that got a hood added to the excellent lightweight shell. We love our hoods!
Climbing Guide Keith Moon tries on a long time stand by, the EMS Summit Fleece, which is getting a huge overhaul for Fall 2012. This traditional 300 weight fleece will now feature an untraditional but high performance flat jersey knit face that adds wind-resistance and water-resistance at no cost to breathability! It’s my opinion that this smoother outer will be more durable than traditional fleece as well and better resist pilling. Only downside is it will look less “casual” than the traditional Summit Fleece, but like I said, these pieces are more about function than fashion!
We spent a fair amount of time talking about what Ski Guides and Mountaineers want in a bib. Fit, ease of answering natures call (guys and gals), and durability were all addressed. Ethan Lemieux, our senior Backcountry Ski Guide, was our go to model for the bibs. He’s looking forward to finally retiring an old pair of Patagonia’s that have finally kicked the bucket.
My favorite piece of the whole show was the men’s Helios Jacket. This is THE belay jacket of choice. Stuffed with high quality down and employing a waterproof shell fabric, this feels like a $300+ jacket that would be suitable for Everest. While the fabric is waterproof the seams are not so I’d still carry a hardshell if I am expecting anything that isn’t already frozen! This will live in my pack all winter long!
These pieces should be in stock by mid-September. Look for the “Ascent Series” to find items that have truly been tested in the harsh conditions of Mount Washington by the oldest climbing school in the Northeast!
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