The climber and photographer take a team approach to make a great photograph. Here are their impressions of the RAB jackets they wore while climbing on Hyalite’s most difficult and highest route.
FROM THE CLIMBER
Tate Dunkel, aka “The Champ”.
The Rab Latok Alpine jacket was what I wore when I climbed Kris Erickson and Conrad Anker’s Hyalite test piece “The Nutcracker”. When it was windy, wet or cold, I would pull down the drawcords to the sides of the hood. The fleece lining inside the collar was another clever feature that I loved. The fleece lining on the collar allowed me to comfortably tuck in my chin when the Hyalite wind tried to dampen our spirits. The hood has a cord at the back that I can keep snugly to my helmet and the wired visor in its place. The hood was protected from water spraying from nearby “Winter Dance”. The cool thing is that even though the hood was tightened up, I still had freedom of movement with my head. Without a struggle, I could lift my neck to the overhanging choss. The fleece liner is also located at the back of my neck, but I didn’t notice it. Perhaps that’s what was the point. Perhaps it was keeping my neck warm. While we were climbing down small cliffs covered in waist-deep snow, I could open huge pit zips to cool off.
The jacket that I wore was full-size, too large for me. This usually means the jacket is too big and blocks my view of the harness gear loops. However, I could stop that by tightening the waist pull cords to make them fit snugly around my torso. The jacket fit was adjustable, so I could climb without worrying about it. It was wonderful not to be distracted by water running down my arms, not having to fight the jacket, and being able to see my gear loops. Finally, I could focus on my insanely pumping forearms and being scared.
Wet routes include “Winter Dance” and “Nutcracker”. You can see water constantly falling off the headwall in steady streams that blow around. Updrafts blow the water back up, creating wild patterns of upward-forming ice. These features defy logic as well as gravity. This time, however, I was able to stay dry. Although the stupid pack was wet, the water gathered on the jacket and rolled away. While my hands were flailing on crux ice pitch, the water drained from my arms and cinched around my gloves.
I thought the Latok Alpine Jacket was pretty cool. The jacket is super lightweight and windproof. It also has temperature regulation and a hood and keeps the cold from bothering your face. It looks great and has some cool features that I didn’t even know existed. It will keep you dry and warm while you climb The Nutcracker.
Side Note: The Nutcracker route is amazing, and I was fortunate to climb it in great conditions. Conrad and Kris did a great job equipping and cleaning this route. Let’s go, Champ!
FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Although I don’t own a lot of outerwear, the gear that I do have must be reliable and durable. I was very excited to try the three new RAB jackets when I received them.
The Rab Alpha Direct jacket was the one I wore most. It has a soft interior and a stretchy exterior. It is light and breathable for the approach but warm enough to climb in. The jacket was versatile and fit many purposes.
As a photographer, the RABNeutrino Endurance jacket (aka the big warm puffy) is a must-have. To get the perfect shot, I spend a lot of time standing up or hanging from ropes. A big, warm jacket is a great way to ensure you get that once-in-a-lifetime shot. The extra length of this jacket in the back was a plus. The jacket can be pulled down to cover your harness, so the wind doesn’t get in the way. The pockets are lined, and the chin is covered with soft materials. I could wear the extra-large hood over my helmet, keeping the wind and heat out. The jacket is lightweight and easy to pack, making it a great choice for climbing and photography trips.
The Rab Latok Alpine jacket was excellent at shedding water and blocking wind. You could unzip the armpit zips almost to the length of your arm. This was a great way to regulate temperature. The Latok, like all RAB jackets, had soft fabric patches around your chin/zipper. This is an important detail that is often overlooked.