Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Millet Cruise PWS Softshell

Nice big chest pocket
Millet is a French outdoors company that first took off in the 1930s with the popularity of their backpacks. Since the 30s, Millet has expanded from packs to clothing, sleeping bags, climbing footwear, and ropes - to name a few things. I have been using some of their products this winter and have really been enjoying them. One of my favourite Millet pieces is the Cruise Jacket, which I've worn almost non-stop since I got it last November.

The Cruise is made with Polartec PowerShield, which is similar to Gore WindStopper but with more wind permeability. This makes it more breathable and therefore better for active sports like ski touring. On more than one occasion I have gone out for a day of skiing wearing the Cruise and have not had to add or change layer all day.

The large direct-access chest pocket is great for everything from race skins to maps, and it's large enough that it's useful for more than a tube of chapstick. The cuffs have an extra piece of fabric sewn into them so when you open the velcro closure they open wide and can easily be pulled over gloves. The hand warming pockets are higher than on most similar coats, which allows them to be used if you are wearing a harness.  One of the best features of the Cruise is the hood. The jacket zips up nice and high in front of your face so you have good protection from the elements if needed. The hood also has a stiff brim and good adjustability. But hands down, my favourite thing about the Cruise (and Millet products in general) is the fit. The Cruise is well tailored for tall and skinny guys with its ample arm length and overall athletic cut. After many years of frustration, it's nice to have a softshell that actually fits me well.

Lots of protection from the wind and bonus points for ninja style.

No problems getting these sleeves over gloves!
In my opinion, the Cruise Jacket is an ideal softshell for ski touring because of its very well thought out design tailored to ski touring. It has just what you need and nothing more, and is by far the best softshell jacket I have used.

Monday, 4 March 2013

First speed traverse of 2013 - Garibaldi Neve in 5:32

Days before heading to France for World Championships I had a little fun on the Garibaldi Neve. My Friend (and excellent Skimo racer) Eric Carter called me on a Friday night. He wanted to get out on Sunday for a ski and suggested that we try to do the Neve in a day. Despite the poor weather forecast, I agreed,knowing that our chance of success was not that good if the weather forecast held true.

With an early start of 8:00am, we glided out of the Diamond Head parking lot. For most of the morning we skied in what I would describe as a cloud sandwich - valley cloud lingered between 200-600m and the high cloud started at about 2300m. We were in the middle, with the top part of the sandwich steadily descending toward us as the day progressed. One advantage to the cloud cover was the cooler temperatures that it had provided the day before and which gave us more confidence in the snowpack's stability.

We were able to make good time on the well beaten skin track to the Elfin Lakes Hut. A shout came from the front door of the cabin: "How long did it take you to get here?". When we replied that we'd been skiing for an hour and twenty minutes, it took some convincing for them to believe that we'd started from the trailhead and not the Red Heather shelter.

After a quick drink and snack, we were off and feeling slightly optimistic about our chances of success, despite the deteriorating weather. The remaining folks at the hut had informed us that a group of four had left the hut the previous day intending to traverse the Neve, and we knew that this fresh skin track would greatly aid our rate of travel.

By the time we got on to the glacier the visibility was closing in, but we pressed on and soon found ourselves at the rock feature just above the Shark Fin. There, we caught up with two ski tourers with large, heavy packs. Looking at the size of their packs, I was glad that we were going light and fast. I think they also must have been wondering about us. What were two dudes in spandex suits doing in the middle of a glacier?!?

After navigating a small icefall and descending the slopes bellow the Shark Fin, we broke trail to the col that overlooked the last big hurdle: Garibaldi Lake. Once on the lake we found that the snow was too soft to skate and this slowed things down a bit. On the upside, there was a skin track which helped because we did not have to break trail. We kicked, glided, and generally smashed the our toes into the front of our boots to get across the lake down to the Rubble Creek parking lot. We reached the parking lot 5 hours and 32 minutes after leaving Diamond Head parking lot, and we were tired and hungry.

Our optimism had paid off this time and we made it through the clouds and the pain to the other side. All of our hard work training is coming together and hopefully there are bigger things to come. Thanks to Eric for the great day and the family that picked us up when we were hitchhiking back to Squamish.