outdoor adventure

Mitts for When the Mercury Drops

Originally posted at http://www.emsexploration.com/wordpress/mitts-for-when-the-mercury-drops/

When the skis, boots, poles and skins made an appearance in the living room for the third night in a row last week, I knew it was time to either get my husband a hamster wheel, or go visit the snowmakers on the mountain.

Vermont holds the record for most terrain covered by snowmakers in the East — after all, it’s home to “Hug a Snowmaker Day” (really), so we headed up to Jay Peak to pick up DJ’s season pass and to check out the powder — whether real, imagined, or man-made. (And as per last night’s snow-dump, everything is newly dusted in fresh snow.)

We arrived late enough in the day that all of the lifts were closed, which made skinning up the mountain both easy and legal, according to Jay’s AT/backcountry rules (off-limits when the lifts are running). Stir-craziness abated, DJ took a few turns while I put my new Black Diamond Mercury Mitts to the test.

Knitting Vermont Pride into Every Pair of Darn Tough Socks

Originally posted at http://www.emsexploration.com/wordpress/knitting-vermont-pride-into-ever...

When it comes to manufacturing socks, Ric Cabot and his team at Darn Tough have proved their mettle. The only sock mill left in Vermont (or in New England), Darn Tough is a third-generation sock-manufacturing business that prides itself on producing and manufacturing its Merino wool socks exclusively in Northfield, Vermont — and standing behind them with an unconditional lifetime guarantee.

With his feet (clad in the over-the-calf ski socks he’s wearing today) firmly planted on Vermont soil, Ric Cabot talks about Merino wool, keeping jobs in Vermont and Darn Tough’s commitment to making socks that will stand up to a lifetime of abuse.

Westley: Socks have been in your family for three generations. You took over Cabot Hosiery Mills, Inc. from your father, and in 2004, launched the name Darn Tough. Why Darn Tough?

Crampons vs. Microspikes (and the bruises to prove it)

Originally posted at http://www.emsexploration.com/wordpress/crampons-vs-microspikes-and-the-...

These are not crampons. They’re Kahtoola MICROspikes, and they’re awesome. And there’s a reason they’re listed under “Winter Traction,” not under Ice Climbing Gear/Crampons on EMS’ website.

For comparison’s sake, check out the aggression factor on these Black Diamond Sabretooth Pro crampons versus the Kahtoola MICROspikes. Much different.

But I forgot that last weekend while we were climbing Wright Peak in the Adirondacks. And I’m still picking scabs off of my left forearm to prove it.

And You Said We Were Car Camping...

I blame shopping for my mountaineering habit.

Usually a new hobby comes first and buying gear comes second, but for me, mountaineering was born two years ago in the fitting room of the Eastern Mountain Sports in North Conway, NH.

It started innocently enough: I told my boyfriend that I was going into the dressing room to try on a few sports bras in advance of what was to be “some snowshoeing and maybe some car camping if we feel up for it” (his words). Ten minutes later, I reappeared and was handed a pair of double-boots, crampons, an ice axe and a topo map…of Mount Madison in New Hampshire.

So much for car camping.

An experienced winter backpacker, DJ coached me through the basics, aided by George at the North Conway school. A lifelong skier, I’d never known that mountaineers used plastic boots too — never mind that crampons came in different sizes and varieties of intensity. I also invested in a thick pair of socks (likely a trip- and relationship-saver).