As the alpinists and ice climbers sharpen their tools and snowboards and skis are waxed, GORE-TEX® in conjunction with the American Alpine Club held a launch event Thursday night in Seattle to showcase how the manufacturers are making winter shells softer, lighter, and more waterproof than ever before. It was a chance to connect with climbers and the outdoor industry alike, get everyone excited to head back into the mountains, and share stories from local climbers as well as showcasing how the American Alpine Club intends to spread their message farther in 2014.
The launch event celebrates GORE-TEX’s® new technology in Active and Pro wear. Their active-wear gives new breathability to runners, skiers, and cyclists by introducing a lightweight, minimalist, and extremely breathable shell which retains its waterproof and windproof technology even under harsh conditions. As soon as visitors entered the event, they were taken to a table to see a demonstration of the three layer system which combines an inner lining, a membrane, and an outer fabric coated with waterproofing and windstopping material. Taking a square fabric in hand, the assistant applied pressure to the GORE-TEX® fabric as well as similar waterproof material and the former stayed dry even under twice the pressure that is humanely tolerable.
The other shell, GORE-TEX® Pro, is meant towards extreme conditions and rough environments, making it ideal for climbers, mountaineers, high performance snow adventure and water sports such as sailing. More rugged in construction than the outerwear but retaining the breathable qualities, the Pro shell is built to last in difficult and ever-changing conditions, as any high altitude athlete can attest to. The Pro shell is less versatile and breathable than the multi-purpose or active shells, but features a tougher construction, and increased stopping power for wind and water.
To demonstrate their capabilities, GORE-TEX® introduced a Ski Mountaineering Simulator, where guests could dress in hard shell jackets and pants as if they were headed for the slopes, and were blasted by wind and water ranging from slight dampness to pounding rain. The chamber re-enforced their dedication to high quality outdoor wear and they rewarded a lucky few with Pro jackets to take on next season.
The other “star” of the night was The American Alpine Club. I joined the Alpine Club as soon as I had moved to Seattle, and as well as holding events to get climbers meeting together and helping them share their stories and pictures through social media, they’re launching programs to educate new climbers headed outside for the first time, and continuing to encourage exploration and fueling dreams in the alpine realm. One of their features of the night was their new Gym to Crag program, encouraging not only climbers to take their skills onto rock faces, but educating them about proper stewardship, protection, and conservation of our favorite climbing lands. They also gave time to local climbers who had their adventures fueled by the “Live Your Dream” grant as the crowd was enthralled by stories from the Waddington Range and the Alaska Range. As well as offering raffle tickets through a game where guests used fishing poles on helicopters to “rescue” action figures off a cardboard mountain, they were offering big chances to win prizes just by opening or renewing a membership.
As the night ended with a performance from the outdoor industry band “The Struggles” I left feeling better educated, inspired, and ready to take high adventure to another level in the coming months. I want to thank GORE-TEX® and the AAC for putting on such a fantastic event, and I’m looking forward to the stories I’m going to be telling in the next year.
For more information on GORE-TEX® products see their page here.
To join the American Alpine Club see their page here.