We test our gear on a variety of levels. Our Athletes & Ambassadors
are responsible for putting the latest designs and fabrics through the
paces before we'll add a new product to our lineup. But just because
something reaches our shelves doesn't mean testing is over. Once a new
item shows up in our catalogs, our Customer Service staff gets busy
ground-truthing the latest offerings. They know the questions our
customers will be asking, and turn that attention to our gear.
Field Report: Hiking Matanuska Peak in Alaska June 2010
Conditions: about 45 degrees at the bottom of the mountain and 35-40 toward the top. Light breeze and some drizzle for a bit.
Tested By: Maggie Robinson, Patagonia Customer Service
My boyfriend Josh who grew up in Palmer, AK has wanted to climb Matanuska Peak (6119') since he was a kid. So on a pleasant but somewhat chilly Alaska day, Josh and I decided to give it a go. With a trailhead elevation of only 750 feet, we climbed and descended about 5,400 feet. Unlike most trails here in Reno, the trail up Matanuska Peak had no switchbacks and instead opted to go straight up. The last 1500 feet involved making our way through slippery shale and over unstable boulders. I have to admit that by that point I was both fairly scared and exhausted but I made it!
Even though it was 45 degrees the steep trail meant I was fine in just my Merino 3 Zip-Neck and Rock Guide Pants. The Merino 3 Zip-Neck felt comfortable against my skin, didn’t get too hot while hiking, and breathed really well. I liked the option of zipping it down for more breathability or zipping it up for warmth. The cuffs were also not too tight so could easily pull them up to cool off if needed. I hiked most of the climb in just my Merino 3 and my Rock Guide Pants and was very comfortable. The only time I put anything else on was when we stopped to eat lunch and towards the breezy and chilly summit, when I pulled out the fabulous Down Sweater and Houdini.
[Above: Maggie on the way to Mantunuska. Photo: Josh Hejl]
Upon descent from the summit we decided to run down about 1000-1500 feet of snow rather than slide
through the shale on the steep slope. The Houdini was awesome to break the chilly wind coming off the snow and along with my Rock Guide Pants, kept me pretty dry the few times I opted to slide down on my butt instead of running/glissading down the snow in my Release shoes. Since I don't have the Gore-Tex version my feet did get quite wet but thankfully the mesh on the sides of the shoes allowed the water to squish out and dry some what on the way down. We finished thoroughly dirty, from glacier silt that stuck to our wet shoes and damp clothes, and completely exhausted. A great day overall!
I would also like to give props to the Houdini as a wonderful mosquito blocker. On another night Josh and I went out to shoot some photos of the sunset (around 11pm-12am!) and were very happy to each have our Houdini to block the mosquitoes. The thin material did not make us hot, the tight weave prevented them from getting through, and the hood gave us full coverage. The Houdini is a must for Alaska in the Summer!
[Left: Maggie on the final scramble to the top. Photo: Josh Hejl]
Josh is pretty handy with a camera. To see more of his pictures, go to joshhejl.com