Like any great photo, it takes a team approach from both a climber and the photographer. Below are both impressions of their RAB jackets while on the highest and hardest route in Hyalite.
From the Climber
Tate Dunkel aka “The Champ”
When I climbed the Conrad Anker and Kris Erickson’s Hyalite test piece “The Nutcracker”, I wore the RAB Latok Alpine Jacket. When it got windy or wet or cold, I’d cinch down on the draw cords on either side of the hood. Another clever feature I really liked was the fleece lining on the inside of the collar. Anytime the Hyalite wind did it’s best to dampen our spirits, I could comfortably tuck my chin to brave off the spindrift. There’s a cord on the back of the hood so I could keep it snug to my helmet while holding the wired visor in place. This kept the water spraying off nearby “Winter Dance” from spraying into the hood. The cool thing was, even with the hood cinched up, I had free range of movement with my head. I could crane my neck up at the over hanging choss without a fight. There’s also a fleece liner at the back of the neck but I didn’t really notice it. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe it was helping keep my neck warm. On the descent, while guessing our way around small cliffs in waist deep snow, I was able to open the enormous pit zips to cool down without having to stop and shed layers.
The jacket I wore was a full size too big for me. Usually that means the jacket is baggy and puffs out blocking my view of the harness gear loops. But I was able to prevent that by cinching down on the waist pull cords making it nice and snug around my torso. By being able to customize the fit, I was able to climb without thinking about the jacket. It was a real treat to not be distracted by water dripping down my arms and not having to fight the hood and I could see my gear loops. Finally, I could focus on insanely pumped forearms and being terrified.
“Winter Dance” (M8, WI7) and “Nutcracker” are wet routes. Water constantly free falls off the headwall in a steady stream that you can watch blow around. Updrafts blowing water back up creates wild features of upward forming ice that defy logic and gravity. But this time, for once, I stayed dry. The stupid pack was soaked but the water beaded up on the jacket and rolled off. The cuffs cinched down around my gloves keeping water from rolling down arms while they flailed wildly overhead on the crux ice pitch that was essentially getting rained on.
Overall I found the Latok Alpine Jacket to pretty friggin’ rad. It’s a super lightweight, completely waterproof, windproof, shell with awesome temperature regulation and a sweet hood that keeps things from annoying your face. Bonus, it looks good and it’s got some cool features I didn’t know existed. Plus, it will help keep you warm and dry while you climb The Nutcracker.
Side Note - The Nutcracker is an awesome route that I was privileged to climb in good conditions. I’m grateful to Conrad and Kris for doing the best job possible equipping and cleaning the route. Let’s Go Champ!
From the Photographer
I’m not a guy who owns a lot of outerwear but the gear I own needs to perform and be durable. So, when I got my hands on three new RAB jackets I was pretty excited to check them out.
The RAB Alpha Direct jacket ended being one I wore the most with a super soft interior and stretchy exterior. Light enough and breathable for the approach but still warm enough to climb in. This jacket seemed to fit so many purposes.
The RAB Neutrino Edurance jacket or aka the big warm puffy is an absolute necessity for me as a photographer. I spend a lot of time standing or hanging from ropes trying to get a certain shot. Having a big warm belay jacket makes it easier to get the once-in-a-lifetime shot. I appreciated the extra length this jacket has in the back. It pulls down over the back of your harness to keep the wind out of the inevitable weak spot. Not only are the chin areas covered in soft materials but the pockets are also lined. The extra-large hood zipped over my helmet and kept the wind at bay and really kept the heat in. Being very light and packable makes the jacket an easy choice for all climbing and photography trips.
The RAB Latok Alpine jacket was an excellent at shedding water and blocking the wind. The armpit zips could be unzipped almost the complete length of your arm and worked amazing to regulate temperature. As with all the RAB jackets, the Latok had soft fabric patches around the chin/zipper area which is a great detail often overlooked.