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This past July, I was climbing Mount Rainier with a friend and two of his buddies. I was the unofficial "guide," a title accorded me due to my 20 previous summit efforts (proof that the human body can forget discomfort, pain, and that interminable hike from Camp Muir to the parking lot, visible every step of the way but still oh-so-far). After a pleasant two days on our approach and high camp at 11,000 feet, the weather turned. By the time we'd hit 12,000 feet, winds were blowing at perhaps 30 to 40 mph, with gusts even higher. At 13,500 feet we were hard-pressed to keep our feet. Temperatures, meanwhile, plunged into the teens, exacerbated by the wind. We were layered up like soccer moms on a rainy November day.
That is, except for my hands. I had packed along a brand-new sample of the Manzella TEC-850 gloves, made with Power Shield from Malden Mills (makers of Polartec). Despite the wind, despite the cold, despite gripping the freezing metal handle of my ice ax, my hands were warm and dry. "This cannot be," I kept saying to myself, doing a quick mental inventory to make sure I'd also packed my usual assortment of glove liners, insulating gloves, overmitts, and so forth. I'd packed all those things, but I never needed them.
We didn't summitthe wind just got too bad. But I'd found a pair of gloves that probably are suitable for 90 percent of the times when gloves are needed. The TEC-850s are almost entirely windproof, remarkably warm for their lack of bulk, water resistant, and nimble enough to let you pick up a coin or thread a climbing harness. They're tough, too, and their grippy palms help you keep track of your ice ax. In short, they're wonderful.
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