Guide to Gore-Tex (and other membranes)

Rain has returned to the Sea to Sky this week, sorely needed for wildfires still burning in the region and giving the soil on hiking and mountain bike trails a chance to replenish its moisture. While it has been an unseasonably hot dry summer – an anomaly that seems to be becoming an annual trend her in British Columbia – outdoor folk of the Pacific Northwest know full well that rain can often arrive unannounced and linger for longer than expected. Thankfully technology has us covered in the form of waterproof breathable fabrics. And there's one household name that has dominated this corner of the outdoor apparel market for decades – Gore-Tex. Invented in 1969 after Bob Gore experimented by quickly stretching a piece of polytetrofluoroethylene (PTFE), a material that was being used for electrical cable housing. The result was an extremely thin film – now termed “membrane” - with billions of microscopic pores, impervious to water but large enough to let sweat vapour through. Sandwich the expanded PTFE between a nylon outer shell and and durable backing (to avoid dirt and sweat to clogging the tiny pores) and you have the 3-ply Pro Shell jacket sold by dozens of apparel companies. Those jackets all feature the prominent GORE-TEX stamp on the garment and a large diamond shaped hang tag that explains the benefits of the technology. - namely being able to keep you dry from the elements while still allowing the garment to breathe effectively.

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Stay in touch with a satellite communicator

Stepping off the grid into remote locations - away from cell phone signal - is a large part of what makes the experiencing the wilderness experience so special. With smart phones now firmly integrated into our lives and constantly keeping us connected, stepping out of cell phone coverage can give us a sense of freedom, with no one bothering us about work, gossip or pressing social engagements. But despite parties being adequately prepared, accidents can happen in the backcountry. The old school method of letting next-of-kin know your departure point and expected return - while still an important part of trip planning - will only let Search and Rescue (SAR) organizations extrapolate your location in the event of a catastrophe. The good thing is, the technology that keeps us so connected is helping make backcountry travel safer.

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Blackcomb Buttress – A Chamonix-Like Experience In Canada

I can always count on two things when I guide Blackcomb Buttress; happy guests and me saying, "Man I love my job”! It brings me back to my Cham’ days where I guided for many summers. Why is it a Chamonix like experience? It’s all about ease of access, quality granite and quality climbing. First off you kill an otherwise grueling approach and knee wrecker de-proach by taking the Whistler Blackcomb lifts and alpine shuttle bus, something I never take for granted! Next comes a beautiful approach through rolling alpine meadows. The pristine ever clear emerald waters of the little tarn reflect Blackcomb Peak, looming above. A curious Hoary Marmot stands up on it’s rock and whistles the town’s namesake.

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