I’ve been climbing and skiing in Schoeller autumn, winter and spring for six or seven years now, and have come to appreciate—OK, love—the quiet comfort of that miracle fabric for my pants and jackets. They breathe perfectly and wear like iron. There’s never a crinkly or rough moment, only a soft comfort you never notice on those long approaches,
thrutchy offwidths and swooshing descents. But for certain winter days, a keen wind coupled with below-zero temps can leave one longing for more protection, particularly around the nether regions. So when, early last winter, a pair of Chute 2 Thrill pants arrived from Patagonia, I quickly snatched them for my own.
These are ski pants, and I’ll be frank: I haven’t skied more than ten days at a ski area in the last ten years. I love the backcountry, the long days beneath evergreens heavy with winter’s snow, the sounds of the trees creaking in the forest when you stop to catch your breath. By mid-October, 2005, snow had already blanketed the undulating terrain south of Teton Pass, where, due to the rock-free slopes and low incidence of avalanches, early season always seems to start. The pants went out with me on my first tour. The Chute 2 Thrills are part of a newer generation of semi-hard shells that provide great protection, no noise and far more usable comfort than the Gore-Tex-type materials I remembered from the pre-Schoeller days. They are also exceptionally well-designed. I’m 5′ 7″, 160 pounds, and the suspender system kept my size Mediums just where they needed to be. By the end of that first day I’d found a use for the pocket on the right leg: lip stuff, so I could avoid the painful grimace of cracked lips on Monday morning. Pocket on the left leg: Gu, three or four, always there at the ready so I could keep up with my partners. Upper pocket, right side: empty Gu packets. Upper pocket, left side: my camera, for those days when it was warm enough to lose its traditional repository, my (still Schoeller) jacket. The fly did just what it was supposed to do and then disappeared from consciousness (just like it’s supposed to do). And those vents: one of the things I’ve loved about Schoeller is how well it breathes, but the venting down the legs of the Chute 2 Thrills kept me from sweating like a Vietnamese water buffalo on long uptracks. I was sold.
The pants quickly became the only ones I wore. Long ski tours up Avalanche Canyon, short blasts off Glory, winter ascents of the Middle and the Grand: the Chute 2 Thrills kept me warm, held my accoutrements perfectly, and most important, never interfered with my experience. Though they are a ski pant, I used them ice climbing and mountaineering a number of times last winter as well, and was pleasantly surprised to find that the somewhat roomier leg cuff, made to accommodate a ski boot, escaped the shredding effect of a misplaced crampon rather well. It’s rare to find a piece of equipment that you have no reservations about whatsoever, but in this case, the Chute 2 Thrills get the Mountain Standards with ease.