| Gear Review: Technical Jean Shorts
MOUNTAIN: Huron Peak (14,003 feet)
ROUTE: North Ridge
RT DISTANCE: 11 miles
RT GAIN: 3,800 feet
TIME TO SUMMIT: ~3 hours
TIME ON SUMMIT: 2 hours
RT TIME: ~7 hours
(obligatory safety note: I carried a pair of traditional softshell pants in my pack)
As a professional climber sponsored primarily by Wrangler, Budweiser and Uncle Jack’s House of Crabs and Strip Club, I’m often solicited by these companies for my expertise on potential products. Imagine my jubilation when Wrangler finally sent me a prototype of a design I’ve long championed: breathable shell jean shorts. I believe they will be marketed as the Wrangler Rockette Technical Jorts.
My first though upon receiving my jorts was, “These don’t have enough holes.” So I cut some in the thighs to increase breathability and add to the sex appeal. It was a rousing success. I couldn’t rush to the field fast enough to try them out, though I do regret that my Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 Wicking Synthetic Tee got lost in the mail and was not available at test time.
I arrived at the Huron Peak 2WD trailhead (Winfield) at about 6:00 a.m. July 4 after wearing the jorts for a few days at Turquoise Lake to see how they performed in beach conditions. I found that they were adequate both to provide wind protection and attract bikini-clad ladies, but they had the unfortunate downside of allowing my upper thighs to get sunburned. This can probably be attributed to operator error.
I finished gearing up before my hiking partner, Megan, and began sampling the jorts’ range of motion by completing a scandalous series of callisthenic stretches. Megan hurried.
I love the smell of jean short callisthenics in the morning.
We hit the trail at about 6:30. We were immediately confronted with a stream crossing, but again the jorts performed admirably. I was able to leap like a freakin’ panther across a series of partially-submerged rocks almost like I was wearing nothing.
The jaunt up the road was uneventful. We passed a few sites full of recently awakened campers who gave me weird looks, which I took as jealousy because they were in awe of my Rockettes. We reached the 4WD trailhead and took a short break to do more callisthenics, sign the trail register and read a note a fellow named Tommy left for his mountain love-at-first-sight, Holly (or Molly). Best of luck, buddy. Remember her name next time.
If I could choose one word to describe the trail up Huron Peak, it would be “switchback.” Because that’s really all it is. One switchback after another, until you top out. Megan walked behind me because “you’re a faster hiker than me, jackass.” But we all know it was so she could enjoy the view of Mt. SurfNTurf provided by the jorts.
Starting on the trail
There is no snow below treeline. Summer conditions are in full force on Huron, and we made quick work of the lower section of trail. I was especially impressed by the airflow provided by the jorts. With the extra holes I’d cut, the product truly lives up to its claim of being “breathable.”
Once above treeline, the views were incredible. Were we really in the Sawatch? Even with so much to gaze at, we pushed a hard pace because we were late for something special happening on the summit. More on that later.
Every time Megan wanted to rest or eat, I did a few stretches and she quickly lost her appetite. I think it was the altitude.
We had to negotiate two or three lingering snowfields, but the trail was obvious and boot packed. I sat in the snow to test the jorts’ water-repellency, though I’m sad to report they failed in this regard.
First sighting of Huron
How to get your hiking partner to speed up.
Huron in full view
During the final romp up the summit ridge, we began passing groups of other hikers. I was surprised that no one commented on my new piece of revolutionary gear, as I’m sure the Rockettes will be all the buzz when they’re unveiled at the next Outdoor Retailer show.
Something magical is up there...
We summited after about three hours at 9:30 a.m. Remember when I said I was hurrying? Well, you see, there was something special on the summit. Something very, very special indeed.
I promptly sauntered to the highest rock I could find, brought my leg up to demonstrate the flexibility of the jorts and proudly exclaimed, “I’m here to party.” Darrin wasted no time providing me with a full cup, for which I was most thankful.
What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than drinking from a keg at 14,003 feet? I challenge you to come up with an answer. I waved an American flag, quoted Team America: World Police to excess, made about 15 new friends, and peed in the general direction of England. Twice.
I may have overused this pose
Quite the group
Megan enjoying the most fun summit in history
Look at those jorts PERFORM!
Not a bad view for the highest Fourth of July party in the U.S.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. The keg was cashed at about 11:15. As the train of patriotic climbers began heading out, I found myself wondering if I’d ever had more fun on a 14er summit. The answer was a resounding no. I’d spent two hours on top of a mountain drinking beer with some of the most genuinely amazing people in the world. The best part? It was for a good cause, as all proceeds – there was a $10 suggested donation for a keg cup – are going to charity. In all seriousness, a HUGE thank you to the organizers and to the unstoppable force who is Kris for carrying the 60-pound keg up 3,500 feet.
The easy descent passed like a blur as the witty banter and hilarious conversations continued. For safety, I tried to make sure the ladies were in front of me so they weren’t distracted by the jorts. Some of them were understandably stubborn. I slipped on scree once and fell into a patch of mud, which the jorts handled with ease.
Sadly, time to go down...
We arrived back at the 4WD trailhead at about 1 p.m. Megan and I lounged for a while, then decided to complete our journey back to Winfield.
WRANGLER ROCKETTE TECHNICAL JORTS FINAL SCORE: 6 out of 5 stars
PROS: What’s not to love?
Available at select stores in 2013.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):