Test Drive: The Squall System Jacket Takes on Mount Hood

Four adventurers set out for a cold midnight climb of Oregon's Mount Hood to catch the sunrise. We outfitted them with the Squall System for warmth and protection. See how it stood up to the task.


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Words by Jenny Sundel. Images by “Chase Adventure.”

This band of brothers may not all be related – though two, in fact, are siblings – but the quartet’s decades-long bonds run deep. By day, they take on traditional roles as a lawyer, restaurateur, property manager, and technology salesperson. But every couple of years, they reunite to embark on epic outdoor adventures, like climbing Mount Whitney and Mount Rainier.

This June, the fearless foursome tackled Mount Hood, the tallest summit in Oregon, which also happens to be a dormant volcano with breathtaking views from 11,000 feet above sea level. They tested our Squall System on the treacherous trek, where they battled ice, wind and fog and sharp vertical climbs. Looks like the gear did the trick, as they all came back in one piece – and are already plotting their next trail to blaze. We couldn’t use their names so we let them choose their own. Now meet the men behind the Squalls…

Chosen Name:
Chase Adventure
Profession:
Lawyer
Most Exciting Climb:
“Grand Teton was one of my favorite climbs. It’s such a striking mountain. It’s much more rock than snow and ice. Mount Rainier I had to do twice because the first time we went up, we didn’t make it to the summit.”
One Thing He Wouldn’t Climb Without:
“A camera. It definitely added weight, but it’s worth it. I really have a passion for photography as well as climbing, so marrying the two together was a lot of fun for me.”
Peak Moment:
“As we were nearing the summit, it was just beautiful to see the clouds break and the sun come out, and see the shadow of the mountain on the clouds below us. That was definitely the highlight,” he says, noting that they began the trek at midnight so they could reach the top by sunrise – long before the sun warms the ice, which can cause the mountain to dislodge dangerous material.
Song that Best Describes His Sense of Adventure:
“Colder Weather” by the Zac Brown Band
What’s Next:
The Maryland resident already has his sights set on the next peak: Mount Shuksan in Washington. “It’s an iconic climb in the Pacific Northwest that combines rock and snow,” he says. While he would love to conquer that mountain with the guys sooner than later, he cracks, “Every time I try to say we go every year, my wife reminds me it’s every other year, so we’ll see!”



Chosen Name:
Farmer Guggenheim: “That’s what friends out here call me,” says the Wisconsin resident who lives on a farm with his family. “I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, and at the same time I can appreciate art.”
Profession:
Restaurateur
Most Exciting Climb:
“Mount Rainier is great because it’s a really big mountain and it’s right on the coast, so you feel like you’re much higher than you are. It was an amazing experience.”
One Thing He Wouldn’t Climb Without:
“I have a little monocle that I take because I like to look at things in the distance, whether it’s a moon or a star or other mountains. It’s super small and light, fits in my pocket,” he says. Also in his pack? “Gummy cola bears.”
Biggest Challenge:
Prior to the trip, a horse ran over his foot, making the uphill hike even more difficult. “I had this pain in my leg, and you put on a three-pound mountaineering boot, and start climbing something steep, and this pain was just throbbing,” he says.
Peak Moment:
“The sunrise when we were up high. The Northwest is really neat because it’s a diverse ecosystem from alpine to glacier to rainforest.” Although, he continues, “Just being with the guys, didn’t really matter what we were doing. We had as much fun in Portland down at the brewery as we did on the mountain.”
Song That Best Describes His Sense of Adventure:
“It’s a Long Way to the Top” by AC/DC
What’s Next:
“It probably will be a volcano out West I bet,” he guesses. Luckily, he can count on younger brother, “Chase Adventure,” to handle all the details. “He really enjoys planning these!”



Chosen Name:
Illinois Jones
Profession:
Property manager
Most Exciting Climb:
Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. “Those were pretty exciting because that’s more rock climbing. You end up rappelling off the backside into dead space.”
Buddy System:
The 53-year-old has spent decades doing “cool outdoorsy things” with high school pal, “Farmer Guggenheim.” But perhaps the coolest? 30 years ago, the duo trekked the Tibetan and Nepalese sides of Mount Everest together. “We’ve stayed pretty active. It’s nice to have somebody as adventurous as you are that you also get along with.”
One Thing He Wouldn’t Climb Without:
“Having good quality gear is a must. One of the things I liked about the shell is it was very windproof. It didn’t allow the wind to get through, so I never got damp. It totally performed really well.”
Biggest Challenge:
“For about four hours, you really couldn’t see more than 20 feet in any direction,” he recalls of the inclement weather that left his eyeglasses covered in ice. “You had no sense of where you were, but you knew you needed to keep going up.”
Peak Moment:
“It was much more rigorous than I thought it was going to be. You’re hiking up a pretty steep slope, so I was happy that I made it to the top. It was pretty exhilarating.”
Song that best describes your sense of adventure:
“Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters
What’s Next:
“I’ll ski pretty much any terrain and I’ll pretty much mountain bike down anything. I’m willing to do just about anything!”



Chosen Name:
Conrad Anchor: “I was christened with this name. Not by choice!” he says of looking like the famous mountaineer, particularly with chunks of ice dangling from his beard.
Profession:
Technology sales
Most exciting climb:
“The most exciting thing for me is when you get to the top. It’s such a cliché, but you can take in and appreciate all that’s around you. Mount Whitney was nice, but it was nowhere near as beautiful [as Mount Hood].”
One Thing He Wouldn’t Climb Without:
“You have to have a good outer layer because if you’re cold, it’s all over,” he said, adding that his Lands’ End gear was up to the task.
Biggest Challenge:
Probably the most challenging was the last 400 feet or so because it was so vertical. It was icy and very steep. You had to really dig your crampons into the side of the mountain. You’re physically tired and the challenge is to stay mentally focused one step at a time because you cannot miss a step!”
Peak Moment:
“I liked the camaraderie of taking breaks along the way and sharing a bag of beef jerky and having some Gatorade together, that band-of-brothers feel. In many ways, you’re truly a team. That’s part of the exhilaration,” he says, explaining that they were tethered together in two groups of three, each led by a guide.
Take-Home Lesson:
When his nine-year-old daughter asked him how made it to the top, “I said, ‘I just didn’t quit.’ Now, she’s carrying that mantra with her, which is kind of nice.”
Song:
“Into the Great Wide Open” by Tom Petty
What’s Next:
“My next big adventure may be kayaking. I’m taking a midlife siesta before I have to go back and hit the pavement,” says the 49-year-old.



Shop Looks

Men's Squall System Shell

This windproof and waterproof transitional jacket is lightweight and made to zip together with our 800 down jacket or T200 fleece vest for a superjacket unbeatable in the elements.