There are times when the mountains we summit are metaphorical experiences or life lessons that elevate our ability to cope with adversity. This is not one of those mountain stories. This is a story about a very literal, and extremely high mountain. It’s a story about how DUER’s No Sweat Short became a travel companion while climbing Mount Bierstadt, a 14er (4,000m or about half the cruising altitude of a commercial jet) mountain in Colorado’s Front Range.
I am Robert Page, store manager at DUER Denver and this is my story.
Denver has not always been my physical home, but it has become home to me in every way. The dry heat of the summer, drive to the mountains, art communities, urban neighborhoods, rural farms, lakes, glaciers, restaurants, and mostly the people have made Colorado (and Denver) a place where I belong.
The First Week
My first week with DUER I picked up a pair of No Sweat Shorts and did what I do with every new piece of gear that I pick up here-- I took them for a walk. Now, I am no stranger to the outdoors. I have successfully summited every 14er at least twice (53 summer, 53 winter, 14 in 7 days, some even multiple times to train for more difficult ascents around the world). But on this day, I woke up and looked at this pair of new shorts and thought “I am totally going to run these through their paces.” So, I packed my bag (contents of my pack and my 14er climbing gear list) below), loaded my car, and headed for the Guanella Pass in Georgetown, Colorado.
After 45 minutes I arrived at the base of the Guanella pass. I picked up some snacks and supplies then headed up the winding road to Mount Bierstadt Trail Head. Mount Bierstadt is where I go to build initial impressions of new gear. The gradual inclines, well defined trail, sweeping high mountain views, proximity to the city, and bustling trailhead make it a beautiful place to learn and, in my case, experiment.
Challenging the No Sweat Short
My first challenge was to see if the No Sweat Short could pass the road trip test. Well, they flexed, formed, and performed with ease. Even while running into my favorite breakfast burrito shop, I had the freedom of movement that made me excited for what was to come. I was not disappointed.
Before we go any further, I must mention that everyone in the mountain community has trailhead rituals that help us get into the zone for what is to come. My rituals are quite simple:
- I take off my shoes, pull out a yoga mat behind my car, and I stretch and breathe.
- I put my shoes and socks back on and triple knot my laces.
- I empty and re-pack my backpack (to make sure nothing is missing).
- I thank the mountain for allowing me safe passage.
The second test was how do these shorts stretch? I was amazed. They moved with me through every twist or flex. I did not feel, like with other shorts, that I was fighting against the fabric. Impressed, I rolled my mat, finished my routine, and was off.
On this mountain the first 3rd of the approach takes you through alpine marshes, with ponds, bushes, boardwalks, and wildflowers lining the trail. I typically trail run this section to prep my lungs for what is to come. With the No Sweat Short, I ran, leapt, hopped, and hurdled my way across the alpine meadow. The shorts were flawless. The range of motion was excellent, there were no annoying hot spots, and most importantly for a short that is a bit burlier than my usual mountain short, these things breathed like a lung. 3rd test: PASSED.
Thirty minutes after leaving the parking lot I found myself on the approach to the summit ridge. This is a steeper hill that takes you diagonally up the Western facing slope of the mountain, leading to a boulder field at the top which is where you reach the summit. Things begin to slow down at this point because your cruising altitude is around 3800 meters (over double the elevation of Denver). It is common to experience headaches, nausea, vertigo, and a loss of appetite.
I was led up the Western slope by a mountain goat. It is on this part of the mountain that most people turn around as you are gaining altitude at a quicker rate, things are becoming steeper and more rugged, and the trivial things about your gear that were slight inconveniences begin to become major annoyances. This day, all I had were reasons to be even more excited about my shorts. They were the perfect tool for the task at hand.
Fifteen minutes later my No Sweat Shorts were standing with me at over 4000m. I stopped, took in the scenery, snapped some photos, and headed back down.
As someone who loves the mountains, I have always found it challenging (if not slightly embarrassing) having to change in the parking lot or show up at the après restaurant dressed like a logger and feeling a bit out of place back in civilization. Fortunately, because of my new travel companions this was again “No Sweat”. I drove down towards Denver and, as is my post mountain tradition, stopped at a Colorado Institution: Woody’s Woodfired Pizza. I fit right in with the transitional styling of my shorts. No nylon for me! And because of the antimicrobial properties of the Tencel fabric I did not even have to worry about the ever-daunting presence of mountain funk.
Overall, it was a wonderful day in the hills thanks to DUER. We have a saying in the Denver store when we talk to people from our neighborhood, town, state, and region “We are DUERs, we are you!”. For me this is just part of what we do here in Colorado. We do hard things for fun, and we challenge ourselves to authentically engage with the moments that make life amazing.
Summer Day Hike Gear List for Colorado:
- Wicking tee
- Hooded sun shirt
- Insulated vest
- Rain jacket
- L/W socks
- Trail runners
- Baseball cap and toque
- LW work gloves or full finger mountain bike gloves
- 15-20L hydration vest pack
- Compass and map
- Downloaded maps on phone
- 3L of water in a hydration bladder
- Gummy bears
- 2x protein bars
- Trekking poles
- Small 1st aid kit
- Downloaded music or podcast