It’s 6AM and my partner and I are breaking camp out of the climber’s hut at Rainier’s Camp Muir. The sun is beginning to cut across Little Tahoma to our east. We’ve got a day full of glacier travel and my buddy prepares by wrestling into his harness. I, on the other hand, simply clip into my pants and patiently wait.
Mammut isn’t the first to sling a harness in a pant (Rossignol put a pair out several years ago). But Mammut put a stamp on the harness garment concept by releasing several models for various climbing and skiing situations.
I literally lived out of the Alyeska Realization pants this past April during a ski mountaineering trip that would cross 17 glaciers over five days. (See “High Orbit: Rainier’s Hidden Route” for the full story on the trip.) Along the way I got a glimpse of the good and the bad, and I poked at the big question — are they worth $700?
Price: $700 (available now).
Where to test It: Glacier crossing or climbing technically steep couloirs that require a harness. Made for ski mountaineers who require a harness to move safely in the mountains.
The Details: The Alyska’s are constructed with Gore-Tex Pro material, the brand’s top-shelf waterproof-breathable product. The pants have a gusseted crotch and articulated knees. Dyneema cuffs guard the inside ankles, protecting the pant leg from a rogue crampon or sharp edge. The pants weighs 32 ounces.
Nitty Gritty: For warmer weather, the pants have a detachable bib-top that quickly unbutton and unzip from the legs. The adjustable shoulder straps can be fitted onto the pants, though belt loops are included (which also pair Mammut’s Alyeska jacket to the pant–not reviewed).
The bib-top has a pocket designed to fit Mammut’s Barryvox avalanche beacon. The pant legs have three pockets in front, providing enough room to stow a hat, snacks, map or anything else. A fourth pocket sits on the back right side.
The pockets are lined with mesh, and they can do double-time as vents when left unzipped. But formal venting is provided through two 14-inch mesh panels that can be unzipped down either leg.
The integrated harness uses split-web technology to help distribute weight and provide better comfort. The harness hangs on the inside of the pants through a mesh liner. The attachment loops exit the pants through a pair of pockets on either side of the front fly and can tuck away when you don’t need them.
The pants have a baggy look, which gives them a free-ride feel, but they have a slim fit around the waist, giving them an athletic fit. The snow gaiter can clip into your boots and the cuffs can be buttoned around the boots for a cleaner fit.
Awesome! If speed is your friend, then slipping into a pair of the Alyeska Realizations could be the start of a wonderful bromance. I literally lived out of the pants for a week–including sleeping in them–and appreciated the transition from camp to skis. I’d remove the biners each night then clip them back in the morning, allowing me to quickly tie back into the rope.
Flaw: Price aside, the harness and pant doesn’t have a way to take care of business when nature calls. It has a small fly, but you’ll have to pull the bibs off your shoulders and below the knees for the rest. If you are in it for the expedition, you’d be better served by a pant/bib with a through-the-crotch zipper and an alpine harness.
There’s no way to adjust the harness; the leg loops drape loosely around the thighs (though this is better than wrapping too tight around the quads). The gear loops are limited to two: one on either side. I had to rack gear on my pack’s gear loops. Though they are suitable for general mountaineering, the lack of more loops exclude the pants from technical mountaineering or ice climbing.
Full Test: Days on the glacier toggled between bitter cold and hot as hades. But the yellow color and venting kept the temperature consistently comfortable through most of the day.
I’m not a freeride fanatic, so I was hesitant about the baggy fit and paused before cashing supplies in the pants — worrying they would pull the pants down. I eventually caved. I appreciated the map pocket and had I been using a Barryvox transceiver I would have loved the dedicated beacon pocket, too.
Conclusion: For those who want the true benefits of a harness–including adjustable fit and racking gear–you’ll be disappointed. But if a harness is simply a necessary evil for getting to the fun part of your day, then these pants would be awesome and a huge time saver.
Who Should Buy It: Freeriders, boarders, ski mountaineers and ski touring backcountry enthusiasts pursuing all-day adventures on technical snow.
Made in: China.
Contact Brand/More Beta: Mammut