Posted: Dec 27, 2012 10:43 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
MISSOULA - It's one thing to deal with the cold of a Montana winter. But surviving the coldest place on earth for a 15-month expedition in Antarctica requires the absolute best gear on the planet.
A Missoula company was selected to outfit an expedition trying to make the first ever winter crossing of the continent at the bottom of the world.
It's been called too risky. Noted British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes will lead a team aiming to complete the first ever winter crossing of Antarctica on foot... a grueling expedition known as "The Coldest Journey" that's just getting underway and won't be complete for over a year, surviving temperatures that average 60 below.
Missoula-based Talus Outdoor Technologies' popular Cold Avenger masks will be a key piece of the gear.
Phil Stempin, with Talus Outdoor Technologies, said Fiennes' team was researched the top gear in the world and chose Talus after testing out its products.
"A year later we get the results back and said that we were selected. So they showed us that data and it was really amazing for us."
The Cold Avenger masks have already proven popular not only here in the Rockies, but on expeditions around the world. And Stempin says it's those features that Fiennes and his team needed for the Antarctic crossing, keeping them not only comfortable but healthy.
"Mostly the moisture management, the heat control and the humidification of the airways."
That's critical in extreme cold, especially with prolonged exposure, because even small respiratory problems can become deadly.
And the expedition wanted the simplicity of the Cold Avenger mask, with it's detachable breathing apparatus, on a journey where there's already more than enough complexity to deal with.
For Talus, the expedition is a major accomplishment that can be used in marketing.
"A lot of what we have done so far has been word of mouth. We've been really growing it organically. But for us to be selected by The Coldest Journey, it's really good. Because we can push that toward the Northern Slope in Alaska or Greenland and Siberia and those places. It's really been a good thing for us."
At the same time, the company says it's still keeping customers here in Montana and the U.S. in mind, continually refining designs that work not only on expeditions but for average pursuits.
"Anytime we can see our friends and neighbors or anybody succeed in what they're doing and still live in Missoula it's special for us."
The Coldest Journey expedition is due to arrive in Antarctica in mid-January with the crossing beginning in March. In addition to the historic crossing, the trip is also raising money to fight blindness in developing countries.
Photo courtesy of The Coldest Journey.