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Last weekend, it snowed 5 inches in Tahoe. So I did what any self-respecting skier in a drought would do--and I went adventuring in the backcountry, on a quest for tragically rare pow turns. It was a brutal day, to be honest: side-hilling on a few inches of sugar atop slippery, wind-destroyed hardpack. But the turns were worth it, as they always are. And I looked good.
Why did I look so good? Not because of my skiing--I'll tell you that much. I looked good because I was wearing Pit Vipers.
There's a whole smattering of shades out there for enduro workouts that you'd think would also be good for backcountry skiing. Space-style frames for ultra marathoners that look like snake eyes, for example. Which are exactly what I would never wear, no matter how functional they are, because I am not a skimo nerd and I do not want to look like one, either.
And so, because I've prioritized looks over function, I've been relegated to a different kind of struggle on the skin track. The one where you continuously have to push up your glasses because they keep slipping down the sweaty bridge of your nose. Not fun.
I've tried croakies and other sunglass straps--but those always get messed up in my hair, my hoods, and my hats. I tried a pair of snazzy French glacier glasses, but they got super fogged up because there was no ventilation to release the heat coming off of my head. Glacier glasses also gave me tunnel vision, which was totally disorienting when you're skiing in the Alps.
I was about to give up and give in to something more "technical." But then, Pit Viper came to my rescue.
A couple of months ago, El Pit Viper Presidente Chuck Mumford showed up to a late-night party with a vintage suitcase full of shades that screamed FUN! I couldn't help but want them all because the colors were so bright and catchy. I settled on a lemon-lime pair with a silver lens and I wore them for the rest of the night at the party, because that's what you do with Pit Vipers. You party. You also go skiing.
In 2012, Mumford was in a similar quandary as I. He was touring in the Tetons, struggling with his pair of techy sunglasses, which he eventually broke. That's what led him to develop Pit Vipers--inspired by durable military ballistic glasses, but with more color and more party. Pit Vipers are made to take a beating, which is what happens when you push it in the mountains. They are also made to après, which is what happens after you push it in the mountains.
The plastic in the frame has some flexibility and give so it won't snap if I forget they're in my back pocket and I sit down. The spherical lens wraps around my face for great peripheral vision and also some eye protection against the wind and elements, which I appreciate even more so because I wear contact lenses. I still feel a tad bit of wind drying out my contacts when I ski in these, but it's a big improvement from normal sunglasses that don't shield my eyeballs.
If I overheat while I'm touring and I'm wearing a buff and a beanie that blocks ventilation, my Pit Vipers do overheat and fog up. But there's a plastic bar on the brow that helps air flow between your face and the lens, so the fogging has been minimal and goes away as soon as I replace my beanie with a mesh trucker hat.
Today, I'm packing my bags for a trip to British Columbia. There will be skiing and touring and lots of powder, and also hot tubs and parties and late-night dance floors. My Pit Vipers are the only pair of sunglasses I own that can handle all of the above, and then some.