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The new Petzl Meteor helmet: Dually qualified for climbing and skiing
Posted on: January 20, 2020
With the snowpack building in the mountains, I find myself once again waking up in the dark, early hours of the morning to climb snowy peaks with my skis—an ongoing search for that ever-elusive day of bottomless pow. But all too often the dreamy vision of soft, fluffy turns disintegrates with the sound of metal edges grinding on ice as I find myself once again cranking desperate turns through breakable crust.
This is why I place a lot of importance on wearing a helmet. It's nice when a helmet is well suited for both climbing and skiing. It's even better when the helmet lacks the dorky bobble-head appearance of yore. I like to be safe but I also like to feel sleek and fast. This is why I've been using the evolving versions of the Petzl Meteor for the last four years.
Aisha Weinhold rocking the Petzl Meteor helmet in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado. [Photo] Steve Denny
I first bought the Meteor as a climbing helmet and was pleasantly surprised when I realized that it effectively doubled as a ski-mountaineering (skimo) helmet. Before skimo racing really took off in the US, it wasn't uncommon to see someone careening down on tiny skis with a bike helmet. As standards have stiffened, the Meteor was an obvious choice. The Meteor adheres to the US and the International Ski Mountaineering Federation regulations and integrates well with goggles and headlamps.
This latest version of the Meteor definitely surpasses the integrity of earlier models. In addition to the spandex-fueled vertical, I have skied a handful of Colorado fourteeners and lines in Europe that require equipment that can effortlessly transition from climbing to skiing. My favorite aspect of the Meteor is that it is super light, so I don't feel constrained when I'm climbing. For descents, it doesn't whistle, and I can easily adjust the size to accommodate a hat or headband. Plus, the matte grey color is super sleek. (If I want to add some color, I can accessorize with an array of neon clothing, which the outdoor industry typically seems to foist upon us.)
Weinhold wearing the Petzl Meteor on a via ferrata. [Photo] Steve Denny
Early last spring, a girlfriend and I went to ski Conundrum Couloir, which is the prominent descent off of Conundrum Peak, a 14,000-foot mountain above the Castle Creek Valley in Aspen, Colorado. It was a bluebird day, and we were ready for action. The Meteor adjusted to fit my French braid under a thick fleece hat. Once skinning, I switched my hat for a headband and readjusted the Meteor to fit. The best part is that you can put your sunglasses on under the helmet and it won't squish your ears! There is nothing worse than finishing the day with a headache and aching bones behind your ears from a testing helmet-sunglass connection.
We carried on through some of the most intense side-hilling I have ever done through Montezuma Basin and to the summit. As we booted up, we noticed that the snow had a notable layer of crust, but it didn't seem too bad. By the time we reached the summit, the crust was thick and the descent was calling our names. We made the first few turns off the summit, through an awkward rock chute to where the couloir widens. The first turn through the hot, breakable crust had me wondering if I'd torn my ACL. The second turn had me thanking the lord that I was wearing a helmet, the third turn morphed into a Zoolander "I only turn left" moment, which then resulted in a moment of riding switch (backwards). Midway through the route, I tightened the helmet both in the back and against my throat. Just the same as tightening my PFD before a big rapid on a river, this was just enough to give me the security I needed to make that next turn. Was it a cosmic performance? Absolutely not. But did my helmet complement my hot pink Oakley Wind Jacket sunglasses, cerulean blue jacket and burnt orange bottoms? It did indeed. My only complaint is that when I reached the bottom of the route, the chinstrap had loosened, allowing my head protection to flop backward and leave my forehead exposed. I tightened the strap and we skied down to the car where I put away my skis for the season.
It only took a few days before my poor feet were forced into another uncomfortable space—the climbing shoe. And of course, my Meteor came with me. I booked it for Idaho's City of Rocks and immersed myself in the granite jungle. As it goes when you are shaking out the early season bugs, I made one mistake that could have had serious consequences—I set my helmet in the dirt. The Meteor has a magnetic buckle that can collect flecks of rock that prevent the buckle from properly closing, you see. I once had a helmet tumble off mid-route because of this. Luckily, a good hard blow usually clears out the mechanism and you are back in business.
In the heat of spring, the helmet was well ventilated, light and super comfortable. We climbed a few routes with funny overhangs—I bonked my head on the erratic features as I made my way up, which put the helmet's durability to the test. Overall, I have been incredibly impressed by the versatility of this helmet and would recommend it for anyone who wants one helmet that is comfortable and efficient to adjust, making it well suited for both skiing and climbing.
Weinhold skiing in Chamonix, France. Photo] Steve Denny
Aisha Weinhold grew up in Colorado's Aspen valley where she has been skiing and climbing most of her life. She is a skier by profession and an alpinist by choice. She has competed on the national skimo race circuit since 2015, and in 2017, she and her partner placed first at the US Nationals in Taos for the fastest co-ed team. She believes that looking good is feeling fast, especially when her helmet compliments her spandex while crossing a finish line. She is a founder of the No Man's Land Film Festival.
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