Warm When Wet - Dachstein Uber Mitts

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Ice climbers and mountaineers of a certain age all relied upon—and probably still treasure—Dachstein mitts. These woolen mittens, made exclusively in the mountainous Dachstein region of Austria, were de rigueur in the 1970s and 1980s, before Gore-Tex and other high-tech materials supplanted them. Their secret was the boiled wool (aka fulled wool) process, in which natural woolen fi bers are soaked in hot water and rubbed by hand or mechanically, causing tiny scales on the fibers to interweave into a thick, dense material. I remember bitter mornings in New England when my frozen-stiff Dachstein mittens had to be bent into a curl so I could grasp my ice axe, yet miraculously my hands remained toasty warm inside. The mitts stuck like gecko paws to wet ice, permitting tool-free moves. The genuine article hasn’t been widely available in the U.S. for many years, but now Bradley Alpinist is importing DACHSTEIN WOOL ÜBER MITTS ($36, bradleyalpinist.com) directly from Austria; a Dachstein hat and two sweaters are also available. —Dougald MacDonald