Sometimes, gear advances come in incremental steps before one big leap pushes the whole category forward. Sweet Protection has made that jump with the Ascender. It’s certified for both skiing and climbing—that’s nothing new for the helmet world, but as this helmet’s name suggests, it’s the first one to come with MIPS, the industry-leading technology for head protection. MIPS, or Multi-directional Impact Protection System, is a cushioned layer attached to the inside of the helmet that lets it move independently of your head, which greatly reduces the force of an impact. So, along with protecting your noggin from rockfall, the Ascender provides as much downhill security as the chunkiest ski resort brain bucket.
This helmet is made for hard efforts. Three large, always-open vents in the front and 105 dime-size holes on top kept us from getting too sweaty in the reflective bowl of the Freshfield Icefield. (A lack of ear flaps helped as well). Simple webbing size adjusters keep weight down, and goggles clip on securely with an elastic band at each temple.
Perhaps the biggest praise came from our photographer in Banff, who made his name shooting climbers and has worked as a mountain guide. Usually not a fan of wearing a lid, he admitted that if he had to wear one for climbing and skiing, it’d be this. Case closed.