Vindication is a strange animal (like unto a marmot, or maybe an echidna) creeping up where one least expects it. Such as the BBC yesterday.

A fan, nay, a necessary devotee of natural-fiber clothing (see: Multiple Chemical Sensitivities), I often get flak from fellow outdoorspeople for outdoorsifying in non-synthetics. Especially so on high-altitude peaks in Colorado. But, newsflash, people: natural fibers like wool and silk, when worn correctly in layers, can hold up to just about everything synthetics can, even on Everest.  Or on 14,000-foot peaks in the U.S. Or in the high Sierras.

Of course, no material is perfect — super-wet conditions in bulky woolies, for example, often result in a seeming sheep’s worth of extra weight — but in mostly dryish mountain conditions, they’re the mountain goat’s pajamas.

Wearing replica gear made from gabardine, wool, cotton and silk, [mountaineer Graham Hoyland] wanted to disprove the common myth that the 1920s climbers were ill-equipped to reach the summit [of Mount Everest] …

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The three-year project, led by Professor Mary Rose and Mike Parsons, revealed that Mallory’s clothing was highly effective at providing protection at high altitude.

The layered natural materials used to construct the garments were found to be excellent at trapping air next to the skin.

The outer layer of gabardine was hardwearing and water-resistant yet breathable. But the clothing was also lighter than modern gear — the lightest ever to be used on Everest.

So, let us all praise wool (and other natural fibers)!

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Here I’m compelled to make a public-service-like announcement that I feel even more justified in declaring, given recent developments: Please don’t eat the sheep or goats!

Even aside from the deep respect sheep and goats deserve for all the wooliness they provide,  it’s also becoming an even worse dietary decision.

Meat-eaters have been told that avoiding mutton, goat, and some sausages is the only way to reduce the risks from a new animal brain disease.

Britain’s food watchdog admitted yesterday that it could not rule out a risk to human health from the brain disease atypical scrapie, which is similar to BSE [mad cow disease].

The sheep and goats aren’t just upset anymore, now they’re getting mad!

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