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Multipurpose Mountaineering and Ice Climbing Boots
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By Kari Post
From Keene, NH
Nov 3, 2012
Me climbing in Jamaica, VT. Photo by Rachel Squire...
I'm looking to get a pair of multi-purpose mountaineering and ice climbing boots. I'm hoping for a boot that will work for both hiking and technical climbing, and my hands and feet tend to run fairly cold. I've got a somewhat wider foot but narrow heel and a medium arch. Also, I tend to wear the lightest weight footwear that I can for a given situation (but make sure my feet stay plenty warm in cold conditions), so weight is a consideration, but certainly not the only one.

The only mountaineering boots I've ever used are rented Koflach Arctis Expe's and I have not yet gone ice climbing but plan to get into it this winter and would like a pair of double-duty boots. The most extreme conditions I've winter hiked in was a winter summit of Mount Washington (NH) in -12 degree (-52 with wind chill) temps. This winter, I have a trip to climb Cayambe (18,996 feet) in Ecuador, but I expect that most of my mountaineering and climbing will be done in the United States.

I do plan on going to a store to try on boots and talk to the folks there, but I wanted to do some background research first. Price is a factor, but I can prodeal some brands so it's not so bad. In general, boots with an MSRP of around $500 or less are probably within my budget.

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By Ryan N
From Bellingham, WA
Nov 3, 2012
RJN
Sounds like you need two boots. If your looking at an all around winter mountaineering boot that will climb well and hike well that's not very hard. But for higher altitudes a double boot will keep your feet nice and toasty. The problem with double boots for ice is they dont have much sensitivity. I climb in the Scarpa Phantom Guides(newer model) and climb mostly in southwestern Colorado and Sierras and they keep me plenty warm and climb extremely well. I like the integrated gaiter it seems to keep me warmer and certainly drier. As for climbing ice in negative temps not only does the ice become VERY brittle( dangerous) but unless you climbing in Canada your not going to see many of those days. In Colorado I've been climbing for years and even in backcountry negative temps are rare. Go with something like the Guides or unless you think your going to be at higher altitudes more, Scarpa has the 6000, and 8000( both double boot) for that. Also, I'm sure the single boot will hold more resale value as that's what most people use.

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By Reginald McChufferton
Nov 3, 2012
So you're looking for a work boot that's comfy to jog in and keeps your feet warm at -12 but weighs as much as a climbing shoe?

Let me know if you find it.

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By Dave Bn
From Fort Collins, CO
Nov 3, 2012
Dreamweaver
Mountaineering boots are either:

1. Lightweight comfy and cold

-or-

2. Heavier, less comfortable and warm.

I wear Scarpa Mont Blancs for ice and general spring/fall mountaineering here in CO. They are not warm enough for winter mountaineering and they're almost not warm enough for ice climbing on cold days.

But they're comfy and fit my rather wide foot.

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By Kari Post
From Keene, NH
Nov 3, 2012
Me climbing in Jamaica, VT. Photo by Rachel Squire...
Ryan, thanks for the info. What you are saying about double boots totally makes sense in terms of ice climbing and was something I hadn't even thought of. I'll be mostly hiking and climbing in the northeast, and certainly not climbing in bad ice conditions. Mount Washington is pretty extreme as far as weather goes, and the temps on the summit are only experienced briefly and far more extreme than the rest of the hike. But it makes sense that warmer double boots are probably not needed and not suited as well to ice climbing. My winter hiking and all-purpose boots are a pair of Women's Garmont Momentum Snow GTX if that gives you any idea of what I'm normally fine walking around in in New Hampshire in winter temps usually somewhere in the single positive digits to teens (although I've done -20 before, but getting that cold here is not all that common).

Reginald, thanks for being helpful. I have to say comments like yours are totally useless and unfortunately very prevalent on the Mountain Project forum, which really brings down what would otherwise be a great site. Go you. I hate to think that this forum is at all the way climbers are represented to the world.

Dave, yup I get that you can't have it all and that no boot will be able to truly specialize in multiple disciplines. A Jack-of-all-Trades style boot would be a compromise, but from my other research and people I've talked to, it seems that a good number of people are able to successfully use a number of boots for both mountaineering expeditions and ice climbing. I doubt they are using the same boots for very technical climbs and long non-technical winter alpine ascents, but I'm not at that level and if I were to ever get there I would certainly have no problem in buying specialized boots. If I'm doing some shorter snowy hikes and learning to climb ice, I'd expect that there would be something that could do both decently well.

Really, the top priority is to get boots that keep me safe. Safe means not painful, not dangerously cold, and not so heavy as to cause extreme fatigue and make me more prone to injury. Take the Koflachs for example - they are definitely not the lightest of boots and I wouldn't call them particularly comfortable, but my feet stayed warm and dry and I didn't finish the day with bruised shins, banged up toes and raw heels. I don't really have any complaints about them, I just don't want to invest in them if they aren't the "right" boot for my needs and I don't have a wide range of experience using other models. Or, if a boot similar in comfort, fit, and warmth could be gotten with a significant weight savings, that would be attractive.

The reason I'm considering purchasing boots is because the cost of renting them for an extended trip in Ecuador might be close to what prodealing my own pair would be. I was told that the rental boots on sight are in really bad shape and I'm better off getting them in the states, but that means I'll have them for much longer than just the the several days it will take to summit Cayambe.

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By Bang
From Charlottesville, VA
Nov 3, 2012
Thanks Hank Caylor!
Hi Kari,

Have you read this? coldthistle.blogspot.com/2012/...

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By Sunny-D
From SLC, Utah
Nov 3, 2012
Top of Jah-Man Sister Superior
I have had great success with La Sportiva Nepal Evo. I just switched to the Lowa Weisshorn which is a very similar boot. I have climbed in the Andes of Peru up to 20,000+ ft in them and ice crag 3-4 days a week. They easily climb WI 5+ and mixed stuff. Ice climbing early in the mornings here in Utah, tends to be pretty cold when you are out at 5:00 am. They have gone with me to Alaska (not the boot for Denali) but other lower mountains up there they work great. Great for Rainier, The Cascades and the Rockies. I use them for shoveling snow and playing out in the snow with my kids. I snow shoe in them and winter hike in them. What I am saying is if you are looking for a Jack of all Trades I would look at a boot similar to these two. Are they the lightest-No- but they also are incredibly durable and pretty warm.
If you take a boot like this on an expedition you would have to really focus on keeping it dry from working day in and day out without being able to give it a chance to dry. It is possible. If you add a super Gaiter to them you could take them to pretty cold places. It is learning a system that works. VBL liners work well. They are great, technical, warm, durable, and semi light boots.
The newer Batura and Scrapa boots are a nice way to go as well. I think the leather models will be more adaptable and durable choices.
My wife who gets cold easily, climbs in the Women's Nepal Evo.
I would find a place that rents different styles of boots and them and take them out for a day or two.
Dallen

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By Kari Post
From Keene, NH
Nov 4, 2012
Me climbing in Jamaica, VT. Photo by Rachel Squire...
Thanks for the link Bang.

Sunny, thanks for relaying your experiences. I'll look into those boots a little more. They sound like they might work combined with a super gaiter. I'll also call the group I'm going with tomorrow to get a better idea of what conditions we'll have on Cayambe (it will be summer in Ecuador after all). I would love to try multiple pairs but most of the rental places have a limited variety of boots to chose from (Koflach Arctis Expe are very popular rental boots) plus we won't have conditions extreme enough for me to test in and order in time before I leave. :(

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By Curt Nelson
From Fort Collins, CO
Nov 4, 2012
There is a little ice in there!
Check out the Boreal Kangri at Mountain Tools. Great fit in the heal. Super warm and they excell at keeping your feet dry. Larry and Jane are very knowledgeable about footwear. mtntools.com/cat/alpineice/boo...

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By csproul
From Davis, CA
Nov 4, 2012
Summit of Wolf's Head with Pingora in the backgrou...
Kari Post wrote:
Thanks for the link Bang. Sunny, thanks for relaying your experiences. I'll look into those boots a little more. They sound like they might work combined with a super gaiter. I'll also call the group I'm going with tomorrow to get a better idea of what conditions we'll have on Cayambe (it will be summer in Ecuador after all). I would love to try multiple pairs but most of the rental places have a limited variety of boots to chose from (Koflach Arctis Expe are very popular rental boots) plus we won't have conditions extreme enough for me to test in and order in time before I leave. :(

I know people use and get away with single leather/synthetic boots in the Andes all the time. If you keep them dry and aren't out for long trips, it can be done. But let just tell you from experience that there is something to be said for being conservative when keeping your fingers and toes warm. I have not climbed Cayambe, but I have made several trips to the Cordiero. I personally know a couple of people who have paid the price for trying to use less than adequate boots (for the conditions) and are now missing toes. I personally am missing a few fingertips and I can tell you that it is not worth the risk. If you are unsure, go with doubles. Again, not saying it can't be done and done safely, just saying you should be sure before you go. and don't let $$ drive your decision...you won't care about a few hundred $$ if you are missing toes. I find the AAI gear lists to be amazing helpful, and here is the one for Cayambe: alpineinstitute.com/media/4290...

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By Reginald McChufferton
Nov 4, 2012
This post violated Rule #1. It has been removed by Mountain Project.

By Kari Post
From Keene, NH
Nov 4, 2012
Me climbing in Jamaica, VT. Photo by Rachel Squire...
Curt, I'll check them out, although I don't think I can prodeal that brand...

csproul, thanks. That's exactly what I'm thinking. I tend to have a pretty high pain tolerance and have definitely gotten myself into situations before where my hands/feet got too cold and warming them up again was a rather scary experience. I've actually never had issues while hiking or climbing because I tend to stay nice and warm as long as I'm moving, but regardless when it comes to keeping fingers and toes intact and functional, I would much rather err on the side of conservative. The AAI list you provided is super helpful.

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By Rick Miske
From Orem, UT
Nov 4, 2012
Self Portrait from the Pika Glacier in Alaska (Lit...
Most of the ice climbing I did last season was in Scarpa Phantom 6000. Light, double, and for me anyway, they hike very well.

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By superkick
From West Hartford, CT
Nov 5, 2012
Free Solo up hitchcock gully WI3
If you want a double boot go with the scarpa 6000, or a baruntse/spantik.

It can get pretty cold climing in the daks and the whites in NH. Ive been at frankenstein cliffs many days where its 0 degrees out not including the windchill. If climbing technical routes up mt wash can get very cold.

Heck you could probably buy both for about 600$ if you look around. Ive seen nepals go for as low as 200 and spantiks/baruntses etc anywhere from 300-450.

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By Jeff Fiedler
Nov 5, 2012
Kari, to cut to the chase why not just go with the Koflac Arctic Expe's, that fit you well. You'll get a time tested boot that will keep you warm and safe in Ecuador (or Mt Washington), and is pretty much indestructible. It will be totally fine to learn the basics of ice climbing. You know they fit you. And they are under well under your budget.

If you really get into harder ice climbing or warmer mountaineering, you can invest in a more specific second pair of boots then.

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By Kari Post
From Keene, NH
Nov 5, 2012
Me climbing in Jamaica, VT. Photo by Rachel Squire...
Rick and superkick, thanks for chiming in!

Jeff, that's what I'm leaning towards, although I wish I could remember what size I rented. I think I'm going to head up to North Conway and try them on again then order a pair. I know they'll work and they are well within my budget, so it seems like a good move.

Thanks all for the great advice!

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By David Hertel
From Sitka
Nov 27, 2012
Climbing a coulior of steep snow on the First Asce...
I'm not sure if you found what you are looking for yet, but I must say that in my experience, the best boot for any winter climbing disapline (ice, mixed, or alpine) involving crampons would have to be the Asolo AFS 101s. They are indeed older, and several updated AFS models have been made since their time, but I swear by mine and if I had been a bit nicer to them, I would never have even thought of getting another boot.
To be fair, I do have some lighter weight LaSportiva Nepals (not a double boot) for summer ice on glaciers and I use them on warm spring days climbing ice, but I always find myself going back to my AFS 101s. I have recently purchased some AFS Optimilas second hand, and they are nice indeed, but I prefer my old 101s still. Koflach does make a very nice boot as well, I have climbed alpine and ice in the Arctic Exp and Degree boots, but I have a narrower foot with a wider toe base and Asolos are the best things I can put on my feet. I have also found that while koflach makes an amazing boot, when your feet sweat alot, or you cross a river, the liners are exceptionally difficult to dry in the field. Asolo liners seem to wick moisture and dry out a heck of a lot faster.
Whatever you decide, I recomend getting double plastics. If your funds allow $500, you wont regret getting something beefier that you can also take on expeditions to colder climates. I wont take my nepals out on expeditions because I can't take out the inner boot (there isn't one) to dry or keep warm in the tow box of my sleeping bag at night. The weight will become less and less of an issue as you get accustomed to the boots and the (little) extra weight is worth the durability and warmth of the boot

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By Kari Post
From Keene, NH
Jan 1, 2013
Me climbing in Jamaica, VT. Photo by Rachel Squire...
Thanks for all the great tips guys! They have been super helpful!

I ended up getting a pair of Koflachs and then finding a great deal on a pair of La Sportiva Baturas here on the Mountain Project that I couldn't pass up so I ordered them too. I tried out the Baturas today while ice climbing and they seemed to do the trick, and I think they'll keep me warm and dry enough in Ecuador.

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By IamDman
Feb 6, 2013
avatar
good luck in Equador (if you haven't already gone), look forward to a trip report! and glad you found some boots that work for you.

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By keohan68
From Landaff,NH
Mar 6, 2013
Just to throw in my experience, I wear Scarpa Summit GTX's. I live right next to the White's, and have both mountaineered and ice climbed in them. I've hiked in temps down to negative 20, and stood belaying for an hour at -15. I have a decent resistance to cold. They hike well, ice climb fine, and hold up to temps great. I also run LaSportiva Makalu's which are awesome hiking boots, good ice climber's, but have a lower temp range.

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By Just Solo
From Colorado Springs
Mar 11, 2013
Sportiva Batura's would fit that bill, short of the double boot factor, they are close. I love mine, once broken it they feel great. Very warm too. Nepal Evo's would be great too, you could simply add an overboot for extreme cold if nec. A friend of mine uses this setup in the Himalaya for trekking and moderate peaks almost every year.

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By Just Solo
From Colorado Springs
Mar 11, 2013
Ha ha! Just read all the posts! Looks like my advice comes a little late! Batura's are awesome boots if they fit!

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