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Water

mountaineering boot advice for a noob

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Hello,

 

I'm completing a Mazamas basic climbing course and wanted to get any advice about mountaineering boots from anyone more seasoned, here. I've done st. helens, south sister, peaks in the wallows, yada yada yada, but my intention with boots is Hood, and then any other PNW peaks that would come after that.

 

Though like everything, everyone has their preferences and there is no end all single-solution, it seems like from what I've read that plastic boots for a lot of climbs in the PNW are overkill/people aren't hot on plastic boots.

 

I have a pair of Lowa Banff boots now that I use for backpacking and I really like them a lot. I'm not a gore-tex fan if I don't have to be and treated regularly and cared for they stay pretty dry for 8 hours in the snow--though can get a little wet in the toe box (half of it sweat, i'm sure) after a long day. They are fairly stiff and it seems like I could do hood with them, but they're definitely on the margin for that. With that said, I'm inclined to look at the Lowa brand for mountaineering boots because I know they fit my feet well (after having tried asolo and a few other brands & models when getting a backpacking boot).

 

Does anyone have any thoughts on these three over at Sierra Trading Post?

 

Lowa Cevedale

 

Lowa Cristallo X Pro

 

Lowa Ice Expert

 

The Cevedale looks good and seems to fit the bill - but I'm always a sucker to spend more for something I think might be better--I'll be honest about that, haha. The Cristallo-X-Pro seems a bit tall and maybe overkill, and while the Ice Expert looks a bit more robust than the Cevedale, I'm not sure how far towards ice (vertical) climbing it is suited, vs general mountaineering (what I can find says for rock and ice). thank you for any suggestions and advice!

 

Edited by Water

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Although I don't use Lowas nowdays because of the fit,( I did my first winter climbs on Rainier in a pair of Lowa Eigers, the state-of-the-art leather double boot in the late 60's)I'd probably go with the Cristallo or the Ice expert. I simply prefer having a toe welt for a more secure crampon fit to the boot. The Ice Expert looks like a pretty good boot for either mixed alpine or waterfall ice.

 

The Cristallo is not going to be very flexible at the ankle (if at all) for French technique cramponing, the Ice Expert maybe a little more, but still not much. Besides Asolo, what else have you looked at? There are so many- Koflach, Salomon, Reichle, Kayland, Scarpa, La Sportiva,Montrail, Garmont, Vasque, Boreal, you might want to shop around some more and see if you can find something a little more versatile than these three; or, if you can afford it, get a leather or Goretex boot for general summer/fall season mountaineering,(the Cevedale looks just fine for that) and a warmer plastic boot for winter or snow and ice climbs.

 

I don't think plastic boots are overkill for Hood,or for other glaciated peaks in the PNW, especially not in winter. I have both the Koflach Degre' and Arctis Expedition, have used them both on Hood, Rainier, Adams and others, and find them very warm, extremely comfortable, plenty stiff, and also very light. And I haven't necessarily heard that people are down, or not that hot, on plastic boots. Seems like almost everyone I know has at least one pair for winter mountaineering or alpine ice.

 

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I would agree with mtguide about the toe-welt, and would avoid the cevedale for that reason. I would not necessarily rule out plastic boots, either. There is a very wide variation in function among plastic boots, and some are surprisingly nimble. I have a pair of Lowa Civettas that I have owned since 1990, which are as light, flexible, and comfortable as many heavier leather single boots. Although I prefer a lighter single boot for higher standard climbing, I still prefer the civetta for snow/ice trips longer than a single overnight, because they don't freeze up, and my feet stay warm and dry. If you're planning to do be out for days at a time on snow, I'd definitely re-think your position on plastic.

 

If you truly decide against plastic, I would look for an all-leather boot, like the Sportiva Nepal Extreme, or even the Makalu if you're not looking at highest-standard technical climbing. I've seen plenty of guys out climbing grade IV waterfalls in Makalus or equivalent.

 

While the synthetic singles may be lighter, virtually all depend on goretex or some similar membrane for waterproofness, and all have multiple seams in the uppers. Seams are weak points and leakpoints, so, the fewer the better. And all waterproof-breathable membranes will eventually leak - limiting the functional lifetime of the synthetic single boot.

 

So - either a plastic with a relatively soft/flexible upper, or an all-leather with a one-piece-full-grain upper (expensive). Either will most likely do the job. A high-quality leather boot may well cost more than its plastic cousin, and will require maintenance that the plastic boot will not. If you're looking to spend much time on snow/ice, and cost and long-term durability are significant factors, I would lean towards a light, soft (rigid-soled, of course) plastic model.

 

One last thought - maybe totally irrelevant - if you ever want to use them with skis, the plastics will definitely outperform the leathers...

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I have the Lowa Cristallo X Pro. I've used them for around 6 trips on mixed snow/ice/rock. Have worked well for me. As said they don't have a lot of ankle flex but I've worked around that. Comfortable on the trail/ approach hikes. My feet get cold easy and these have kept my feet warm in low teens single digit temps while staying active but got a bit cold with belays and standing around. Hope this helps. Dave

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Another one at STP I would look at is the Lowa Mountain Expert. Looks like STP hosed up the search indexing and I think the listed weight is wrong, since I have a pair of these boots and in size 10 they are around 4 pounds, 2 ounces.

 

I also have an older version of the cristallo x pro's - the cristallo expert. The difference seems to be that the x pro has a thicker / heavier sole. I did Rainier in the cristallo experts (kautz glacier), Shasta a bunch of times, and various winter stuff in the Sierra.

 

The mountain experts are lighter and the ankle cuff is not as high. BD sabretooth step-in crampons seem to fit them fine, and I've led Sierra alpine ice couloirs in them with those or G14 newmatics. I feel better about rock scrambling / easy climbing in them vs. the cristallos personally.

 

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Wow! thank you for the thorough responses detailing your recommendations and personal experiences with different boots. I didn't mean to convey I heard nothing positive about plastic boots - within the context of my class though they seem at the margin as the course is to prepare folks for A and B Mazama climbs. I'm taking the class because I'm comfortable on the A scrambles I've done but didn't want to do B category stuff (Hood, jefferson, etc) with trial and error/winging it (duh-okay to do that for backpacking..)

 

Thus the climbs I'm applying for this year are Hood, Jefferson, and Sahale, and other than hood (May), they are late summer climbs. I get the impression the plastic boots are for a bit colder conditions/colder feet/multiple days on the snow? My current intention is that I would be sticking to B climbs, and probably wouldn't be doing any serious winter climbing and at present no plans on any waterfall climbing, to give context for boot usage.

 

rhyang: when you say you feel better about the Lowa Mnt Experts vs the cristallos, for rock scrambling/easy climbing -- is that in that they have greater flex and sensitivity - ie the cristallos are overkill/less agile for when you can get by with less?

 

secondary question: are mountaineering boots the same as backpacking when it comes to the insoles? ie: might as well throw them out and put in your own orthotics? I'm pretty flat footed and monster stiff arch support kills me (superfeet) - so I've got an insole that I'm pretty happy with - can I use it with these mountaineering boots?

 

Now a few people have recommended the La Sportiva Nepal boots - I am heading to a shop tomorrow and will try things on. Thanks for the recommendations. I definitely agree that the more stitching and multiple patches of material increase the chances for problems - thats why I went with a lowa banff for backpacking (single piece of leather). Toe welt seems to be prudent for any boot I choose, thanks for high lighting that too.

 

thanks again for your tips help.

 

 

 

 

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I soloed Sahale via the Quien Sabe glacier in the mountain expert's several years ago in August. They are lighter and more nimble than the cristallo's. The sole is not as thick and heavy. I've done various Sierra class 3-4 stuff in them.

 

I also use a heel lock knot (google should pick this up) with them and the cristallos, to prevent heel lift. But it all comes down to what fits you. I haven't worn lowa hiking boots for a number of years, so I don't know if their mountain boot lasts are different from their hiking lasts.

 

Good luck !

 

edit: I usually replace the insoles in my hiking boots, but didn't bother with the lowas. But you may want to, depending on how they fit.

Edited by rhyang

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Lasted many seasons with boots too heavy.

 

Once rented ill-fitting plastics; extremely stupid, needless disaster on lovely & tame Mt. Torment in July. Wrecked all.

 

Got them super-light summer mtrng boots a few years ago when I still had a job; werry werry nice, but'd werry quick fall with serious use apart, one think self forwards perhaps.

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Lasted many seasons with boots too heavy.

 

Once rented ill-fitting plastics; extremely stupid, needless disaster on lovely & tame Mt. Torment in July. Wrecked all.

 

Got them super-light summer mtrng boots a few years ago when I still had a job; werry werry nice, but'd werry quick fall with serious use apart, one think self forwards perhaps.

 

 

Whoa, already had too many :brew::brew::brew::crosseye: and then giving out boot advise.

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hehe, thanks for the advice frikadeller. lighter boots are great but not as durable! yupp

 

Well I tried on a few pairs and was surprised actually at scarpa freneys seeming to fit better in my exact street shoe size instead of sized up a half size. The La Sportiva Nepal EVOs.. the more I look the more they look like they would be suitable for me and beyond - but I think they may just be a bit overkill for me to begin with--including in the pocket book if a deal wasn't found.

 

Right now I am looking at some Scarpa Summit GTX - looks fairly clean without an excess of different fabric and stitching, has a toe welt and looks like it would still keep the dogs warm if the temp got low.

 

Probably placing an order for some soon, will update this as I get a fit/find a boot so future newbies can read and see a conclusion (hopefully).

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My two cents worth, It is nice to buy boots at a place you can

take them back for exchange if you have fitting troubles.

 

REI is the best for this if your a member. I actually took a pair

of boots back that I wore on a couple of climbs that the fit was

all wrong and they took them on exchange for another pair of boots.

Initial cost was higher, but well worth it to me.

 

Pro mountain sports has a similar policy as well.

 

Dan

Edited by DanO

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DanO has it right IMO.

 

http://www.zappos.com/product/7177119/color/764

 

I use Zappo. But only because I don't worry about wearing them out side to make sure I have a good fit. A few trips around inside the house generally tells me what I need to know. Returns are extremely easy with Zappo, free shipping on returns and a full year to do so. And they generally will have the Nepal on sale at some point....just went off I think but will be back on sale again.

 

But clearly REI has them beat if you can find the boot you want from them. Use them, abuse them and if there is a problem take them back for a full refund.

 

But the model choice? I own a lot of boots, both Sportiva and Scarpa. If the Sportiva's fit you, the Nepal Evo is one of the very best mtn boots available for any kind of mountaineering and some pretty cold temps. If not the Nepal, the Evo Ice and the Trango series are great super light, mtn boots as well.

 

The Batura, the Ice and Prime are all on sell and all great boots...if Sportiva's fit you. They don't fit everyone so make sure you try them on...via mail order or in the store.

 

http://www.zappos.com/search/brand/573/filter/categoryFacet/%22Boots%22/gender/%22Mens%22

 

All of these boots (Sportiva) are more boot than what you originally wanted but all are lighter and in many ways as good or better than the Nepal Evo for what you are asking for. Down side? The Nepal Evo will out last all of the fabric boots and give a slightly better fit from my experience. The fit gets better over time as the leather molds to your feet. Every model of Sportive fits slightly differently no matter what anyone tries to tell you. You may take the same size in each model but the fit will be a tiny bit different.

 

Buy the boots that best fit you and will be enough boot for what you want to do in the future, not what you'll be doing this summer. If you ever want to ice climb and then buy a boot now with a flexible sole that hikes easily...you'll end up having two pairs of boots, hikers and climbers, not fun if money is an issue.

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Two more cents worth, I have a heavy set of boots that I don't

use very often and I have a light pair of boots that I use all

the time. I think I could get away with using the light pair

of boots for all types of climbing in spring, fall and summer.

 

In other words from my personal experience the lighter pair of

boots would get a lot more usage than a heavy pair of boots

in the cascades.

 

Of course you would suffer a lot if you get caught out in the

cold with them.

 

For me , light is right, but of course I do have two pair of

boots one light and one is heavy. The cost to buy two pairs

of boots is really high, that is why I used the heavy pair for

quite a long while before I got the light pair.

 

Still if I HAD to have only one pair of boots I would go with

the light pair, and use chemical foot warmers in the cold. I fitted my boots to fit with one pair of heavy wool socks.

 

Dan

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For the climbs you describe you want something comfortable, that allows good ankle flex and is comfortable to walk in. The top of Sahale is rock, so something nimble would be much better than plastic boots. My favorite all around boots for the kind of climbs you describe are a pair of sturdy synthetic hiking boots. These have sturdy soles that nevertheless allow a good amount of flex under the ball of the foot for walking comfort (and better smearing on rock). They are sturdy enough and waterproof enough to tromp through snow all day. They are also comfortable enough to walk on trails for miles and miles. Plastic boots are not required at all, though after climbing Rainier with the hiking boots (and cold feet) and then again with a pair of the light plastics known as "Scarpa Alpha Ice" I liked these particular plastics better. The Alpha Ice model allows very good ankle flexibility. I find that the heavier duty boots, whether plastic, synthetic, or leather are all too uncomfortable to walk in for the sort of moderate to low angle routes you are talking about. Plastic boots are really only good for glacier (volcano) climbs and winter routes; lighter boots are much more versatile. The main problem with using light boots on the big volcanos is that if you have to bivy high up with inadequate shelter you may risk frostbite. One solution is to carry light insulated booties that you can use to bivy in if your boots end up cold and wet, and some plastic bags and dry socks for when you need to put the wet boots on next morning. A third alternative that I also use is to carry specialized snow and ice boots in my pack and wear approach shoes on the trail. These special ice boots also allow extreme ankle flexibility, are insulated, and have rigid soles. Unless the route is steep though, I stick to just the sturdy hiking boots. For late season when the glaciers are bare and snow is scarce I use very lightweight hiking boots that have a stiff enough toe box to work with strap-on crampons. Several people I know are very fond of Scarpa Charmoz boots.

Edited by Nick

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well thank you to everyone for your thorough two cents. I have landed on the Lowa Mountain Experts after trying on a lot lot lot lot of boots. I found the mountain experts for a really good price at a local store and even though zappos was awesome and let me try a bunch of other boots, I found the overall fit of the lowa boot matched my foot best.

 

Now that the boots are done.. (and thank you again for your advice on it), I am curious about crampons choice. A few of you said you preferred fully auto due to the more secure fit - and a few things I've read about the lowa mountain expert toe welt was that some folks are okay with it and others don't exactly trust the size of it (it is noticeably smaller than a toe welt on la sportiva or scarpa boots, it seems). I am looking at the BD sabertooths and thinking newmatic would be better because there isn't any worry about it popping off the smaller toe welt/it would work on other boots that don't have a toe welt (leaves it open for a wider range of future boots..).

 

2cents? I'm ready to finish (at least for a season) my gear search for a while and be out using it!

 

 

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I've also used petzl vasaks (leverlock binding - pretty much like newmatic), camp ice riders (auto) and newmatic-style sabretooths (the old black ones, not the newer ones) with the lowas. But you might find it a good idea to take your boots with you when you go crampon shopping to make sure they fit. Good luck !

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2cents? I'm ready to finish (at least for a season) my gear search for a while and be out using it!

 

 

No kidding...Your new shoes beat me by at least 10 minutes to the hogsback. Sucka.

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