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Sarah G.

South American Mountaineering Trip Boots

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I am planning a trip to South America at the end of Nov through Dec. We will be on a few routes in Ecuador and then heading to Argentina to attempt to Aconcagua. Im trying to figure out the boot situation. Right now, the warmest boots I own, and love, are the La Sportiva Nepal EVOs. Ive seen recommendations for plastic double boots, but, who really wears plastic anymore? Im curious if anyone can recommend a tried and true method of ramping up the cold weather rating on the EVOs…super gaitors? Overboots? Am I crazy to think I can get away with the Nepals?

 

Any and all feedback is welcome! Thanks!

 

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I've never climbed Acon, but have been looking at a potential trip next year so I've been doing some research. This is what I've found, distilled.

 

Aconcagua has been summited in sneakers. It's entirely dependent on conditions. Most people recommend one of the newer and lighter double boots, eg LS Nuptse/Baruntse/Spantik or Scarpa 6000. Most people wind up climbing to somewhere around 18K in approach shoes before switching to boots. Occasionally, people don't change into their boots until summit day.

 

Your EVO's may be fine with supergaiters - but do you really want to risk your toes and a lifetime of pain?

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Most important thing is your health and the condition of your feet (i.e. have they been nipped or frostbitten before). Saw a fellow north of Aconslogua with bad circulation from a heart condition get frostbite at 21,000' in your boots. If you are prone to getting cold due to build or metabolism, or have some condition like Diabetes or Raynaud's or are simply getting older, I'd consider at least bringing a broken in pair of plastic boots and or footbeds and supergaiters.

 

No point in ruining a many thousand dollar trip over a few hundred bucks for boots, eh?

 

Don't underestimate the danger of the wind and storms there, it can get really nasty fast.

 

Also seems like folks with a bit more cold and/or altitude experience can more easily get away with single boots. I've used them there with good results, but did have one close call with an old nipped toe after summiting in a REALLY nasty storm.

 

I'd make sure you have good insulating insoles, and consider supergaiters if you're going to the Polish Glacier route. Regular route isn't usually on snow very often.

 

Big thing is you should have lots of wiggle room in your Evo's for your toes.

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Hi Sarah, I took a pair of La Sportiva Trango GTX to Ecuador last year and never got cold feet once. That being said, I also lugged a pair of doubles around for the entire trip just in case. I found that although the wind was usually howling the air temperature wasn't that cold.

 

Cheers

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Who climbs in plastic? Everyone I ran into in Bolivia. I was up high for a month and used Scarpa Invernos. Light and warm. Up high I had every piece of clothing on including a soft shell upper and my down jacket. Feet were comfortable, a little cold early morning near 20k ft.

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All great feedback thank you. I know the plastics comment was a bit off hand just knowing that the double leathers are really coming on strong. Im becoming convinced that doubles of some kind are probably the way to go. Any one have any ideas for finding cheap used Invernos or similar?

 

Really thanks for the feedback.

 

As for the Trangos in Ecuador.....good thought for some of the lower spots for sure...Ive got those too....and it looks like now Ill have three pairs of boots!

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Any one have any ideas for finding cheap used Invernos or similar?

 

 

Second Ascent in Seattle often has very lightly used plastic boots for pretty cheap: http://secondascent.com/sa/index.php. If you don't live in the area you may want to give them a call to see what they have on the shelves.

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Ditto on Second Ascent. Feathered Friends also has a bunch of plastic rentals for sale.

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Are you going on a guided trip? If so, remember you'll be going at the pace of the group and not necessarily the pace you'd want to go to keep optimally warm. While you may be plenty warm at the speed you'd normally climb at, extra warmth will be very key if you have to stand around or move slowly. Being warm is good.

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I've climbed in both places. Both places you could get away with very warm single boots if:

1. you have warm feet (ie. everyone else complains about their feet before you do)

2. you are going in the warmest part of the season, Dec-Jan

3. the weather is mild, rather than unseasonably cold

 

Most people would want to have double boots because you can't count on the above. But others have done it and got away with it, so they will tell you that you can too.

 

Long way of saying that you should probably get double boots.

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I bivouacked below the Canaleta on Aconcagua with Invernos and it was barely enough (tingly toes for a few weeks). Plan for less than optimum conditions.

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Was on Aconcagua this past winter. My wife got frostbite in Invernos. Her big toe turned black and she lost all the skin on it. Had she been wearing leathers she would have lost her toes.

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