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T1985

Plastics for spring mountaineering school?

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I'm enrolled in a 6 day mountaineering course on Mt. Baker at the end of May.

 

The course says that plastic boots before July in the Cascades are strongly recommended. I've read this from multiple companies that offer these schools so it seems to be the accepted norm. I realize they probably know what they're talking about, but I really would like to avoid using plastics if at all possible because of the weight and overall clunkiness.

 

What would be the downsides to using a leather boot, like Nepal Evos, instead of plastics? The only thing I can think of is for extended days in wet snow they are likely to stay more dry. Is it going to be impossible to keep my feet dry for 6 days if I use leathers instead?

 

Is it really worth it to use plastics over leathers in this situation?

 

 

Thanks for any insight.

 

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You will not be able to keep a leather boot dry for 6 days in late May on Mt. Baker. The snow that time of year is deep and becomes very wet after noon. Leather boots will wet out after a couple of days and will progressively become more wet as the trip goes on. There is no practical way to field dry boots once they become that wet.

 

You could use a '6000 meter' boot such as LS Batura or Scarpa Phantom They are light, agile, and will keep your feet dry and warm. Or, you could use a super gaiter with a pair of isulated leathers to keep them dry, of course this means they will not breath either so you will need to use a VBL and liner sock system to keep the boot from wetting out from the inside.

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I also think the boot you currently own now should be one of the factors that drives your decision. If you do not own any mountaineering boots yet, then dropping the $500-$700 on a pair of insulated all mountain leather boots or 6000 meter boots is premature. Renting a pair of plastics would be the way to go. You may end up hating the sport.

 

If you already own a good quality pair of insulated all mountain leather boots, then I would recommend buying a pair of super gaiters and VBL socks.

Using VBL socks requires discipline. Wear a thin merino wool liner sock under the VBL (wool does not hold odor), and your regular insulating sock over the VBL. Dry the liners against your stomach at night.

 

You need to be fastidious about caring for your feet when using VBL socks as it is very easy to get trench foot or athlete's foot. Wash and dry your feet every night. I use snow to wash my feet and I turn the VBLs inside out and wash them with snow and hang them to dry overnight. Using Gold Bond medicated powder inside dry socks before bed is a good idea as well.

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I actually own a pair of used plastics and LS Nepal Evos. I bought a pair of plastic rentals at AAI's gear sale and between reward points and an REI sale I was able to get the Nepals for an awesome deal.

 

I like the idea of using VBL socks and super gaiters. I imagine this combo is more prone to colder feet since the leather is wet?

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I like the idea of using VBL socks and super gaiters. I imagine this combo is more prone to colder feet since the leather is wet?

 

The entire point of the super gaiters are to keep the leathers from getting wet from the outside, the VBLs keep them from getting wet from the inside. That is the theory anyway.

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I have owned two pairs of supergators. So with a data set of two, I have never had a very good seal around the boot to keep snow from getting inside, especially in sloppy conditions. There has been a small gap between boot and gator in the arch area of boot.

Those classes are very expensive and to have the trip be unpleasant or short due to foot issues (like the mentioned trench foot or frost nip) would be a shame.

You already own the better option for that time frame, assuming that your plastics actually fit your foot.

If your class was after mid july, I would say that the leathers would be fine. But May is an entirely different beast. You would be lucky if it does not rain on 3 of your 6 days. If the sloppy snow doesn't find way in, you will find that no gaiter is gonna keep rain water out of the boot.

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I have never had a very good seal around the boot to keep snow from getting inside, especially in sloppy conditions. There has been a small gap between boot and gator in the arch area of boot.

Those classes are very expensive and to have the trip be unpleasant or short due to foot issues (like the mentioned trench foot or frost nip) would be a shame.

You already own the better option for that time frame, assuming that your plastics actually fit your foot.

If your class was after mid july, I would say that the leathers would be fine. But May is an entirely different beast. You would be lucky if it does not rain on 3 of your 6 days. If the sloppy snow doesn't find way in, you will find that no gaiter is gonna keep rain water out of the boot.

I glue the rubber seal to the boot with skin adhesive and have never had snow ingress issues. Plastics may seem heavy and clunky but most, if not the entire trip, will be on snow and the 'clunkyness' aspect will be less noticeable. Edited by DPS

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