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AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

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AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby PellucidWombat » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:07 am

So I have a question along the lines of JJBrunner's thread, but different enough that I figured I'd start a new one.

I'm looking to get some AT boots for my AT setup for this coming winter, but I'm still not too sure what I should be shopping around for, or if I have any good options at this point in the season to get some discounts on gear without being too cheap (you get what you pay for, and I'm not looking for entry level at this point, but I also don't want to pay for things I don't really need to get). I know that the better the boot is for cramponing and climbing rock, the harder it will be to ski downhill in them (especially in variable snow and with a pack), but I was wondering if anyone had recommendations for models to consider or could give me their 2 cents on what features to look for or what compromises seem to work for them. e.g. what is there to consider in the walk modes?

I had stopped skiing for about a decade after I popped my ACL, but now I am phasing it back in for approaches & descents for mountaineering, and it would be nice to use the same boots for climbing as I do for skiing. Lately I've been lugging up my Koflachs in my pack, which feels silly when I can snowshoe with them on, and when I first got my AT bindings I attempted to ski Mt Tallac with my Koflachs, but that wasn't pretty either (I learned the value of rigid ankles for skiing on that one!).

For skiing, I ski pretty aggressively, and double blacks are pretty moderate for me, though I do get more conservative these days on icy & bumpy slopes as my knee is not what it used to be before my two knee surgeries (goodbye ACL & cartilage!), so I try to avoid too much impact or hard torquing, or at least go weak on the left knee and then compensate on turns with the right knee. I have Silveretta 550 bindings, so I can use them on my leather boots & plastic ice climbing boots, but it would be nice to have a good 'middle of the road' boot to bring on more climbs. My skiis are reasonably nice & a middle range length, width, and shape for handling diverse backcountry conditions.

For climbing, some examples of what would be nice to do solely in one pair of boots this coming season:

1. Climb & ski descent of Mt Shasta
2. Climb & ski descent of Mt Tom's Elderberry Canyon
3. Climb of Humphrey's East Ridge with a ski descent on one of the couloirs below the main section of the route (40 degrees, about 30-40 ft wide and I'll probably be enjoying my jump turns on this one). I know I'd be fine climbing the East Ridge in my Koflachs, but it would be nicer to have an AT boot with an appropriate 'walk mode' for that.
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby Joe White » Wed Oct 13, 2010 6:55 am

1000Pks wrote:
PellucidWombat wrote:So I have a question along the lines of JJBrunner's thread, but different enough that I figured I'd start a new one.

I'm looking to get some AT boots for my AT setup for this coming winter, but I'm still not too sure what I should be shopping around for, or if I have any good options at this point in the season to get some discounts on gear without being too cheap (you get what you pay for, and I'm not looking for entry level at this point, but I also don't want to pay for things I don't really need to get). I know that the better the boot is for cramponing and climbing rock, the harder it will be to ski downhill in them (especially in variable snow and with a pack), but I was wondering if anyone had recommendations for models to consider or could give me their 2 cents on what features to look for or what compromises seem to work for them. e.g. what is there to consider in the walk modes?

I had stopped skiing for about a decade after I popped my ACL, but now I am phasing it back in for approaches & descents for mountaineering, and it would be nice to use the same boots for climbing as I do for skiing. Lately I've been lugging up my Koflachs in my pack, which feels silly when I can snowshoe with them on, and when I first got my AT bindings I attempted to ski Mt Tallac with my Koflachs, but that wasn't pretty either (I learned the value of rigid ankles for skiing on that one!).

For skiing, I ski pretty aggressively, and double blacks are pretty moderate for me, though I do get more conservative these days on icy & bumpy slopes as my knee is not what it used to be before my two knee surgeries (goodbye ACL & cartilage!), so I try to avoid too much impact or hard torquing, or at least go weak on the left knee and then compensate on turns with the right knee. I have Silveretta 550 bindings, so I can use them on my leather boots & plastic ice climbing boots, but it would be nice to have a good 'middle of the road' boot to bring on more climbs. My skiis are reasonably nice & a middle range length, width, and shape for handling diverse backcountry conditions.

For climbing, some examples of what would be nice to do solely in one pair of boots this coming season:

1. Climb & ski descent of Mt Shasta
2. Climb & ski descent of Mt Tom's Elderberry Canyon
3. Climb of Humphrey's East Ridge with a ski descent on one of the couloirs below the main section of the route (40 degrees, about 30-40 ft wide and I'll probably be enjoying my jump turns on this one). I know I'd be fine climbing the East Ridge in my Koflachs, but it would be nicer to have an AT boot with an appropriate 'walk mode' for that.


My .02 is to ditch the AT gear and go for tele gear. Reasons long already stated.


for a guy with a screwed ACL and no cartilage....would not tele be a bit tougher on the knee?
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby kovarpa » Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:13 am

Mark, I can do low 5th in my Denali XTs, not sure I could do the entire ER of Humphreys. IMO, Shasta and Elderberry are very different "climbs" (really, snow slogs) from ER of Humphreys (an actual rock climb). Not sure you can find an AT boot that would handle such a variety of conditions. $0.02
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby PellucidWombat » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:01 pm

kovarpa wrote:Mark, I can do low 5th in my Denali XTs, not sure I could do the entire ER of Humphreys. IMO, Shasta and Elderberry are very different "climbs" (really, snow slogs) from ER of Humphreys (an actual rock climb). Not sure you can find an AT boot that would handle such a variety of conditions. $0.02


Yeah, at the very least it would be nice to be able to do basic crampon work for snow slogs that might require the occasional front-pointing. Being able to do some rock would be nice, but I figured that might be a stretch.
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby PellucidWombat » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:03 pm

Joe White wrote:
1000Pks wrote:
PellucidWombat wrote:So I have a question along the lines of JJBrunner's thread, but different enough that I figured I'd start a new one.

I'm looking to get some AT boots for my AT setup for this coming winter, but I'm still not too sure what I should be shopping around for, or if I have any good options at this point in the season to get some discounts on gear without being too cheap (you get what you pay for, and I'm not looking for entry level at this point, but I also don't want to pay for things I don't really need to get). I know that the better the boot is for cramponing and climbing rock, the harder it will be to ski downhill in them (especially in variable snow and with a pack), but I was wondering if anyone had recommendations for models to consider or could give me their 2 cents on what features to look for or what compromises seem to work for them. e.g. what is there to consider in the walk modes?

I had stopped skiing for about a decade after I popped my ACL, but now I am phasing it back in for approaches & descents for mountaineering, and it would be nice to use the same boots for climbing as I do for skiing. Lately I've been lugging up my Koflachs in my pack, which feels silly when I can snowshoe with them on, and when I first got my AT bindings I attempted to ski Mt Tallac with my Koflachs, but that wasn't pretty either (I learned the value of rigid ankles for skiing on that one!).

For skiing, I ski pretty aggressively, and double blacks are pretty moderate for me, though I do get more conservative these days on icy & bumpy slopes as my knee is not what it used to be before my two knee surgeries (goodbye ACL & cartilage!), so I try to avoid too much impact or hard torquing, or at least go weak on the left knee and then compensate on turns with the right knee. I have Silveretta 550 bindings, so I can use them on my leather boots & plastic ice climbing boots, but it would be nice to have a good 'middle of the road' boot to bring on more climbs. My skiis are reasonably nice & a middle range length, width, and shape for handling diverse backcountry conditions.

For climbing, some examples of what would be nice to do solely in one pair of boots this coming season:

1. Climb & ski descent of Mt Shasta
2. Climb & ski descent of Mt Tom's Elderberry Canyon
3. Climb of Humphrey's East Ridge with a ski descent on one of the couloirs below the main section of the route (40 degrees, about 30-40 ft wide and I'll probably be enjoying my jump turns on this one). I know I'd be fine climbing the East Ridge in my Koflachs, but it would be nicer to have an AT boot with an appropriate 'walk mode' for that.


My .02 is to ditch the AT gear and go for tele gear. Reasons long already stated.


for a guy with a screwed ACL and no cartilage....would not tele be a bit tougher on the knee?


The knee was one reason I chose the AT way when I was researching the two systems a few years ago. In addition to the easier transfer (I already know how to downhill ski), a lot of people also thought that it is easier to do with a pack on and remain stable - two important points if I go through terrain with a pack on where falling is bad.
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby kovarpa » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:33 pm

PellucidWombat wrote:
kovarpa wrote:Mark, I can do low 5th in my Denali XTs, not sure I could do the entire ER of Humphreys. IMO, Shasta and Elderberry are very different "climbs" (really, snow slogs) from ER of Humphreys (an actual rock climb). Not sure you can find an AT boot that would handle such a variety of conditions. $0.02


Yeah, at the very least it would be nice to be able to do basic crampon work for snow slogs that might require the occasional front-pointing. Being able to do some rock would be nice, but I figured that might be a stretch.


Basic cramponing (inc. frontpointing) - any AT boot can do. Climbing extensive 5th class, not sure any AT boot that would ski reasonably well is going to be any good at that. I guess I am saying pick a comfortable, reasonably stiff AT boot that skis well. For ER Humphreys, I would actually do the approach in AT boots, then cache the boots/skis, climb in approach shoes and then pick up the cache and ski down. You would be descending ER anyway...
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby pvalchev » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:40 am

Any AT boot will kinda suck for real climbing. That said I've seen people climb M7+ on the Stanley Headwall in Canada wearing Scarpa Lasers. I think they were Brits. So just get some boots that fit well and get amongst! :)
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby il.rocciatore » Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:44 pm

In the line of this tread, does anyone have experience with the combination skiing and alpine/ice climbing using the Scarpa F3 or Dynastar Zzero4?
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby hamik » Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:49 am

If you look carefully at these pictures, you'll see a couple of guys climbing very hard stuff in normal touring boots.

http://www.alpineexposures.com/blogs/ch ... conditions

I find I climb easy ice (WI3 ish) much better in AT boots due to their stiffness. The rock climbing ability seems to depend a lot on how straight you can stand up in walk mode; fourth class is kind of a chore in mine (the green Dynafit ones--they lean too far forward). Still, when crampons go on they feel almost like Scarpa Omegas...
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby ExcitableBoy » Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:08 pm

PellucidWombat wrote:For climbing, some examples of what would be nice to do solely in one pair of boots this coming season:

1. Climb & ski descent of Mt Shasta
2. Climb & ski descent of Mt Tom's Elderberry Canyon
3. Climb of Humphrey's East Ridge with a ski descent on one of the couloirs below the main section of the route (40 degrees, about 30-40 ft wide and I'll probably be enjoying my jump turns on this one). I know I'd be fine climbing the East Ridge in my Koflachs, but it would be nicer to have an AT boot with an appropriate 'walk mode' for that.


For the type of routes and climbing you metion I use a pair of Scarba Tambos, at the time the lightest AT boot Scarpa made. They have two buckles and a power strap at the cuff. They work well enough for winter alpine climbing - actually the extra weight and stiffness makes front pointing super easy although I would not want to try anything too radical. They ski reasonably well - certainly well enogh to ski the West Face of Shasta.
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Re: AT Boots for Downhill & Snow/Ice Climbing - Compromises?

Postby JonathanGriffith » Sat Jan 29, 2011 10:14 am

hamik wrote:If you look carefully at these pictures, you'll see a couple of guys climbing very hard stuff in normal touring boots.

http://www.alpineexposures.com/blogs/ch ... conditions

I find I climb easy ice (WI3 ish) much better in AT boots due to their stiffness. The rock climbing ability seems to depend a lot on how straight you can stand up in walk mode; fourth class is kind of a chore in mine (the green Dynafit ones--they lean too far forward). Still, when crampons go on they feel almost like Scarpa Omegas...



Thanks, but that was a good couple of years ago actually. I've now taught myself how to ski in my Spantiks and now do everything in Spantiks. In fact I cant actually remember the last time I wore ski boots as I well prefer skiing in my Spantiks- much comfier and it's a more technical kind of skiing which is quite fun hen you get the hang of it! Having said that there is nothing wrong with climbing in touring boots and I've done a huge amount out in the French Alps in them- just a bit clunkier and heavier on big routes but you do have the added advantage of amazing calf support for those big snow fields.
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