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First Boots

Postby Stockwell » Sun Aug 07, 2011 3:29 am

Hey fellows summiteers, I've been a long time reader but first time poster :D

I fell in love with climbing this last winter hear in San Diego, bagging as many peaks here in the county as I could. It's now time for me to move on to bigger better mountains! I'll be buying my first pair of boots before the end of summer. I would just like to get some feedback on what kind of boots would be necessary for winter climbs in Southern California: (San Jacinto, Mount Baldy, and San Gorgonio).

I am a college student right now so my budget is not huge, but I have time to save up some money. I really know nothing about mountaineering boots so I have no idea if I will need something like these: http://www.rei.com/product/798038/scarp ... boots-mens

or these: http://www.rei.com/product/793828/la-sp ... boots-mens or http://www.zappos.com/la-sportiva-glacier-natural

I would opt for the cheaper boots (if they will be sufficient for Cali) to not over blow my budget but I would rather not spend the money on more expensive boots when I decide to move up to the Sierras or Shasta.

A few more questions of mine would be:
Would the cheaper boots be appropriate for climbs in the Sierras (Whitneys Mountaineers Route in Winter) or Mount Shasta via Avalanche Gully?
Can any crampons fit onto any boot, if not how do I know which crampons to buy with my boots?
Any tips on other gear for someone looking to sink their first spikes into some snow this winter?

Thanks a lot everybody in advance, hope to hear from many :)
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Re: First Boots

Postby Paul1 » Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:01 am

It all depends on what you’re doing and what you like. If you are going to be doing technical ice routes then you will need a far stiffer boot and different crampons then you would need for just walking on moderately steep snow/ ice. I climbed Mt. Whitney in November in a pair of Asolo TPS 520 GV with crampons for above 12,000 feet. I was only on the trail for one night and was moving a lot so I wanted a lighter boot even though it was not as warm because I knew I would be moving enough to keep warm. I would stay away from a super stiff mountaineering boot unless you need it for steep snow and ice. I have a pair of La Sportiva Evo Glaicers but they usually get left at home unless I need them for technical snow/ ice.

Crampons: Yes there are different types. There is the basic strap on type that are preferred for glacier travel or on moderate snow. These crampons will flex with your boot so your foot moves more naturally and is more comfortable than just having a completely stiff boot and crampon. Strap on crampons can mount on any boot. Another type of crampon is the "Step-in" which is a stiffer crampon that requires mountaineering boots that have a stiff sole and a special welt on the heel for mounting. These crampons are preferred for steep snow/ ice/ mixed routes. There is also a third type of crampon that permanently attached to your boot for serious ice/ mixed climbing on steep/ overhanging terrain, it does not seem like this is what you are looking for (right now).

For starting I would get a pair of lighter boots with some strap on crampons, but that is just me.
-Paul

"There is a fine line between bada$$ and dumba$$"
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Re: First Boots

Postby etai101 » Sun Aug 07, 2011 2:46 pm

La Sportiva Nepal Extreme (if you can find them will be in youre price range) or the Trango S EVO GTX.

the mammut mamook great boot a little pricie
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Re: First Boots

Postby Stockwell » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:10 am

Thanks guys. I'll probably be ending up buying one of the two of these:

http://www.zappos.com/la-sportiva-trango-s-evo-gtx-red (question, same boots on REI's website are $60 cheaper?)

or

http://www.zappos.com/scarpa-triolet-pr ... ?zlfid=111

I could not find the La Sportiva Nepal Extreme, I found something similar that was $475, which is not in my price range.

I would like to start doing some winter ascents of peaks here in SoCal, ranging from class 2 hiking to climbing on moderately steep snow/ice, at least at first. I am confident any of these boots will be sufficient for these climbs. The Scarpa Troilet Boots did not have any reviews, any word on those, I would rather get them as they are slightly cheaper on Zappos than the Trangos but if the Trangos have a better advantage to them I wouldn't mind spending the extra money.

Any other advice would be great on these boots, any word on what types of crampons would work well with them would be greatly helpful :)

Thanks SP!
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Re: First Boots

Postby etai101 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:32 pm

the nepals are an old model of what is sold today the "nepal evo" therfor cheaper it was a very popular boot back in the day so if you look hard you can still find them and for cheap.

never the less i think the trangos are perfect for what you need and like you said sold for good price at rei.
and if you get overboots they work great in winter.
as for crampones get the grivel g10 or g12 they will work just fine with these boots.

good climbing.
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Re: First Boots

Postby Dow Williams » Wed Aug 10, 2011 4:13 pm

Three items are vastly over sold (based purely on profit opportunities) in the Outdoor Industry. They are boots, dead bird products in general, preferably their $700 jackets and the like, and packs/bags.

The more you actually get out and climb or trek. Weight will become more and more an issue. After you have suffered a few longer trips, the first place your eyes will direct will be spec weight. The faster, lighter and more efficient you become, the more you will get climbed and climbed in good style.

La Sportiva revolutionized the concept of how heavy a mountaineering boot needed to really be. In the past, the heavier the boot, the more bells and whistles manufacturers could hang on a boot, the higher the price they could extract from folks in Texas dreaming about cold weather climbs.

In reality, the less your feet sweat in a boot, the less cold they will get. Keeping hands and feet dry is so much more important to keeping them warm than bulk. The lighter the boot, the more versatility they have when combined with different sock combinations. The invent of lightweight chemical warmers helps keep a lighter weight glove or boot even that more versatile.

I recommend a lightweight, relatively inexpensive boot. Do not be conned into thinking the more you spend the better climber you will become. Several folks asked to have their photo taken with me last week at a bivy site. They all had on the latest dead bird $700 jackets and packs and huge expedition tents and large boots. Even if they bought them at half off, they cost $350. I had on an OR product that retails for $150. Half off, it is $75. I suppose if one were to analyze those photos, they would ask where the homeless guy came from. There, I can do math to. So many dead bird addicts brag that they bought their product on sale, so what, every other manufacturer has sales too.

I was up to the summit and back to the car before these folks made it back to camp. I can assure you my feet felt ten times better than theirs. I use approach shoes when many times those around me have mountaineering boots on. Scree and snow descents which is the most effective way of descending a route or mountain in many instances will wreak havoc on your boots. Don't invest so much of your climbing budget $$$ in one pair.
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Re: First Boots

Postby nartreb » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:28 pm

I agree with Dow (!?) Light is right when it comes to footwear (and tents too). (As for the "dead bird", their stuff is mostly rather good, just overpriced.) You'll be lifting your feet thousands of times a day, why weigh them down?

Boots need to be well-fitted, dry, and comfortable. I like to get them a little loose, so I can fit an extra-thick pair of socks in there in really cold weather, and so my feet stay dry. For a peak like Baldy, you do NOT need much (any) insulation, nor particularly stiff soles (a little stiffness along the length of the foot helps if you're kicking toe-holds into the snow, but don't imagine that you need ski boots). Strap-on crampons will get you up the Bowl just fine (some days you won't need crampons at all).

Boot fit is a very personal experience, don't assume that a more expensive pair will work better for you. Try on a bunch and go with what's comfortable. Keep in mind that your experience on the hill may change your mind about how to judge a boot's comfort. You may end up wanting new boots before you tackle Shasta, even if you've already shelled out for the top of the line.
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Re: First Boots

Postby drewcmf » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:00 pm

Take a look at the La Sportiva Lhotse. My go-to boot for winter trips to Greyback, Baldy, Jacinto. La Sportiva makes a quality product, worth the $. BD Sabretooth is an excellent crampon, but you won't have any issues if you go w/ the Contact or Neve strap styles.
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Re: First Boots

Postby DukeJH » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:49 pm

nartreb wrote:Boot fit is a very personal experience, don't assume that a more expensive pair will work better for you. Try on a bunch and go with what's comfortable. Keep in mind that your experience on the hill may change your mind about how to judge a boot's comfort. You may end up wanting new boots before you tackle Shasta, even if you've already shelled out for the top of the line.


Absolutely the truth here. Try on as many pair as you can and find a solid bootfitter to help you. As bad as it sounds I have a number of boots/shoes for varying conditions from my approach shoes which I use in just about everything but snow to my old school warm as hell double plastics (insert a solid backpacking boot and a stiff mountaineeringboot in there for good measure). Each time I was looking, I tried on several pair in different brands, models and sizes to get the most comfortbale fit and then modified the fit from there with sock combinations, footbeds, inserts, stretching, lacing, etc.
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Re: First Boots

Postby JHH60 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 2:05 am

If I could add a thought to Dow's excellent advice - remember that many modern boots are designed to be like running shoes - used until worn out, and then replaced. I was initially pissed off when my Trango Evo S, which I bought to replace a pair of 20 yr old all-leather mountain boots that had lasted through several resoles, were obviously frayed and worn in less than two years. Then I realized that every time I wore the Trangos I was carrying 3 fewer pounds on my feet than in my old boots, and the need to buy a new pair every few years seemed like a pretty good trade for not lugging that weight around. The point is that you should get a pair of boots that are optimal for what you expect to be doing in the near term vs. what you might do in the future; if you use them a lot you may need a new pair of boots anyway when the time comes that your current boots aren't sufficient - and there's nothing wrong with having more than one boot for different uses.

Trangos, by the way, are excellent boots for the Sierra. They are almost as light and comfortable as approach shoes, but are arguably better in snow/alpine ice as they are stiffer (for kicking steps in snow and front pointing) and have a heel welt (fits hybrid as well as strap on crampons). They may not be warm enough for the coldest winter days, especially if you are standing around belaying someone, but are all you need most of the rest of the time, and can be beefed up with additional socks, supergaiters/overboots etc.
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Re: First Boots

Postby nartreb » Thu Aug 11, 2011 4:36 am

Following up now that I actually followed the OP's link to see what he's contemplating. Trangos are good boots, I've got a pair I use for vertical ice. But I wouldn't call them especially light or comfortable - maybe compared to double plastics.

I think the Trangos are way more boot than you need. My choice for Baldy in February was a sub-$100 uninsulated leather work boot - about half the weight of the Trangos, a hell of a lot more comfortable, better waterproofing (pay no attention to claims that gore-tex boots are breathable), and the taller upper is better suited to keeping the snow out. Granted, the Trango's stiffer sole would have been valuable insurance if I'd encountered hard snow or ice (both for kicking steps and to ensure a more secure crampon fit), but I didn't find any ice no matter how hard I looked.

Note, my feet sweat in all weather. You might actually want insulated boots on Baldy if your feet are always cold. (But then, how many days a year will you be able to wear those boots?) It's personal.
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Re: First Boots

Postby Steve Pratt » Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:47 pm

Take a look at the Garmont Tower. Same ballpark as the LS trangos - light, warm, stiff - but fit a little wider than the Sportivas (which typically are sized a bit "european"/narrow). If you poke around the internet, you might find a year-old model at a screaming deal.
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Re: First Boots

Postby JHH60 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:01 pm

nartreb wrote:Following up now that I actually followed the OP's link to see what he's contemplating. Trangos are good boots, I've got a pair I use for vertical ice. But I wouldn't call them especially light or comfortable - maybe compared to double plastics.

I think the Trangos are way more boot than you need. My choice for Baldy in February was a sub-$100 uninsulated leather work boot - about half the weight of the Trangos, a hell of a lot more comfortable, better waterproofing (pay no attention to claims that gore-tex boots are breathable), and the taller upper is better suited to keeping the snow out. Granted, the Trango's stiffer sole would have been valuable insurance if I'd encountered hard snow or ice (both for kicking steps and to ensure a more secure crampon fit), but I didn't find any ice no matter how hard I looked.

Note, my feet sweat in all weather. You might actually want insulated boots on Baldy if your feet are always cold. (But then, how many days a year will you be able to wear those boots?) It's personal.


Are we both talking about Trango S Evos, and not the Trango Extremes or Primes (which are stiffer, warmer and heavier than the Trango S)? Other mountain boots (by which I mean boots that can climb rock but are stiff enough to kick steps in snow & use crampons comfortably) that compete with it (e.g., Scarpa Charmoz, Garmont Tower, Kayland Apex...) are all about the same weight with the possible exception of the Garmont Vettas, and those are more like a beefed up approach shoe. But I don't follow the latest gear that closely and if you know something I don't, I'd be happy to learn something new. :)

PS you're right - if you read the OP's immediate goals Trangos are more than he needs. I was reading ahead to his question about the Sierra and Shasta, where they would be a reasonable choice (and the uninsulated Trango S Evo maybe not warm enough in winter).
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Re: First Boots

Postby Stockwell » Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:24 am

Holy cow! This thread has been of great help. This community is awesome!!! :shock:

Out of all of this info I'm kind of dumb struck but I have a few questions left pertaining to the gear. I appreciate the wisdom from all you mountain folk, just trying to learn :)

A Question about approach shoes: I took a pair of decent leather hiking boots up to the sierras this early July, I used them from around 10,000 to around 11,800. At about 11,200 I ran into the snow line and decided to keep going while my buddies hung out at Long Lake. I hiked up about 600 feet in elevation before deciding to turn around because I was post-holing in jeans and my boots got wet :| Anyways, I feel like approach shoes are a good idea, will these hiking boots be fine? Also, when you would switch to your mountaineering boots do you just carry the boots on the pack? (sorry if I sound like a newbie :oops: )

From all of the comments considered I think I have decided on my first two mountaineering products :D

For Boots I chose the La Sportiva Trango S EVO GTX: http://www.rei.com/product/721444/la-sp ... boots-mens

For Crampons I went with the Black Diamond Contact Strap Crampons: http://www.rei.com/product/798354/black ... abs-plates

Before I finalize either buy, I will test them on, send back, for proper fit etc.

I chose the Trangos because I have narrow feet and I hear LS fits better more often. I have heard of the boot being snug, comfy, and waterproof, as well as light. Although I hear the Trangos are not the warmest of boots, yet that can be overcome with chemical warmers, sock combos, and liners. (Is it recommended to use over-boots in socal if climbing in January?) I hear the boot has a stiff enough sole to kick in steps but also is fine as an approach shoe. Also I believe the boot fits many crampon styles and will work with the strap-ons I am getting. (I just wanted to make sure I was buying the boot and knew why I was buying it, did I get all of that right?)

I chose the Black Diamond Crampons because They were fairly cheap and some reviews mentioned using them on rainier which if anything is far in my future so I am sure they will suffice for baldy, jacinto, and gorgonio, as well as some sierras maybe.

One last question, how do I find out what my boot size is? :lol: :? :oops:

Thanks everybody! total help! See you on the mountains!
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Re: First Boots

Postby artrock23 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 5:04 pm

After being away from backpacking/mountaineering for 30+ years, I got re-introduced to the sport on a recent hike. Some of my mountain biking friends and I did Mt. San Jacinto (from Idyllwild) as a day hike. I wore my 510 Impact shoes, since I hadn't had hiking boots for many years. Big mistake! They were fine for the ascent, but by the end of the descent, my feet were in a bad way. The first thing I did the following Monday was go to REI and get sized for some real hiking boots.

I went with the Vasque Wasatch, since I always used Vasque when I hiked in the 70s and liked their boots a lot then. I was able to score a new pair on eBay for far less than REI, btw. So far, they've been awesome. I also got a set of Grivel G-10 crampons. Next weekend, my set-up will get the acid test when I use it for climbing a couloir in the Sierras.

Threads like this are very helpful. Thanks to all of you more experienced climbers who share your knowledge with us here. :)
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