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Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

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Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby Acumen » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:41 pm

So this is my first season mountaineering/ice climbing and I love it. I have been picking up cold weather gear over the past 3-4 years (starting with hiking/hunting/snowboarding/snow mobile/etc) but have been accelerating into these new grounds this year. I would like to get a pair of versatile boots for mountaineering and ice climbing at the end of the season when things go on sale. I would like them to be usable for waterfall climbing, but to really be great for multi-day mountaineering trips, which I have several I would like to start planning.

I would mainly be in the lower 48 US (based in the NE, but a few trips to higher altitudes out west as well), but I really want to try and plan a Denali trip in June of 2013 and would like to be able to break in and know the boots by then (with over-boot added on for that trip). My feet run cold. I am tall and thin, which also makes fitting a little bit more difficult. I demoed the Koflach Arctis Expe's this past weekend up at Mt Washington while carrying a 40-50lb pack, and really loved them for ice climbing, the temps (0-5F with wind dropping it to -30F at summit, toasty warm) and the Mt Washington accent, but on the decent the pain was unreal. Both my big toes banged the whole way down, slowing down my group, and leaving me really sore toes, shooting pains, and a "waddle" for several days after. Taking these boots as fit on a longer trip is just not an option. The boots had felt perfect until that point, and I was really excited to get them up until leaving the summit. Now I am very afraid of them. I had tried on 11 and 11.5, 11 had felt a little snug on my big toes at first (should have listened to my toes then!) in fitting but were brand new and after walking around the store for a few minutes felt great. The 11.5 felt too loose overall, my gut tells me moving up a half size will not solve my problem, but of course I am no expert. Boots were worn with smart-wool mountaineering sock and liner.

Given this, was it just a fitting issue? I had the laces cranked down hard, but I do have thin ankles, could booster straps etc, solve the toe bang problem? Custom molded liner are another thing I have read about, would they improve the situation as well? I am hesitant to basically throw away what amounts to the $200 stock liner just to get a new $200 custom liner, but is it possible I could find just the shell, no inner liner at lower cost, then get the custom liner? Was I just 1/2 size to small?

All that said, what other boots would be a recommended alternative to the Arctis Expe's that have the potential to clear up the toe bang issue out of the box?
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby ExcitableBoy » Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:49 pm

Sounds like a fit issue to me. One way to test the fit is to repeatedly kick stair risers while wearing the boots and sock combo. Your toes should not contact the front of the boot. This will mimic front pointing, step kicking, and walking downhill. Scarpa Invernos have a nice wide toe box, should you not be able to get a good fit with the Koflachs. Custom molded Intuition liners will give you more space. I have Scarpa Invernos which fit perfectly, but after years of use the stock liners packed out. I replaced them with Intuition liners and the fit is decidedly looser, to the point of being sloppy. If your feet are narrow, other brands like La Sportiva may offer a better fit.
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby DukeJH » Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:12 pm

I agree with ExcitableBoy. You need enough room in the toe to prevent toe bang but not so much that you have slippage in the heel when you ascend. It's a very fine line. If your feet mimic you body type, long and thin, La Sportiva's may have a better fit than the Koflach for you. The Scarpa Inverno are wide in the toe and the heel. The Scarpa Omega is a little narrower acorss the midfoot in my opinion. Asolo also makes boots on a narrower last than Scarpa but I don't think they're quite as narrow as the La Sportiva's tend to be.

A reputable shop with a good bootfitter is worth a drive in my opinion.
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby Acumen » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:24 pm

Toes felt fine when kicking the stairs in the shop, they didn't start hurting until about 1/2 mile into the decent, and then rapidly went downhill. Checked laces, still tight. I was looking for a little bit more boot then the Inverno, to be honest I really didnt trust the quality of them after holding them in the shop. I know, same manufacture now, but they were more lacking in attention to detail then the Koflacks, which always sets off warning bells.

I have read about the intuition liners, and they look great, but at $400 for the boot and $200 for the liner I am now up into higher quality boots like the La Sportiva's.

Baruntse or Spatniks looks like the La Sportiva boots with the same type of applications as the Expe. Has anyone had experience with them correcting toe bang? I will try and find someplace to rent them with a good bootfitter next time I go out. I am a little concerned about them not being as durable as the Koflacks. The plastic shell idea is somewhat comforting to me.

Any other options I should have on my radar?
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby ExcitableBoy » Mon Feb 06, 2012 11:36 pm

Acumen wrote:I was looking for a little bit more boot then the Inverno, to be honest I really didnt trust the quality of them after holding them in the shop. I know, same manufacture now, but they were more lacking in attention to detail then the Koflacks, which always sets off warning bells.


Don't be fooled by the flashy designs of other boots, Scarpa Invernos are one of the most durable plastic double boots ever made. Mine are 17 years old and only now starting to wear out. They are clunky compared to many of the new 6000 meter boots though, but make for a very stable platform for ice climbing.
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby Acumen » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:20 am

Actually I like the design and styling of the Invernos more then most of the other boots on the market, but when I was looking at them there was lots of plastic burs and overflow from the mold which was left all around the edges of the upper shell. Then the real killer was that the silver paint for their brand name was off center by about 2 millimeters from the raised logo. While I understand these are superficial surface defects only, I expect better when paying over $300 for boots.

How hard would it have been to get the silver logo on the plastic?! It makes me worry about the quality control and assembly of all the things that I can not easily see.
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:16 pm

Maybe they are made in China now?
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby wkriesel » Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:43 pm

Hey EB, I have the Inverno/Intuition combo and I'll swear by them, they are that good. Above you said "I replaced them with Intuition liners and the fit is decidedly looser, to the point of being sloppy." I don't see how this could happened if the heat molding process was good. Have you thought about trying another bootfitter for a re-mold?
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Feb 07, 2012 4:10 pm

wkriesel wrote:Above you said "I replaced them with Intuition liners and the fit is decidedly looser, to the point of being sloppy." I don't see how this could happened if the heat molding process was good. Have you thought about trying another bootfitter for a re-mold?


I don't think the molding was done correctly. The top of the bootie rolled inwards and rubs my shins raw. I have a friend who had the same problem. I am planning on having them remolded and adding a thicker insole.
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby Acumen » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:21 pm

So I've been trying to find out my options for in-production, step in crampon compatible, double boots that do not have a built in gator/over-boot.

Scarpa - Inverno / Omega
Koflack - Degree / Arctis Expe
La Sportiva - Baruntse / Spantik
Asolo - ASF 8000 / Evolutionize
Boreal - G1

What other boots are out there?
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby ExcitableBoy » Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:25 pm

Lowa Civetta
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby JHH60 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:09 am

Since Dane is on this forum I hope he won't mind if I post a link to his ColdThistle Blog. He has lots of good info there on double boots for ice climbing and mountaineering, including this one:

http://coldthistle.blogspot.com/2011/09 ... boots.html
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby Acumen » Wed Feb 08, 2012 5:46 am

Ah yes, Lowa, almost forgot about them because I had ruled them out after using them with a climbing class.

I have come across Dane's blog many times over the last few weeks. Really great stuff. He has me really sold on the Baruntse especially for the liners. I am going to take the hour drive to the nearest shop that has them some time this week. I may try to get a used plastic boot and replace the stock liner with the Baruntse liner. Depends on a couple things, but price is not the least.
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby ExcitableBoy » Wed Feb 08, 2012 4:29 pm

Dane and I live in the same town. I don't know anyone who has been climbing as hard, for as long, as well as having the technical/metalurgical skillz as well.
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Re: Help Picking/Fitting Mountaineering/Ice Climbing Boots

Postby Acumen » Sat Feb 11, 2012 5:22 pm

So I took the hour drive to NYC to try on Baruntse's. They seemed much better fit wise then Koflachs and Scarpas, but they didn't feel so amazing as that I would want to drop the cash on them without using them first. I tried calling all the shops I know of to see if they were available, but have not located a place to rent them in my area yet.

Does anyone know of someplace in the North East US that has Baruntse's available to rent? Are there any online rental shops?

The Mountaineer in Keene Valley NY has Nepal Evo's for rent, but so far that is the closest thing to Baruntse's I've found.
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