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Please help an eastcoaster with mountaineering boots (un)fit

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 4:20 am
by valera
I am a beginner in mountaineering. In fact, I've only been to Mt Elbrus (that's in Russia, about 5600 meters or 18000ft). I rented La Sportiva Trango boots then, which were a bit too cold even with adequate socks, but fit me very well. Now, I want to go there again this summer and I thought I'd buy boots this time. Problem is, I live in Virginia where there are no stores I know of that carry that kind of boots. So I cannot walk in a store and try a half a dozen brands on.

I bought Scarpa Invernos online, one size larger than my running shoes. They fit great everywhere except they are tight right above the heel (right about where that metal pin is). I mean even with a normal cotton sock I feel like my foot is being squeezed in that area. So I exchanged them for 1.5 sizes larger than my running shoes but it still was the same.

I thought that well, Scarpa makes shoes that do not fit me. But may be La Sportiva will fit then, since I was pretty comfortable in Trangos. I bought Nepal Evos, they just arrived yesterday. And I have the same exact problem with them as well! :o Imagine my frustration :evil: Now I guess my feet are non-standard-for-mountaineering somehow :D

So I wonder - anyone out there had any similar experiences? Anyone could offer any advice? Any help is much appreciated. I don't really know what to do next except to fly to e.g. Seattle and get to REI store there.

Re: Please help an eastcoaster with mountaineering boots (un

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 6:51 pm
by Grampahawk
I have the exact opposite problem, a very thin heel. Plus my right foot is almost a size bigger than my left so it's hard to find boots. However, the LS Nepal's did the trick. I find they are very adjustable. I bought 1 size larger than my regular boot. I removed the insert from my left boot and put in a thicker Dr Scholls. There is a removable section on the tongue also. I'd experiment a bit with wearing a sock liner, trying two socks, adjusting the laces to use a heel lock lace-up, and removing or replacing the liners.

Re: Please help an eastcoaster with mountaineering boots (un

PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2011 7:41 pm
by JHH60
Flying to Seattle is not a bad idea, especially if you do it in conjunction with a mountaineering class from one of the schools and/or guide services there. The Cascades are an ideal place to train for the higher ranges and you can learn a lot in a 6-12 day course.

Trangos (especially the Trango S Evo) are relatively soft, flexible and light for mountaineering boots so fit issues are going to be less obvious than in an absolutely rigid boot like the Inverno or Nepal. For the Inverno, experimenting with socks, insoles, and lacing strategies can help a lot. For hiking in plastic boots, the trick seems to be keeping the lacing loose enough to avoid shin bang and tight enough (in the right places) to avoid excessive heel lift. You can tighten them up more for technical climbing if needed. If that doesn't work, you could try swapping out the stock liner for a thermo-molded Intuition liner, which will be custom molded to your foot shape, and see if that helps; it will probably also make the boot lighter and warmer. For the Nepal, breaking in the leather a little may help. Also, as Grampahawk noted, you can adjust the fit of Nepals quite a bit by using the removable tongue insert, trying different socks, and using an insole. It took me several months of fiddling with the tongue inserts, trying different sock combinations, and different insoles, to get my Nepals to the point where they were comfortable.

B.t.w., do you have any specific mountaineering objectives in the near future? That can help you choose a boot. The three boots you mentioned (Trangos, Invernos, and Nepals) are designed with different types of climbing in mind. There is no one boot that's optimal for every type of climb, and you can expect to buy multiple boots for different purposes if you get into the sport. If Trangos fit you well, then they may be a good first boot as they may be all you need for summer climbing in the lower 48. If you start getting into higher altitudes, multiday trips above snowline, ice climbing, or winter mountaineering, then you'll need something warmer, stiffer, and/or with a removable liner.

Re: Please help an eastcoaster with mountaineering boots (un

PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:16 pm
by valera
@Grampahawk: thank you for the suggestions, I'll experiment a bit more

@JHH60: Well, if I had all the time and all the money... But as plans go, next year I want to go to Rainier and take one of those classes you are talking about along the way. Just that this summer there's a group of people I want to join. I've been to the mountain they are going to and it was too cold in Trangos there. So obviously I need something warmer. Even for Rainier, RMI on their site recommends Invernos or Nepal. As a matter of fact that was the reason I tried them. Thank you for you response though, I'll keep it in mind.

Re: Please help an eastcoaster with mountaineering boots (un

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:24 pm
by JHH60
If you're going to Elbrus then I can't comment from personal experience, but it's supposed to be high and cold, and Invernos or some other double boot is probably appropriate, though will be more than you need for most summer climbing in the continental US.

You might want to check out the book "Alpine Climbing: Techniques to Get you Higher" by Cosley and Houston - there's a good section on footwear selection (and lots of other good advice).

Re: Please help an eastcoaster with mountaineering boots (un

PostPosted: Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:54 pm
by AlexeyD
I have pretty wide feet, and I find my Koflach Vertical boots to be very comfortable. Temperature-wise, they should be fine for a summer ascent of Elbrus. I have worn them down to about -20-25 C with no problem.