Q:

Which lightweight boots work best for summer mountaineering?

Which sturdy but lightweight boots are suitable for summer ascents of mountains such as Rainier and Hood? Tim Chardon, Ohio

Feb 14, 2007
Outside
Outside Magazine
La Sportiva Glacier Evo

La Sportiva Glacier Evo

A:

For a summer climb of those peaks, you can get away with all sorts of boots, so long as they’re sturdy and crampon-compatible. Yes, nasty storms can hit in July and August, but gaiters and good wool socks offer enough insulation and snow protection. There’s no real need to clomp around in plastics.

Mind you, I’m not suggesting day-hikers. In fair weather, you could wear something such as Asolo’s TPS 535 ($180; asolo.com). These are sturdy backpacking boots with all-leather construction and would get up and down Rainier or Hood just fine, aside from maybe some chilled toes in the morning. True, you’d have to wear strap-on crampons, but that’s not a great hardship. SMC’s utterly retro-classic 12 Point Crampons ($55; smcgear.net) would work fine, and other climbers would find them fascinating, like you’d stepped out of a time warp from the Mallory expedition.

Otherwise, there is a slew of excellent “hybrid" boots that combine leather and synthetic materials to create tough but light mountaineering footwear. These would stand up to anything Rainier can throw at you through the summer months, and into the fall. Asolo’s Titan ($270) bonds a synthetic polyamide to a rubber rand around the sole and adds a Gore-Tex liner. They’re great for very heavy backpacking or glacier travel, and nearly ideal for Rainier and Hood in the summer. Match them with semi-automatic crampons such as Grivel’s G-12 Newmatics ($166; grivel.com).

I also like La Sportiva’s Glacier Evo ($250; sportive.com), an updated version of the venerable Glacier boot. The Evo has rough-out leather uppers, a half-steel shank, and a redesigned collar that allows greater flexibility when crossing steep terrain. Nice boot. Lastly, Garmont’s Pinnacle ($270; garmont.com) offers another alternative in a sturdy leather boot that’s expressly designed for heavy backpacking and glacier travel.

As always, fit is what counts the most. Find a store that offers several light mountaineering boots and try them on to see what works well, as every one will be a little different. And have some great climbs! I dunno what your schedule is, but Hood really is best climbed before June—it’s a rubble heap after that. Rainier has a little longer prime season, with July being ideal in terms of good weather and decent snow cover.

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

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