Gear Guy

Q:

Can you recommend a good boot for tackling a U.S. fourteener?

I'm looking for a mountaineering boot for tackling some of the Lower 48's fourteeners. I've reviewed the Koflach Degre and the Asolo Guide, but I'm also interested in some of the newer leather boots, like the Scarpa Cerro Torre Thermo. Have the new insulated leathers finally become an acceptable solution, or should I stick with doubles? Matt San Ron, California

A:Thing is, the Lower 48's fourteeners run the gamut from truly glaciated peaks such as Rainier to big rock piles such as Mount Whitney. So for many of them, plastic boots would be uncomfortable and too warm. Leather boots would be just the ticket: warm enough for considerable glacier work, comfortable for trails, with enough "feel" for rocks.

Quite a few makers have weighed in with serious leather boots that in some cases are available in insulated models. The Scarpa Cerro Torre Thermo you mention has thick water-resistant leather, a carbon midsole to support crampons, and insulation for cold temps. Not quite a winter boot, but good for everything else. Probably even good for many winter climbs with the proper supergaiters. Price isn't too bad at $375, and they're on sale right now for $245 (www.scarpa-us.com).

Other boots fit this category. Tecnica's T-Rock Thermal ($340; www.tecnicausa.com) makes extensive use of synthetic materials to create a boot that's light and versatile. Similar in application to the Scarpa boot, it's lightly insulated for cold-weather use. It comes non-insulated for $320, probably just fine for things like summer climbs on Rainier given the boot's totally waterproof design. You might also take a look at La Sportiva's excellent Eiger, a lightweight leather boot that's ideal for warm-season climbs on snow, ice, or rock ($275; www.sportiva.com).

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