Gear Shed

Q:

Plastic boots proved to be too much for Rainier. What should I wear instead?

I climbed Rainier in June of 2008 and hated the plastic boots. I’m returning to Rainier next summer and looking for a good pair of non-plastic boots that take crampons. What do you suggest? Dayton Baltimore, Maryland

Expert GV GTX Mountaineering Boot     Photo: courtesy, Asolo

Asolo Expert GV GTX Mountaineering Boot

Expert GV GTX Mountaineering Boot

A:Yuck. I hate plastic boots on Rainier, too. So what was the worst part, Dayton—those final two miles on the way down when you were hot, exhausted, footsore, and thigh-sore, yet able to see the oh-so-seemingly-close Paradise Lodge? That’s the part I hate, I will tell you that.

There are so many very good choices these days. Really, for what you are talking about, Scarpa’s Escape ($225) is fine. These are a heavy (but not “heavy," if you get my drift) backpacking boot, suitable for crampons, with a Gore-Tex bootie, and very comfortable. They’re not insulated, so just be sure to have some good wool socks. For a summer Rainier trip, they are perfectly fine. I also like Vasque’s Alpine Light GTX ($235), which are a little heavier but still nothing to compare to plastics.

Or, for something close to plastics for heft but still comfortable, try Asolo’s Expert GV GTX ($285). They have tough synthetic/leather uppers, beefy midsoles, and plenty of stability for use on steeper terrain with crampons. I’ll be honest, ideally you see the mountain every day (as I do, if it’s clear), read the National Weather Service forecast, and then make an educated guess as to what to wear. That would let me go with a lighter boot such as the Escape, knowing I could finesse colder weather with good socks and gaiters. But for more of a take-whatever-comes boot, probably go with the Asolo.

Anyway, have fun. Go for early July, when the weather is better. And why the hell are you doing it again? Don’t you have it out of your system yet?

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