I have a pair of Montrail ICE 9 insulated boots that I used on Aconcagua with insulated gaiters. I'd like to take them to Denali with a full overboot. The guide outfit, however, recommends double boots only. Should I go ahead with my set-up? Dean Bittern Lake, Alberta
Dean, Id like to direct your attention to a photo that appeared in May in the Anchorage Daily News. It depicts one Nadia Cuadrado, a 29-year-old woman from Spain who took a crack at Denali in mid-May. She summited, but in the process froze her feet. In the photo, you can see her purple toesmost of which she likely will lose.
Outdoor Research Brooks Ranger Overboots
Brooks Ranger Overboots
So, sure, wear your Montrail ICE 9 boots. And then ask yourself, do you value your toes? Because the ICE 9s ($350 when new, but now discontinued) are fine boots, but theyre really not quite suited for expedition-type climbing such as on Denali. Yes, theyre fine on a peak such as Aconcagua, the 22,841-foot mountain in Argentina. And yes, it does get cold on Aconcagua. But Denali is sort of in a league by itself, given its proximity to the Arctic Circle. Especially in May, it gets cold, cold, cold there (-25F and colder on a regular basis). I was there in June several years back and we saw -20F several times at 17,000 feet.
So Im with your guidego with the double boots, and full overboots. Scarpas tried-and-true Inverno ($279) is a good choice, as is the newer and lighter Omega ($375). Also take a look at the Koflach Arctis Expe ($400). Mountain Hardwears Absolute Zero overboot ($100) is a good choice, but Id probably go with the Brooks Ranger from Outdoor Research ($135), as I think they are a little warmer.
So thats my take. Hope you have a good trip!
The 2008 Summer Outside Buyers Guide is now online. From riding to trail-running to camping, get reviews of nearly 400 gear must-haves.