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Gear Guy

Q:

Do I really need double boots for Denali?

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

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

A:

Dean, I’d 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 toes—most 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 they’re really not quite suited for expedition-type climbing such as on Denali. Yes, they’re 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 I’m with your guide—go with the double boots, and full overboots. Scarpa’s 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 Hardwear’s Absolute Zero overboot ($100) is a good choice, but I’d probably go with the Brooks Ranger from Outdoor Research ($135), as I think they are a little warmer.

So that’s my take. Hope you have a good trip!

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