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Q:

Will leather boots hold up on Denali and Everest?

Are there any leather boots that will hold up on the "big peaks" like Denali or Everest? I planning a trip to Denali and would really like to go with leather boots as I've never liked plastics. Any thoughts? Jeff Norfolk, Virginia

Are there any leather boots that will hold up on the "big peaks" like Denali or Everest? I planning a trip to Denali and would really like to go with leather boots as I've never liked plastics. Any thoughts? Jeff Norfolk, Virginia

A: Of course, once upon a time, EVERYONE climbed those big peaks with leather boots. But a lot of them lost some toes, or worse, in the process. So these days you pretty much only see plastics on these mountains. On Everest, in particular, I say you'd be foolish to even consider a non-plastic boot.

Denali is a slightly different kettle of fish. Certainly, it's typically colder there than on Everest, but you're not in such an oxygen-deprived environment near the summit. And during the warmer months such as June and July you might get away with a very warm, new-generation, mostly leather boot such as the T-Rock Thermal from Tecnica ($340; www.tecnicausa.com). Which actually isn't leather at all—it uses carbon fiber and nylon. It's pretty warm (with Primaloft insulation) and is designed as a winter climbing boot. You might also try the La Sportiva Nepal Extreme ($420; www.lasportiva.com), which has three-millimeter waterproof leather, Thinsulate insulation, and an insulated insole. It's a classic big-mountain leather boot, with the latest leather technology. To hedge your bets, take along a pair of vapor-barrier socks, plus of course full overboots.

Alternatively, just take a pair of Scarpa Invernos ($290; www.scarpa-us.com). An excellent, comfortable all-purpose plastic boot that is nearly ideal for Denali. Your toes might thank you.

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