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Can you help me find boots to ward off frostbite?

I signed up for a three-month mountaineering semester in the Canadian Rockies and having difficulty finding a pair of plastic mountaineering boots to fit my narrow feet. I need something very warm because I have bad circulation and have had minor frostbite in the past (that's why I have avoided leather boots). Melissa Victoria, British Columbia

A: Alas, it's true—it's difficult to find plastic climbing boots that fit a woman's foot. Well-nigh impossible, in fact. But, don't despair. For one thing, you might simply try several different boots from different makers, as boots vary from maker to maker and some are built on a narrower last (the form the boots are shaped around) than others. You might, for instance, try the Lowa Cristallo GTX ($350;, which has excellent fit characteristics and might work well.

Lhotse GTX

Otherwise, look into the La Sportiva Lhotse GTX ($325; It comes in women's sizes, so that's a good start. And although it's not a true "plastic" boot, it's a plastic/leather hybrid that is both waterproof (Gore-Tex liner) and insulated. And they're good, sturdy boots, with thick leather, full rubber rands, and full steel shanks.

Otherwise, try the usual tricks when working to make boots fit. Try an after-market footbed for high-volume shoes, as that may soak up some extra space. And, you can sometimes find heel inserts that wrap around the heel and reduce the volume there, as that's a particular trouble spot for women trying to wear men's shoes.

Hope that helps!

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Filed To: Hiking Boots
Lead Photo: courtesy, La Sportiva