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Gear Guy

Can you help me choose a mountaineering boot?

Can you help me choose a boot for a trip to Argentina's Mount Aconcagua? I have summited several fourteeners in my La Sportiva Makalus without a hiccup, but I'm afraid Aconcagua is too much mountain for these boots. We plan on tackling the Polish Glacier route, and I was leaning towards a plastic double boot like Koflach or Scarpa. But, as usual, your input could sway me! Eric Palmetto, Georgia

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Yeah, I think you’ll need more boot than a Makalu for Aconcagua. It’ll be plenty cold up there, and on the Polish route you’ll appreciate the stiffness of a good plastic boot when cramponing, and its warmth when standing around at belay stations.

Most any good plastic boot will do, so long as it’s a notch up from a base-level model. For sheer bang-for-the-buck, it’s almost impossible to beat the Scarpa Inverno ($290), an excellent boot for all but the most extreme cold conditions. And in fact, it can even handle super-cold climbs if you add an Alveolite liner ($150). For Aconcagua, you’ll be fine with the Inverno in the stock configuration. You might also want to take a full over-gaiter, such as Outdoor Research’s Brooks Ranger Overboots ($125), which also make excellent around-camp footwear. Good socks will be essential, of course—warm, heavy ones such as Smartwool Expedition Socks ($17) and some fast-drying liner socks.

Other boots will work fine, so let fit be the main thing that guides you. Try the Invernos, but also slip on a pair of Koflach Verticals ($340) and Asolo’s Ottomilla ($390).

Have a great climb!

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