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Ultralight mountaineering boots and crampons
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Mike Maurer
(maurer) - F - M

Locale: Oregon
Ultralight mountaineering boots and crampons on 05/26/2010 13:50:47 MDT Print View

Hey gang,

I have just completed my SAR training here in Bend, OR and am quickly moving into the Mountain Rescue Unit. I need to get some mountaineering boots and front point crampons since my ultralight winter "hiking" set up is not beefy enough for rescue use.

Any thoughts on the lightest boots and crampons for full-on mountaineering?

Thanks a ton in advance.

Mike Maurer

Edited by maurer on 05/26/2010 13:51:26 MDT.

Graeme Finley
(gfinley001) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Ultralight mountaineering boots and crampons on 05/26/2010 14:16:10 MDT Print View

Depends how you define "full on" (i.e. do you need plastic boots with a removable liner?) but I've used the Scarpa Chamoz to climb Mt Shasta and really like them. They're designed to work with crampons and are also OK to hike in on approach trails, but aren't too insulated so you wouldn't want to use them in below zero conditions.

Mike Maurer
(maurer) - F - M

Locale: Oregon
Ultralight mountaineering boots and crampons on 05/26/2010 14:36:42 MDT Print View

Thanks Graeme.

The simple answer is I'm not sure yet what "full on" might mean - but I think leather boots should do the trick. At the moment I'm looking at Trango's and will now also add the Charmoz to the list - thanks. I'd pair them up with OR High gaiters or Forty Below K2 Overboots, depending on the conditions, which should do the trick versus double layered plastic boots. I'll mostly be doing mountaineering or rescues in the Three Sisters area in Oregon.

Thanks again.


Michael Febbo
(febbom) - F
crampons on 05/26/2010 20:49:44 MDT Print View

If you were using the crampons for your own recreational activities I'd suggest aluminum with the caveat that you simply avoid walking on rocks. However, given your intended purpose, I'd get a set of steel crampons with horizontal frontpoints.

My aluminum Grivel Air Techs weigh 1lb 6.2 ounces (with a heavier spreader bar to fit my huge boots and antibotts), while my steel Grivel G12s with antibotts weigh 2lbs 5.8 ounces (my G14s with monopoints weigh 4 ounces more). So, steel is heavy, but my G12s have taken a serious beating over the past 3 seasons and show little wear.

Check out the Petzl Sarken (about 2 pounds) as well. My friend has followed W4 in these, but they are not as good for vertical ice as the G12s- the frontpoints are not as deep and they are not as rigid.

If lightweight trumps all else, look at the Camp XLC Nanotech- aluminum with attached steel frontpoints. I have no idea how these hold up, and they have front bails, but they are a possibility.

I'd likely stay away from toe bails if you intend to wear them with a variety of boot/overboot combinations, but fit is really boot specific. Buy boots that fit your feet- then shop for crampons that fit your boots.

Douglas Ray

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Ultralight mountaineering boots and crampons on 05/26/2010 20:52:51 MDT Print View

It's been said many times before, but I'll go ahead and beat the dead horse, the boots need to fit well, that's more important than anything else. As boots get stiffer and stiffer I'd say fit just keeps getting more critical.

You really need to know what you are doing to decide what sort of boots will work best. The lighter, mostly fabric boots such as the La Sportiva Trangos, the Scarpa Charmoz,the Kayland MXT, etc. all hike pretty well, climb rock quite well, and are very light for all there ability. You can climb snow with them fine, they'll kick steps better than a hiking boot and with stiffer crampons a little front pointing is possible although it sucks. They will never really be waterproof or all that warm. They aren't really all that durable either, that's the primary sacrifice for the light weight.

Going all leather will buy you much more durability and water-resistance, along with a little warmth. They will be quite a bit heavier. There are some all-leather boots available that still flex enough to hike alright.

In the realm of insulated, rigid boots there are sort of three categories. Heavy leather boots, insulated synthetic boots, and double boots. The heavy leather boots are warm, can be kept dry for a full day in the mountains (longer with great care) and provide lots of support for front-pointing on moderate to steep ice. The insulated synthetic boots have more ankle flex with a rigid sole, which is not as nice on moderate ice but is great on steep mixed. The double boots are mostly about being warm, and are easier to preserve your toes in difficult conditions for days on end.

It seems like most climbers in the pacific NW have a pair of light synthetic boots and a pair of heavy leather boots. They usually use the heavy leather for trips involving more snow and ice and the light synthetic boots for trips involving more rock, as it seems like the temperature and moisture level follow the climbing medium.

Double boots are rarely called for in the Cascades outside of Mt. Ranier IMHO. The insulated synthetic boots seem to be quite popular with serious ice and mixed climbers but the lack of water-resistance is a problem in the alpine. The light boots get pushed into a lot of snow-and-ice use where they are not so ideal because they are light and nicer to hike in, if you only have one pair of mountaineering boots they are probably what you'll end up with. Remember that fit is critical.

There are some sort of in-betweens. Stiffer boots without insulation. I have used a pair of Scarpa Triolet's to do just about everything. They are just stiff enough that front pointing doesn't hurt to much, but low-profile enough to climb rock well and they flex a bit for hiking. A bit sketchy in the cold though and not what you want to hike a ton in. Not as light as some either. I used a supergaiter to make them warmer and more water-resistant in the winter, which more-or-less worked. This past year I picked up a pair of Nepal's and I've been very happy. On a lot of trips they will be worth the weight.

I hope this helps.

Mike Maurer
(maurer) - F - M

Locale: Oregon
Ultralight mountaineering boots and crampons on 05/27/2010 11:32:34 MDT Print View

Mike and Doug,

Thanks a ton for your insights and wisdom. It sounds like my smartest option is to go with Trango/Charmoz type boots, and focus on fit first. I'll take a full pack with me to REI to try both boots. From there, I'll head into crampons. The CAMP ultralight ones and the BD Contacts are on my list initially, but I still need to do more homework. Key to me will be getting a set of crampons that will work over my Forty Below overboots - hence no bails I believe. I'm hoping that teaming the synthetic boots with high OR type gaiters in spring/fall, and with my K2 superlight overboots in winter I can use one pair of boots the whole time.

Thanks again for everything. I'm off to REI.


Jeff Jeff
(TwoFortyJeff) - F
Re: Ultralight mountaineering boots and crampons on 05/27/2010 13:38:50 MDT Print View

I would go for durability over lightweight for mountain rescue, but I'm not in SAR so take that for what you will.

This is assuming that you fit into Scarpa/La Sportiva boots. If you have an average to wider foot, you probably won't.

If you do like the Charmoz, look into the Triolet. It's the more durable version.

For crampons, I would avoid getting strap type bindings, since they can constrict bloodflow to your feet and make them colder. I would get stepins. If you don't like those, leverlocks/new-matics would be marginally better that straps.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Re: Ultralight mountaineering boots and crampons on 05/27/2010 18:48:55 MDT Print View

I've been using the Trango Extreme (little grey boots) and G-12 crampons. It's a pretty light setup and very capable. Even with lots of mixed climbing I've only sharpened the G-12s once. If I wanted crazy light stuff I'd run the lightest boots that fit well and run G-12 or sabertooth front halfs with aluminum back halfs. This setup wears our the backs fast if you have lots of mixed/rock scrambling to do but it saves significant weight. Also Petzl front bails are lighter than BD.

The real question is how much standing around in the cold will you be doing. That will determine how much boot you need. Other wise a light and lightly insulated single leather will get you through a lot.

Noel Tavan
(akatsuki_the_devil) - MLife
Which boots on 09/13/2011 23:04:26 MDT Print View

So Mike, which boots and crampons ( and ice axe ) did you end up with?
I am the market for a mtneering kit too... Ultralight if possible...