Oct 3, 2010 at 10:54 pm #1263967
In June I did a Mt. Shasta trip via Avalanche Gulch. It was my first time doing any type of "mountaineering" rather than just backpacking. I liked it enough that I'm thinking it would be fun to tackle some of the SoCal mountains in winter.
I need some advice on boots and crampons. For Shasta I rented, and I don't remember what I was using. I do remember I wasn't using plastics (I refused) and the crampons were 12 point and steel. The only boots I currently own are Vasque Breeze (Gor-Tex), and I'm guessing these probably aren't rigid enough to use with crampons.
I'd also like the gear to be able to handle a spring ascent of Whitney eventually. I get cold feet easily (I think its due to poor circulation), so it would probable be good if the boots are insulated.
Can any of you more experienced people make some recommendations? I'm trying not to break the bank. I've had the BD contacts recommended.Oct 4, 2010 at 1:43 am #1651182
i've attached some recommended equipment from some cali guides for winter summiting … never climbed in cali … but it cant be any worse than BC or the alberta rockies … lol
for winter mounteneering you really only have 3 realistic choices IMO
1. a full fledged leather single boot, not the lightweight ones … the advantage is that they are more flexible and technical … the disadvantage is that they take longer to dry and they are not as warm … most people find they fit better than plastics
the gold standard are the sportiva nepal evos .. i've used these down to -20 to 30 C … people also use them on higher moutains like rainier in the summer … more of a risk for winter mountaineering as there's less of a safety margin if you get caught, feels like a big hiking boot
note i would not use anything less than a nepal evo or its equivalent for single leather in winter … one that is designed for winter use … and only the with full gaiters
2. plastic double boot … heavier, stiffer, fit is harder to get right … but they are warmer, and most importantl for mutiday trips easy to dry … you just sleep with the liner
the standard for these are the scarpa invernos … IF they fit you great … you can buy them used and cheap … with better liners and overboot people have used them up to 5000m + … theyll handle any mountain in the americas … great for winter mountaineering, warm feet, but feels like clogs
3. double hybrid boot … never used these yet so i wont comment too much other than to say you're supposed to get the warmth of plastics but the better handling of leathers
sportiva spatniks and baruntse come to mind … id get these if you want to go a lot of high altitude and winter mounteneering, if you want warm really warm feet, and supposed better handling than plastic
MOST IMPORTANT … whatever you get you absolutely must try them out before hand for a good fit … personally i size all my winter boots with a liner sock and a super think mounteneering sock … do NOT accept any boot with any significant heel lift… also bring some kind of packs with you to simulate placing foot warmers in yr boots
make sure you get yr sock system dialed in as well BEFORE trying on boots
for crampons i recommend a solid 12 point crampon … they almost weight about the same as 10 point … the bonus is that they work better on steeper terrain and if you ever get into ice climbing they work well for that too … the standard are the BD sabretooth and grivel G12
i would definately buy/rent my boots/crampons from REI or somewhere that had an extremely liberal return policy … you may find that the boots dont cut it on the mountain … unless you find a killer deal somewhere else (just make sure you can return it or have at least tried it on alot)
in fact if you can i recommend renting them the first time out if they allow that for what you want …
some good links …Oct 4, 2010 at 2:05 am #1651184
What REALLY matters is a good fit with enough room for adequate insulation. That is paramount.
Do you need 'BOOTS'? I recollect reading a trip report from someone who summited Mont Blanc in joggers and crampons.
perhaps more important is gaining experience carefully.
CheersOct 4, 2010 at 3:15 am #1651191
i would not use anything less than full mountain boots on a 4000m peak in winter
thats just me …
how many saved ounces/dollars are my toes worth … hmmmmmOct 4, 2010 at 7:34 am #1651225
The nepals look like what I used on Shasta. They did fit well, but look expensive – argh. Roger, I assumed boots were needed if I used crampons (maybe my ignorance?) and I figure they'll do the best job of keeping my feet warm. Initially, these will just be day trips, but it would be nice to be able to do a couple longer trips in the future.Oct 4, 2010 at 11:30 am #1651315
just to make it even more costly …. lol
i recommend you ask someone with experience on shasta in winter whether you need double boots … either a guide, someone you trust or a climbing specific site like summitpost.com or mountainproject.com
while i will use nepal evos in winter ive never climbed that mountain …
double boots are warmer … and that warmth means a bit of margin should things go wrong
do not skimp on boots … if you have to splurge on 1 item thats the one … look at it this way … its an investment in coming down alive … and youll amortize it over the next 5 years anyways
thast my rantOct 4, 2010 at 11:51 am #1651322
Trango S is what I use for summer – bring lots of warm socks for summer on Shasta. I like the Saberteeth Crampons – Contacts might be limiting. Strap on Contacts or Al Crampons will fit your current boots.
Doubles are nice for winter but are cheep used and not all that nice – I'd stay away for summer. For winter boots getting soaked can be a fairly significant challenge depending on your climate/exertion.Oct 4, 2010 at 12:40 pm #1651345
Great advice so far. I did Shasta this past June already. Rented gear. It was a great trip. I'm mostly concerned with winter conditions for the Socal mtns (San Jacinto, Baldy, etc.). I'd also like to make an attempt at Whitney via MR sometime in the future.Oct 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm #1651508
@robertm2sLocale: Lake Tahoe
Roger, please don’t kill all our beginners. You haven’t climbed Whitney in winter, let alone with joggers and crampons. Ultra lightweight fanatics like you are dangerous! How dare you suggest that a beginner doesn’t need boots: “Do you need 'BOOTS'? I recollect reading a trip report from someone who summited Mont Blanc in joggers and crampons.” You can safely mention that to Colin Haley, or Steve House, or Mark Twight or Reinhold Messner, because they can evaluate it with their own experience in mind.Oct 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm #1651700
An acquaintance of mine went ice climbing in Canada with single leather boots. He is now missing part of a foot. I would recommend an insulated boot, and if the possibility of multi-day trips is there I'd recommend a double boot so you can dry out the liner. Frozen single boots in the morning is not fun, and neither is dealing with them being wet once they thaw. I wear single leathers for day-trip ice climbing (better feel), on the move, but anything more and go insulated.Oct 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm #1651710
No, I am not trying to kill anyone off. What I AM suggesting is that we need to clearly identify the REAL needs. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the following stand out. None of them mandate big leather boots.
* Keep your feet warm
* Provide adequate connection to crampons
* Deal with overnight freezing
Now, we do know that uncomfortable boots often fail the first requirement. I remember one girl in Nepal (>5,000 m) in tears of agony because her double plastic boots were the wrong shape or size and were nearly giving her frostbite. (My light leather boots were comfortable and warm.) In addition, I have worn comfortable joggers in winter on the snow on snowshoes and been safe and happy. Yes, they were 1/2 a size larger to accommodate an extra layer of thick socks. They were warm.
Can joggers handle crampons? Experience shows they can. To be sure, step-ins don't work with crampons very well, but step-ins were designed for big boots. You need a different design of crampon – an older design. The one thing you have to watch with crampons is that the strap over the arch of the foot does not pull down too hard and restrict blood flow. That's a design issue with the crampons.
I will add here that if you want to go extreme ice climbing you will need Darth Vaders for the support, just as you need them for downhill skis these days. That is a different story.
The problem of freezing overnight was handled for 'big boots' by the invention of inner boots which can be worn inside a sleeping bag or quilt, and dried out there. But realise this: inner boots are only one solution to the real problem of warmth. If you are going to wear some sort of boot inside your SB, then there is no reason why you could not wear, or store, your joggers in your SB. Many is the time I have stored my joggers or my ski boots at the foot of my quilt to stop them freezing. Standard practice.
What I have been suggesting will not kill beginners (or anyone else) if done correctly. On the other hand, inexperience WILL kill beginners, regardless of footwear. It's a bit like the old (and hopefully obsolete) argument to the effect that 'you MUST wear full GoreTex in the wet and the snow or you will die'. Another vested interest.
Perhaps this is a good place to emphasise that the snow country can be lethal, and that you should NOT charge in and hope for the best. Venture slowly and learn as you go, keeping warmth and survival always a clear priority.
CheersOct 5, 2010 at 2:26 pm #1651721
@robertm2sLocale: Lake Tahoe
Roger, I don’t disagree with your points, but my point is it takes an experienced person to comprehend all the nuances you laid out. Look how long your post is. It takes effort to go back in time to remember what it is like to be a beginner. Beginner mistakes can cause death while climbing mountains, especially while climbing mountains in the winter. For them it is best to Keep It Simple, so they are less likely to do something stupid. IMHO, your arguments are best left to bars and coffee shops where only experienced climbers are present.Oct 5, 2010 at 2:35 pm #1651728
deletedOct 5, 2010 at 2:51 pm #1651740
> Beginner mistakes can cause death while climbing mountains, especially
> while climbing mountains in the winter. For them it is best to Keep It Simple,
> so they are less likely to do something stupid.
Oh, I couldn't agree more.
But … what does this mean?
The girl I referred to was keeping it simple: she just hired what someone else told her to hire. No thinking required. Nearly lost her toes, imho.
I think the real message has to be that the mountains in winter can be fatal, so keeping warm and learning should be the highest priorities.
CheersOct 5, 2010 at 6:26 pm #1651819
id have a hell of a time getting up anything moderately steep without boots
cant imagine front pointing effectively in runners … lolOct 5, 2010 at 6:50 pm #1651828
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Jeff had asked about the Mountaineer's Route on Whitney, and it classifies as moderately steep. I get a headache just looking _down_ it from the top. I could not imagine trying to climb up that chute without at least a good solid leather single boot. In early season, that would take crampons. By late season, probably not.
–B.G.–Oct 6, 2010 at 11:53 am #1652043
Picking isolated incidents out of the haystack because an individual did not get her plastics fitted correctly, implying plastics are inferior, or someone ascended Mont Blanc in some kind of “jogger” with some kind of “crampon, implying that this is now an acceptable alternative for winter mountaineering because that’s the context in which it was mentioned is crazy.
I like this site and I respect Mr. Caffin’s opinions, what I don’t agree with are the factual representations made from an ill fitted boot or a guide or well trained mountaineer who summits a mountain with minimal gear. Here in Washington State we have guides who do all sorts of wild and crazy things soloing Rainier and I would not bring them up as examples for the general population to follow.
Be that as it may this site and Mr. Caffin’s advice have been helpful with my four season scrambling and hiking endeavors in Washington State, having said that I’m not so blinded by a single philosophy that I can’t see there is more then one way to get something done.Oct 7, 2010 at 2:46 pm #1652403
First, thanks for the responses. Second, crampons. Most, if not all my time will be spent in SoCal and the Sierras. Do I need 12 pt crampons or would 10 pt suffice? Think Baldy, San Jacinto, San Grogornio, and Whitney. I was looking at the BD contact strap crampons. If it would be safer/advisable to get the 12 pt grivels or whatever, I don't mind spending the extra money, but I don't want to unless I need to.Oct 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm #1652413
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Crampons are found in two major categories, 10 pt or 12 pt. As a general rule, 10 pt crampons are intended more for flat walking or on gentle slopes. Then 12 pt crampons are the same, except that they have two points out in front, and they are intended more for steeper walking. The extreme case of that is when you are doing vertical ice climbing. Then the front points are doing nearly all of the contact and the other ten are extra weight.
If you ever thought that you would be up on some high angle couloir, then you better get the 12 pt variety. On the other hand, the 10 pt variety is a little easier to walk in on the easy places.
Instep crampons typically have only four or six points, and they only cover the middle of the boot. Lots of serious mountaineers look at them with contempt and claim that they contribute to accidents. On the other hand, if you were simply hiking a summer trail that had just a few old snow fields, the instep crampons might be OK.
–B.G.–Oct 7, 2010 at 3:18 pm #1652417
they are the do it all crampon … you can glacier walk, ice scramber, climb steep ice, climb technical ice, and even climb mixed in them
as long as you arent into competitive drytooling climbing you wont need another set … they should last over a decade
grivel G12 and BD sabertooths are the gold standard … i recommend the BDs
1. get your sock system dialed in first
2. buy the boot that fits best
3. get a crampon that fits the boot
for the best prices try spadoutOct 7, 2010 at 7:54 pm #1652512
> Do I need 12 pt crampons or would 10 pt suffice?
Interesting to note that Heinrich Harrer, the 'leader' of the first team to make a successful ascent of the North Face of the Eiger, managed the climb in leather boots with tricounis and hobnails. Interesting.
CheersOct 7, 2010 at 8:25 pm #1652525
@nicktruaxLocale: SW Montana
@roger – always the dissenting voice, eh? ; )
I personally climbed Shasta this late summer in under 12 hours round trip via Avy Gulch w/ Inov8 390's and Kahtoola Microspikes (8 tiny points). It was rock solid snow above 11,000ft. I blew by guides and others w/ full on 12 pts FWIW. I know its not winter climbing, but it wasn't necessarily a walk in the park either.
While I had no issues, I would not recommend my LW system to the novice or inexperienced climber. Nothing beats technique, experience, and being cat-like on your feet.
I vote for some G-12's or similar. The go-to crampons for a multitude of conditions. Can't really go wrong when faced w/ iffy terrain and conditions. I think it'd be wise to get some *real* crampons and get used to them first prior to staging back after some experience.
Horses for courses : )Oct 7, 2010 at 10:11 pm #1652542
messener did everest without oxygen … doesnt mean you should either … lol
there's a reason guides wear boots … and it aint just because some of them are sponsored
every top fast and light alpine climber who does anything remotely technical wears boots… and these are the guys who count grams more than anyone else … theyll go up without sleeping bags or bivies … or stoves … but NEVER without boots or crampons
sure on a GOOD day you could get by with sneakers, and a plank of wood with some nails in it … just pray a storm doesnt forces an unplanned bivy for a few daysOct 8, 2010 at 7:21 pm #1652749
@pyeyoLocale: pacific northwest
How about sneaking in a basic mountaneering class to learn some fundamentals so we don't wind up sticking a point doing a self arrest or gashing open a way to expensive pair of trousers with a little leg inside?Oct 8, 2010 at 7:48 pm #1652762
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"How about sneaking in a basic mountaneering class to learn some fundamentals so we don't wind up sticking a point doing a self arrest or gashing open a way to expensive pair of trousers with a little leg inside?"
Maybe followed by a year or so of climbing with someone who actually knows what they are doing? Mountaineering is an unforgiving sport where first mistakes are last mistakes, and beginners don't get mulligans.
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