Nov 9, 2006 at 5:44 am #1220128
I am thinking about a possible UL ascent up to the top of Mount Everest.
I am under the impression that the boots currently being used (including the full-gaither style “soft boots”)weight way too much.
I am interested to learn if someone has any specific experience and/or any suggestion that may help.
Filippo PavesiNov 9, 2006 at 9:17 am #1366636
Filippo, Initially I laughed when I read about the concept of an UL ascent of Everest; shows my ignorance, because after looking at a couple guide company gear lists I see the recommended gear is not terribly onerous. Just more layers.
This site lists some recommended brands and models for each item; you could start by choosing the lightest of each and tell us the total?
Then, I bet the experts on this site could choose UL items which meet the same performance requirements and save you another "x" kg.
I was interested to see Feathered Friends listed as the best choice of bag; they have a high reputation here at BPL from what I've read. Wonder if a Montbell #0 EXP has ever made it up to camp 4?Nov 9, 2006 at 8:10 pm #1366678
@pyeyoLocale: pacific northwest
You might take a look at Mark Twight’s book, Extreme Alpinism….you might also be able to glean what type of boots Steve House used on Nanga Parbat by chasing down some of the articles.
These two come to mind when you speak of light weight at altitude.Nov 9, 2006 at 9:21 pm #1366687
@viktorLocale: Northern California
Lightweight backpacking on Everest???
…The tent has to be strong enough to withstand gale force winds yet relatively small both to save weight (five pounds for a two man tent is typical) and to trap as much body heat as possible.
…You’d think you’d need the warmest possible sleeping bag at 26,000 feet, but I carry one rated good only down to zero degrees Fahrenheit. It weighs a mere four and a half pounds. I can get away with this because I wear all my clothes, except my boots, to bed.
–Excerpts taken from: No Shortcuts to the Top, by Ed Viesturs w/David Roberts
Courtesy of T. VidnovicNov 10, 2006 at 1:51 am #1366698
Thank You to Brett, Larry and Victor for your interesting info.
I found I missed to explain which kind of Everest ascent I am talking about; I am thinking about a full supported speed-record attempt, as Bruno Brunod already made (http://www.mounteverest.net/story/EverestspeedrecordattemptBetweenC1andC2Jun32005.shtml)
As You may be aware Bruno is one of the world best “Skyrunners” of the FSA
We are pretty well aware about tents, apparel and other 8000meters stuff You better consider.
On the other hand we found that, in order to really go fast, the most critical issue is actually the high weight of the double insulated boots : (possibly) the best one on the market, the OLYMPUS MONS EVO by Lasportiva, weight 2500 grams/pair. Unfortunately, given that boots are mobile masses, this is too much to go fast.
It may be useful to know that, in the latest 8000meters boots, the like as the Olympus, insulation comes from the low density PE inner boot. On the other hand most so called “pack-boots”, designed to perform in the worst condition, sport several layers of sinthetic insulation the like as Thinsulate (up to 1600 !).
Does anyone has any experience, or ideas, on which kind of insulated boot we may want to consider, or about whick kind of better boot we may want to design ?
Thank You for your help
FilippoNov 10, 2006 at 7:51 am #1366714
@pyeyoLocale: pacific northwest
I used a pair of intuition alpine thermoflex boot liners all last winter, maybe paired up with an insulated super gaiter..I really hesitate to offer much advice, my only ascents in the Himalayas were basically tourist routesNov 10, 2006 at 9:48 am #1366722
Maybe Bill Fornshell can make you a pair from Cuben Sail Cloth and alveolite foam?Nov 15, 2006 at 12:40 pm #1367254
> the most critical issue is actually the high weight of the double insulated boots
This is where some serious ‘systems’ thinking is required. People travel around in other even colder places without such heavy padded boots – and are happy. Why then should we need double insulated boots on Everest?
Start asking why your feet get cold. It is NOT because of any failing of the lighter boots. It is because you aren’t pumping enough heat down your legs into your feet, in the form of warm blood. Without that inflow of heat, extra insulation won’t stop your feet from getting cold.
A similar story is found with sleeping bags and the extra padding some manufacturers advertise for the foot box. It’s not very helpful if you haven’t had a good dinner and if your head is cold.
What happens at altitude? Too often a climber says he is too tired to bother about melting snow and cooking dinner, and just goes to sleep. No energy, no water … cold feet, AMS, … It does not have to be that way.
The big advances will come from a change in attitude and discipline. Climbers who understand their physiology and what their body needs to really function will be able to travel faster and lighter than those who rely just on gear, climbing skills and macho. But it will take time for this understanding to percolate through.Nov 15, 2006 at 5:10 pm #1367275
Do you really think there are vast areas of improvement still possible over Messner’s attitude, knowledge of his body, and his level of discipline? (I’m not arguing because that level of discipline is beyond my comprehension one way or the other.)Nov 15, 2006 at 5:52 pm #1367278
@scottalanpLocale: Northern California
>The big advances will come from a change in attitude and discipline. Climbers who understand their physiology and what their body needs to really function will be able to travel faster and lighter than those who rely just on gear, climbing skills and macho. But it will take time for this understanding to percolate through.< This observation asserts that a lot of folks do not already understand their physiology and how it effects their performance. I would not totally agree. After watching the new reality show on Disco Channel last night (Everest expedition), I cannot imagine that any equipment would make or break success at that altitude beyond what your phsychi and physiology is up to. I am speaking in terms of weight more so than function or quality. To have success on Everest, I doubt there are very few folks who succeed without knowing their way around their own body. And even the most conditioned, mentally and physically prepared individual who relies on the best practices concerning their physiological well being can still fail. People’s bodies are not created equal…and in an Olympic 100m dash or at 28000 feet, that becomes really clear. I would also hold that most people attacking less complicated wilderness endeavours only need a couple “incidents” to realize there is more to this than equipment. When I say incidents, I refer to stuff like trying a Whitney Climb with an REI group and being totally out of shape…or traveling in really hot areas without proper hydration. Those kind of life experiences snap you into reality very fast. Those kind of bonk experiences generally divert folks 2 ways. Out of the persuit altogether, or into a more practical approach that provides for conditioning, nutrition, and understanding.Nov 16, 2006 at 1:35 am #1367328
> Do you really think there are vast areas of improvement still possible over Messner’s attitude, knowledge of his body, and his level of discipline?
Rheinhold Messner is an extreme example of what can be done! No question. But how many match him?
The point I was trying to make about really getting to understand your physiology is a bit like the arguments about SUL gear. Sure, a few of us know about it and practice it – but the vast majority of walkers don’t – yet.
I could equally point to Ryan’s efforts at SUL in the snow and the Arctic 1000: possible, but few walkers have gone that far YET.Nov 16, 2006 at 6:51 am #1367340
In support of your position, at least as to physiology, is Mark Twight’s book on fast and light mountaineering, in which he said he was still learning how to adequately fuel his body. He recommends a GU gel every 30 minutes (or something similar, I don’t recall the exact timing) so as to add carbos to the blood stream without letting the digestive system cut in, which robs blood from the muscles. Even Messner probably could have improved in this area.Nov 16, 2006 at 2:20 pm #1367368
Speaking of feats comparable to those of Reinhold Messner, has anyone walked to the South Pole without a sled, skis, or wind sail? Maybe that is the next Big Thing? Several people, roped together to guard against crevasses, using SUL gear and carrying everything on their backs? It might not be possible, but I would enjoy seeing other people try it. (I ain’t gonna try it, that’s fer sher!)Nov 18, 2006 at 11:57 am #1367580
Many thanks to Robert, Roger and Scott for your very interesting points; I completelly agree with Roger thoughts.
Still I ‘d have to find out which is the boots concept that may provide the best insulation with the lower weight.I may like to undertsand more on Antartica-style footwear. I am also interested to really extreme insulating materials the like as Aerogel (=Frozen Smoke); I found it is being used for high performance JKT :
I am wondering if we could use it in footwear. A part its(terrific) cost, does anybody may explain why Aerogel is not used for SUL apparel?
FilippoNov 19, 2006 at 1:32 am #1367627
> find out which is the boots concept that may provide the best insulation with the lower weight.
This is actually a very interesting question – which means it does not have a simple answer :-) You see, you need to ask ‘which boot FOR WHICH ACTIVITY’.
Imagine you are sitting in an armchair at -40 F. Down booties would be excellent, beter than anything else. But you could not go ice climbing or skiing in them. For those activities the boot needs to grip the foot a bit better – and now you are restricting the blood flow.
You also need to ask where is the heat flow. Walking on ice at -40 C might mean most of the heat flow is out from the sole. No problem to wrap a down bootie over the top of the boot, but some serious insulation will be needed underneath.
Can you use aerogel? Much of that stuff is ultra-brittle. Not a good choice for a boot sole.
Trade-offs….Nov 19, 2006 at 12:42 pm #1367647
How about taking a pair of Nike Air Max running shoes and replacing the air with hydrogen? Since hydrogen has only one proton per nucleus, this should make the boots very light. However, under no circumstances, no matter how cold your feet get, should you set your shoes on fire.Nov 19, 2006 at 1:50 pm #1367651
Filippo, do you plan to go with a group or solo? The David Sharp solo incident last year was sad. Why he thought he should attempt that alone is beyond me. Discovery Channel has a good show about Everest this year. Anybody watching it?
discovery.com/EverestNov 19, 2006 at 7:23 pm #1367672
@drayLocale: Olympic Peninsula
Ok I have no experience with serious big mountain climbing but I’ll take a stab at suggesting some footwear, since no one else is trying to.
I’ve read of guides using soccer spikes up to camp four on Everest instead of boots to save energy. They size up to accomodate lots of socks. Thinking of your “contact footwear” and your insulation as two seperate things might help. You need to decide how much support you need to allow you use to whatever sort of traction aid to cross the appropriate terrain. If you could use say a KTS for traction on a relatively soft shoe, than you might be able to use something like a huge running shoe over two sets of alveolite foam liners.
I’m envisioning going to a store where they sell the liners and finding one pair that fit over the appropriate VB socks and another pair that are 3 or 4or 5 sizes bigger to fit snugly over the other pair. Putting a stiff insole (such as superfeet) in the first pair would help, and actually you could use a sheet of HDPE in between the two pairs to add more support. And probably you couldn’t find a running shoe to go over the mess (unless you have really small feet) but you could surely get an over boot that would. One of the lightest NEOS over boots would be best.
My guess is that your insulation might be lightest not built into the over boot. You might throw a dense foam “insole” into the overboot also.
That’s my two cents, surely someone with more experience can critique this and make it better.Nov 20, 2006 at 7:41 am #1367712
Mr. Douglas Ray: In My Arrogant Opinion (IMAO), the only kind of opinion I ever have, you are making a noble and valiant effort in a hopeless situation. Anyone who says he will be doing Everest in homemade boots is joshing us. La Sportiva makes the Oly Mons, $825, 5 lb, 6 0z, the Spantik, $650, 5 lb, 1 oz, plus several versions of the Trango. There are other manufacurers, including Scarpa, Millet, and Boreal. It would take a rare genius to make a boot at home that was better, IMAO.Nov 20, 2006 at 9:47 am #1367722
Hello and thank so much to Roger,Robert, John and Douglas for your suggestion. I have to mention I am a designer, I am pretty familiar with composite materials, and I am becoming interested to design a SUL 8000meters boot (as well as other SUL footwear).The main imput came to me after I made some research aiming to support the first (full supported !)speed-record attempt that the world class skyrunner Bruno Brunod made. This first attempt made clear that several issues must be reconsidered. One of the big issue being the weight of the stuff required to go fast up to the top, in particular the weight of the “mobile masses”, as the boots are. We are fully aware that currently Lasportiva make some great boots, unfortunately they are too heavy for this purpose.I may not go with the suggestion (Air max)made by Robert, in particular since, in order to improve the blood flow, I’d prefer to stay away from thight lacing and tini laces. I am under the impression that Douglas took some sound concepts, that may become an interesting base.
Meanwhile I found that somebody already sells AEROGEL INSOLES…
FilippoNov 20, 2006 at 12:23 pm #1367750
If you’re serious, Fillippo, then good luck. Are you aware that Koflach used to use alveolite foam in some of their inner boots. The idea was to use a heavier inner boot lower on the mountain, then switch to the alveolite liner for the summit push. I believe that was because the foam smashed down over time from the climber’s weight.Nov 20, 2006 at 5:11 pm #1367790
@drayLocale: Olympic Peninsula
The footwear world has a lot of room for improvement in the area of weight verses support and protection. Please keep us posted on what you come up with. I hadn’t thought of Aerogel, but from the little bit that I know of it it might have the potential to be an exccelent footwear insulator. If you could build an inner bootie out of it you could probably reduce the overall system weight a lot. One other crazy idea from my previous hairbrained system idea. One could carry two sets of overshoes, one sized to fit over one liner and the other sized to fit over both. That way you could use one liner lower down on the mountain and only need to use both when really necessary.Nov 21, 2006 at 1:25 am #1367822
> La Sportiva makes the Oly Mons, $825, 5 lb, 6 0z, the Spantik, $650, 5 lb, 1 oz, plus several versions of the Trango. There are other manufacurers, including Scarpa, Millet, and Boreal. It would take a rare genius to make a boot at home that was better
Ah, so we should still all be wearing leather boots, carrying 12 oz canvas packs, and using beeswax-proofed cotton tents? Surely the manufacturers of those products know better than us?
Those companies have a certain mind-set. That’s the sort of product they make. OK, fine. But where is it written that they and only they know everything about footwear? Why has a company like Inov-8 even dared to exist?
‘The reasonable man seeks to adapt himself to the world.
Only the unreasonable man seeks to adapt the world to himself.
All progress therefore depends on the UNreasonable man.’
My wife says I can be very unreasonable…Nov 21, 2006 at 7:14 am #1367837
Re: “Ah, so we should still all be wearing leather boots”: Here are the ingredients for the Oly Mons: “Breathable Cordura® (upper part)/Kevlar anti-perforation fabric (lower part)/Riri Storm® zipper (UV resistant and waterproof) OUTER BOOT: Cordura® upper lined with dual density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam and a thermo-reflective aluminum facing/Insulated removable footbed/Vibram® XSV Rand INNER BOOT: Water repellent breathable upper with polyamide external layer/Dual density PE thermal insulating micro-perforated ventilated foam/Tri-dimensional structured polyester lining combined with pile CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted LAST: Olympus Mons SOLE: Insulating Vibram® PE with rubber inserts MIDSOLE: HP3 INSOLE: 5mm Carbon Fiber + 2.5mm PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam topped with a thermo-reflective aluminum layer reinforced with perforated hydrophobic non-woven facing.” Now is your opportunity to show us the boots you acutally make in your basement that are more advanced than these.Nov 22, 2006 at 1:11 am #1367959
Cor Blimey, what a concoction! Glad I don’t have wear them – or pay for them.
Fwiiw, I wore KT26s to about 5,200 m in Nepal – Australian things you can see reviewed at http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Footwear/Trail%20Shoes/Dunlop%20KT-26%20Shoes/Owner%20Review%20by%20Roger%20Caffin
If you want something similar you can actually handle, look at the Inov-8 range.
But you miss my point. It’s the ultra-heavy design thinking that I am challenging. Everest is not that ultra-cold compared to the rest of the world: surely there are other ways of handling that cold?
We have managed to break free of the old thinking that you can only go walking in big heavy leather boots. Just keep pushing the boundaries a little further.
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