Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

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Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby GrahameR » Thu 25 Jun, 2020 3:25 pm

Hello, looking to head to the Andes for a 6900m 'trek' (i.e. after the pandemic). It would seem there's agreement that shoes/boots either of the hiking or approach styles are okay to 6000m, but above that opinions differ. Given that the summit ascent would be the only day over 6000m it is a lot of expense for just one day. As such I am looking for advice.
My trip would be part of an extended backpacking tour so the weight (and expense) of such highly specific footwear would be a major consideration in whether to attempt 1x6900m or settle on <6000m treks. (NB: many previous trips to Andes, Himalayas, US Rockies - max alt 5600m.)
Cheers and thanks
Grahame
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby Moondog55 » Thu 25 Jun, 2020 3:49 pm

How much would frostbite cost you?
Have your current boots been OK so far to 5600m? What are you current boots and are they big enough to allow for HA expansion and still wear thick socks?
Overboots would add a bit of weight but would extend the temperature range be a factor, maybe add 10 degrees or more
Will you need to wear crampons?
Is it by any chance Aconcagua?
If so I've heard that the last bit can be very cold and does need double boots
https://www.mountainiq.com/resources/ac ... gear-list/
The alternative in Berghaus insulated Supergaiters haven't been made in a long time and with those you do still lose a lot of warmth through the sole of the boot.
If I was doing it myself I would probable spend the money on La Sportiva G-2 boots and mail them home afterwards, a warm boot and not super expensive compared tot he Olympus Mons/Millet Everest etc:
What boot size are you Grahame? There have been some decent boots listed on "GearFreak" lately as the Covid panic has made a lot of people change future travel plans and they no longer want or need HA clothing and gear.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby johnrs » Thu 25 Jun, 2020 11:24 pm

Hi Grahame
Mountain tools in California makes insulated gaiters, about 600gms a set from memory, I bought a pair for a recent early winter technical pass crossing trip in Nepal.
Temps down to below -20 and beyond but only a short time over 6000m so not wanting to carry double boots for weeks, just put these over my solid leather boots for a day or so.
I have had frostbite in the past and did not a repeat experience somewhere quite remote.
Anyway have a look at their website, at www.mtntools.com. Just a couple of climbers I think and nice to deal with.
The crucial measurement is the external length of your boots around the rand.
However 6900m is getting pretty high. My pair is probably available for sale I guess, my boot size is 45 Euro, PM if any interest
John
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby Eremophila » Fri 26 Jun, 2020 9:21 am

I have zero knowledge of this thread topic, but I can say that postage from South America is hideously expensive. If you were posting boots home, I'd get a quote first to avoid a nasty surprise.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby GrahameR » Fri 26 Jun, 2020 8:07 pm

Hi, thanks for all the good info, good will and suggestions.

My foot size is 8 which I think is Euro 42 but I'd have to check what size I'd need. Euro 45 is 10.5-11.

Agree on high postage rates from SthAm to Oz. To do a 'hit and run' ascent is sooo different from incorporating it into an extended backpacking trip where carrying highly specific gear (for just a small part of the trip) is a pain in the ...

I take the note about frostbite seriously and I really appreciate your frostbite experience johnrs (Hope it was not serious.) I would only need the boots for one day for the summit ascent (from 5800-6800m). It is Ojos del Salado - no2 in SthAm - and the last 30m is a steep scramble up rock with ropes (which I may not do). But absolutely definitely crampons.

Gaiters - or rather, really good gaiters - would be a possibility but again I take on board the info about loss of heat from the sole (which maybe critical). Again, it's kind of hard to know what to expect until you're there and also it's dependent on conditions at the time. I guess this is all part of wanting to do something as extreme as 6800m! :)

Previously have used Oboz Tamarack shoes in all hi-alt hikes (Andes/Himalayas). For Cerro Toco - a two hour 'walk' to 5600m out of San Pedro de Atacama - there was some patches of snow where crampons or 'snow cleats' could have been handy. But this winter I want to try the Oboz out in snow for longer periods to see what happens. Regardless pre-SthAm I'll be getting new footwear (boots or shoes? - not sure yet).

Unfamiliar with Gear Freaks - there a few sites it seems. Do you have a link or further info please Moondog55?

La Sportiva G2 are AUD1300 at Bogong. It's a lot for just one day's use! Even their 'cheap' boots still are around AUD1000. And at my age (66) I'm not likely to be using them for decades to come!

While gear hire (in Santiago or Mendoza) is a possibility for many items, tour operators seem to be some reluctant when it comes to mountain boots as it's hard to know if their insulation has been compromised. And when you find out it has been ... frostbite?

I am mainly been interested in this to see what effect the altitude would have on my body (and whether this old fart can actually do it). But all the (numerous) ducks would have to line up to succeed and this might just be one duck too many!
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby Amahb » Fri 26 Jun, 2020 9:43 pm

When my wife and I travelled SouthAmerica 19 years ago we hired boots, crampons and ice tools in both La Paz and Mendoza. Mendoza was for Aconcagua where there were several professional outfitters that had excellent gear to rent. I would expect that climbing is even more popular and gear easily obtainable nowadays.
I would definitely be using mountaineering boots above 6000mts.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby Moondog55 » Fri 26 Jun, 2020 11:01 pm

GearFreaks is a Facebook page
I'm a 46/47 or I'd offer you my spare and unworn boots
The gaiters in the link use 150GSM Thinsulate which would be super warm and at ~$250- plus postage might be enough without busting the bank
https://www.mtntools.com/cat/techwear/G ... aiters.htm
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby Moondog55 » Sat 27 Jun, 2020 1:06 pm

There is a mountaineer on that particular FB page who just listed some older mountaineering gear, including some size 43 boots
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby Tino B » Sat 27 Jun, 2020 6:10 pm

These might do if you’re a 45. The only review used them on South American mountains:

https://www.trekkinn.com/outdoor-mounta ... 36037586/p
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby stry » Sun 28 Jun, 2020 10:11 am

Irrelevant to which boots, but have you taken the possibility of altitude sickness into your plans ?

Diamox and a Plan B would be wise.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby GrahameR » Sun 28 Jun, 2020 4:29 pm

Tino B wrote:These might do if you’re a 45. The only review used them on South American mountains:

https://www.trekkinn.com/outdoor-mounta ... 36037586/p


Thanks for this link. Very interesting. I'll research them.

Cheers.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby GrahameR » Sun 28 Jun, 2020 4:39 pm

stry wrote:Irrelevant to which boots, but have you taken the possibility of altitude sickness into your plans ?

Diamox and a Plan B would be wise.


Thanks for your concern stry. Yes I have both a Plan B (quit) and I have taken Diamox with me on all my hi-alt hikes. However, I have not used the Diamox as a preventative preferring to keep it in reserve. Plus taking it as a preventative means I don't know if/how the hi-alt affects me.

Cumulatively, I have spent months above 3500m over the last few years and so far I have had no symptoms during hiking (up to 5600m). However, occasionally I have had the 'normal' periodic breathing to greater or lesser extents at night (including in a hotel at 4100m in El Alto Bolivia). That is part of the challenge for me is to see how my body handles the altitude, as well as how/if I physically and mentally handle the challenge. If I don't, then there is always plenty of fabulous scenic 'low alt' hiking in the Himalayas and elsewhere in the Andes.

Thanks again for your concern. :) :)
Last edited by GrahameR on Sun 28 Jun, 2020 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby GrahameR » Sun 28 Jun, 2020 5:33 pm

Moondog55 wrote:There is a mountaineer on that particular FB page who just listed some older mountaineering gear, including some size 43 boots



Thanks for the heads up. I will keep an eye on this site. Overseas travel probably won't be happening for a year or so - or at least a vaccine - or SthAm being safe etc etc etc. So there's no hurry to commit to expensive specialised gear right now.

But really appreciate your assistance.
Cheers.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby slparker » Sun 28 Jun, 2020 5:51 pm

Previous time at altitude with no symptoms of acute altitude sickness is no predictor of future altitude sickness.
Diamox is also a much better preventative than it is a treatment.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby wildwanderer » Sun 28 Jun, 2020 11:48 pm

I've experienced -20 to -30 conditions in northern Canada.

For boots, soles insulated against extreme temperatures are a must. The cold radiates up from the ice and snow and is felt on the soles of your feet first.

Uppers are important but less so than good soles imho. A heavy weight thick pure wool sock (or two) will help insulate the boots uppers. When you buy boots make sure you take sock thickness into account. If you compress the sock you significantly reduce the insulation. (Same principle for gloves)

Buy boots from Amazon USA or another store in a location that has cold winters. I doubt you will find anything at a Australian retailer suitable.

Check you can tolerate high cut boots (as alot of winter Boots are) I can't for more than a day or I start getting soreness around my lower calf).

An option is lower cut boots and gaiters.

If you can find a good rental place at your destination that would probably be least expensive and you can swap boots until you get the right size.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby GrahameR » Mon 29 Jun, 2020 1:14 am

slparker wrote:Previous time at altitude with no symptoms of acute altitude sickness is no predictor of future altitude sickness.
Diamox is also a much better preventative than it is a treatment.


Yep correct on both counts it would seem. (You may note I highlighted the so far in my post.) It is such a random thing that no-one really seems to have yet worked out definitively. As you say past history is no guarantee, and no guarantees with youth or fitness either. But slow acclimatisation-ascending is critical. (Companions on the 5600m ascent last year were Patagonia fit but without anywhere near enough acclimatisation - and they suffered - fortunately nothing long term.)

My understanding is if you take Diamox it may help prevent or delay AMS but it doesn't guarantee it won't still get you. And if you do get it then you have nothing to assist you. (And yes, descending is the best remedy.)

Furthermore and controversially ... some mountaineers use it as an aid to help ascend - while others believe it is not kosher to do so.

All up a personal decision. But a good discussion, thanks. :)
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby GrahameR » Mon 29 Jun, 2020 1:26 am

Thanks wildwanderer - lots of good commonsense stuff there - especially about the intense cold coming from below the boot.

Just one question - are you suggesting boots that are not mountain boots?

Previously I've rented stuff and would be willing to consider it again. But you don't always get what you pay for! There is discussion about the wisdom of renting mountain boots. Some suggest because the outside is so sturdy it is hard to tell how much use the boots have had. I read one post where someone had rented boots, over time the insulation had been compromised and they lost toes as a result. Ugh! :(
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby johnrs » Mon 29 Jun, 2020 6:25 pm

Hi Grahame
This is high but not a technical peak, crampons but no ropes and nothing steep, so you could do it in single boots but these would need to be large to accommodate two pairs of socks, one thick one thin and an extra insole for insulation and insulated gaiters too. The Pumori boots look fine for the purpose and are very well priced but fitting is an issue online.
Happy to talk over acclimatisation and meds if you PM me.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby johnrs » Mon 29 Jun, 2020 7:02 pm

And does anyone know if the gaiters on the Garmont Pumori LX boots can be removed?
They would get trashed on a long approach.
John
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby Moondog55 » Mon 29 Jun, 2020 7:25 pm

I'm pretty sure it's a fully integrated gaiter on the Pumori boot.
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Re: Mountain boots: expensive but essential?

Postby commando » Fri 07 Aug, 2020 1:44 am

If your going to climb mountains to 22637 feet (old school term) you will need highly technical specialist advice
try Alpine Guides New Zealand Mount Cook Region and see what they use and rent but altitude will be the achilles heel of the trip.
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