My partner is interested in getting into mountaineering and alpinism from pure rock climbing, and simultaneously I'm becoming increasingly interested in exploring beyond the Alps. We're tentatively thinking of heading to a quiet part of the Andes in 2023 or 2024 to do some non-to-mildly technical exploration, and are also planning plenty of time in the Alps and in UK winter in the meantime.
I have a pair of Trangos and so it's obvious I'll need some more appropriate boots for going further afield. She doesn't have any boots, and understandably doesn't really fancy buying two pairs of boots. Is there a good compromise that would be suitable for Scottish winter/summer alpine, and summer conditions up to ~6500m? Would combining a lighter pair of boots with overboots be a sensible compromise? Any advice or personal experience would be welcome.
I've never climbed in the mountains outside of Europe, and so don't have the first clue as to the expected conditions and warmth requirements at 6m in the Andes. And toes are important - everyone likes having and retaining a full compliment of toes.
I suspect that the simple answer to your question is no! It's a huge range of conditions that you are looking at, and you are unlikely to need mountaineering boots suitable for climbing at 6500m in the Andes, for summer use in Scotland, if I am reading your post correctly.
nearest experience was when I went to the Indian Himalayas in Sept/October climbing up to 5800m in heavy snow conditions, were we definitely needed nylon outer shell boots with padded insulated inner boots. However for the walk in and crossing low level dry glaciers ordinary 3 season leather boots capable of taking walking crampons were fine - the other boots would have been too hot.
Generally I have used 3 season leather boots with walking crampons for Alpine summer use unless technical ice climbing or frozen nevee was anticipated. Again these are perfect for walk ins, and I prefer these to approach shoes where climbing rough scrambling and scree is likely.
For pure rock climbing it's worth carry a pair of rock shoes at lower altitudes.
At 3m in the Andes, I don't think you need to worry about your feet being too cold!! - nice typo !!
> I suspect that the simple answer to your question is no!
I suspected as much!
> It's a huge range of conditions that you are looking at, and you are unlikely to need mountaineering boots suitable for climbing at 6500m in the Andes, for summer use in Scotland, if I am reading your post correctly.
Yes, you read (almost) correctly - Scottish winter, summer alpine, and further afield. Essentially places where crampons are required. I was hoping there might be a cunning compromise, because - well let's face it, one pair of boots is quite expensive. Two very specialised pairs of boots in the space of twelve months is very expensive, and a tough sell to someone who also needs crampons, axe, etc.
That said, maybe I could arrange a day out in the northern corries in typical Scottish conditions, put her off the idea entirely and save her a vast sum of money.
> At 3m in the Andes, I don't think you need to worry about your feet being too cold!! - nice typo !!
Whoops I suspect you may be correct.
Mantas. B2 crampons and comfy enough to walk in.
And once one has no toes left, it won't be a worry for future trips?
I have an old pair of Trango B3, they are old so not sure which model but suspect they would be the equivalent of tower extreme gtx. I have done all those things in them just fine. Yes in the Andes first thing it was not toastie but far from frost bite. I added normal gaiters and the thickest merino sock I could find. Other with double skin boots were warmer in the mornings but by the time of descent I was pretty hot tbh.
My take was one boot is always a compromise but was prepared to take it and would do the same again if I were lucky enough to go to the Andes again, obv they are great in alps but a bit overkill in the uk.
> And once one has no toes left, it won't be a worry for future trips?
Do be brief. I've been all over the Alps in summer and winter, a season in Peru, Aconcagua and two near-7000m Himalayan peaks, all in Mantas. They're a high spec, warm boot. I started with dual-boot Koflachs until the plastic went brittle; they were no warmer, twice the weight and like walking on planks.
Oh, and asking for advice and then ridiculing it is rude.
It's a long time since I've climbed in the Andes, way back in the 80's. We climbed in the very same boots we'd been using in the Alps and Scottish winters. These were Koflach Ultras clumpy plastic boots. I wouldn't recommend anything like them now but conditions aren't that much different between 4500m on Mont Blanc and 6000m on Huascaran. If you don't think your boots will be warm enough you could try getting some insulated supper gaiters.
My apologies; I did genuinely think that you were being funny. My experience of Mantas is limited to trying a pair on once ten years ago, but they seem to fill the same gap as my Trangos. I wouldn't be taking the Trangos anywhere colder than Scotland or the Alps in summer, because it's not entirely uncommon that I end up with numb toes even in Scotland — and I'm not generally known for suffering from cold extremities. I didn't mean to be deliberately rude, and I am genuinely sorry for that.
What I was angling at with my original post was would a pair of (for example) Nepals be warm enough in that environment, or would they be questionable? And if questionable, would it be workable to wear them with overboots? I'd assumed not, but as I say I have no experience of anywhere colder than the Alps or Scotland. I don't have any real understanding of the normal and worst-case conditions at 6500m on a different continent.
The general theme seems to be that it may well be fine, which is perfect.
> conditions aren't that much different between 4500m on Mont Blanc and 6000m on Huascaran.
That's exactly the sort of information I was looking for — thanks.
> Get what you want for the summer alps and yeti gaiters on top
I've never found that Yeti gaiters add that much warmth to boots beyond in those oh so special UK winter conditions where you start off sloshing through mud and puddles before getting up to snow and the frost line. In deep cold conditions (Nordic winter for me, including ice climbing north of the Arctic Circle) you find that the most heat loss is through the sole of your boots where Yeti obviously offer no additional insulation.
> I wouldn't be taking the Trangos anywhere colder than Scotland or the Alps in summer, because it's not entirely uncommon that I end up with numb toes even in Scotland
A couple of things - which Trangos? Sportiva have made absolutely bloody loads of models of trango this and trango for 20 years - some are really rather different in terms of insulation and purpose (see the "dialogue" at the start of this review: https://www.ukclimbing.com/gear/footwear/mountain_boots/la_sportiva_trango_tower_extreme_gtx-11846 ). And second: don't be surprised to numb toes "even in Scotland" because the UK winter hills seem designed specifically to make it bloody hard to keep warm - from toes up! So a boot that is just about OK in Scotland can turn out to be warm enough in much colder conditions where you're not stood in moisture saturated "warm" snow and haven't got half a peat bog stuck to your boots before you even get to some snow. My old Trango Extremes were fine in Finland down to about -15, whilst I've definitely got cold toes in them standing around belaying on winter routes in the Lakes, let alone another 1000 foot higher in Scotland!
> A couple of things - which Trangos? Sportiva have made absolutely bloody loads of models of trango this and trango for 20 years
Fair point: the Trango Extremes. Lightweight B3 things, like the Nepal Extreme on a diet. From 2015, before they introduced the Cubes/Towers/etc. My boots aren't the question though - I'm almost definitely getting new boots. There's nowhere near enough volume in mine for sock flexibility - they fit with a thin pair of wool socks and that's it. Anything thicker just makes my feet cold from lack of space.
But it sounds promising for a single boot doing all of those 'genres', which I'm sure will please my partner no end.
> And second: don't be surprised to numb toes "even in Scotland" because...
That makes a lot of sense.
Would a pair of Sportiva G5's be too much of a compromise?
Handily they are also on offer in several places at the moment.
But a felt footbed like Lundhags use?
I'd be looking at the Scarpa Phantom Tech* if it fits your foot.
*or Sportiva equivalent if it's now waterproof.
I haven't climbed in the Andes so do not know what the conditions are like but I have used the same boots I'd use at 4,000m+ on technical routes in the alps ( Summer ) and UK winter in Nepal to a little over 6,000 metres in benign conditions. Currently Sportiva Cubes. However, different people run at different temperatures and some people get very cold feet. You may also have to be cautious with the forecast / temperature when higher in more marginal boots for the conditions. Many / most people lose appetite / feel nauseous at altitude and so eat less which can also lead to them running 'colder' too
It may be worth trying out and hiring some different boots when in the alps, you can also hire boots for expeditions. I suggest buying the boots that fit and work across the conditions you are most likely to be in ( alps and UK winter I presume). It would be a shame to spoil or reduce your options when on an expensive trip to the Andes so after trying some out perhaps you could hire some boots or buy second hand ( foot ) if required for that specific trip.
All the usual caveats about sizing / fit etc.
As your partner is just starting out I would start by buying a boot comfortable enough and warm enough to cover your (her!) first objectives: UK winter, summer alpine, maybe some ice climbing. For this, most warm B2 and pretty much all B3 boots would do.
Put off the investment in higher altitude gear until you're absolutely sure you're actually going there. Of utmost importance is your personal thermostat. What is warm enough for one person will probably lead to frozen toes for somebody else. All the more reason to first find out how you both experience temperature at altitude before you start investing in expensive stuff that might be too warm or too cold.
Also, as mentioned somewhere above, temperatures around or just under freezing temp are actually the worst as everything is wet and windchill can do its worst.
This Alpine Conditions page gives a summary of what is being climbed at the moment, what is 'in' nick and what the prospects are...