Each winter, between December and April, the Lake District Park Authority's Fell Top accessors make a daily ascent of Helvellyn in order to make an accurate appraisal of the weather conditions affecting the park that day. Available through Weatherline, this on-the-ground report supplements the Met office forecast and is intended to encourage safety in the fells. Last year Asolo supported the work of the Lake District Park Authority by equipping the Fell Top Assessors, Graham Uney and Jon Bennett, with a pair of Asolo Freney XT boots. In addition to their reports from Helvellyn, the Fell Top Assessors host regular winter skills workshops and courses throughout the season.
Below you'll find Graham and Jon's reports about the Freney XT following a full winter season spent using the boots.
Report by Graham Uney:
"I cringe when I hear walkers and mountaineers talking about having to 'break-in' their boots. At one time that was absolutely essential – you'd put up with a massive amount of discomfort for 5 or 6 months, and if you were lucky the boots would eventually give in and become moulded to the shape of your foot, giving some semblance of comfort. Of course, if you were unlucky it would be your feet that would give in, and then you'd never be comfortable wearing those boots. Mountain boots these days should be comfortable straight out of the box.
With the Freney XT GV boots from Asolo that was certainly the case. I was handed a pair in a car park at the start of last year's winter Fell Top Assessor season on Helvellyn, and wore them straight up the hill that day. No discomfort at all.
But the Freney's are much better than that. They are light, so easy to move around in and great for delicate footwork on both rock, ice and mixed ground. I found the stiffness just about right for a boot of this kind, easily taking a semi-automatic style crampon, so putting the boot into the B2 category. In reality, that meant for me that I climbed comfortably at Scottish Grade III, and felt that the boots could have gone harder, if only we'd had a decent winter last year in which to push them.
The Freney's were my 'work boot' for the full winter season last year, and I liked wearing them so much that as the winter, poor though it was, moved into spring, I carried on wearing them. Their lightness made walking easy, and I have found that they are a great summer scrambling and mountaineering boot too. There's enough cross-torsional tension so that your foot gains support on small holds and pebbles, and yet is supple enough that you can also jam it into cracks of the right width too. The sole is Vibram, as you'd expect from Asolo, so this boot very quickly established itself as a good all-rounder for me.
I've found it hard to fault this boot, but one little niggle that has been obvious every time I've worn them is that the lace system needs to be constantly tightened throughout the day. I'm not sure if it's simply a matter of needing new laces, in which case it's an easy fix, but I found that after every hour or so the boots would feel loose and would need tying again, even when double-tied to start.That's just nit-picking for the sake of it though. The Freney's are a superb boot."
"The Freney XT is a lightweight 4 season boot which I used exclusively during the 2016 / 17 winter Fell Top Assessing season climbing mostly Helvellyn on a daily basis. Owing to the weather last winter, I am far better able to assess the Freney's ability to cope with wet conditions, rather than its suitability with snow and ice – something that will, hopefully, be rectified during the 2017 / 18 season! That said, the few times when the Freney was worn with crampons (Grivel G12 new matic), the crampons were simple to fit to the Freney and felt totally secure. Regretfully, we had several days last season when it rained continually from leaving the car park to returning to it again some three-and-a-half hours later without a minute's respite. The combination of the water resistant Schoeller K Tech upper combined with the breathable Gore-Tex lining proved to be up to this challenge and my feet remained dry on such days. The lightness of the boot also assisted in moving quickly on such days! Lacing the boot, though, initially proved problematic owing to the hook between the 4th and 6th pairs of eyelets (for lack of a better word). Whether you prefer, or not, this method of lacing boots is obviously a matter of personal preference. Once laced, though, the Freney certainly felt secure and also comfortable on my size 8 (and narrow) feet. Overall, I enjoyed wearing the Freney last season and look forward to so doing again this winter."
Find out more about the Fell Top Assessors and what they get up to at the Lake District Weatherline.
Asolo Freney XT srp £320
The Freney XT is the lightest, most progressive style within Asolo's Alpine Climbing line and weighs just 640g per boot (size 8). Designed for technical mountaineering, speed climbing (ice and mixed) and via ferrata, Freney's ultralight, agile design offers valuable weight savings suited to those taking a fast and light approach to multi-day mountain adventures. Developed for use with semi-automatic crampons, the Freney's slim, asymmetric profile creates the close fit and sensitivity necessary for accurate footwork. Asolo's Carbon Duo Asoflex last is unique to the Freney and adds ultralight, rigid support with good torsional stability. It's topped with a layer of EVA that cushions and insulates your feet. Freney's uppers combine lightweight, abrasion resistant Schoeller K-Tech Microtech and microfiber, and the boots have breathable Goretex Insulated comfort linings for 4-season waterproof protection. Protective injection moulded TPU panels reinforce the heels exterior, and a full rubber rand adds further protection to the outside. The Freney's have a durable dual density midsole with PU shock absorption heel insert, and the reliable grip of a Vibram Mulaz outsole.