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Choosing boots for 4000m to 6000m Peaks

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Which mountaineering boots do I need?

Although we have prepared this guide roughly by heights, there are exceptions to the rule, and that’s where our expertise come in. So, for instance, whilst one mountain’s conditions may allow you to wear a pair of boots to trek to 5,300 meters (say to Everest Base Camp or 5895m on Kilimanjaro) they would not keep your feet warm enough on Elbrus at 5642m, or Mont Blanc, or even a Scottish Winter.

Single Skin Mountaineering Boots for Peaks up to 4800m

This category of boot is perhaps the most confusing as there are so many ‘Single Skin’ boots. Many high street shops don’t fully understand the in-depth requirements for specific expeditions, which can have a devasting effect on your trip when you suffer with cold feet.

We have split their use into two categories: up to 4500m; and then up to 4800m, based on those we feel are suitable for Mont Blanc – the highest mountain in Western Europe.

Up to 4500m (not suitable for Mont Blanc)

This group of boots allows you to step up from a simple pair of hiking/walking boots (B1) that can be used in Spring, Summer and Autumn to a pair suitable for UK Winter mountaineering to grade 1, scrambling or lower alpine glaciated terrain covered in snow and ice. The design is a compromise between the needs of walkers and climbers, often referred to as a four season or mountaineering boot that will take a semi rigid crampon. Classed (B2), they’re stiff with a limited amount of flex in the sole for comfortable walking and importantly more warmth.

The boots will have a stronger outer fabric to provide greater resistance to sharp rocks or crampon points whilst remaining quite light and compact. The sole units will be a ‘sticky’ Vibram with a pointed toe and a stiffer feel making them more suited to scrambling allowing precise foot placements and holding an edge.

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Mammut Magic High

Sizes 8-12 (42-47)

Weight 1590g   Cost £260

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Scarpa Manta Pro GTX

Sizes 8-12 (42-47)

Weight 1640g   Cost £335

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La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX

Sizes 8-13 (42-48)

Weight 1440g   Cost £300

Mammut Women's Taiss Tour Mid GTX
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Ladies Mammut Taiss Tour GTX

Sizes 5-8 (42-47)

Weight 860g   Cost £340

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Ladies Scarpa Manta Pro GTX

Sizes 4-8 (37-42)

Weight 1380g   Cost £335

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Ladies La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX

Sizes 4-8 (37-42)

Weight 1152g   Cost £300

Up to 4800m (Suitable for Mont Blanc but not Elbrus)

This group classed as (B3) may look similar to the previous category, but hidden within is a layer of 3M™ Thinsulate™ for warmth in addition to Gortex, and the outer leather or fabric will be thicker than that of B2s. The footbed and sole unit will be more engineered to provide a fully stiffened sole to take a full (C3) step-in crampon. The Vibram Sole is made from a harder and more resilient compound for durability and a more secure bite in snow. They are ideal for steeper ice and mountaineering in colder conditions. The higher ankle provides better support and assists in keeping snow out. Although B3 boots will feel more clumpy and awkward on the walk-in, they have been designed to give security on steeper, more vertical terrain and will cope with high grade ice climbing and altitudes up to 5000m.

A word of warning about the older ‘Sportiva Nepal Extreme Evo’, a fantastic boot but not terribly warm despite its name. For those with warm feet, you may be OK on Mont Blanc but otherwise upgrade to the updated ‘Nepal Cube GTX’ or one of our other suggestions.

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Ladies Scarpa Mont Blanc

Sizes 5-8 (38-42)

Weight 1560g   Cost £420

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Ladies Nepal Cube GTX

Sizes 4-8 (37-42)

Weight 1432g   Cost £475

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Mammut Taiss pro-high GTX

Sizes 4.5-12 (38-47)

Weight 1432g   Cost £400

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Nepal Cube GTX

Sizes 8-12.5 (42-48)

Weight 1788g   Cost £475

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Millet Grepon 4S GTX

Sizes 6-13 (39-48)

Weight 1500g   Cost £310

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Mammut Magic Guide High

Sizes 8-12 (42-47)

Weight 1740g   Cost £380

5000-6000m Mountaineering Boots for Peaks at 5000-6000m (suitable for Elbrus)

Most boots that are suitable for 5000m now come with an integrated zipped gaiter for added warmth and to prevent snow working its way into the top of the boot and soaking down into your sock. This also means there is no faffing with fiddly add on gaiters. The integrated gaiter also adds to the overall warmth of the boot. Inside you will find either a standard lace up boot or, on the Sportiva G5, a modern BOA disc that you simply turn for quick tightening and adjustments, without dealing with tying laces in the extreme cold.

La Sportiva G5
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Ladies Millet Shiva
Ladies 4-8 (37-42)
Weight 2000g
Cost £540

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La Sportiva G5
unisex 5-14 (38-50)
Weight 1914g
Cost £525

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Scarpa Phantom Tech
unisex 8-12 (42-48)
Weight 1460g
Cost £500

6000m

As you approach heights around 6000m you meet the grey area of whether to step up to the next category – a double boot. Ultimately you must ask yourself how much you want to err on the side of caution or whether you are generally a warm person? Your summit day could be on a particularly warm day and then you may feel you’ve overdone it; or much worse, the opposite.

Temperatures through the night can be incredibly cold compared with when the sun comes out. If your departure on summit night is only going to see a couple of hours pre-dawn climbing and mostly sunny fair weather, you could use a lighter boot than those doing a climb setting out at midnight for a summit push. Island Peak is the perfect example as the summit approach is initially over rock, arriving at the glacier just as the sun is rising, allowing a lesser boot to work. In contrast, Mera Peak (just 400m higher) is much colder as you start the summit day immediately on the glacial ice in the early hours.

If you want to try them all on under one roof in one day then the only place in the UK is Adventure Peaks.

What if I don’t live in the UK or haven’t got time to travel North (just 2hrs 40 from London on the West coast line). Simply e-mail us an outline of your foot, with a physical measurement added from toe to heel  to enable us to ensure no scaling has occurred in printing and we will send you what we think will fit  for you to try at home (normally we are 95% accurate!).  If they don’t fit, you may return them as long as they have not been worn outside

If you aim to go higher then please see our post on 7000m -8000m boots

Boot Fit Guide

ORDER YOUR BOOTS – follow these procedures and we normally get your boot size correct

For this you will need the following:

  •  Your socks you wear with mountaineering boots including any liner socks.
  •  A plain A4 piece of paper
  •  A fine tipped pen
  •  A 30cm ruler
  •  Standing on a hard surface and not carpet is the best method
  •  Your mobile phone or a scanner to upload the photos.

What to do next (images below correspond to each number point)

  1. Find your mountaineering socks. If you wear liner socks pop these on first.
  2. Then add your thicker mountaineering socks.
  3. Stand on a plain piece of A4 paper (standing up is best as it means your foot is fully weighted). If you know one foot is bigger than the other choose this foot.
  4. Draw around your foot with a fine tip pen. If someone you live with can do this then it may be easier and more accurate.
  5. Get the ruler and measure the longest and widest parts of your foot – adding dimensions in millimetres is the most accurate way but centimetres will do.
  6. Take a photo of the outline showing the dimensions whilst holding your phone level over the image or scan this on to your computer.
  7. Email this through to us at dave@adventurepeaks.com.

Now see the numbered points on the following pages which correspond to each of the points above…

1. Find your mountaineering socks. If you wear liner socks pop these on first.

2. Then add your thicker mountaineering socks.

3. Stand on a plain piece of A4 paper (standing up is best as it means your foot is fully weighted). If you know one foot is bigger than the other choose this foot.

4. Draw around your foot with a fine tip pen. If someone you live with can do this then it may be easier and more accurate.

5. Get the ruler and measure the longest and widest part of your foot – adding dimensions in millimetres is the most accurate way but centimetres will do.

5. Get the ruler and measure the longest and widest part of your foot – adding dimensions in millimetres is the most accurate way but centimetres will do.

Dave Pritt

About Dave Pritt

Dave Pritt is the Director of Adventure Peaks. With over 30 years of mountaineering feats, he is a very experienced high altitude mountaineer who has led expeditions to K2, Broad Peak and five Everest expeditions. Dave has completed the 7 summits, led an expedition to Ski the South Pole Last Degree, Satopanth in India and in 2007 he guided Ian McKeever to break the world record for the seven summits in 156 days. He is lucky enough to have climbed on the majority of our advertised peaks, but the Tien Shan remains his favourite destination.

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