After climbing in my Kayland Event mountaineering/ice climbing boots for roughly ten years I was told to retire them from the field.
I was ice climbing with my brother-from-another-mother Barry Blanchard when he blurted; “Those crampons are going to snap one day!!” That’s not the most confidence inspiring thing that’s ever been said to me, especially as I was kicking and swinging my way out of an ice cave. I was a bit preoccupied with not falling off, so once I got lowered off the pitch I had to ask what the heck he was talking about.
“Andy, those old boots are so soft now that your crampons are flexing to the point of either breaking or falling off!” That didn’t sound too, good but then he continued; “Man, when that happens you are going to be up shit creek! Buy some new damn boots!”.
I might not be pretty but I’m smart enough to take good advice when I receive it! So I went shopping.
I ended up buying a pair of Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX boots. There are a lot of good choices in boots but my choices were limited by my wide flipper-like feet. Surprisingly the Scarpas accommodate my wide feet but still fit snug in the heel.
The two biggest upgrades from my old boots were:
- The weight: The Mont Blanc’s only weigh 1.82 Kg.
- Ankle flex: These boots provide an amazing combination of support and flexibility. They definitely enhance my climbing abilities on steep ice and mixed climbs. Approaches are also easier with the increased range of motion.
The ankle cuff is nice to have to keep snow out, although the the snap on them have disengaged partly on two separate occasions, allowing some snow to enter. I’m not sure if this is a common issue as no one else I’ve spoken to has had the same problem. Maybe add your experience in the comments?
Other than the ankle cuff snaps, the only con I have is climbing in temperatures colder than -5 Celsius. Beyond that temperature, my feet got really cold. I ended up using foot warmers at that point, which made it bearable, but not entirely comfortable.
I give the Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX boots high marks for spring, summer and fall mountaineering or ice climbing, but not for winter weather where temperatures are below -5 Celsius. Depending on how warm or cold blooded you are this may or may not be an issue for you.
I (Ian Greant) picked up a pair late in 2017. Thought they were fantastic for spring ice climbing and found they were quite good at mixed climbing due to feeling a lot of precision. Climbing easy rock without crampons was also no issue.
You’ll find these boots with their narrower and lower profile toe box are a great match for modern crampons like the Petzl Dartwin.
Similar to Andy I found them more challenging in the cold but I’m also over 50 and tightening the boots down enough over my high arches frequently restricts blood flow in my feet.