Four boot use reviews from "underground gear tester," climber and expert Mountain Guide Dale Remsberg...
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As a Mountain Guide, I travel for work in all seasons, and to a wide range of locations. All this travel gives me the opportunity to “fieldtest” a variety of boots. Having the appropriate boot for a given objective or season is important for many reasons including; comfort, safety and maximizing efficiency to improve your chances of being successful on a given objective. Making a poor boot choice in winter can lead to frostbite or worse, and the wrong boot in summer can slow your pace and often result in frustrating blisters. In this review, I will focus on the four models of La Sportiva boots that I have the most experience using- from the lightest boot suited for warmer weather, to those that are the most insulating and keep my feet warm for winter climbing.
Trango Cube GTX: Go-to Summer Alpine Boot
The culmination of the Trango Series' long lineage, these are my favorite summer alpine boots. Perfect for routes like the West Ridge of Forbidden Peak, Blitzen Ridge on Mt Ypsilon, or a mega classic like the Hornli Ridge on the Matterhorn, the Trango Cube GTX is warm enough for sub-freezing temps, but I'd caution against using them for colder (low teens and single-digit) shoulder season missions. The Trango Cube GTX takes a step-in crampon with front toe straps (no front bail), and offers ideal flexibility to nimbly navigate easier rock ridges or the occasional smear across scary slabs. With a crampon attached, it stiffens up a bit and will climb moderate ice and steep snow extremely well. This boot is a great three-season alpine boot for moderate elevations and temps that drop a little under freezing. It walks amazing on the flats and climbs like it wants to be a rock shoe.
Trango Ice Cube GTX: Ice and Mixed Boot
What can’t I say about this boot? The Trango Ice Cube GTX is darn warm for its weight class and climbing ability, and I have used it many times down into the low teens- even some single digit days when I knew the temps were going to rise. They walk great with the slight rocker sole, and the built-in gator keeps the snow and ice out. Even still, when you throw on a crampon and start up the ice or mixed terrain is when these boots really shine. These boots simply climb ice better than any boot I have ever worn, are warm enough for many of my winter ice and mixed adventures, and always make it into my baggage for extended trips. A must-have for the die-hard ice and mixed climber.
G5: The One Boot Quiver
Enough said! Well almost. If I had to pick just one boot for my winter ice and mixed climbing it would have to be the G5. It’s warm enough for minus single digit temps and if it gets much colder I start to think about staying home anyway (or switching to my final favorite, no-holds barred boot below). The new Boa lacing system is extremely easy to get into and even easier to get out of at the end of the day when it’s time to think about a hot spring soak. The Boa system allows for quick adjustment while on route and applies even pressure to the entire foot as needed. The upper power strap makes it easy to crank down for no heel lift allowing for endless front pointing. From cruising up 4,000 meter peaks to sending routes like Polar Circus, this boot will adapt and suit most of my alpine and ice days.
Baruntse: Cold or Multi-Day
I don’t use these boots as often as the others but when I need them, I need them. These come with me to Alaska for multi-day missions or on super cold ice climbing days. What you sacrifice in weight and walking ability with the Baruntse you gain by simply keeping your toes. For steep ice, they perform very well for their weight and I have led up to WI 6 in them. As soon as the temps drop to below -10f I start to think about these boots, and if I’m off guiding high altitude cold mountains these are my first choice. Ideal for super cold ice days or working up those 6,000 meter peaks. Another boot to check out in this class if you trend a bit more towards ice or technical terrain but still need the warmth of the Spantik.
Dale Remsberg is an internationally licensed Mountain Guide (IFMGA) and Technical Director of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA). Never one to focus on a single aspect of climbing, Dale is an accomplished all around climber with high-end skills that cover all disciplines of climbing including; sport, trad, mixed, ice and alpine. His passion depends on the season, feeling equally happy on WI6, M8 or 5.12.