Mountaineering Boot Sizing
I don’t think I have such incredibly abnormal feet, 10.5 EE US (“high volume”, “high arch”, “wide”), but as it turns out sizing mountaineering boots is a giant pain. Period. Perhaps mostly because I don’t live in Colorado or Chamonix, but also because it’s difficult to find all the boots you want to try on in any one place, and except for out West, good custom boot fitters are hard to find.
I spent most of last year regretting not buying a pair of used Scarpa Invernos on sale from Whittaker Mountaineering. I figured size 10 UK boots with an Intuition “Thermofit” style liner would probably have fit fine. I’ll never know. I tried on pair of the Scarpa Omegas and they were far too narrow in the mid-foot. A local EMS had a single pair of 11 US Invernos with the non-thermo (“low altitude” cordura / open cell foam) liner, again they seemed a bit narrow but potentially with molded Intuition liners they would’ve been fine.
I borrowed a pair of older Koflach Degres (10 UK) all winter for ice climbing here in the Mid-Atlantic and for a Lee Vining trip, but the old liners were quite packed-in and they never seemed wide enough, plenty of toe room though. I “vacationed” to a mountaineering shop in Keene Valley, NY and tried on both the La Sportiva Baruntse and Spantiks. I think the size 45.5 EU Spantik was pretty close, but it’s hard to say, apparently thermo-molding the Spantik liner is a bit tricky, whereas the Baruntse’s Palau liner is apparently much easier to mold. Dane Burns on his Cold Thistle blog has many more in-depth reviews (of boots, tools, apparel, climbing lore, etc) and has many more thoughts and years experience than I could hope to ever have on the subject.
The Baruntes were too narrow. I wore the Spantiks for a couple of days around the house before ultimately finding a pair of barely used Koflach Arctis Expes (11 EU) for 1/5th of the price, that felt incredibly good; wide, wooly, and wonderful on my feet. In Alaska above 14k I paired them with the Forty Below K2 Neoprene Overboots and my feet were warm. The boots were definitely too big though, probably almost a whole size and a half. But again, my toes were warm, so it’s probably better to err on that side of things. It was a heavy combo, and didn’t leave a lot of feel for technical climbing.
Which brings me to the present.
What is a good 4 season’ish “all mountain” single boot here? I’ve been checking out the Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX. It does indeed have a wide “high volume” fit. And it doesn’t come in UK (sometimes labeled EU on double plastic boots) sizing, which is nice, as I’ve already established a pretty solid baseline of size 45.5 in most truly European sized mountaineering boots. The tall lacing and narrow heel seems to lock down nicely, which is good. So far I’ve been using the green Superfeet and they don’t feel like they’re reducing volume too much.
I’ve tried on the Scarpa Jorasses Pro GTX (45 EU), which ostensibly is a slightly stiffer lighter “more technical” synthetic boot similar to the Mont Blanc GTX (lineage is the ice climbing Scarpa Freney XT GTX). All I can say is that in size 45 the Jorasses Pro GTX were quite a bit shorter (not narrower) and I could not really tell the difference in stiffness without climbing in them outside, but it is immediately apparent that the Mont Blanc GTX is a warmer boot meant for snowier climes. And I trust in the durability of leather over synthetics in the long term usage of a mountain boot. I realize this isn’t a pure ice climbing Winter boot here, but that wasn’t really what I was in the market for.
So that’s where I’m at right now. Waiting for the ice & snow to come in.