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Do I need winter boots?

Do I need winter boots?


Postby Hutchymh » Sat Nov 28, 2015 5:30 pm

Hi there,

I'm sure this has Been covered many times but I'd appreciate any advice.

I'm a keen summer walker and am looking at tackling a few munros in winter.

As a complete newbie at this I'm unsure what I need to get, I currently have mammut mt trail GTX boots, would they be suitable to use with crampons or am I better getting a proper winter set? I was looking at Scarpa Charmoz Pro GTX as they were on sale for a good price.

Also crampons, what should I look for? And is an ice axe recommended?

As I'm not going to be doing a huge amount I'm not so keen to spend a fortune!

Thanks,

Martyn
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby Caberfeidh » Sun Nov 29, 2015 12:53 pm

Hutchymh wrote:Hi there, I'm sure this has Been covered many times but I'd appreciate any advice. I'm a keen summer walker and am looking at tackling a few munros in winter.As a complete newbie at this I'm unsure what I need to get, I currently have mammut mt trail GTX boots, would they be suitable to use with crampons or am I better getting a proper winter set? I was looking at Scarpa Charmoz Pro GTX as they were on sale for a good price. Also crampons, what should I look for? And is an ice axe recommended? As I'm not going to be doing a huge amount I'm not so keen to spend a fortune. Thanks, Martyn


I looked up your current footwear, the Mammut MT Trail GTX boots on the interweb on my Thinking Machine, they look as though they would take a crampon; is the sole nice and rigid? If so they should do the job. If they are a bit too bendy in the middle, you should get more rigid boots. Twelve-point crampons are necessary, I prefer a Scotch Ring with mine, others prefer step-in rigid crampons but I feel those are suited to high Alpine stuff, not mixed ground like we have in Dear Old Blighty. A long axe is necessary, it should just brush the floor when held by the pick/adze with your arm by your side. I like a lanyard to attach the axe to my wrist, others do not, it is a matter of personal taste and comfort. While kitting yourself up, consider a helmet too. A light skiers helmet will do, they are not expensive and can save you a world of hurt. Good luck, let the arguing begin!

Long Axe.jpg
Long axe and lanyard - life saving kit.


March 2014 016A.jpg
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby dav2930 » Sun Nov 29, 2015 1:26 pm

The Munros in winter are serious and you definitely need full winter kit, including ice axe, crampons and compatible boots. The Mammut GTX's are compatible with crampons that have basket fittings front and back. I have a pair of these which I use for winter hill walking including the easier Munros. They are warm, comfortable and I personally like them, but they are not stiff or precise enough for more technical challenges. I also have a pair of Scarpa Charmoz's which I use for more difficult winter stuff such as the Aonach Eagach - they have rigid soles and a precise fit (but of course they may not be the right fit for everyone). I also like these but they may not be warm enough for the coldest, most full-on conditions. For the latter, I use a pair of Salomon Super-Mountain 9's.

If you stick to easier Munros to begin with you should be ok with your Mammuts. Get used to walking in crampons (I would recommend 12-point ones since they allow you to front-point up steep slopes), and practice ice-axe braking on suitably safe slopes. Better still, sign up to a winter skills course at Glenmore Lodge, where you'll also learn about avalanche risk and how to assess it. Sorry if this is sounding a bit expensive, but it'll be a sound investment if you are serious about winter Munro-bagging - and the rewards of that are endless! Good luck.
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby spiderwebb » Sun Nov 29, 2015 2:23 pm

Tricky one to answer as there are Munros and there are Munros :?

First up boots, winter boots are not only for the use with crampons, they are (or at least should) be better insulated. But looking up your current footwear it did say they are compatible with a C1 crampon, the boots being B1, basically the C number must be the same or lower than the B. You could opt for an instep crampon, these can fit any boot and usually have 6 points fitting just ahead of the heel plate, but given your current boot rating and that its comfortable and warm enough in winter I would favour a full B1 crampon, 10 or 12 points, mine are 10, generally considered a walking crampon, although it still has front points for steep terrain :D

Ice axes are to me the foremost piece of kit. Before the day of crampons (and still now) the axe (the adze blunt bit) would be used for cutting steps in steep slopes and also the sharp end, and still is, your means of arresting a slip on a fall/trip on a given slope. The key difference in winter on a snow slope (the harder the faster) compared to summer is that your slide will not come to a halt due to the grass/heather and you can slide significant distance and/or fall off a cliff at the end some distance from the original slip. Length of axe is a personal preference. Long shafts that are just shy of the floor when walking or shorter ??? Mine is short of the floor by about 8 inches as I believed that it will be used most when on a slope and hence the axe will be higher in use. Key thing with any axe is learn self arrest and has been said practice on a safe slope, it may save your life, certainly has mine :D

Lanyards for axes are also a preference and from recent discussions it appears that current thinking is against them. Personally I don't agree and have mine attached to a wrist. Discussions against say that having it flailing about as you slip can be dangerous and the need to swop hands, lanyard included, is time consuming etc. My lanyard is long enough to attach to one wrist and be able to swop hands with the axe without needing to change the lanyard over. For me the risk of losing the axe altogether carries far more risk than it stabbing me on the way down, if held correctly with practice. If you were to not have it attached and fell coming to rest but in a difficult situation you would now be without it :(

So your shopping list.
Boots you may be ok with what you have.
Crampons, given the choice between Instep and full, I would go for full but check compatibility with your boots.
Axe, essential and more essential practice. If I could only have one piece of winter hardware it would be the axe :D

You can go on courses, I did back in the 80's but didn't use my axe in anger until over 25 years later :lol: It can be self taught by reading any of the excellent Moutaincraft books covering winter skills as can avalanche awareness too. In winter I observe avalanche forecasts and frequently check snow conditions (which can vary enormously across slopes and regions) and/or dig a test pit, which gives you the conditions as they are :D
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby jmarkb » Sun Nov 29, 2015 2:54 pm

I've had a couple of pairs of the Mammut Mountain Trail GTXs, and they're a good all year round boot. I used them with Grivel G12 crampons with the basket bindings and they were fine.

The Scarpa Charmozs will be stiffer, which is good for steep snow, but less comfortable for walking off the snow.


An ice axe is even more essential than crampons - a straight shafted walking axe, or a slightly bent mountaineering one, and not a bent climbing one with a reverse curved pick.
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby Hutchymh » Sun Nov 29, 2015 5:29 pm

Thanks for replying guys :) but the sounds of it it might be useful to go with some more experienced people or take a course to get the grips with all the new techniques.
Boy this is looking to be very expensive...
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby spiderwebb » Sun Nov 29, 2015 6:13 pm

You should be able to find a suitable axe off eBay, possibly crampons once you're sure what type/fitting etc. :D
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby jmarkb » Sun Nov 29, 2015 6:34 pm

spiderwebb wrote:You should be able to find a suitable axe off eBay, possibly crampons once you're sure what type/fitting etc. :D


...but beware of buying cheap crampons online - e.g. these are not fit for purpose: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/dangerous-crampons-online
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby spiderwebb » Sun Nov 29, 2015 9:07 pm

jmarkb wrote:
spiderwebb wrote:You should be able to find a suitable axe off eBay, possibly crampons once you're sure what type/fitting etc. :D


...but beware of buying cheap crampons online - e.g. these are not fit for purpose: [url]<span class="skimlinks-unlinked">https://www.thebmc.co.uk/dangerous</span>-crampons-online[/url]


Too true, should have said when you're sure what type/fitting and make :D and personally I wouldn't buy any of it from China, no offence :wink:
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby Caberfeidh » Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:26 am

spiderwebb wrote:It can be self taught by reading any of the excellent Moutaincraft books covering winter skills as can avalanche awareness too.


An excellent book I would recommend is "Hillwalking and Scrambling" by Steve Ashton. Available from Amazon for much cheapness. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hillwalking-Scr ... eve+Ashton

Hutchymh wrote:Thanks for replying guys :) but the sounds of it it might be useful to go with some more experienced people or take a course to get the grips with all the new techniques. Boy this is looking to be very expensive...

Join a club and you may be able to get second-hand kit and some advice from experienced people. Also access to club huts and organised trips.
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby Hutchymh » Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:34 pm

It hands for the advice guys, ive bought salewa condor Evo boots, petzl vasak 12 point crampons and a salewa walking axe-all for less than £350 :)

Just need to get out now!
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby ptc* » Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:55 pm

I rarely wear "proper" winter boots, my feet don't like it these days after years of rigid winter climbing boots. You have to adapt your approach as softer boots don't take the stiffest crampons and kicking into hard snow isn't so easy, but these days warm and comfortable feet win every time.
I did a review last year http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/news/winter-gear-round-up/0012000/ which I think still has all-current equipment in it.

Now axe length will always be a debating point. But, it's not a walking stick, it's for security on steep ground and self arrest until you're using it to climb. On a downhill slide a long axe is harder to control and is more likely to snatch on the snow or hit a rock and be wrenched from your grasp. A shorter axe is better for self arrest, from the axe head at your shoulder held diagonally across your chest with the spike at your hip is usually perfect for self arrest.
On me that's usually 60cm, and I use from 50-65 regularly, so it's not an exact formula. To be honest, none of this stuff is, gathering experience and trying stuff out will get you there.
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby Alteknacker » Wed Dec 02, 2015 12:46 am

Just one point on matching boots and crampons: I bought the wrong type of boots/crampons and had to exchange the boots. I then discovered Andy Kirkpatrick's website, and this is the only place where I've found the subject to be comprehensively covered. Well worth a look.

I rarely wear winter boots and crampons, because I don't find the stiff sole comfortable; but I always take them with me, just in case. As SW says, you can go a long way once you start to slide downhill on snow; so if in doubt, especially when descending, I put on the (not very comfortable) boots and crampons, and grip the axe that bit tighter...!!
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby BobMcBob » Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:27 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Just one point on matching boots and crampons: I bought the wrong type of boots/crampons and had to exchange the boots. I then discovered Andy Kirkpatrick's website, and this is the only place where I've found the subject to be comprehensively covered. Well worth a look.

I rarely wear winter boots and crampons, because I don't find the stiff sole comfortable; but I always take them with me, just in case. As SW says, you can go a long way once you start to slide downhill on snow; so if in doubt, especially when descending, I put on the (not very comfortable) boots and crampons, and grip the axe that bit tighter...!!


This is an interesting post for me, as my osteopath has told me in no uncertain terms, that I must not wear stiff soled boots if I want my knees to last beyond the age of 50. As far as he's concerned, stiff soles and high ankle support, especially when descending slopes, are the worst thing you can possibly do for your knees. My usual technique of flexible soles and descending on the balls of my feet is great, but I wear stiff soles for work and and those plus a lot of kneeling have ruined my knees.

So, what's the most flexible boot/crampon combination that exists?
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Re: Do I need winter boots?

Postby rabthecairnterrier » Thu Dec 03, 2015 9:55 am

Caberfeidh wrote:
spiderwebb wrote:It can be self taught by reading any of the excellent Moutaincraft books covering winter skills as can avalanche awareness too.


An excellent book I would recommend is "Hillwalking and Scrambling" by Steve Ashton. Available from Amazon for much cheapness. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hillwalking-Scr ... eve+Ashton

Hutchymh wrote:Thanks for replying guys :) but the sounds of it it might be useful to go with some more experienced people or take a course to get the grips with all the new techniques. Boy this is looking to be very expensive...

Join a club and you may be able to get second-hand kit and some advice from experienced people. Also access to club huts and organised trips.


I'd second Caberfeidh's remarks re: Steve Ashton's book. Though published a generation ago (in 1987) it remains one of the best (if not the best) introductory books for the novice hillwalker. Of course much has changed over that time, so some of the details re: equipment choice etc. is slightly dated, but the basic principles are the same and the technical diagrams and photos are spot on.

Having said that, there is only so much you can learn from a book, and I'd strongly advise anyone embarking on their first winter season in the hills to take a winter skills course with a suitably qualified professional (there are a lot out there); not as expensive as you might think, and what you learn and experience could well save your life.
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