crampons

Climbing boot part 3

May 5, 2014

 

Getting on Ice with the Zamberlan Expert Ibex GTX RR
 
The name and model number are a bit of a mouthful. I had been ordering in these mountain hunting boots one at a time, due to cost, and the Ibex was chosen last. I own Meindl and Kenetrek goods of other models and going to a new brand is a bit of a leap out of the ordinary for me.
The Ibex is marketed like the previous two boots as a mountain hunting boot, what makes it different is that is design is just a modification of a normal climbing boot rather than a ground up hunting boot. They just seemingly had a color and shank swap between models, and that is precisely why I chose the Ibex over the Pro, to try out.
Expert Ibex
Expert Pro

A shank is the piece of metal that rest under the arch of the foot. Often times in mountain boots it will extend to the toe to increase the stiffness as mentioned before. The PRO model has a “Duraflex” shank, while the IBEX has the “Pluriflex”, whatever that marketing lingo means.

The Ibex boast a one piece lower, but its made of Perwanger silicone suede. Treated or not, I don’t prefer the material over good full grain. It has the obligatory Goretex, and the Goretex brand Duratherm insulation similar in overall construction to the previously mentioned La Sportiva Nepal Evo, a very standard mountain boot.

Shank and Stiffness

The same two test are conducted. Arm strength however unlike the previous two boots is unable to budge the boot sole into flexing at all. Putting the boot on and standing on an edge, body weight can get a small amount of flex out. Now we are talking, that is a SHANK!

Crampons3_2012413144214Nepal Evo Flex under 80kg from Black Diamonds crampon tests’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went over to a fellow climber’s house and he happens to posses a pair of Nepal EVO’s and I got to handle the two side by side. Even with body weight I can hardly get any flex out of the EVOs at all. It is most certainly a stiffer more technical boot, but I think I’ll shell the money and stay with the IBEX because I’m tired of trying out brown boots, at-least it would be better on a longer march over rocks and earth.

Crampon and Ski binding fit

 

 

Excellent on all fronts with my current gear. No side to side slip when torqued and pushed.


Field Test

Leading on WI 3- 4, Top roping on WI5!

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The Fang WI5 at Vail. Didn’t actually climb up the fang.

Like rock climbing ice has its own classifications of difficulty. WI means Water Ice, usually waterfalls. The falls shown at Chalk Creek near Leadville and up in Vail, CO. WI 3 and 4 indicate steepness, nearing vertical, WI5 indicates a ice feature that is exactly around 90* or even slightly overhanging,

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Ice climbing: buttes and bulges
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Ice screws are placed into the ice to protect against a fall.
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A good end to a day!
Night climb. Temps around 15* feet stayed warm. Was starting to get cold on belay.
Cons

As of the writing the water proofing is starting to wear off the surface after a dozen day uses, I will probably have to spray them down with silicone as the instructions suggest no oil or wax. Wish they were full grain I could just use the bees wax I normally do.

On top of that, this lace eyelet of the boot should be a metal hook, not some crappy piece of webbing. It makes it impossible really goddamned hard to tie this boot up with gloves on. Huge design flaw in cold weather.

The final major problem I’m noticing is that the back of the boot is not covered by the huge rubber rand like it was for the other boots reviewed. It is an exposed piece of leather with pretty weak stitching. Post holing a few miles the dozen times its been used I’m already noticing some abrasion on the stitching from the ice and snow. A coat of Shoegoo black may be needed in the future.

Conclusion
UPDATE: Please check out the newer post on Mt Baker too see how this boat does on milder glaciated terrain with crampons!
I could probably juice out more performance on ice with a stiffer boot, but even than, this is the stiffest boot I have yet owned, and time will tell how this boot last.

Gif taken from Black Diamonds very informative study on crampon durability.
http://blackdiamondequipment.com/en/qc-lab-gear-doesnt-last-forever–crampons.html

Climbing boot part 2

May 4, 2014

Kenetrek Mountain Guide 400

I’ve been a fan of the Kenetrek company for a while when years back I went and looked for a sturdy, yet low key winter backpacking boot. What I found was the the Kenetrek Grizzly.

A few hundred miles later the boots had holes in them and Kenetrek repaired and upgraded the boots for free to the Northern lowers. While the boots didn’t have the longevity as I had expected. I noticed that they had began importing an Italian mountain hunting boot.

The Kenetrek Mountain Guide mentioned crampon compatibility it has the same one piece Vibram crampon compatible sole found on many climbing boots such as the Scarpa Wrangell,  the  La Sportiva Malaku and the US Military Bates Tora Bora. According to reviews these two previous boots are semi rigid, and have someflex at the ball of the foot.
La Sportiva Malaku
Scarpa Wrangell GTX

Bates Tora Bora
Construction and Shank

On examination of the Mountain Guide 400, the upper was perfectly crafted full grain leather. I was more excited about that than anything. The Meindl Alaska Hunter was nubuck, and full grain one piece construction was a huge step forward. One piece construction means that from the tongue of the boot to the rear heel seem is one piece of continuous leather with no stitching. Less parts less room for failure. The membrane is WindTex which appears to be a GoreTex type membrane.
I did the two test mentioned in the previous post and using my arm strength tested how much flex the boot had. It flexed quite easily at the ball of the foot. Already a very bad sign for a mountain boot. It flexed as much or MORE than the Asolo 520 backpacking boot. I use this boot as a standard as most stores and REI’s carry it. Putting the boot on with a heavy sock. I tip toed on edges and it flexed considerably. With crampons, the boots were floppy enough to begin to bend the crampon. Another very bad sign because when stress is transferred into the crampon it can snap the metal or pop the crampon off while you are on a steep climb.
Crampons and Ski Bindings
Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the Mountain Guide with my own crampons. So I stole this stock photo from a a Russian site. It reflects what I found when putting on the Black Diamonds. The standard vibram sole fits crampons like a dream. As you can see from this following picture, the front toe wire does not protrude like the Meindl Alaska hunters from the other post.

A very good ski fit.  This boot would probably kick and glide around on low angle snow very well with a ski.

A secure and symmetrical toe wire fit, much Better than the Meindl.

A good heel lever fit as expected with the Vibram made heel welts.
Conclusions

While the Kenetrek is beautifully built, and has welts from crampons and skis. Its floppy flexible mid-sole would seriously prevent it from doing technical climbs and terrain that I am looking for in a boot. Maybe it is to be expected this hunting type boot would be very focused towards trekking over climbing. The crampon welts are just a tease. A mountain guide told me that “Automatic crampon compatible” could mean anything because there is no official standard on rigidity.
If you are looking for an excellently constructed marching boot, and you may occasionally come upon a snow or ice field, this may be a good boot for you.
Onto the next candidate: 
Zamberlan IBEX

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