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ski boots above 14k on Denali or second pair of boots?

Original Post
wisam · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 60

Doing the west buttress on denali this may.  Plan to ski to either 11K or 14k depending on conditions.  Got an AT ski setup with Scarpa maestrale boots.  Debating if I should wear my ski boots to the summit or switch to my Spantiks above 14K.  I've booted up a few slopes before and the ski boots work fine for hiking but not sure I want to do that much in ski boots, especially If I leave the skis at 11 (hopefully not) The other concern is I'm not sure how the overboots will work on ski boots with all the buckles opened up for hiking.  Seem silly to bring a second pair of boots though!   On the other hand the spantiks would be fresh and dry after I made the switch at 14K.  Thoughts?  

sandrock · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 115

The liner from my La Sportiva ski boots fits in the shell of my Sportiva G2SMs. I'm planning to bring the G2SM shell for above 14k and around camp

I feel like ski boots would get cold, but everyone's feet are different.

Ben Taggart · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Summited Denali this year in a group of 3. We all used ski boots only, did not bring any other boots. Scarpa F1, Atomic Backland, Fischer TransAlp. It was totally fine, but definitely get the 40below fresh tracks overboots. You won't need to wear them while skinning below 14k most likely. It's also worth noting that two of us bought boots intentionally a shell size larger than usual. I'm still using my slightly-oversized F1s and they offer all-day comfort, can be a tiny bit sloppy though. Getting liners molded properly is key.

The coldest my feet ever got (I wore F1s) was getting ready to leave 14k camp on summit day before the sun hit camp. We had a warm summit day and my feet never got cold at all.  

In camp, I wore 40below camp booties inside the overboots, and it was perfect. Slept with the ski boot liners in my sleeping bag every night. 

If you're talking about first gen maestrales (not the new 2.0s) I wouldn't use them because they don't have as much ROM as the touring-only boots like the F1, TLT, Backland. But I've heard that the new 2017 maestrale 2.0s have much better ROM and lighter weight. 

Definitely take the skis to 14k, do not under any circumstances leave them behind. The recreational skiing at 14k is amazing and it will keep you sane while waiting for a window to move up, or on the first few acclimatization days after arriving. 

Martin le Roux · · Superior, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 279

My feet get cold easily, but when we climbed Mt Logan up in the Yukon in 2015 I was fine with slightly-oversized TLT6s, Intuition Alpine liners and Wild Things supergaiters (not overboots). I slipped a pair of chemical toe warmers into the boots on summit day but I don't think I really needed them. My partner also used TLT6s and he didn't even use gaiters.

As Tagshell says, put the liners in your sleeping bag at night, they'll be warm and dry by morning. Intuition Alpine liners don't absorb much moisture to begin with.

A second pair of boots would be bulky and heavy (5-6 lbs). Think of how much whiskey and chocolate you could bring instead.

kendallt · · Tahoe · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 118

I left ski boots at 11 and took Phantom 6000s the rest of the way. My ski boots aren't very comfortable, so I was happy for the switch.

If they're super comfy you could give it a shot, make sure you have overboots if you want to keep your toes though. I summited on a really nice day in phantom 6000s (no overboots) and had numb toes.

I think you could really go either way. Nothing is super technical but if you're stumbling around on the ridge with HACE maybe more flexible boots are safer.

wisam · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 60

I have the first gen Maestrales. The ROM is ok if I have all the buckles open. Not sure if  having the buckles open is a requirement on a boot with bigger ROM but not really sure if overboots would work with open buckles. 

WadeM · · Golden, Co · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 320

I had scarpa aliens with a thicker pair of dynafit liners and was fine up to 14k camp. I probably went as high as 15,5 in them. I wasn't planning to ski from summit so I also had G2SMs. 

They can be warm enough.... but I liked my second pair of boots

Ben Taggart · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

The 40Below overboots are super stretchy neoprene and designed specifically for ski boots, they'll likely go over the open top buckle just fine.

One of the guys on my team used the Fischer TransAlp which I think is comparable in weight and ROM to a Maestrale, and he was fine, although I'm sure he would have been a lot happier with a more touring-oriented boot - he only used that one because he has some freakish cankles and could only fit into the fischer vacuum boots. 

Eddie Taylor · · BROOMFIELD, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 40

We skied of the summit last June.  If the fit is right I think ski boots will definitely be warm enough for everything up to 17k. Everyone in my party used a lighter boot than the maestreles (atomic backland/ tlt6 / tlt7) In addition I recommend bringing the 40below overboots for summit day and for hanging out around 14 camp.  If you are a competent skier the skiing around 14 camp is an excellent way to acclimate and wait out bad weather. bringing a second pair of boots would be overkill in my opinion.

wisam · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2012 · Points: 60

So are glacier glasses a must have or is a decent pair of glasses with dark lenses (10ish VLT ) and good coverage sufficient?   I have the Smith parallel max glasses which have worked well on things like Rainier, but not sure if glacier glasses are the norm on Denali.  Was thinking of one pair of sunglasses and one pair of goggles

Allen Sanderson · · Oootah · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,187

You want glacier glasses ... you might not get snow blindness but then again you are at altitude and do not want to fry yer eyes.

kendallt · · Tahoe · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 118

So are glacier glasses a must have or is a decent pair of glasses with dark lenses

Must have. When I was there some soloist went snowblind above 17k. Fortunately another party found them and led them down. You don't wanna be that guy.

Kevin Bradford · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 162

Some really solid advice here. From my experience this summer I would agree that ski boots would be the way to go, and leave the extra boots behind. I would recommend against using the maestrale and buying a lighter style touring boot. This boot should be very roomy both in length and around your foot and ankle because your feet swell at altitude. Our group of 5 all summited in AT boots, upsized a bit and upgraded to medium volume Intuition Pro Tour Liners. We also used the 40 below overboots mentioned here, with normal ski socks and no foot warmers or anything like that. Another really good option is the red footbeds made by Superfeet. They have a layer of heat reflecting something-or-another, looks like tin foil. Bring your skis to 14k for sure.

3 of us used TLT 6s

2 of us used Salomon MTN Explore 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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