Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 1:43 pm Posts: 441 Location: Western Washington
Here are your options. PMB's; climb great, especially w/crampons 'cause that's what they are made for. Zach will tell you his ride well with taller thermofit liners in strap bindings, my experiences are less optomistic. If I were to use them again, I would like to use them in a pair of older Burton 3 strap bindings, if you could even find them. A/T boots; hike/climb well and many use them for boarding so they must work ok, but they have little lateral flex and will require retraining in your riding style to optimize their use. How about snowboard-specific plastic boots? They are not just the domain of the racer/freecarver crowd. I know several people who use them to split. They have all the benefits of the A/T and ski-mountaineering boots and some others to boot (pun intended). Shorter effective sole length equates into lower angles w/o bootout. Automatic crampon compatibility means if you can't climb it, it's not because the crampons fell off your boots! I use mine with Black Diamond Switchblades. Stepin systems are available using the right heel interface. The heels are a little slippery (plastic) but I don't climb with my heels. Vibram rubber can be put on the toe area instead of the factory pads with some work and grinding. The boot cants at the ankles can be stripped to provide more lateral flex, and the cuffs can be cut down to help in that area also. I built my pair off a set of Raichle 123's and w/ thermo short liners ended up at 4 lbs. per boot. Not the featherweight items of some of the A/T boots out there, but pound for pound I believe they do everything better, hike, ride, split traverses, climb with crampons without having to carry a second pair of boots for the short (1-2 mile) hike out.
_________________ Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them (Frederick Douglass)
I heard the option to use hard shell carve boots from another. Don't really have the time or energy to do a bunch of modifications however.
Local mountain shop was trying to sell me Sportiva Nuptse's which are designed to accept bail style crampons. They said other customers use them for splitboarding and swear by them. At roughly 400.00 I was at least a little reluctant to bite. I did see a description of the Nuptse on the net that says they are recommended for splitboarding.
Most of the AT style boots I saw looked fine except for the lack of side flex and I doubt they'd strap into my Burton Synchros very well. Though I never tried.
Believe it or not.... Fin was able to finally wear me down and talk me into giving hardboots another try. It helped that an experienced, high-altittude dude basically told me to give up my fantasies of using strp bindings above 14,000'...
I will say that if Flow were to devise a light enough binding, using them in combination with the La Sportiva Nuptses would be ideal... I have a climbing partner who uses these boots with a pair of Flows that he has "swiss-cheesed". There are certainly light enough strap bindings out there, and they work great with various PMBs. However, the idea of fiddling with multiple, plastic straps when I'm hypoxic doesn't work for me.
I've been running Scarpa Lasers with Bomber TD2s on my solid board or my custom version of teh Bomber Splitboard Binding (titanium and stripped) on my splitboard. I find that the Scarpas are lacking in forward lean, and they don't fit me just right.... I've got a pair of Garmont Mega Rides coming witihin the next few days.... These are what I'll use at high altitude. I'm also working with Fin (Bomber) to customize my TD2s to shave tons of weight.
I think it would be awesome if someone liek Deeluxe could produce a snowboard hardboot that was as light and climbing oriented as AT boots.... Until then, i'll go with ATs.... I need the entire climbing platform on the bottom of the boots for french-stepping, bridging, etc... and every ounce counts, especially on your feet, when you start getting really high.
Also, Andy, if you're looking at AT boots, there is a pretty broad spectrum... boots like the F1 (Scarpa) or the Mega lite (Garmont) seem better suited to people who want to run lower angles (I run 35+, or 40+ when the board width allows). Also, plate bindings can generally be stripped down to minimal weight and are wwwaaaaayyyy more reliable at altitude.
Yeah I did locate the Couloir stuff, it helps alot.
I'm beginning to think the Nuptse will be a little warm for the Southern Cascades where I ride most. Gonna give the AT's a try. Maybe a plate binding as well, never thought about issues dealing with straps at altitude, though I don't get altitude issues.
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2004 9:55 am Posts: 29 Location: SF Bay Area
You might try the Lowa Strukturas. I ended up with these after trying out the Scarpa Lazers that Zach is running. I never actually rode in the Scarpas, but during my "carpetboarding" sessions, they felt much stiffer than the Lowa; both laterally and in forward flex.
The hinged tongue on the Lowas is great for skinning, and provides decent forward flex when locked in "ski" mode for descents.
There is only one forward lean position on the Lowas and that may or may not work for you. However, with a bit of Dremel work on the forward lean mechinism, I now have two settings on my forward boot (back was fine stock).
As far as bindings go, if you want a softer side flex, go with the Voile Mountain Plates. They're cheap and they work, but some are put off by the large amounts of plastic employed. If you want an all metal binding that is very unlikely to ever fail, the Bombers are the way to go. They ride stiffer, but the chances of them letting go in a critical situation is very low.
The Lowas aren't *that* bad pricewise right now. Marmot Mountain Works has the "Lights" on sale for $340. Those include a nice ThermoFlex liner and both the hinged tongues and the one piece tongues.
A little publicity has taught me to keep my mouth shut, for the most part
But, yes, I'm all for them... I still see the PMB + strap binding combo as nearly ideal, except for reliability issues with most strap bindings at altitude. My buddy Jef, who is dedicated to a lower angle stance, swears by the Flow + La Sportiva Nuptse combo.
That being said, a funny thing happened, when I got hooked up with a hardboot "expert":
I found that when I learned how to correctly adjust my stance and cant & lift, then learned how to use the correct technique, that it compensates for a lack of nerve sensitivity that I have in my ankles.... the result of a number of years of pounding them, riding BMX.