Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ouray Ice Tests:
Lowa Ice Comp Boots

Lowa Ice Comp BootsThe first thing I did on my first day at the ice festival (after drinking lots of coffee and recovering from a hangover) was to get fitted with Lowa demo boots. Of course, my ultra-wide, high-volume size 6 (yup!) feet didn't fit into anything except the Ice Comp.

Lets backtrack a little here and explain what these boots are all about. Boots with bolted-on crampons, known as "fruit boots" in Canada, were designed for competition mixed climbing the same season leashless tools became manditory. They increase sensitivity for both ice and mixed climbing and have a giant heel spur that I recommend taking off unless you climb M10 or harder. Few ice climbers use them. It's a shame. Changing out of regular ice boots and slipping into these 4.4-pound wonders (including crampons) was impressive. Their nimble feel on the ice was more like carefully placing a rock shoe than bashing a crampon-fitted boot into the ice. They still had just enough heft to place solidly in uniform ice, but could be placed in skinny pillars with a few scratches instead of a kick that could possibly bring down the whole route. There is no comparison on mixed climbing.

Surprisingly, the Lowa Ice Comp boots were pretty warm. My toes got a bit chilly toward the end of the day, but nothing too bad. The only real drawback is that you have to approach in a separate pair of boots and bring these along to change into at the ice. It's a pain, but worth it for really hard terrain.

Benefits:
  • Ultra-precise footwork
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in gaiter
  • Removable heel spur
Drawbacks:
  • Need to approach in other boots
  • A little on the cold side
  • Only for cragging, not for the mountains

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