The Mont Blanc in Scarpa's words has "been designed for people who want to head into the winter mountains but not necessarily [take] the steepest line to the summit". Seen as a modern challenger to the ultra-classic La Sportiva Nepal Extreme, I felt a recent winter trip would be the perfect opportunity to test them.
Where were they tested?
Sandwiched between Poland and Slovakia, the Tatra Mountains are like the secret love child of the Scottish Highlands and the Alps - a stepping stone between the two and the perfect place for testing the Mont Blanc's. The trip had everything from road-side, valley ice climbing, to long mountaineering routes with epic walk-ins.
What did I think?
• Scarpa boots such as the Charmoz and Manta tend to fit a broader foot but the narrower Mt Blanc last fitted my feet like... err ... a glove. The heel tensioning rand cupped and held my foot perfectly while front pointing. This in combination with the B3 stiffness made foot placements feel solid while ice climbing.
• Research has shown that every 100 grams on your feet is equivalent to 600 grams on your back and these are not far off 500 grams lighter than the Nepal Extremes. Not one for obsessively saving weight on my outdoor kit, but I did notice the difference in weight on the longer walk-ins.
• With daytime temperatures hitting -25ºC I had big concerns about my toes, but with the Bridgedale Endurance Summit socks and the Mont Blanc's on my feet felt toasty warm.
• For me, boots are a long term investment and I believe the one piece suede upper will allow the reproofing of the boot for years to come and importantly beyond the lifetime of the Gore-Tex liner.
• Although initially sceptical the internal snow gaiter worked surprisingly well while walking through powder and I personally didn't feel the need for separate gaiters.
What are the technical details?
Scarpa say. 'The last has excellent toe shaping for climbing and an improved forefoot shape to give a precise fit with enhanced comfort. The heel has been shaped to provide superb heel hold. The new AG last brings together a superb technical fit for mountaineering and perhaps the highest levels of comfort yet achieved in such high performance mountaineering boots.'
• One piece 3mm HS12 Suede upper
• Synthetic flex point
• Gore-Tex lining
• Heel Tensioning Rand
• AG last • Vibram Total Traction sole
• PU inserts give 30% shock absorbsion
• B3 rating
• 1840g weight (Men's 42)
Why should you buy these boots?
Buy the Scarpa Mont Blanc's if in five years' time you still want your feet to be warm and dry on Tower Ridge (IV 3) but if you intend to climb The Secret (IX 9) maybe try the Scarpa Jorasses's Pro.
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