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BLOG | PRODUCT REVIEWS | 08 June 2015

Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX boots

Over the past few years, the Scarpa Mont Blanc has become one of the most popular models among climbers & mountaineers in the Alps, and it's no coincidence that, in Chamonix, it has been chosen for renting to high mountaineering enthusiasts.

The Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX is a technical evolution of this boot, prepared for the most demanding mountaineers and the toughest modern alpine routes.

Juan Corcuero, has tested this new model on some of the most demanding Pyrenean routes as well as on ice and mixed terrain.

This is what he thinks:

MONT BLANC PRO GTX
The Mont Blanc Pro GTX is a technical boot, with a rigid sole, for mountaineering. At first glance, it stands out for its Scarpa® Sock-Fit, a kind of sock or gaiter that wraps around the boot cuff. This feature provides exceptional comfort when putting it on and during activity, as it eliminates any hard elements or folds that could otherwise dig in when walking.

The Sock-Fit is made with Schoeller®, a tough, stretch fabric that is highly breathable. PU ribbing is directly injected onto the upper fabric, which evenly spreads the pressure of the laces over the entire foot. The tongue is also reinforced to spread lace pressure and to keep out moisture.

The Vibram® sole uses ACTIVimpact technology for greater impact absorption. TPU inserts with different densities in the midsole make it compatible with crampons, rubber inserts absorb impact and a PU base gives greater stability.

The Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX has pushed the boundaries of crampon-compatible rigid boots for mountaineering and mixed terrain.

Features

  • 3mm water-resistant suede upper .
  • Gore-Tex®Performance Comfort Footwear waterproof & breathable membrane keeps your feet dry and comfortable.
  • TPU coating protects against the elements.
  • Sock-Fit gaiter system made of durable Shoeller® stretch fabric.
  • PU ribbing.
  • Pro Fiber 20 insole.
  • Vibram® Total Traction outersole offers an exceptional grip on all surfaces, even when wet.
  • Approx. weight: 910 g (½ pair).

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
When you first hold the Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX you can clearly see that Scarpa has paid attention to detail. All the boot's features are carefully finished which gives a feeling of confidence even before trying it on. The sole, the stitching, the rubber layers, the gaiter... all these components transmit security and quality.

One feature that really stands out is the construction of the lower 3 eyelets (2nd, 3rd & 4th) which have a speed lace pulley system that rolls under the laces for a simple, fluid adjust. The 5th eyelet is a hook that can lock the laces to allow independent adjustment of the upper and lower laces. The 6th eyelet is made of Cordura; this is the part I think could maybe cause problems over time if you're excessively rough, as one textile rubs against another. The two last elements for adjusting the laces are 2 conventional hooks.

Both the tongue and the cuff are very flexible and certainly look very comfortable for walking, but I'm not sure if they'll be stiff enough to support the ankle, walking across a steep slope, especially with crampons, which make the boot higher and therefore less stable in the ankle (you'll see we were part-wrong, when we put them to test). The gaiter is just enough. It's well finished with an elasticated upper to keep out the cold and snow and its popper closure has 2 positions to adapt to the size of your calf muscle. This boot feels light, flexible and has a technical design for modern high mountaineering.

After a bit of research on the Gore Tex Performance Comfort Footwear membrane we found that although it is waterproof and breathable it doesn't have thermal capacity, which was surprising considering that it is designed for ice and snow activities. We therefore suspect that it is probably not a very warm boot but we'll find out for sure when we put the Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX to test in the open.

FIELD TEST
Where the Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX has been tested:

  • Pyrenean winter walks at Portalet and Canal de Izas
  • Opening the “Antimordaza” mixed climbing route on the Moule de Jaout, 200m M4
  • On a winter ridge from Peygueret to Petit Pic d´Ossau, 600m, D+, M4
  • On “Sonia” mixed climbing route on Peña Telera, 750m MD+, M5
  • On “Senda de los Cuervos” mixed climbing route on Peña Telera, 750m MD+, M5

SENSATIONS
Walking
This is an extremely comfortable boot, thanks to the adjustment system and flexible cuff. If you're used to wearing heavy, rigid boots, it will probably feel as if you're wearing a trekking shoe.

The Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX performs well when walking on flat ground or snow. The doubts we had about its performance when walking across a steep slope were quickly resolved early on, when the hard snow meant we had to put on crampons: in spite of its flexibility, we were surprised at how well the cuff functions. It doesn't overload the tibia and fibula and no extra strength is needed to control the boot cuff.

On steeper and frozen slopes, without crampons, the boot edges well and gives no problems on frontal techniques. On the way down it performs really well and the flexible cuff is much more comfortable than other boots, in the same category.

I should mention, that even though the ankle support is better than I expected due to the excellent gaiter design and lacing system, it does offer less support than normal snow boots and you may notice this when you're feeling tired. In my case, after a long day on Telera, after descending several couloirs and beginning to walk down the last part, I would have been grateful for a bit more ankle support.

However, the advantages it offers in terms of agility, comfort and climbing performance outweigh the moments when you would maybe prefer a stiffer cuff.

Climbing
The Scarpa Mont Blanc GTX is totally compatible with crampons and has a stiff sole which is perfect for climbing with crampons on ice and rock. Its a lightweight boot, weighing under 2 kg per pair which will reduce fatigue on vertical climbs.

Here again, we mention rigidity; the lower part of the boot gives the stability needed on a climb, and this, combined with the cuff's flexibility, works well during technical climbing moves on mixed routes, as it allows a greater range of ankle movement and greater precision.

When ice-climbing, the boot allows you to push down your heel well. We could categorise it as a versatile boot for all kinds of climbing although it certainly stands out from other stiffer boots when it comes to precise technical moves on finer climbs.

Temperature
The Mont Blanc GTX does have a few disadvantages. Just as we thought when we first saw the boot, it is not particularly warm. It performs well during intense activity, but on cold ice-climbs you’ll need to make sure you keep your feet moving. We tested the boots with a wind chill factor of -10ºC, and our feet were cold. In general terms, we'd recommend this boot for winter climbing in less extreme climates such as the Pyrenees or for summer or non-extreme, fast winter activities in higher altitudes like the Alps.

Flexible Cuff
Although it is certainly better than we first thought and suitable for experienced mountaineers on most occasions, the flexible cuff provides less support when crossing a slope or on irregular terrain. This is not too much of a handicap for a technically experienced mountaineer looking for the specific features it offers. However, along with the limited insulation, less technical mountaineers may prefer a boot with more insulation and a stiffer cuff.

Quality and Technical Performance
All in all, the Mont Blanc GTS is an excellent boot, with quality manufacturing and design for taking on the greatest modern alpine challenges, especially on mixed terrain. Engineered for technical climbs, it performs impeccably on ice and snow and is maybe slightly better than most on rock and mixed terrain.

Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX

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