Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro – Probably the best #scotwinter boot in the world – with apologies to a certain Danish brewery!
I’m a little biased when it comes to Scarpa boots. A couple of years ago a continental ice climbing trip fell through and I decided to treat myself to some new winter boots. I found some Scarpa Jorasses GTX on special offer and took the plunge. As luck would have it conditions that winter in Scotland were awesome. Straight out of the box they were worn for jaunt up Orion Direct on the Ben, no break-in period and total comfort the entire day. The boots performed flawlessly for a long season (and a not such a great following season) and I’d still be using them now if the Mont Blanc Pro hadn’t arrived. So although I’m a little biased I also had exceptionally high expectations of the the Mount Blanc Pros. Following on from input from Ueli Steck Scarpa have redesigned much of their mountain boot range over the last couple of years. Perhaps the biggest change across the board has been the adoption of the ‘Sock Fit’ technology and a change in the lasts used for many of the boots. According to Scarpa Sock Fit is:
A construction system that offers a fit as snug as a sock, the feeling of being at one with your footwear. The part comprising the tongue, flex-point and collar is made from a single piece of S-TECH SCHOELLER elastic technical fabric.
There are varying degrees of Sock Fit technology according to the actual boot model in question the Mont Blanc Pro gets Sock Fit plus. This is manifested in the elasticated Schoeller tongue (with moulded pressure relief strips RIBS), the ‘roller bearing’ like speed lacing, ankle flex points and Gore-Tex® lining. Together with a mini gator/cuff and the mostly leather upper it creates a boot that fits like the proverbial glove whilst not constricting your foot. The speed lacing eyelets I was ready to dismiss as a bit of a gimmick but they definitely allow you to get a nice even tension therefore fit when lacing up and they didn’t freeze up as I half expected they would. The boots flexibility around the ankle allows more agility whilst walking and also more precision whilst climbing – you can easily place crampon points securely on awkward edges and torque them into cracks.
I must admit I was a little concerned that the ‘performance enhancements’ in the the Mont Blanc Pros might have resulted in a narrower fit (which would not have suited me) but I need not have worried. The Mont Blanc Pros were even more comfortable than my old Jorasses GTX whilst improving on the heel hold. With no break-in I wore them for the trudge up to Stob Coire Non Lochan and the first route of the season following Kev on Central Grooves. Within minutes I had forgotten I was wearing them – always a good thing with new boots. Perhaps it is the Sock Fit technology but these boots are amazingly precise, they did everything I asked of them adding confidence as I scratched my way up. The leather upper adds welcome durability for Scottish climbing and is plenty warm enough for any winter UK activities. The boots are also ideally suited to continental icefall climbing and should suffice for the less extreme winter alpine conditions although boots like the Phantom Guide are warmer such zip gaitered boots lack a little in durability and longevity in the abusive world of Scottish mixed climbing. There are no such concerns with the Mont Blanc Pro, it is a workhorse of a boot that still manages to be lightweight (lighter in fact than my old Jorasses GTX) and cope with anything you throw at it. On typical ice routes they were warm and supportive letting you relax with not a hint of heel lift. The mini gator suffices to keep snow out of the top of the boot and they have proved to be utterly impervious to rain, snow and general dampness, with just an occasional treatment of the leather to keep it in good nick.
On more technical mixed ground the Sock Fit held the foot firmly giving added confidence to footwork especially when paired to mono points, the narrow toe profile aiding precision.
The Mont Blanc Pro is designed for step in crampons and worked perfectly with either my Petzl Darts or BD Cyborgs (with the narrower bail fitted). When I tried them with some Grivel Airtech using the ‘Newmatic’ binding I found the toe projected a bit further forward effectively shortening the crampon points a little but still perfectly useable (the camera angle below has foreshortened the points a bit!).
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