There is a lot to recommend the really light weight boots with super soft ankles like the La Sportiva Batura and Trango Extremes on steep technical ice but comfort and calf support aren't two that come to mind.
One way I have found to help that style of boot on endurance ice is use some old technology that a few back country skiers are now remembering as well.
Long Thongs and Alberg straps in the past were used to help stiffen the ankle on ski boots, long before I started skiing. A extra wrap or two around the ankle, then snugged up tight, is just what I need for long, full days on continuous ice. Might not be enough for Alaska but should get you up things like Polar Circus, Slipstream or the N. Face of Athabasca with a bit more comfort in those soft ankled, stiff soled, light weight boots we all love. Not required for the typical ice cragging day though. Nice because with the option of stiffening the ankle the biggest advantage to me of these boots is how easily they walk with those same, soft ankles. Hard climbs with long approaches (or long climbs with only a moderate amount of hard climbing) is where i think these boots excel.
Black Diamonds heel levers and their safety straps ($30 a pair for the entire kit straight from BD catalog sales) offer the perfect option and length of strap on my size 12 boots and skinny ankles. You can use BD and Grivel levers on Petzl if you like. Cut the wire straps off the front bail and the Grivel/BD straps will work in a similar manner with at least one full wrap around the ankle for additional support. Heel levers are easy to switch off and on. Another advantage is you are less likely to ever loose a 'pon if the 'pon clips ever pop off your boot. Something else I really appreciate is you can then cut those damn toe retainer pieces off the front bail and forget about them!
4 months ago