As you mature there are times you just have to over look the stark beauty and amazing good looks of the crazy party girl that is really a raving mad, succubus just waiting to seduce you and then eat your liver while you watch and are still alive. It is bleak.....
The choice you learn to appreciate is the sweet young thing that knows how to be nice. treat you with respect and make your life better not just more exciting. And most importantly leave you wanting more after every rendezvous.
Weird way to start a boot review, hu? There aren't many things in climbing that can bring about such an emotional response from me....but boots....preferably good boots..will do that. Bad boots on the other hand my make a Succubus look good at the end of a long day out...liver or no liver.
Baruntse, the mountain, is best known as a "easier" 7000m trekking peak close to Everett in Nepal.
The La Sportiva Baruntse how ever, is an exceptional technical climbing, and very warm, double boot. You have to wonder just how many climbers are going to miss out on the Baruntse thinking is is the "little brother" not up to the same tasks as the more expensive Spantik simply because of foolish name branding and marketing?
From La Sportiva Italy:
"A thermal boot with removable bootie, ideal for winter mountaineering or working outdoors in cold conditions."
That sound like a technical climbing boot to you? Of course not!
Here is what La Sportiva USA has to say on the Baruntse:
"A sturdy, durable double boot for high altitude mountaineering
When the conditions are cold and high the Baruntse offers a hospitable climate to keep your feet warm and dry. Ideal for use on 6-7000 meter peaks or in harsh winter conditions where you don’t want to think about your feet. The thermo-formable inner boot sports the patented speed lacing system and couples with the highly insulated multi-layered PE outerboot for dependable warmth and a PU coating to keep moisture and cold outside and heat inside the boot.
WEIGHT: 44.7 oz/ 1267 g LAST: Nuptse CONSTRUCTION: Inner Boot: Slip Lasted Outer Boot: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Transparent PU Tech anti-abrasion film with high insulation expandied PE/ High density expanded PE insulating netting/ Synthetic mico-fiber/ High abrasion resistant Cordura®/ Giugiaro lacing hardware INNER BOOT: Anti-abrasion Cordura®/ Thermo-moldable 7mm high density insulating EVA INSOLE: 6 mm isulating Ibi-Thermo + PE insulating barrier and aluminum insulation MIDSOLE: 8-9 mm TPU/SBR Air Cushion SOLE: Vibram® Montagna"
But let me back up a bit. If you don't know of the La Sportiva Nepal Top or the newer Nepal Evo Extreme you should. I'll tell you why in a minute. What I really should be doing is adding all sorts of cool climbing photos to this blog post to make my point on how good the Baruntse really is. But I can't. Why not you ask? If these boots are so cool? Well to be honest I was having way too much fun actually climbing in them to bother with taking pictures this winter. And I used them a lot...no shit... that is a true story.
Back to the Nepals for a minute. If you like the Nepals you'll love this warmer version of them...and how they climb. Damn near every Chamonix Guide climbs in the Nepal Evo or Top.....hard to argue with success. The Nepal climbs exceptionally well , fits most feet even better and is durable enough you'll be forced to keep them around for a resole or two.
The Baruntse is just a warmer Nepal with all its advantages......that alone should get you to try this boot on. End of story.
Well not quite 'cuz this is a boot I really love. First time out in them I soled a 600' WI3.
Not all that hard for me back in the day. But hadn't been out in a while and had never been on the climb before and knew nothing about it. I was just along for the "ride". Did I mention i was taking pictures? I was taking pictures. But never noticed the boots....ever.
Which says a lot for the boot. My next outing in the same boot was a 100m WI5+. With a rope this time and a long pillar, Again never noticed the boot. I could pass some of that off as me being preoccupied on both climbs...scared shitless maybe, but I wasn't...preoccupied that is...may be scared a bit. But I would have noticed the boots that didn't perform at least as well as expected. The Baruntse climbed so well in both cases that I was able to take advantage, and notice, the extra support in the rigid sole, the even flex on the ankle cuff both forward, front pointing and side ways in French technique and even the extra warmth. What I didn't notice is the extra bulk or weight of a decent double boot.
It is no wonder, as the Baruntse is only 4oz heavier than a pair of Spantiks in my 45 size.
I can easily lace the outer shell as tight as required to support my narrow ankles/heels. Tight enough that I get ZERO heel left. Which is simply amazing and almost unheard of for me outside a custom boot. I like the really simple inner boot, that it was heat formable with printed directions that actually worked. And that it fits! And it does really fit well. Best of all I like that that the rigid soled and mid soles were very easy to fit every pair of crampons I own to the Baruntse...perfectly. Really...perfectly....every pair I own! They have a more normal width heel and less rocker front and back than the Spantik both of which makes a huge difference on the positive side when fitting crampons.
It is the one boot I own...or have for some time... that I don't want something drastically changed or improved on. Sure I would like them lighter and smaller...but they are warm enough and light enough and not too big in volume. All of which is saying a lot about this boot. I'd take these back to Denali in a second with no over boots and expect to summit even on a cold day in May with warm feet. I know they will make miles of hard Alaskan , 60 degree ice, easier. I know I can climb any grade of technical ice I can get up with the Baruntses on my feet. And enjoy it.
So screw the advertising and the usual questions of "why didn't you buy the Spantik" ....
If you are up to it, the Baruntse will take you BIG before going home. And that will be done with the least amount of effort. Which is all that is required.