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The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

The cold world of skimo & alpine climbing

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Scarpa's Phantom Ultra lwt boot...again.

The Phantom Ultra, on uber classic, Canadian WI5, Carlsberg.

Editor's note:
The Scarpa Phantom Ultra is by far my favorite lwt mtn boot.  It isn't perfect but climbs well, is warm enough and best of all, fits my feet exceptionally well.  I've commented on this boot many times in the past here at Cold Thistle.  And like Dave I am looking to climb in the new Rebels Ultras asap to make a side by side comparison.

Our British contributor in Chamonix, Dave Searle, offers his review.  Hope you enjoy!

Dave chipping away in his Ultras, high on the Colton/Brooks, N. Face of le Droites.
Scarpa Phantom Ultra Review
By Dave Searle 

I’ve had my pair of Scarpa Phantom Ultra’s for about a year and a half now and they are overdue a resole.  They defiantly got “finished off” on my latest trip out to the Kangchenjunga region of Nepal this past autumn where the endless moraine bashing on the Yalung glacier saw the rubber on the toe wearing back to the plastic which also started to get rounded off leaving me very little in the way of a toe welt to strap my poons to. Gutted.   Lesson learnt for sure (resole them sooner rather than later) but this is besides the point and only a small part of the story my Ultras have to tell. 
Drytooling an M10 at the Zoo

These are without a doubt the most versatile mountain boots I have ever owned.  I was originally on the market for a new summer alpine boot to replace my Scarpa Charmoz.  I ummmed and arrrrred over the baffling array of different boots on the market before settling on the Ultras.  Why did I choose them over a Charmoz or Trango for my summer boot I hear you say.  Quite simply it all came down to weight.  I stuck my size (42) on the scales and they only came up 200g per pair heavier than a non gaitered, B2 summer boot.  Now why would I buy a boot which I couldn’t take mixed or ice climbing or even dry tooling just because they were 200g lighter.  It’s a no brainer really.  I haven’t regretted my decision once and they have served me very well over the past 18 or so months.  Only 18 months I hear you say.  Yeah probably not ideal but hear me out.  For a start they aren’t finished yet and I’m pretty sure with a descent resole job they would last me another hard year.  I’m also not the friendliest person to my boots and believe me when I tell you these have seem some action.  I’ve used them on countless drytooling sessions, toe hooking and wandering around at the base of my local crag on sharp dusty rocks.  I’ve used them of the 1000m north face of the Droites in autumn where I was impressed with their warmth (just about warm enough for this I might add, which isn’t too bad considering I would ordinarily be using a pair of 6000s at this time of year) and their support for climbing long ice fields.  I’ve used them on the Chamonix Uber classic the Frendo spur where they climbed rock extremely well and were light enough for a speedy ascent.  I’ve used them for countless short ice and mixed routes in the massif and in Scotland where they performed exceptionally well due to their nimbleness, dexterity and support. 

They are comfy on the walk in due to the small amount off flex you get from the sole unit and remained comfy after wearing them for an entire month whilst at 4800m and above on the Yalung glacier in Nepal.  All in all these boots have impressed at all turns and have kept my feet comfortable through all kinds of weather and conditions. 
Dave's well worn Ultras

Now for the down sides, and yes there has to be some to authenticate a write up of a piece of gear otherwise you can be sure that the wool is being pulled over your eyes by someone on the payroll.   Might I also add that I was not given these boots, I went into a shop in Chamonix, none the less, and slapped down 370euros of my hard earned cash on these.

Typical Chamonix choss @ M7 while sporting worn out Ultras.
First off I must admit I’m not a great fan of the lacing system that is provided.  The laces are pretty slick so anything short of a reef knot and you can be sure your boots will come undone over the course of a few hours, which is slightly frustrating.  I’ve also been slightly let down by the waterproofness on a couple of occasions, mostly in Scotland where it is pretty wet, to say the very least.  I’ve taken to waterproofing them with some silicone based proofing gel which works well, for a route or two but it would be nice for them to stand up to wetness a bit better.  Some friends of mine have also hinted that the lack of ankle support in these boots isn’t a good thing but I hold a different feeling on this, horses for courses I guess.  
(editors note:  I too have been really impressed with the ankle support and flexible mid sole this boot offers compared to more than a few that look similar and should be better performers, but don't climb as well.  Or offer the comfort of the Ultra)
All in all I have been very happy with my Ultra’s.  I’d recommend them to anyone looking for all round mountaineering boot that covers you for most things in the Alps apart from when it’s genuinely cold or if you get cold feet easily.  They really are one boot does it all from running up north faces to climbing M10 at your local crag or jittering your way up your latest super thin mixed project.   What for me next?  I’d like to have a whirl on the new Rebels Ultras which look super nice.  If it came down to it though I’d defiantly settle for another pair of Ultra’s or perhaps just a resole on my current ones.                 


Anonymous said...

Anyone knows a store that stocks the Phantom Ultra here in Canada?

They do not seem available to the North American market, is going oversea the only buying option?

Dane said...

The Phantom Ultra is not imported into North America.

Anonymous said...

They offer international delivery. Don't plan on spending less than $600.