Ten Top Tips For Buying Winter Boots

Ten Top Tips For Buying Winter Boots

Thinking of buying some new winter boots? This article is aimed at those buying their first pair of winter boots, but hopefully seasoned winter warriors may still pick up a handy hint or two.

Navigating the path to buying the right winter boot can be bewildering- single or double boots, plastics, B ratings, crampon compatibility? There’s a lot of choice out there, and some pitfalls that are best avoided, so to help you find the right pair for you and your adventures I’ve compiled my top ten tips for buying winter boots.

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A week on the West

For the past 5 days I have been running a Private Course for Trace over on the West Coast. Trace was keen to develop her skills in both mountaineering and climbing so she can take advantage of what Scotland has to offer in winter along with getting some extra training in for her upcoming trip to Peru. On day 1 we made the most of the good weather and climbed School House Ridge, day two was a windy and wild one so we took shelter in Stob Coire Nan Lochan and looked at snowcraft skills. Day 3 saw us heading back up into Stob Corie Nan Lochan where we looked at winter lead climbing skills on Dorsal Arete. Day 4 was forecast to be good a good one so we made the most of it and headed up the Ben and climbed Number 2 Gully Buttress. With a thaw forecast to set in around mid morning for Trace's final day we made an early start and headed up the Ben again in the hope of getting a quick route in before things got too soggy. As we got to the CIC hut it became apparent that the thaw had set in early, lots of fresh avalanche debris about, so it was onto Plan B. We then spent the rest of the day looking at various skills (snowpack analysis, crevasse rescue, emergency shelters & snow anchors) in preparation for Trace's trip to Peru. All in all its been a mixed week weather and conditions wise but Trace's done great and I hope she has a brilliant trip to Peru later this year.


5 days in the CIC hut

I've just spent five good days in the CIC hut, on Ben Nevis, with three other mates and our week can be summed up by saying- great weather, great company, but lean conditions.

Monday saw the four of us walking in with all our supplies for the week and after dumping them at the hut we made a quick ascent of North Gully and back down Number 4 to stretch the legs even more and to check out conditions on the upper buttress's. There were some ice steps on the first pitch of North Gully, but nothing worthy of a screw.

Cat at the top of the Ice Steps, North Gully

The following day we heading up towards Number 2 Gully and Cat and Andy climbed Number 2 Gully Buttress, which currently has some well iced up cracks making getting gear and building belays hard work. They followed that up by climbing Number 3 Gully Buttress which they reported was in much better condition and as such it has seen multiple ascents this week. In the meantime Mandy and I headed for the classic Raeburns Easy Route, which had a fair bit of ice on the first pitch but no great screws to protect it. The fun first pitch gave way to a mixture of swimming and wading up the rest of the pitches to the top.

Cat and Andy on Number 2 Gully Buttress

On Wednesday we decide to have a social day and make a team ascent of Green Gully. Which proved to be climbable but not as fun as it usually is due to the lack of any decent ice gear at the moment. 

First Pitch of Green Gully

After getting a forecast the night before Thursday looked like it was going to be a traditionally Scottish affair, whiteout and windy, so we had a bit of a lie in and woke to almost alpine conditions. Gutted that we were to late to get on any routes unless we wanted to queue we heading up Ledge Route and were treated to stunning views and even some sun. We made the most of the weather and headed on up to the summit but by the time we got there the clag was back in and so we quickly descended via Coire Leis back don to the hut.

Ledge route

Heading on up to the Summit

Friday we awoke to fair bit of fresh snow and we opted for a quick ascent of the SW Ridge of the Douglas Boulder so that we could still walk out afterwards and get back down to the valley in good time. However as we reached the slabs below West Gully we noticed some deep pockets of windslab that were releasing very very easily so we wisely decided to give it a miss and headed back to the hut for a brew and then on down to the valley.

All in all conditions up there this week were ok and stuff is climbable but gear finding hard work and belays hard won unless your on routes that have already seen alot of traffic.  Due to this then most routes will feel harder for the grade at the moment. What it really needs is a bit of a freeze thaw cycle or two and then we should get some good ice and consolidated snow.