Surprisingly, in a very good way, there was a lot of winter-focused gear at this year’s Summer OR show. Enough to justify a winter specific article anyway! So, as an avid ice climber I just had to start this summer’s series of OR reports by covering winter climbing kit.
Asolo has given a few of their alpine boots a serious upgrade and the resulting footwear is a thing of beauty. Included in the upgrade are the Manaslu 800 GV, the Eiger XT GV EVO and the COMP XT EVO. Not included are the Mont Blanc GV boots which where just launched last year and so not at all in need of an update. When I tried on each of the boots (it’s sure nice to be sample size!) the thing that immediately jumped out was just how well the boots fit my heel. The heel box was fairly soft and forgiving on my bone spurs while just hugging my foot, not allowing for any movement. Absolutely no heel lift, even if the boots were done up loosely!! But let’s look at each of the boots individually:
MANASLU 8000 GV:
As the name suggests this is an 8000m boot and so designed to be incredibly warm but still technical. Interestingly, 2019 seems to be the year of the 8000m boot as both Scarpa and La Sportiva upgraded their 8000m offerings as well. See our Winter OR 2019: Footwear report for more info on that.
This new Manaslu weighs in at 1250g per boot (size 8.5 US) which represents a 280g per boot reduction in weight over it’s predecessor. This was accomplished in-part by updating the sole with a lighter, albeit less durable, Vibram Betulla rubber. A great trade-off though as walking around on snow or with crampons puts very little wear on the soles. They also updated the lasting board or shank with full carbon fiber, not composite, in conjunction with numerous other small weight saving changes.
The changes were not all about weight though! Increased warmth was also a big priority in the development of the upgraded boot. To this end Asolo doubled the amount of Primaloft in the inner boot from 200g to 400g and added a layer of heat-reflective aluminum film to the inner boot.
Like its predecessor, the new Manaslu 8000 GV boot features an outer gaitor, inner boot and removable liner bootie. The outer gaiter retains the same front zipper, though the velcro flap has been dropped in favour of a waterproof zipper and the fabrics have been finessed a bit. Under that, the inner boot retains the lace-up closure but of course has updated insulation as mentioned above. The liner bootie now features a dual zone Boa type lacing system that allows the wearer to tighten the foot and ankle using entirely separate lacing systems. All-in-all a very well thought out boot that fits amazingly well. The MSRP for the Manaslu 8000 GV will be $1,250 USD.
EIGER XT GV EVO:
As an ice climber, this is where I get really excited! Replacing the Asolo Eiger GV, the Eiger XT GV EVO (now that’s a mouth full) is a fully gaitored boot that’s designed for technical alpine and ice climbing. The fit on this upgraded boot is simply amazing with an exceptionally comfortable feel and absolutely no heel movement!
The new full gaitor on the updated Eiger features a waterproof front zipper that should make it a bit warmer and more waterproof than it’s predecessor. The gaitor is made from Schoeller with a Gore-Tex lining and has a very soft feel to it. I expect that it will be quite breathable and waterproof but the fabric doesn’t feel overly durable. It’s hard to speculate on durability without testing a product though.
The main boot has also been upgraded with a new full carbon shank for lightweight stiffness and a new, lighter sole featuring Vibram Litebase rubber. These changes have allowed Asolo to drop almost 100g per boot from the weight while still making the boot warmer and more waterproof. A definite win-win.
This amazingly comfortable and well fitting boot will have an MSRP of $625 USD and you can bet I’ll be looking for a pair!
COMP XT EVO:
Asolo’s fruit-boot also got a bit of an upgrade this year though structurally it’s basically the same as the current model, just without the heel crampon. This makes the boot slightly lighter (20g per boot) and of course more modern as heel spurs fell out of vogue a long time ago. With the changed crampon set-up the graphic on the gaitor was also updated from orange to red. The new Comp XT EVO’s will sell for $780 USD.
Grivel Dark Machine & Dark Machine X:
Yes, I know that we saw these at the winter show (the related report can be found here). However, Grivel is in the habit of showing off prototype versions of equipment at the OR show and these tools were no exception. So while the Winter OR versions were still prototypes we now got to see what the production versions are going to look like, and they’re sexy!
There’s no significant changes from the tools we saw at the winter show. The two main differences really just reflect Grivel putting the finishing touches on the final version of the tools. This includes a new textured grip on the main handle and a different, more custom, patch of rubber on the upper grip. Other than that, they just look polished and ready to go!
Trango Kestral Ice Tool:
Another surprise came from the guys over at Trango who have collaborated with EliteClimb to develop a new ice tool with a composite shaft. The real beauty of this type of composite design is that it moves the tool’s center of gravity closer to the head. This gives a very lightweight tool a nice, natural swing. The overall shape of the Kestral is reminiscent of Trango’s other tool, the Raptor. They basically replaced the Raptor’s aluminum shaft with a carbon/kevlar composite material and attached it to the same head. Of course this means that the geometry is the same, but the swing will be much different. And I doubt that it will need the pick weights, it’s kinda funny that they had them on their demo tool.
The new Kestral will use the same picks as the Raptor, which come in two different versions: Ice and Mixed. The tool is going to weigh in at about 415g without the 65g pick weights. However, I was told at the show that the final production model may come in 30g lighter as they’re changing the depth the head extends into the shaft.
If you’re a big fan of the Raptors and want an upgrade this might be your new toy, though with an MSRP of $500 USD per tool they’re definitely not a price point option.
Singing Rock QuickSpin Ice Screws:
I just randomly ran into these guys at the show. I definitely wasn’t looking for new ice screws but came across the niche Czech climbing equipment company when wandering around the show. Such wandering often leads me to find things that weren’t on my radar and is one of my favorite ways to burn a little extra time. Anyway, back to the screws.
Singing Rock’s new ice screws feature a standard steel tube design with a single-hole aluminum hanger and color-coded crank. Visually fairly similar to the Petzl Laser Speed screws. Without any ice at the show to test the tooth profile I can’t comment on how easily they’ll place but the design looks solid.
The QuickSpin Ice Screws come in 3 lengths:
- Blue: 12cm
- Yellow: 17cm
- White: 22cm
Of course the colors don’t match with the popular Black Diamond or Petzl color schemes which have become fairly standard, in the ice screw lengths anyway. I’m still waiting on a little more information regarding cost, weight, etc. but will update this post as soon as I’m able to get that information.
Edelrid SM CLIP L 3R:
This new ice screw clipper from Edelrid is cool in that it’s actually made from melted down fibers left over from the rope making process! As always, Edelrid is looking for ways to make climbing equipment a bit more environmentally friendly.
It doesn’t require an ice clipper slot on a harness to work as it clips over the entire swammi belt and then has a small bungee on the bottom to secure it in place. MSRP will be $7.95 USD.
Well that’s all I have for winter climbing kit at the Summer OR show. Stay tuned for more show reports.