Gear

First Look: Asolo Mont Blanc GV Technical Mountaineering Boot

Basics

All synthetic alpine and mountain boot with integrated, waterproof gaiter and insulated inner boot.


Size Reviewed

6-12 in half sizes

Weight

4 pounds (pair)

Price

$950

Brand

Asolo


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I don’t remember much about a 1984 ascent of Mont Blanc via the Innominata Ridge. I climbed it with Walt Shipley, and we soloed together because we didn’t carry a rope. I remember the route was long, cold, and moderate most of the way, with slabby ice, some steep snow, and a nasty pitch of rock that was part crumbling face and part fist crack to wider. I will never forget that crack—not because it was difficult, but because my Koflach plastic boots sucked. Those boots were clunky, heavy, and had zero flex in any direction, and the plastic shells skidded around like stovepipes. I made it up that crack, obviously, but I had moments of doubt where I cursed those boots and prayed for better ones, for boots that could handle the varying conditions in the mountains and still rock-climb to a reliable extent.

Nearly 40 years later, I have that boot and, dig this, it’s called the Mont Blanc.

My old Koflachs represented the firstborn of the plastic-mountain-boot generation, while the Asolo Mont Blanc (the boot) is the newest addition to the family, and it bears little resemblance to footwear of yore. While the boot is completely rigid from toe to heel (frontpointing!), the synthetic upper has good ankle flex (sidestepping and walking!). Per-boot weight is about two pounds, or about a half-pound lighter than my first polyurethane jobs. A rubber rand seems designed just for me and that crack high on Mont Blanc (the mountain). Of course, since the boot comes from the Italian boot-maker Asolo, it has all the bells and upgrades you’d imagine. Stretch gaiter, neoprene lining, watertight zip, Schoeller Soft Shell, Gore-Tex and Gore-Tex insulation, a carbon last, and Vibram 1229 Mulaz sole with an edging platform in the toes and a heel-braking pattern for descending snow and muck. Sidenote: Vitale Bramani founded Vibram, inventing, with the financial backing of Pirelli Tyres, the first rubber sole for mountaineering boots, after six of his friends fell to their deaths due to “inadequate footwear.”

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Walt Shipley on the upper rock pitches on the Innominata Ridge, Mont Blanc, in the early 1980s. Just one of the sections where I hated my clunky, plastic Koflach boots—and would have felt much safer and more secure with a high-tech modern option like the Asolo Mont Blanc. (Photo: Duane Raleigh)

Shipley in the upper snowfield on the Innominata.

Taking a break before the summit ridge. A storm moved in and we had to hustle.