Any frosty hardperson worth his/her gap-toothed grin knows a high-end mixed boot depends on two things: its mobility and crampon-to-boot interface. Newly designed for 2009, the LOWA ICE COMP IP GTX ($750, lowaboots.com) scores high marks on both counts. The boot’s nimble upper is engineered with a low-volume, heel-hook-friendly fit, while a Gore-Tex liner, Lowa’s Climate Control insole, and a sewn-on gaiter noticeably boost the coefficient of warmth. A carbon-reinforced sole supplies underfoot rigidity, and serious steel comes courtesy of Black Diamond Equipment’s respected Raptor crampon. Once laced, the Ice Comp’s high-performance features came alive, grinding through the frozen steeps, verglassed edges, and blue-ice pillars with aplomb.