/ Do I need to replace my plastic boots?

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
rowancastle - on 26 Feb 2013
Hi All,

I am new to the forum and just signed up to ask a quick question.

I am going to Pakistan this summer with a UK trekking company to do the Askole - Concordia - K2 base camp - Gondoro La - Hushe route. This route (as I understand it) is a long high altitude glacier / snow trek, with some climbing (50 degree slope) towards the end to cross the Gondoro Pass.

My question is, I have a pair of Scarpa Vega HA plastic mountaineering boots. I last used these back in 2003 when I did the Mera Peak trek / climb in Nepal. Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to use the boots since then. I noticed that the SCARPA paperwork that came with these boots says 'for your safety we recommend that you replace plastic shell boots (whatever the brand) at least every 3 years if they are used full time, or every 5 years if used for holiday and occasional use'. Well, as I say these boots have only been used once and have been stored carefully (out of the light - I understand that UV degradation is the main issue with these kind of boots) ever since. Do I really need to replace them? They appear to be in mint condition and I propose do a test walk in them before I go to make sure all is OK.

Thanks for any advice.
ice.solo - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to rowancastle:

if your staying at glacier level then ditch the plastics - more comfortable boots will be available. that theyve not been worn much only compounds the potential for problems when you set of on those 10hr days on sketchy terrain where an ill fitted boot with ruin what is arguably the finest mountain trek on earth.

you may only want crampons for the gondogoro la, but even then kahtoolas may do, but a boot that has a rigid shank will be welcome on ice.

theres actually a lot of sand, loose rock and gravel sections on the route, but the stuff up around BP/K2 can be slushy, so something water resistant (ie, not absorbant leather) will be better.

as far as boots go, something from the trango series from la sportiva would suit well.
Joe G - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to rowancastle: No.
I bought my scarpa vegas in 1997 and they're fine. Well used, very scratched, resoled, and I was perfectly happy soloing at over 20,000 feet in them a few months back. Well I wasn't perfectly happy, it was tiring and there wasn't much air to breathe but my boots were fine :-)
rowancastle - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to rowancastle:

@ ice.solo - thanks very much for the advice. I will be taking a pair of lightweight approach type shoes to wear for most of the trek, so hopefully they will be suitable.

@ Joe G - thank you very much, that is reassuring.
AdrianC - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to rowancastle: I remember a piece of advice appearing in one of the magazines a few years ago in relation to old plastics of which you're a little suspicious. It was to put the outers in the freezer overnight then pull them out and give them a clout with a hammer. If they don't break, great. If they do, better in your kitchen than in Pakistan. Have fun!
radson - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to rowancastle:

This is what I used for the gondogora La pass and trekking to K2, K3 base camps

http://www.sportiva.com/products/footwear/mountain-running/crossover
In reply to rowancastle: You hear the thing about freezing them and hitting them with a hammer, BUT the issue of the whole toe section breaking away for instance seems mainly to be with Koflachs. I had Scarpa Grinta in the 90s and used them loads. They started breaking up with small pieces at the top of the foot section - underneath the ankle cuff, near the hinge. As it was just little bits of plastic at first it took a couple of trips our before I realised what was happening, binned them and bought Vegas to replace them. My Vegas are older than yours and I've worm them a bit more than you although not a huge amount (the single boot revolution started the same winter that I got them, and a couple of years later I bought Nepal Extremes like everyone else! :) and they seem fine.

Not sure what this suggests, but at least check the top of the foot section - around the hinge for the ankle cuff, not just the toe area etc. If they fail like the Grintas, then it might not be as dramatic as the toe falling off a Koflach, my experience was it was enough for a few days of winter climbing before it really mattered. And of course hopefully the Vegas are made out of newer and better plastic + my Grintas were very well used before they failed - so fingers crossed your Vegas will be fine.
Big Lee - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to rowancastle:


Leave the Vegas at home. They're totally OTT for Gondogoro La, which is essentially a walk over a snowy pass. On the other hand your lightweight approach shoes are probably inadequate for a lot of the trek. There's loads of loose stuff on the glaciers. I wore cross trainers for trekking on my last trips to the Karakoram and I was skating all over the place. Get yourself some robust, comfortable walking boots and they will be fine for the trek. Some very basic crampons will help for crossing the pass but not essential.
David Barratt - on 27 Feb 2013
In reply to AdrianC: Nice tip.
abcdefg - on 05 Mar 2013
In reply to AdrianC:

> I remember a piece of advice appearing in one of the magazines a few years ago in relation to old plastics of which you're a little suspicious. It was to put the outers in the freezer overnight then pull them out and give them a clout with a hammer. ...

That's actually the official advice from the BMC, who investigated this problem. For the fuller story, go to http://www.thebmc.co.uk/technical-reports, and read report BMC ID: 96/03, 1996, entitled 'Broken Koflach Ultra boot'.

I got interested when this problem happened to my partner's boots in the Alps. A small crack first appeared in one boot; within half an hour, both boots had disintegrated and we were forced to patch them together using abseil tat and duck tape, before beating a hasty retreat ...

Pete_Frost on 05 Mar 2013
In reply to abcdefg: Same thing happened to my beloved old Asolo 102s - fell to bits half way to Cyrn Las - thankfully before I'd gotten to any ice. Defo recommend a freeze-tap test on old plastics.
Babika - on 07 Mar 2013
In reply to rowancastle:
I have Nepal Extremes but also plastics and I'm on my second pair of Koflachs now having worn out the original Ultras.

Once you've tested the degradation thing its down to personal comfort and preference. Don't let othere tell you what you should wear - it's not a competition and you will be the one out there!

I find plastics more comfortable, drier (I can wade through streams no problem) warmer and was up Nethermnost a couple of weeks ago in the snow in them. They're definitley my preference in snow/ice unless there's a serious amount of rock climbing involved.

Have a great trip!
ads.ukclimbing.com
beardy mike - on 07 Mar 2013
In reply to rowancastle: You're in luck. I run a boot testing service. If you pack them up and send them to me I will make sure that they were ok by testing them to destruction. I will send you the test results in approx. five to ten years. If you could include a cheque to cover the cost of testing and sending them back to you once I'm done, I would be most grateful.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.