Gear & Advice Needed for first 4000m

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 TheBigPG 22 Nov 2021

Hello everyone!

I'm doing my first 4000m in Switzerland next year, and to be honest I'm bricking it a little bit.  I've hiked the Zugspitze, I've taken a train to the Jungfraujoch, but a 4000m is whole new territory for me.

My first questions (the first of many I suspect) relate to boots.  I need boots that can take crampons, but also that I can wear on acclimitisation hikes, trips to lakes on rest days etc. I tried on some Scarpa Mantas (I wear Scarpa GTXs so I'm more confident the fit is right for my feet),  and they seemed alright but I have no idea if they are or not.

Are they good boots? (if not, what would you recommend?)

How should they fit?

What makes a good pair of boots? (so I know what to look for)

Do you think they would be OK for a week in Switzerland, or would I also need approach shoes etc.?

Any help gratefully received, and look out for future threads on 'how warm do I need to dress?' 'How do I avoid altitude sickness?' 'How fit do I need to be?' 'What camera would you recommend for a 4000m trip?', and most importantly:  'How do I convince the girlfriend to come with me?'


 tlouth7 22 Nov 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

Just take a pair of decent trainers for low level walks, much of the Alps has excellent paths.

The appropriate fit for B2 boots is the same as for normal walking boots, though they will feel weird to walk in at first as the sole does not flex. Focus on a good fit around the heel, and reasonable space in the toebox. A good shop will have staff who can advise based on your goals.

If your girlfriend is uncomfortable then don't drag her up anything too serious. I wouldn't take someone up a glacier unless they are comfortable with both UK upland winter hiking and also basic ropework.

 pdone 22 Nov 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

Scarpa Mantas, provided they fit you, will be fine.

 summo 22 Nov 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

Just use whatever you wear in winter in Scotland, thinned it down a bit according to what you are doing in the alps. 

 jonesieboy 22 Nov 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

Previous comments are all sensible. Also - buy Bruce Goodlad's Alpine Mountaineering or something like it to get all the answers you seek and lots more besides.

 JLS 22 Nov 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

The BMC Alpine Essentials DVD is very good.

Here’s the trailer…

 SuperstarDJ 23 Nov 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

I've only done the one (Gran Paradiso - by the easy 'F' route) and it was a hard day but nothing to psyche yourself out over so it's a good goal.  Try to get as fit as you can.  It's always good to have something in hand in the mountains.

Some good advice on the thread.  I'd agree that approach shoes are fine for most walks - the paths can be broader and less steep than Scotland and the Lakes so they should be comfortable to walk in and handle the simpler and lower level stuff fine.

One thing I would I'd recommend is a Riemans sun screen - it's a clear liquid that your skin absorbs so doesn't sweat off or wipe off in the same way as normal sun cream.  I remember getting sunburned and it was uncomfortable for days after my legs had recovered.

The Bruce Goodlad book's excellent.

Post edited at 10:53
In reply to TheBigPG:

Out of interest, do you have a particular first summit in mind? It could be the lift-assisted glacier walks of the Allalinhorn or Breithorn or scrambling up the Lagginhorn or Weissmies from the huts. Any of these would make a good first 4000er, but the preparation and gear could potentially be very different.

 mrphilipoldham 23 Nov 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

Did my first 4000er in Mantas, they're great boots.

OP TheBigPG 24 Nov 2021
In reply to Suncream:

You are very perceptive!  I am indeed doing the Breithorn by the lifts.  Before everyone throws things: it's my first 4000m so I want to find out if I enjoy it before I commit to doing it the proper way or finding other 4000ms to do.

The plan is to hike the Schilthorn, then move to Zermatt to do a few days hiking as high as possible to acclimatise before finishing with the Breithorn.

OP TheBigPG 24 Nov 2021
In reply to SuperstarDJ:

Thank you for the suncream tip, I hadn't considered that I would need it (I have an extensive history of being rained on in the mountains).

Looks like I need some decent approach shoes as well.

 SuperstarDJ 24 Nov 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

No worries.  And a good pair of approach shoes are a good investment - I now only use boots for really wet or snowy days - approach shoes are so much easier and more comfortable in most situations.  Have a look for a pair with a good sole for the UK, something that can handle slippy grass and mud - there will be lots of reviews on here.  You might not need them in the Alps but they won't hurt and they'll mean you can get a lot more use out of them.

And standard boot buying advice is to go for a good long 10 miler to get your feet all hot and swollen and then straight to the boot shop - you'll get a better fit that way. 


 Becky E 24 Nov 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

And good sunglasses! Glacier goggles or high category wraparound sunglasses.

Going back to boots: go to a decent shop, and get their advice. I always recommend Outside in Hathersage - they'll spend time making sure you get boots that fit and are right for what you're planning to do. Try to go on a weekday if possible, when it'll be a bit quieter in the boot room.

In reply to TheBigPG:

> Before everyone throws things: it's my first 4000m so I want to find out if I enjoy it before I commit to doing it the proper way or finding other 4000ms to do.

No-one's going to throw anything, that sounds very sensible. But if that goes well you should definitely try the proper alpine experience of staying at a hut the night before.

Also be aware that the quick hit from the lift will mean you're less acclimatised than staying at a hut, there's only so much acclimatisation you can get from hiking high if you're sleeping down in the valley. And unfortunately there's no way of knowing how it will affect you without trying - I am fine going straight to 4000m from the valley without acclimatisation but I have friends that this would be torture for.

OP TheBigPG 25 Nov 2021
In reply to Suncream:

I've done the Jungfraujoch in the single hit a few years ago, and was fine until I fancied running up some stairs. The new year will bring new exercises to start to get as fit as possible.

In other news, my copy of Alpine Mountaineering hy Bruce Goodlad arrived today, Im looking forward to reading it.

Thank you all for your help, I will return when I have more questions.

(Moderators can close this thread if they want)

In reply to TheBigPG:

Whatever you do don’t wear Scottish winter clothing. You will melt.   Summer stretch walking trousers, wicking shirt, lightweight wind proof jacket, a helmet, and glacier goggles or wrap round glasses.   If the weather is rubbish you’ll stay in the valley or in the hut you are in.

Post edited at 19:49
 Duncan Beard 01 Dec 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

Re acclimatisation, I have only limited experience, but I would recommend on the first day you are in the Alps finding somewhere to stay the night around 2500 metres or so. Then in the morning return to the valley. I'd think a wild camp or bivvy would be best, if weather is clement. You could use a hut if you want & can afford but then you will want to justify the cost by going up something big 'while you're there' which may not help if it's too high. After that you will want to hit some easy peaks around 3500m.

 wercat 03 Dec 2021
In reply to TheBigPG:

if you're walking up the Schilthorn why not book a couple of nights at the Moenchsjoch hut - take some reading material and walk back and forth to the station a couple of times.  There is a very straightforward piste to the hut from the station.  You could hike up to the Eigergletscher station from Grindelwald or Lauterbrunnen for the exercise.

Alternatively, if you insult the Blofeld coat of arms in the rotating restaurant building on Piz Gloria you may find you can stay at that altitude for a few days, held by orange jacketed black hatted henchmen, till you can escape and ski down to safety.  Don't arrange any demolition jobs up there though, the locals don't like it.

Post edited at 16:04

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