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Scarpa Mont Blanc Pro GTX Review

© Dan Bailey

A traditional leather mountain boot with modern refinements, Tom Ripley thinks the updated Mont Blanc Pro GTX would be a good choice for any mountaineer looking for a solid B3 boot that can be used from winter hill walking through to technical ice and mixed climbing.


Since receiving the Mont Blanc Pro GTX in late January I have worn them nearly every day in Scotland's mountains. Being stormy and wet, Scottish Winter is one of the harshest environments for testing kit, and this February just gone has been exceptionally challenging in terms of weather (though it's been intermittently much better since then!). Despite the gross weather I'm pleased to report that the Mont Blanc Pros have consistently kept my feet warm and dry, not something I can say for every winter boot I've used.

It's a refined and modern take on the traditional leather boot...  © Dan Bailey
It's a refined and modern take on the traditional leather boot...
© Dan Bailey

What are they?

They are a classic leather mountaineering boot with an insulated Gore-Tex liner, and a sticky Vibram sole. While boots of this design aren't super sexy like some of the zip up options on the market, they are durable, waterproof, warm, plus they climb well. In my view most UK based winter climbers and mountaineers won't go far wrong with a boot of this type, if they fit, of course. Scarpa suggest these weigh 1800g per pair in size 42, while I make it exactly 2kg for my review pair of size 44s. So these aren't the lightest boots on the market, by any stretch of the imagination! But they do compare favourably with broadly similar chunky models such as the Salewa Vutur Vertical (reviewed recently). I think the weight is respectable for a sturdy and traditional leather boot.

They are classed as B3s, meaning they are perfect for Scottish winter climbing and mountaineering, as well as continental cascade climbing. I would also use these boots for summer alpinism, but only for higher, snowier, 4000ers like Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, or the Grand Paradiso. For more technical, rocky, lower mountains, something lighter and more nimble would be more appropriate - especially if you might wear rock boots for a pitch or two, and end up carrying your boots in your sack. I'm not saying you couldn't use the Mont Blancs for this sort of climbing, but in my view there are better tools for that job.

photo
They've been great on steep ice - Umbrella Falls in this case
© Tom Ripley

Tom on George on Liathach  © Tom Ripley
Tom on George on Liathach
© Tom Ripley

The new Mont Blanc Pros are the third iteration of the model. I never used the first version, they were much heavier from what I understand, but I have had two pairs of the previous model. I really liked it, particularly the fit, which if anything felt a little more technical than this year's model. However they did have their limitations, mainly that they were flipping freezing (I have several friends who also use the old Mont Blancs too, and they all say the same.) And I often found them not that waterproof, especially when in boggy ground or on wet snow.

I'm happy to report that this version feels much warmer, and I can't remember ever having wet feet wearing them through the foul conditions of the last few weeks.

Fit

These boots are available in both a men's and a women's fit. Both come in a reasonable range of sizes, except arguably at the upper end where they max out at 42 for women and 48 for men. The very large-footed will have to look elsewhere.

I have medium width feet that seem to work well in most brands of boots. My pair of Mont Blancs are size 44, which is the size I'd normally go for in mountain boots. I would describe the fit as snug, but not tight. I have not experienced any rubbing or hot spots whilst wearing the boots. My toes don't hit the end when front pointing, and there is enough space to wiggle my toes on belays. I normally wear the boots with thick merino wool socks such as Teko Expedition or Smartwool Expedition.

I've found them comfy for long days on my feet  © Tom Ripley
I've found them comfy for long days on my feet
© Tom Ripley

Although the fit feels slightly less close and technical than that of the previous model, it is far form clumpy and I have climbed up to VI wearing them without issue, and it definitely wasn't the boots I've been wearing that have been preventing me from climbing harder. It's worth mentioning that broader-toed users may need to try this boot on with particular care; thanks to the pointy toe with an asymmetric curve on the outside edge, one of our other reviewers could barely wear these boots around the house, let alone in action, and even tried going up a size from his usual 47 to no avail. He often struggles with Scarpa's mountain boot fit, and he can't be the only one. His loss was my gain!

I have worn the boots for everything from long walk-ins to remote corries in Torridon to routes like Minus One Gully, and have found them comfy throughout.

I've generally had warm feet even while on belay  © Tom Ripley
I've generally had warm feet even while on belay
© Tom Ripley

UKC's Nick Brown gives them a bash on Opening Break   © Dan Bailey
UKC's Nick Brown gives them a bash on Opening Break
© Dan Bailey

Sole

The new Mont Blanc Pro GTX features a modern looking Vibram Essential sole. It has big, quite widely spaced lugs, and a flat section under the toe for maximum surface area when rock climbing. The sole is very sticky but after six weeks of wearing is still looking near new apart from some slight rounding at the edges. I'm not that light on my feet, and have worn through soles fast on other boots I've used and reviewed over the years, so I'm taking this as a good sign. I have found the sole to be grippy on snow, rock, grass and mud. Basically anything except verglas! In hard snow, without crampons the side of the boot works well as a saw, when kicking steps. I'm impressed.

Crampon Compatibility

I've worn the Mont Blanc Pros with a number of different mountaineering crampons: Petzl Vasaks, Grivel G12, CT Nuptse, and BD Sabretooth. These crampons have a mix of step-in, and semi step-in bindings. All fit the boots well, with minimal fiddling. I have no doubt that more technical climbing crampons would fit the Mont Blanc Pros well too. Of course crampon-boot fitting is not an exact science so you should always try the boots in the shop with the crampons you intend to use with them.

Well they're definitely bog, river and puddle proof!  © Tom Ripley
Well they're definitely bog, river and puddle proof!
© Tom Ripley

Gore-Tex lining and warmth

Under their durable 3mm suede upper the Mont Blanc Pros feature a Gore-Tex Insulated Comfort Liner. This works well and I am yet to experience wet feet wearing the boots, despite wearing them in some truly horrendous weather. One of the reasons I normally have dry feet may be that I always wear the boots with gaiters (One line review: Alpkit Colcas are excellent, and a total steal at £30). These help keep snow and mud out of the boots, plus they make it easier to see your feet when climbing.

The boots have a neoprene cuff, which creates a good seal from the weather, without impeding ankle mobility. I have found this comfortable, and not a cause of rubbing.

Value

With a RRP of £450 the Mont Blanc Pros are of a similar price to other leading leather boots, like the La Sportiva Nepal Cube. This might seem like a lot of money, but the boots are well made, durable, and I have no doubt that if looked after will last many years. Plus it is possible to get them resoled, doubling the lifetime of the boot for roughly a quarter of their cost.

Summary

In conclusion the Mont Blanc Pros are hard to fault. They are warm, waterproof, and - assuming they fit - very comfortable. The boots are very well made, from durable materials, which should last many years. I would recommend them to any climber or mountaineer, looking for a solid boot that can be used from winter hill walking, to technical ice and mixed climbing.

Scarpa say:

The Mt Blanc Pro is a warm and durable boot designed for technical mountaineering and winter climbing. The new Mt Blanc Pro is built around the latest Essential AC sole platform which is lightweight, and cushioned but also extremely burly and durable. The TPU insert at the toe gives a symbiotic connection to the latest automatic crampons.

The upper is a hardy 3mm perwanger leather backed up with a GORE-TEX® (Insulated Comfort Footwear) for cold weather use. The new ankle cuff design has an Exo-Ys TPU structure injected directly into the material, creating a really lightweight but supportive cradle around the ankle. The revised softshell gaiter is even easier to get into helping protect against snow and spindrift. The combination of PU Tek and rubber rand give the optimum blend of weight saving and reinforced protection, making the Mt Blanc Pro one of the lightest boots in its class.

  • Weight: 1800g per pair size 42
  • Sizes: 41-48 (men) 37-42 (women)
  • Crampon Rating: B3
  • Sole: Vibram® Essential AC
  • Last: NAG
  • Upper: 3mm Suede Perwanger HS12 + S-Tech Fabric + PU
  • Lining: GORE-TEX® (Insulated Comfort Footwear)
  • Insole: Pro-Fiber XT 20

For more info see scarpa.co.uk



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18 Mar

Glad you think they are good. I picked up a pair for £250 from Outside to replace my Ultras. I currently have my Chouinard Rigid cramps in bits, trying to fit them the MB Pros.

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