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Making my ski boots Denali ready

Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing. Gear Classifieds
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Making my ski boots Denali ready

Postby Couloirman » Thu Dec 27, 2007 1:55 am

So I am planning a Denali ski trip for this June and was wondering about my boots. I have some scarpa spirit 4's and was wondering if I will have to do anything to them to make them warmer for the trip? Do I just buy a size too large to allow an extra pair of socks to fit in there? Buy some extra warm Intuition powerwrap liners? Do nothing as the standard liners and regular thick ski socks will be fine? I have never had cold feet in ski boots( I have climbed/skied in -30 or so in CO winter), but I have also never skied next to the arctic circle so I guess I don't really know squat about it. Looking for info from someone who has been and has firsthand knowledge, so I figured this may be the place to go. Thanks in advance.
Couloir than you are

Re: Making my ski boots Denali ready

Postby Bean » Thu Dec 27, 2007 7:01 am

Thin socks in a ski boot works best for warmth. Don't know the year of your boot but the new ones already have Intuition liners. Just make sure they're baked. Maybe look in to supergaiters. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes, I'm planning on the same trip for 2009.
gdthomas wrote:Bean, you're an idiot.

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Re: Making my ski boots Denali ready

Postby firsttracks » Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:39 am

I'd suggest the following:
1. Replace your liner with the Intuition Denali liners.
2. For the summit day climb, use the Forty Below Purple Haze overboot. You can remove it for your summit ski descent.

Both are available from Alaska Mountaineering. Read their disclaimers about using overboots with crampons -- you'll want to practice ahead of time. Also, I'd suggest calling them to talk about the set-up. They know Denali and the Alaska Range really well. Every climber going up there stops by their shop (which is surprisingly small).

My own disclaimer: I left my skis behind for this one, because my partner didn't ski. So, I went with the Millet Everest boot (and had toasty feet the entire trip). I haven't tried this with my own AT boots -- yet -- but this is my plan.

-Ryan

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Re: Making my ski boots Denali ready

Postby TomPierce » Thu Dec 27, 2007 8:49 am

Couloirman: I've been up there and spent almost 2 weeks on the mountain, we went on AT skis. Only got to 17.200, however, due to some snowblindness. Long story. Anyway, a few questions and comments: How high will you be going to ski? Once above 14,200 there's very little skiiable terrain although I'm sure it's been done. Very icy higher up the mountain, I mean plate blue Alaskan ice, not "icy" snow. Also depends on the time you go. May=cold, June=warmer, in some cases significantly (we straddled May/June). If you only get up to 14K to ski, and go later in May/June, I'd say you can easily get away with Colorado winter gear..but good gear, ie excellent socks/footbeds, etc. If you plan to ski off the top, I'd say the Intuition liners and an insulated supergaiter should be fine. That allows step in crampons, much more precise than overboots and strap ons (which I admit I never used, looked too sloppy to me, but that's what I hear). I went up in Asolo Expedition boots, sized 1/2 size big (but 1/2 with my socks on...), and was balmy warm at 17K. In my opinion (I can hear the dissenters already! :-)) much of what is written about Denali gear is overkill. Sure, you have to plan for a worse case scenario, weather can flip, things go wrong, but also consider that you'll have a radio and can get a daily weather forecast, there's a staffed medical tent at 14K, and when things go bad weather-wise you'll be in a good tent (hopefully). Absolutely bring all the standard foul weather stuff (facemask/balaclava, mitts, down sweater/parka), but again solely my opinion, Everest style boots and down suits are too much (unless of course you go in April or earlier, which I hear is brutally cold)). Sizing boots 2 sizes too big ensures sloppy boots, why maximize your chances of catching a crampon point when you're tired? Once again, solely my opinions. If you want more info let me know. Sounds like a cool trip, have fun, be careful!

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Re: Making my ski boots Denali ready

Postby firsttracks » Thu Dec 27, 2007 9:41 am

TomPierce wrote:Once above 14,200 there's very little skiiable terrain although I'm sure it's been done. Very icy higher up the mountain, I mean plate blue Alaskan ice, not "icy" snow.


OK, I'll chime in again ;) In my opinion, the best skiing on the mountain is above 14,200'. You will be drooling at the couloirs coming off the North Summit heading down towards the 17,200' camp. The terrain between the 16k ridge / 17k' camp and the 14k' is spectacular for steep skiing. Orient Express, Rescue Couloir, Messner Couloir, even the Headwall and slopes below Denali Pass. All are perfect for sustained, steep (45-55+ degree) skiing. Here are some pics of ski opportunities above 14k':

North Summit Ski Couloirs:
Image

Another view (Denali Pass is on the far right):
Image

Messner Couloir & West Rib Cut-Off (above 14k' camp):
Image

Pig Hill (the final climbing obstacle, but first ski reward of the South Summit):
Image

As for the blue ice, it really depends on conditions. We saw conditions change from solid blue ice to beautiful, skiable soft snow within two days. Lots of those couloirs on the upper mountain will be in great shape. When I go back, I'll plan to spend several weeks skiing out of the 14k' and 17k' camps.

Good luck training / finalizing plans! I hope you have an incredible trip up there.

-Ryan

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Re: Making my ski boots Denali ready

Postby Couloirman » Thu Dec 27, 2007 12:43 pm

Thanks guys! Definitely plan on skiing off the summit(if weather holds and we have great luck, hopefully multiple times for Messner, Orient, North summit couloirs, etc...) I'm planning on bringing enough food for 30-40 days on the mountain and if I can find the right partners heading to some of the neighboring peaks as well. I figure, who knows when Ill be able to get back to AK so I might as well make it worth my while!
Couloir than you are

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