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La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme GTX boots: Ideal for ice/mixed climbing and single-day mountaineering
Posted on: March 14, 2019
Perhaps no piece of gear is more important in mountaineering than proper footwear. If your feet are cold or in pain, the rest of the system is basically void. It's hard to focus on the climbing during long days in the mountains if you don't have comfortable feet and warm toes.
La Sportiva's Trango line has been a staple for steep ice and mixed climbs as well as single-day mountain objectives for a long time. I was a huge fan of the "silver bullet" Trango EVO Extremes and logged countless pitches and endless miles in these iconic boots. When they were discontinued several years ago, I eagerly awaited their replacement as the soles on my trusty silver bullets grew increasingly thin.
I purchased the Trango Ice Cube GTX when they came out several years ago, but I was slightly disheartened by plastic eyelets, thin rands and the thin, fixed gaiter. They climbed like a dream and were quite warm, but durability seemed like a major issue. At an advertised weight of 25.64 ounces per boot, they certainly were light.
La Sportiva recently released the next generation of the Trango line, the Tower Extreme GTX. This sexy little boot is essentially the next generation of the silver bullet EVOs. I was immediately impressed with the overall build. Whereas the Trango EVO Extremes had leather uppers (which tended to soak up water), the Tower Extreme has a synthetic, water repellent upper that will not hold water.
Clint Helander wearing the La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme boots on an ice climb. [Photo] John Giraldo
Further comparisons to the Trango Ice Cube GTX ($550) were very surprising. The Tower Extreme GTX ($475) are advertised at 25.8 ounces per boot, which is essentially identical in weight and substantially cheaper. Whereas the Ice Cube GTX has a 3mm insole, the Tower Extreme boasts a warmer 9mm IBI-Thermo insole.
I've had the opportunity to test out the Tower Extremes for several weeks in Alaska and I have been thoroughly impressed. One of the first things I noticed was the enhanced rocker. Compared to other boots I've used lately, the Towers walked like a dream. On vertical ice, they performed exceptionally well and felt light and nimble. In temps ranging from 5F to 32F, I've had toasty feet. I was recently climbing Bridal Veil Falls in Valdez, Alaska, and I kicked through a sheet of ice on a particular belay ledge. About thirty seconds later, I realized I was standing ankle deep in a pool of frigid water. Amazingly, not a drip of water had soaked in. A leather boot would have been frozen solid, but I finished the day with warm, dry feet.
I spend a lot of time climbing around Alaska, Washington and Colorado. I'm still nostalgic for the days spent tromping around the globe with my trusty silver bullets, but I know the new iteration, the Towers, will serve me for years to come.
Clint Helander made the first ascent of Mt. Huntington's South Ridge (aka "Gauntlet Ridge") with Jess Roskelley in 2017. Their ascent is featured on the cover of Alpinist 59. You can find more of Helander's writing and photography at ClintHelander.com as well as Alpinist.com.
Close up of the La Sportiva Trango Tower Extreme boots in action. [Photo] John Giraldo
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