July 19, 2012 – After a couple of hikes I think I’m ready to commit to a long day out with this new shoe from LaSportiva. My sense is the Xplorer is going to be a nice ultralight scramble boot, or approach shoe. I am really appreciating the lacing system. I am able to have them firm where I want, and less so at the toes or elsewhere.
I generally lace them a bit loose, and without the top boot hook for uphill on trails. For descents, or off trail, scrambling, and climbing I snug them up appropriately. The shoe closes around my foot like a glove
Most likely I will still choose a more rugged and protective boot for serious back country trips like the Pickets or similar, but the Xplorer should be nice for many fast and light missions. The Thunder, also from LaSportiva is currently my rugged light weight boot of choice. A boot with a very generous and roomy toe box.
July 25, 2012 – The Xplorers took me up and down Mt. Stuart last Sunday. 15.5 hours round trip from the Ingalls Lk. / Long’s Pass Trailhead, with 7,000′+ elevation gain and loss. The trip starts with several miles of trail up to Ingalls Pass. Followed by a couple miles of snowfields and off trail travel leading to the mountains west ridge. The next 2,000′ is scramble rock climbing to a point where we roped up for several pitches of mid 5th class. For this section, I added a pair of socks and snugged up the laces a bit. The Xplorer’s climbed really well, and it was nice not having to carry a second pair of (rock) shoes.
The long descent from the summit would be a big test, with 4’500′ of foot torture known as Cascadian Couloir. Scrambling leads past the false summit to a very steep snowfield with nasty runout above rocks. I used the Grivel Air Tech Light crampons and one trekking pole that fits inside my pack for the snowfield. Then it was talus, scree, and steep loose footing seemingly forever. A quick stop at Ingalls Cr. was followed by 1,500′ of ascent to Long’s Pass, and then a final 2,500′ of steep trail down to the car.
Mission accomplished. I like these shoes!