With almost half of my munro journey under my belt now I was in need of a new pair of boots. My Mammut B1 winter boots had served me well as a do it all, 4 season hiking boot but had worn down over the miles. I’d enjoyed their overall stiffness to handle a C1 crampon, while still being flexible enough to be used during summer. High ankle support was also a feature that saved me from trips and falls in the mountains during my travels. Picking through the options available for new boots I decided on full winter boots to provide better grip levels. Enter the Scarpa Manta Pro.
Manta Pro Madness
The Scarpa Manta Pro is a B2 rated winter walking boot. It will fit both C1 and C2 level crampons. Meaning it can handle both the basket fitted Grivel model G9 and the new-matic G12. This was a big selling point for me as I could use my current G9’s I already had available. If I was later interested in trying more aggressive ice climbing could swap them for a different model.
Insolation was another key feature the Scarpa Manta Pro had that appealed to be during my search. Being B2 rated they were simply much warmer than my previous B1 Mammut boots. No longer would I need to wear two pairs of socks to keep my toes warm during long munro treks in double digit freezing conditions. They are more suitable for the dark depth of a Scottish winter for hiking in the highlands.
While providing a number of serious upgrades to my old boots the Scarpa Manta Pro are seriously stiff. Higher quality insolation and more grip comes at the expense of a heavier ridged boot. I have no intention of using my Manta Pro winter boots during summer as I use to with my B1 Mammut’s. An all season hiking tool these are not.
If you haven’t tried a more serious winter boot before, think of walking in ski shoes. There is a lack of flex and movement as you trudge forward into the mountains but that’s exactly what makes them so powerful when used in the right environment. Biting into snow and ice is no problem even before you start to pull out your crampons. Kicking steps into steep terrain is easy with the extra weight and toughness on offer. Stability is great with a strong high quality sole that feels like it will last many years of outdoor adventures.
First time trial
For munro summit number 139 of my 282 target I selected Being Dearg. At 1000m high in the Southern Cairngorms it looked the perfect option for breaking in my new Scarpa Manta Pro boots. The route was a long one at almost 19 miles cross country, I don’t do easy for a first time trial. Fortunately the terrain starting from Glen Tilt was of a gentle increasing gradient making for an enjoyable walk in.
The Manta Pro boots felt comfortable under foot during the first section of the route. Heavier weight is a good excuse for strengthening up the calf muscles and while feeling unusual at first the body quickly adapts. Grip levels were excellent covering the snowy and ice covered terrain, a big upgrade after my well worn B1 soles. After 6 miles in I stumbled across the Allt Sheicheachan bothy a real unexpected treat in the wilderness.
Bothy good time
My second visit to a bothy in 2019 was a welcome surprise. The perfect place to get out of the cold icy wind and enjoy a spot of lunch. Bothies are a network of mountain shelters there to be used by all free of charge. They are maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association who go out of their way to make sure hill walkers have a warm safe place to shelter out in the wilds of the Scottish highlands.
With its remote location just at the foot of Beinn Dearg in the Cairngorms, Allt Sheicheachan had plenty to offer. It was spotlessly clean inside and stocked full of supplies that would let you survive a cold night deep in the mountainside. If you are visiting a bothy for your first time remember to enjoy the experience and leave things clean and tidy as you found them for the next person.
Summiting Beinn Dearg
Before leaving the bothy I read the poem, ‘Just passing by’. A great reminder to enjoy the short time you have to the fullest and make the most of everything nature has to offer. The ascent from the bothy to Beinn Dearg make to climb more steeply from 500m onwards. Well marked land rover tracks turned into stalker routes that would have been ideal for summer mountain biking exploration. Perhaps a place to return to when my munro bagging journey is completed.
Given the long walk in I was expecting a quiet day out climbing Beinn Dearg but there were other similarly determined people around. Two groups of walkers made there way around to the summit shelter at the same time, proving I’m not the only lunatic in the asylum. Route finding for the final 500m ascent to the top was straight forward as visibility was excellent in the clear winter sun. Crampons weren’t required to be called into action with the grip offered by the Manta Pro boots staying strong throughout.
The walk back from the summit of Beinn Dearg gave me time to appreciate the beautiful arctic landscape. Blue skies and cloud free skies are always a sight to behold. My new Scarpa winter boots had my full of approval and didn’t make me suffer from any aches during the breaking in period. Calf muscles that will strengthen over time as they get use to the heavier weight and rigidity of the sole.
Although a long route Beinn Dearg is a good option for a winter munro. Gentle undulating slopes reduce the chance of avalanche drastically for walkers. Remember to check the latest reports from the Scottish Avalanche Information Service before heading out. Its a great source of information covering reports for all the major mountain areas in Scotland updated daily.