Asolo Choatse | $430 | www.asolo.com | 4 stars
Cholatse is an awesome 21,000-foot mountain in the Khumbu region of the Himalaya. Cholatse is also an awesome ice and alpine boot. The Cholatse weighs 1 pound 14 ounces apiece (men’s 9), on the low side of the scale for alpine and ice footwear. It feels light and nimble, with trim contours, yet has a surprisingly high-volume fit that accommodates blocky American feet. I especially liked the latter feature, as many mountaineering boots are molded for the narrow Euro foot, and squeeze and freeze my democratic dogs. A neoprene cuff seals the boot top, keeping snow and evil out, and eliminating the need for a gaiter.
Thanks to a carbon-fiber frame that goes from heel to toe, the Cholatse is rigid enough to take a water-ice crampon, but flexes enough fore and aft to walk naturally. Side-to-side ankle flexibility is excellent and you can easily French technique up low-angle ice. A quiltwork lining of Thinsulate wards off cold as if you’re wearing a second thick pair of socks, except these socks are always with you. I wore the Cholatse for various outings of between zero degrees and freezing, and my feet were never chilly. I can’t give you the bottom-end for temperature performance, but in the lower United States in the mountains throughout the year, I reckon the Cholatse has you covered for just about anything. To lower the boot’s temperature range even more, swap out the stock footbeds with an insulated after-market pair such as those from Toasty Feet ($13).
I used the Cholatse for snowy approaches, water-ice pillars, modern mixed climbing and plain old rock. On all terrain it excelled and I continue to be impressed by the boot’s comfort and warmth. In fact, I’d go so far as to rank it among the very best boots of its genre, and for the money, a mountain of a deal.