The Scarpa Cristallo GTX is designed to replace the Pro Ascent, which itself replaced the Mescalito, the common denominator being supreme performance when scrambling on rock. Like its predecessors it benefits from lacing that extends to the toe, and a stiff outsole. What sets it apart is the more general mountain performance characteristics of the upper and sole, which make it less specialised than its lineage might suggest.
The Scarpa Cristallo GTX is based around a synthetic and leather upper with a Gore-Tex lining for waterproof protection, and a rubber rand for durability on rock. This combination of materials is ideal for reducing weight while maintaining performance on dry rock as well as tackling wet bogs during an approach walk. The ankle cuff is high enough to provide support to the ankle when scrambling and to protect the ankle from stray rocks. The ankle cuff also flexes forward easily to allow a natural walking action. Underfoot there is a Vibram sole unit with a ‘climbing zone’ area to add extra performance when scrambling. There is good cushioning underfoot too. The boot can’t take a crampon with a heel clip, but Scarpa does recommend the boot is used with a strap-on Grivel G10 or Air Tech New Classic crampon for crossing easier snow and ice. The boot is reasonably lightweight for the performance too.
On the hill
I wore the Scarpa Cristallo GTXs straight from the box and they felt great. The boot is firm on the foot rather than overly padded and provides a good ‘feel’ for the ground beneath the foot. The flex allows a good walking action, and it is easy to forget that these are such a scrambling performance-orientated design when you are walking in them. Get them on rock and they feel very secure though. The toe feels ideal for delicate placements on small holds, while being good for crashing through scree and tackling rock. The stiffness in the sole is perfect for using smaller holds with confidence, making this ideal for Grade 3 scrambles, while the general stiffness of the upper and sole suit it to long days on rocky terrain. That ankle cuff protects the foot well so you can jam this into corners without fear of skinning your ankles, while the rubber rand offers excellent protection for the upper too. Like many well-designed boots, it just feels right and would be ideal for long days on traditional mountain routes, scrambles and via ferrata types of terrain. The ability to fit crampons broadens the Alpine performance to approaches requiring glacier or easier snow traverses. There are more flexible boots that are lighter and lower-priced which would be better for shorter summer scrambles where more general mountain performance is not required.
Upper suede leather, synthetic fabric, Gore-Tex waterproof lining
Sole Vibram Mulaz sole with integrated climbing zone
Crampon compatibility B1
Weight 1788g (pair, size 11)
Made in Italy
Stores in the UK 70
Stockist details tel. (0191) 296 0212; www.mountainboot.co.uk
The Scarpa Cristallo GTX has excellent stiffness for rock and easier snow; crampon-compatible; relatively light weight for its performance and features; good ankle flex.
But it cannot be fitted with heel clip crampons. It’s a well-priced boot for scrambling in a variety of mountain terrain, and it won ‘Best in Test’.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine June 2010