Words by Forrest Coots. Photos by Jordan Manley.
It’s been a big season. Lots of hours logged on snow and in my boots, bushwhacking and punching steep icy couloirs. For A Skier’s Journey we traveled from the mountains of Iran, which overlooked the Persian Desert, to exploring the origins of skiing in the Altai Mountains of China, and then finished with a 20 day traverse of the Coast Mountains of B.C., crossing the massive Homathko Icefield.
For kit, the Procline Boot was my one piece of footwear. That’s a lot of time, in a bunch of different conditions. As a ski racer, I grew up used to a stiff race boot, and boot performance in the mountains has always been a concern for me. The market is oversaturated with lightweight ski mountaineering boots, but they don’t really harmonize climbing and skiing that well. Something has to give. Either the boot is too soft to ski well, or too rigid for walking and climbing.
On the Coast Range traverse there were several days of slogging through an endless purgatory of alders, blow down and thorny brush on uneven terrain. Followed by a week and a half of traversing glaciers, where we felt like ants marching across an oceanic white desert of snow and ice. I lived in the boots all day, from long before the sun was up to long after it had set. But, for me it was like having two pairs of boots. One—a modern profile climbing boot that was light and nimble for technical spicy climbs, including gnarly no-trail approaches. Two— a ski boot stiff enough to drive the ski in the most challenging conditions, where each turn counts.
In China, we did find some blower powder. Any boot can ski well in that. Where the Procline really shines is on the firm edging snow. Many lightweight ski mountaineering boots ski like a Nike Air Jordan laced up super tight; the new Procline drives the ski through the turn. It is an amazing steep climbing and skiing weapon.
Watch Forrest ski the Procline boot in China:
The secret to this is the ‘split’ cuff. The design uses a three-piece heel construction to allow for both horizontal and lateral movement, an ingenious way to allow rolling movement of your ankle while unlocked, in climbing mode. On icy early morning skin tracks or when French stepping with crampons on, your ankle is allowed to roll and your feet stay flat on the snow. That gives me confidence. And as an added bonus, with the 75 degrees range of motion, I can drive my manual transmission truck, with my boots on.
After all I’ve put it through, 100+ days of wild, mixed terrain, climbing skiing and walking without trails or even footing, I would have to say that Arc’teryx has kicked in the door with the new Procline. On big trips like we did, a ski boot that climbs as well as it skis and weighs a mere 1190 grams, I have finally found the boot that performs for big mountain skiing.
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Visit A Skier’s Journey for the full story on Forrest, Chad and Jordan’s travels.
Watch the final season of A Skier’s Journey: