It's not true that mountaineers have to take off their boots to count to ten. OK, maybe sometimes it's true. If you want absolute certainty that all your little piggies will be there to count on you need to go big with a true 8,000 meter boot, and La Sportiva's Olympus Mons is the state of the art. Side note: don't be fooled by the new digital pattern design and red highlights on the upcoming 2013 model pictured here; we have assurances from La Sportiva that it is purely a cosmetic difference, and the old mountain logo boot is otherwise exactly the same.
The Mons uses the same inner boot as the Spantik. The lacing system simply can't be beat, using velcro tabs at the end of an improbably thin zig-zag lacing system. It's much tougher than it looks, but we have heard of it breaking so carry a spare. Where the Spantik goes with a different system for the outer boot, the Mons uses the same system on both inner and outer boots. It just does not slip, and anyone who has ever fought with their laces at altitude will be instantly converted to this new system.
Even better, no overboot is required, even on Denali. The Mons tips the scales at six pounds and two ounces per pair, size 43. That's lighter than most double boots that do require an overboot; even the Spantik weighs in at just a few ounces less for a pair at the same size. And yes, we actually weighed the them side by side. Add in the overboot, which is prudent for the Spantik on Denali, and you're looking at another pound-and-a-half at least.
Performance is paramount, of course, and the Mons shines here as well. The boot took a pair of automatic Sabretooth crampons no problem, and even a pair of ultralight CAMP Tour 350 aluminum autos fit, though just barely. On vertical ice, not its intended application, the Mons still climbs well due to the great shin support; you can really drop your heels and engage your secondary points while the boot takes some of the strain off your calves. That same stiffness makes it a slow walker, and your shins may feel it during the break-in. Not as nimble as the Spantik, especially for edging rock, the Mons is nevertheless a great frontpointer. As usual for La Sportiva, foot volume is snug so you may need to go a size up.