Your favorite big wall/aid shoe?


Original Post
Yosoymilk · · Bellingham · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 15

My partner and I have been training for our first trip to the valley in October. Sights set on the Zod and we have everything pretty much wired, except...

!!!SHOES!!!

Now IDK if its my etrier setup, bad technique, or maybe its part of the game; but man do my feet HURT 30ft off the deck.

I find myself slowing down mid-pitch and resting on my fifi's more as I get higher. Not tired, not fatigued, its literally just my feet ache to no end!

Even with proper placement in the ladder rungs the arch of my foot still takes a beating.

I thought at first it was my etriers, as I'm using the Metolius 8 step.

Does a spreader bar style aider help mitigate the foot pain?

What are you go to shoes for a predominantly aid grade VI?

Cheers! from Index, Wa

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,053

Look at these, http://borealoutdoor.com/en/products/details/big-wall I've outgrown the desire to do aid. The poor man's solution is to slip hard plastic arch supports in the climbing shoes to take some of the pounding off the foot. Hiking boots with steel shanks work pretty good if you're jugging all day too. JB

walmongr · · Gilbert AZ · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 85

Boreal bigwall boots! Calls the guys at Mt. Tools they will have you trace and fax your foot and order you the correct size. 

Cameron Saul · · San Francisco · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 10

Guide Tennies are pretty good, and you can moderate free in them.  

Spreader bars on etriers help too.  Fish ladders are pretty nice, but a friend just added a PVC spreader bar into his ladders and that seemed to work fine.  

NorCalNomad · · San Francisco · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 105

Why your feet ache is because you have all that pressure on your arch which hasn't evolved to take pressure directly onto it. 

A boot or approach shoe that has an arch shank (this is how a lot of stiff hiking footwear is done) is one way to distribute that force. 

Also using a insole that has a hard plastic shank on it (don't get one that sits the plastic next to your foot) works as well. The green and orange Superfeet are a good example of those type. 

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

The main feature you need to look for is a very stiff sole, particularly in the arch area, but forefoot is important too. I'm a fan of the Guide Tennies. I've done a lot of aid in them, including a few big walls and tall towers. Salewa has some nice approach/trail shoes with stiff soles that would work well. 

As others mentioned. A Spreader bar at the top of your aid ladders will help a lot. I really like the Yates Big Wall Ladders. The spreader bar and wider steps help a lot, especially when you're new or climbing tricky aid and you're stuck in one (high pressure) spot for 5 minutes trying to find some gear that works. 

Kauait · · Sandy Utah · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 0

Salewa  - MS Rapace GTX

Great walling boot! 

kevin deweese · · Oakland, Ca · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 350

Good Hiking boots with a rubber toe cap, stiff arch shank, and loops on the heel (to clip to yourself when you switch to free). When you're aiding wear the boots, when you switch to free for a bit, switch to your climbing shoes. Ladders (with spreader bar) are always better for long aid sessions. Unless you're going for speed in which case, the pain is important to keep you out of the aiders as much as possible. (and if you're going for speed, ladders are not as much of a friend as normal aiders.)

Yosoymilk · · Bellingham · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 15

Thanks guys, I have a pair of guides that I might upgrade with a stiffer insole.

Daniel Joder · · Boulder, CO · Joined Nov 2015 · Points: 0

Royal Robbins blue suede...oh, wait...just had a senior moment flashback.

CamBrown · · Clackamas · Joined May 2015 · Points: 50

Scarpa or 5.10 Guide tennies with Superfeet work for me. I have a high arch and use the blue super feet. Wall climbing is hard work. Good luck on the captain!

caribouman1052 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 5

- has to fit the shape of your foot

- the heel / achilles tendon curve has to match yours

- stiff arch

Fit to the shape is more important with wall shoes because you aren't going to get out them nearly as quickly as you can with free climbing.  Think more along the lines of a 

standard work boot... want a bad fit for the next 5 ten hour days in a row?  Avoiding heel lift is a really good goal, for the same reason.  If your calcaneus sticks way back, the 

Boreal probably won't work, but a Fitwell (used to be OneSport) will probably do ok.  Stiff arch... wicked important. I use approach shoes for work, specifically because I hate the 

clunky non-agility of clunky steel toe work boots.  Approach boots work for me when I'm on ladders all day, and I add a very stiff carbon-fiber arched insole.  I use my work shoes 

for aid climbing.  The other thing you might want to try is getting the aider loop at the mid point between the middle of your arch and the ball of your foot.  

- https://fitwellboots.com/

-Scarpa Crux will outlast 

- La Sportiva Explorer which breathes better than either the Scarpa Crux or the 

- La Sportiva Boulder X... of course you could always find an old pair of 

- Chouinard Canyon high tops, get them re-soled with something modern and have a heel wedge added.  I use mine in the winter with some thin wool sox in 'em,  Awesome.

Scott O · · California · Joined Mar 2010 · Points: 65

Guide tennies all day, every day

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60

The Zod?...

I'd ask if you've been getting your aid dialed what you've been climbing in. If that's worked to date, why change? There isn't that much mandatory free climbing on the route, so anything stiff would probably be fine.  If it has sticky rubber on the bottoms that would certainly help in a pinch and perhaps permit a free move here or there if you're trying to speed things up.  I disagree that fit is a critical issue.  These aren't intended to be free climbing shoes.  If they're OK to walk in, you'll be good.  I did the PO in a pair of Vasque hiking boots and they were fine (though I did have a pair of free climbing shoes for a couple of 5.9 pitches).

One thing that I didn't see the others mention is something with a good sturdy toe box.  Standing in aiders will trash the toes of your boots quick.  A flimsier shoe without a stiff toe box and not alot of rubber up front will survive perhaps a single wall.  

Edit: just saw the part about your feet aching.  My bad.  

Christopher Gibson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 90

I use the five ten camp fours, works great for those free moves as well.  Those Boreals look pretty sweet though.  

Kevin DeWeese 1 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0
Fat Dad wrote:

One thing that I didn't see the others mention is something with a good sturdy toe box.  Standing in aiders will trash the toes of your boots quick.  A flimsier shoe without a stiff toe box and not alot of rubber up front will survive perhaps a single wall.  

kevin deweese wrote:

Good Hiking boots with a rubber toe cap

Fat Dad · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 60

Good catch Kevin.  I missed that.  

One other point to the OP, if you're having that much problem standing in aiders, I'm going to take a wild guess that this might be your first wall.  If so, I'd seriously suggest a smaller undertaking first just to get your system dialed and make sure everything is running smoothly before you hump all that stuff up to the base.  If there's a smaller objective closer to where you live (i.e., Squamish), take a run at something there, or show up a week early and try Leaning Tower or The Prow or a similar two day objective.  You'll have fun and hopefully work out the kinks so your trip up the Captain will be that much more enjoyable.  

Kevin DeWeese 1 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0
Fat Dad wrote:

One other point to the OP, if you're having that much problem standing in aiders, I'm going to take a wild guess that this might be your first wall.  If so, I'd seriously suggest a smaller undertaking first just to get your system dialed and make sure everything is running smoothly before you hump all that stuff up to the base.  If there's a smaller objective closer to where you live (i.e., Squamish), take a run at something there, or show up a week early and try Leaning Tower or The Prow or a similar two day objective.  You'll have fun and hopefully work out the kinks so your trip up the Captain will be that much more enjoyable.  

Solid advice. Take it. 

Also I didn't notice earlier, but you're using a ladder without a spreader bar at the top. These are horrible for long route or primarily aid like ZOD and horrible everywhere else as well as a route with minimal aid is going to go better with non-ladder etriers. With the spreader bar at top, the sides of the ladders don't pinch into the sides of your feet as much. Granted, I don't have that much experience with ladder without a spreader bar at top because I used a pair for about 2-3 aid pitches and immediately bought Yates ladders and left the ladders without the spreader bar in my pack labeled "Aid gear for noob friends"

Daniel McCormick · · San Jose, CA > Bellingham, WA · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 45

I like the boreal flyer mids, basically an approach version of the big wall

Yosoymilk · · Bellingham · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 15

Wow great responses from all of you, thanks! 

I think Im on right path in terms of walling prerequisites. Ive been putting time in at Index, soloing, hauling 6-8p C1-3.

I've FA'd a strenuous A3 roof, 60ft over 4hrs hurt.

Never even climbed in Squamish; got my hands on the 1999 guide however, routes like Negro Lesbian, Cowboys & Indians, Uncle Ben's look apealing.

Ive noticed I'm stubborn in a way that I would rather just cope with an uncomfortable system rather than address it. I always tell myself, "aww this hurts

but this aid climbing, its suppose to." I think Im going to try Guide's with Superfeet. 

I know I have it better than most, but it is hard finding local objectives that compare to the grand scale of a valley grade VI.


CamBrown · · Clackamas · Joined May 2015 · Points: 50

SOLEs are better IMO than Superfeet. I've used both and the SOLEs are much more durable. I've had the plastic in Superfeet break. I believe I mistakingly mentioned Superfeet in a previous post when I intended to mention SOLEs.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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