Burn from a climbing shoe?


Original Post
Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300

I had a weird experience a few weeks back, I was climbing on a moderately hot day, probably about 85 degrees. I was belaying my second with my back to the sun and as the day went on my heel began to hurt quite a bit.  When I took off my shoe at the end of the climb, there was a large circular patch of white with a small red spot in the center. This went on to form a blister which recurred three or four times over the next few days after draining it.  It took probably 10 days to fully heal. There's still a dark red scar where the injury occurred. This seems like more of a burn to me than a blister and I'm wondering if it was possible that the heat from the Sun on my shoe actually caused the problem. The shoes are fully broken in TC Pros on their second resole and I've never gotten a blister from them. Anyone else had this experience?

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Yes, my heels get hot in the direct sun. A friend suggested putting white athletic tape on the heel of the shoe would hep. Made sense, but didn't work. Liner socks may help some. I actually try to position my feet such that they are in the shade (from my legs) when I'm belaying. 

Edit: I have occasionally dropped the shoe off my heel while belaying, but I don't like the risk of dropping a shoe.


amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20

Not a medical professional, but, heck, this is the interwebs.
Sounds way too localized to be heat burn caused from diffused heat source like sun. I would call chemical burn of some sort, skin damage due to tight shoe and dirt,  or insect bite.

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 93

Could it have been a bug bite?

Big B · · Sin City, NV · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0

Yes, you can get burned....^ my foot(heel) after climbing in 100* temps with direct sunlight(same day)...

My foot weeks later ....

All said it took about 4-5 months for it to heal, and I still have issues 2 years later. 

Edit to add:

I was wearing TC pros when this^ happened as well   :/

and I still wear the same pair all the time without problems ...until my heals are in direct sun.

Parker Wrozek · · Denver, CO · Joined Mar 2012 · Points: 83

Thanks for the gross photos. 


I was leading a pitch one day and my shoes were so unbearably hot that I got to a sit down ledge and took my shoes off for 5 min and put them in the shade before continuing. You can get burns from the hot black rubber for sure.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265

Our local cliffs also get very hot, more so than just the temp would suggest.

Black sandals get hot enough to be uncomfortable, black shoes, unbearable. 

This is why I will not be going to Velcro for my next climbing shoes. It seems to be stylish to have a huge swathe of black on the shoe, in addition to the velcro.

I vote for a burn being possible. A spider bite would be my other guess. They take a long time to heal also.

Best, H.

Jake wander · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 175

usually happens to my toes at a hanging belay. i usually curl them up and dont get burned but are very hot. 

but id say that yes it is very possible that something that is black, absorbing direct sunlight, smashed up against fairly soft skin for long periods could cause a burn. 

ever sat on black leather seats in a car that has been sitting in direct sunlight on a hot day while youre wearing shorts? i bet leather doesnt have the heat capacity that climbing rubber does either.

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300
amarius wrote:

Not a medical professional, but, heck, this is the interwebs.
Sounds way too localized to be heat burn caused from diffused heat source like sun. I would call chemical burn of some sort, skin damage due to tight shoe and dirt,  or insect bite.

Ha, I AM a medical professional and I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't experienced it. Definitely not a bug or a foreign body. 

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 265
Optimistic wrote:

Ha, I AM a medical professional and I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't experienced it. Definitely not a bug or a foreign body. 

Bare skin next to something that transmits heat??? 

Ever seen tar on asphalt? Ever walk barefoot on asphalt? 

Sometimes modern medicine lacks plain old common sense.

:-)

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300
Big B wrote:

Yes, you can get burned....^ my foot(heel) after climbing in 100* temps with direct sunlight(same day)...

My foot weeks later ....

All said it took about 4-5 months for it to heal, and I still have issues 2 years later. 

Edit to add:

I was wearing TC pros when this^ happened as well   :/

and I still wear the same pair all the time without problems ...until my heals are in direct sun.

Bummer B! You got hit even worse than me! The weird part is it really wasn't all THAT hot, definitely nowhere near 100. 

My own war wound, about 1 month out: 

And no, those are not my pink flip flops. 

amarius · · Nowhere, OK · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 20
Optimistic wrote:

Bummer B! You got hit even worse than me! The weird part is it really wasn't all THAT hot, definitely nowhere near 100. 

I had a similar, but much smaller blister from climbing shoes. Definitely not a direct sun heat related - was in a gym. It was warm, 80-85F, humid. Shoes were properly broken in, not too loose, not too tight. I attributed to lack of foot and shoe hygiene  - the gym where I climb is one step removed from a dump.

Mike Berkow · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 5

Sitting for far too long waiting for some beginners on the 3rd Flatiron, I got a pretty good burn on the side of my foot, where the rubber comes around the sides.  Just sitting in the sun for like an hour was enough.

cyclestupor · · Woodland Park, Colorado · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 93

Wow.   This thread had been informative.   I've had my feet feel really hot before when climbing on hot days.   I never would have thought that kind of burn was possible.   Good to know... 

In fact a quick Google search reveals that a burn is possible if skin is heated to temps as low as 109.4f for long periods.  I guess that blood flow world normally keep the skin well below that threshold, but stuffing them in climbing shoes probably squeezes out most of the blood flow around the heel. 

Did those of you who got burned feel any serious pain during the climb, or only after? 

Jaren Watson · · Boise, Idaho · Joined May 2010 · Points: 1,205

Fourth law of thermodynamics: hot stuff is hot. Damn right you can get burned by blazing hot rubber. Ever climbed on basalt on a summer afternoon?

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300
cyclestupor wrote:

Wow.   This thread had been informative.   I've had my feet feel really hot before when climbing on hot days.   I never would have thought that kind of burn was possible.   Good to know... 

In fact a quick Google search reveals that a burn is possible if skin is heated to temps as low as 109.4f for long periods.  I guess that blood flow world normally keep the skin well below that threshold, but stuffing them in climbing shoes probably squeezes out most of the blood flow around the heel. 

Did those of you who got burned feel any serious pain during the climb, or only after? 

Mine was definitely hurting standing on the ledge. If I remember correctly it would go away when I started climbing. 

Tylerpratt · · Litchfield, Connecticut · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35

This shit is crazy. Never heard of this happening before.

Big B · · Sin City, NV · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 0
cyclestupor wrote:

Wow.   This thread had been informative.   I've had my feet feel really hot before when climbing on hot days.   I never would have thought that kind of burn was possible.   Good to know... .....

Did those of you who got burned feel any serious pain during the climb, or only after? 

My heels felt hot, like someone was holding a lighter to them hot.... I kept telling my partner, "my feet feel like they're on fire"..... his response.. " yeah, it's vegas, it's hot out here" .... so we kept climbing...smh!    High pain threshold + moron = burned :/ 

edit: btw I burned both my heels that day ..^ that one was just the worst of the two...

wonderwoman · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2006 · Points: 84
Optimistic wrote:

I had a weird experience a few weeks back, I was climbing on a moderately hot day, probably about 85 degrees. I was belaying my second with my back to the sun and as the day went on my heel began to hurt quite a bit.  When I took off my shoe at the end of the climb, there was a large circular patch of white with a small red spot in the center. 

I am sorry this happened to you!

As soon as I anchor in, my shoes come off.  You will never catch me wearing my climbing shoes while belaying.  This has nothing to do with heat / sun for me, but more about general comfort.  I don't think that our feet a designed to be wedged into climbing shoes all the time, and I personally find that I have more 'foot endurance' during climbing trips when I take care of my feet.  

Optimistic · · New Paltz · Joined Aug 2007 · Points: 300
wonderwoman wrote:

I am sorry this happened to you!

As soon as I anchor in, my shoes come off.  You will never catch me wearing my climbing shoes while belaying.  This has nothing to do with heat / sun for me, but more about general comfort.  I don't think that our feet a designed to be wedged into climbing shoes all the time, and I personally find that I have more 'foot endurance' during climbing trips when I take care of my feet.  

Thanks for the well wishes! These were my all day fit TC pro's. I've climbed several hundred trauma free pitches in them (sometimes wearing them continuously for an 8-10 pitch route and the accompanying descent) so this was quite a curve ball for me! I do have other shoes that come off at every belay, but it's previously been unnecessary with these...

Nate Doyle · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 10
wonderwoman wrote:

I am sorry this happened to you!

As soon as I anchor in, my shoes come off.  You will never catch me wearing my climbing shoes while belaying.  This has nothing to do with heat / sun for me, but more about general comfort.  I don't think that our feet a designed to be wedged into climbing shoes all the time, and I personally find that I have more 'foot endurance' during climbing trips when I take care of my feet.  

Do you throw on a pair of Furoshiki?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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