Another option for approach/descent in painful climbing shoes


Original Post
Gregger Man · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Aug 2004 · Points: 1,239

Whilst descending the Spearhead a couple weeks ago I thought of a way to make the climbing shoe walk-off less painful. I was walking down with the shoe heels collapsed so that they were like house slippers. Although that takes the pressure off the toes, it sucks in many respects (pebbles collect in the shoe, they slide off at nearly every step, can't turn the toes uphill without slipping, etc). A modification idea struck me: bungee cord attachment strap behind the heel.

I added small shock cord loops through unused shoelace eyelets - the stretch is critical for this to work. 24 inch sling. Can't girth hitch both sides since all the loops are closed, but you can do a basket hitch held in place by your ankle. Obviously this won't work very easily for climbers with ~size 5 feet, but you could probably make something else work if you set your mind to it. It takes a little experimentation to get the tension just right.

I tried this out on Tuesday on the walk-off from Yellow Spur and I chose to wear them this way all the way back to the parking lot just to see if they would wear a blister or become uncomfortable. They did not. I would actually consider this for the descent on SOB gully in The Black. No approach shoes required (size 13 shoes can really fill a backpack).

  1. girth hitch one side
  2. thread through opposite side
  3. thread back through first side
  4. take the loop over everything back to the opposite side
  5. foot goes between the first four strands and the final two

BigB · · Red Rock, NV · Joined Feb 2015 · Points: 340

lol...this is what I did to my climbing shoe and sneaker when I burned my heel so bad(I cut the back out of the shoe)...worked like a charm, even did a 5 mile hike in the sneakers.

Seems like it'd ruin the rubber on your climbing shoes pretty quick though.

Nick Sweeney · · Spokane, WA · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 650

Just bring approach shoes on the back of your harness...

Gregger Man · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Aug 2004 · Points: 1,239
Nick Sweeney wrote:

Just bring approach shoes on the back of your harness...

That's definitely option A. Not always the most preferred option, tho. Remember the thread on flammable footwear?: 

https://www.mountainproject.com//forum/topic/107558163

unemployed astronaut · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2017 · Points: 0
Nick Sweeney wrote:

Just bring approach shoes on the back of your harness...

Or just get a bigger bag.  Even my comfy multipitch shoes would be excruciating to walk any serious distance over uneven ground in, and I wouldn't want to put that mileage on them even if they were comfortable

Kyle Elliott · · Everett, WA · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 375

a pair of sandals weighs nothing if you dont feel like bringing walkin shoes up. if I'm returning to (or near) the base and not carrying over, i'll sometimes just bring just my socks (thicker wool socks)

Gregger Man · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Aug 2004 · Points: 1,239

Regarding wear & tear/comfort - if you set the tension correctly, the toes are 0.5-0.75" back from the front of the shoe. The leading edge doesn't get used when walking in them this way.

Sometimes light is right and you don't carry a pack. Sometimes you do need to carry a pack. Options.

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

I am glad to see this thread! I, too, have big feet (size 13-14 range) and carrying descent shoes in a small pack or on my harness is a pain in the butt. The best solution I have come up with has been to buy the lightest racing (running) flats I could find and clip them to the back of my harness. They are still big and bulky, though. And I'm not sure I really want to try the solution suggested by the OP either. I'll stay tuned to the discussion to see what other ideas are out there. Ideally, I'd love some sort of reasonable shoe that could be rolled or wadded up into a very small volume. 

Jay Eggleston · · Denver · Joined Feb 2003 · Points: 17,607

La Sportiva makes super light running shoes.  Just carry them on the back of your harness.

Adrienne DiRosario · · Troy, NY · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 0
Jay Eggleston wrote:

La Sportiva makes super light running shoes.  Just carry them on the back of your harness.

A word of caution. Although they're made by Sportiva its regular running/trail shoe rubber. I did some pretty steep granite slab descents last weekend and had a few "oh sh*t" moments as I slid all over the place. They'd be fine for normal trail approach/descents however. 

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

Yeah, I've seen a lot of people in the light trail runners.  Nice that they have clip loops and are close-toed, unlike sandals, but are much less bulky/heavy than approach shoes.  Has anyone considered/tried having them resoled with Vibram or Stealth rubber?

that guy named seb · · Britland · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 205
Ted Pinson wrote:

Yeah, I've seen a lot of people in the light trail runners.  Nice that they have clip loops and are close-toed, unlike sandals, but are much less bulky/heavy than approach shoes.  Has anyone considered/tried having them resoled with Vibram or Stealth rubber?

The tx2 fits all your requirements. 

Steve Murphy · · Loveland, CO · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 20

Take a look at Xero Shoes. Not as comfortable as the lightweight shoes mentioned above, but better than descending in climbing shoes. They weigh little, fold flat against each other, and you can hang them off the back of your harness quite easily.

Jim Fox · · Westminster, CO · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 40

Vivobarefoot makes super light minimalist shoes that are pretty easy to carry.

Not great soles for really loose terrain but ok. Different looking but weigh almost nothing. I wear them in camp while backpacking.

https://www.tanga.com/deals/1da86ff78aeb/vivobarefoot-mens-ultra-water-running-shoes?utm_source=google&affiliate_network=tanganetwork&click_id=2946db00673fde2eb167c0321990cb90&affiliate=gshop&utm_medium=cpc&gclid=EAIaIQobChMItrfA5fbC1QIV2FmGCh38sgMSEAkYDyABEgJYpvD_BwE

C J · · Sac Valley, CA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 0

If I'm not bringing approach shoes, then option B is the exact Vivo water shoes Jim linked.  

Maayan L · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 0

What about having your follower climb with your (and his / hers) approach shoes / hiking boots clipped to their harness? 

The way I see it, the leader carries the rack which is quite heavy. The second then carries the bag and shoes, and they are in for less risk, so it's OK if it feels more clumsy. This is how we do it anyways.

Gregger Man · · Broomfield, CO · Joined Aug 2004 · Points: 1,239

The proof of the pudding is in the eating of the pudding. I tried both methods this week on alpine routes with long descents. Climbed Star Trekkin' on Russell Tuesday and did not carry approach shoes. Each climber had a pack for water, food, and rain gear. I did my modified climbing shoe thing with a 24" sling and happily trucked down the scree slope with comfortable toes well ahead of my partners. On Thursday I climbed Fishhook Arete and took approach shoes to see if the same descent would be any faster or more comfortable. No real difference. In the future on alpine routes with stashed gear at the base I will sometimes choose this modified shoe thing. YMMV. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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