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Boreal Ballet Gold shoes


Original Post
Buck Rio · · St Paul · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

This is an initial impression of the Boreal Ballet Gold climbing shoe. I have only used them in the gym so far to break them in for the outdoor season, so all of my opinions are based on that.



Availability:  Good luck finding these in a local shop if you don't live in Boulder....they are not nearly as popular as they used to be. I had to order online (Backcountry/Mtn Tools/Neptunes).

Fit: I wear a size 10.5 street shoe, and have a Roman foot shape. I ordered a size 10 and a 9.5 from Backcountry, and kept the size 10. They are a snug but not painful fit, as long as I keep my nails short. They are fully lined, and I do not expect them to stretch very much, if at all. The lacing goes all the way down the toes, which I prefer, so they are infinitely adjustable. They also have a really thick padded tongue, so they protect the top of your foot in hand cracks. After a few sessions they really have molded to my feet, I can wear for 2-3 hours without any pain. They are very similar to the Boreal Ace (Peter Croft soloed Astroman in them) in fit and profile, so if you don't like the Ace, these might not work for you.

Performance/Face: These things really rock on small edges, very good support. The rubber compound (FS-Quattro) is maybe not a soft as I would like, but it is not nearly as bad as some other reports would have you believe. These shoes were much better than anticipated smearing on the textured climbing walls in the gym. I was able to do 5.9 chimney moves by just smearing. Quartzite will probably be a different story. These shoes do not do well if you try and hook anything...they are a very stiff shoe. But that isn't why I bought them, I have Cobras for that.

Performance/Crack:  My gym has multiple sculpted cracks (Nicros) that I was able to try these shoes on. 5.9 hand crack they excelled. Very little foot pain, they were absolutely solid. 5.10ish thin hands to rattley finger they were OK, but it was difficult to really work the toe into the crack, this is the lower limit for this shoe. Finger crack the toe profile is just too beefy to get a good purchase, you are just smearing the outside of the crack, which may work for lighter people, I'm 6'2 & 210 lbs.  Offwidth - these shoes are built for this. They really do well inside of a big crack, they are stiff and didn't slip at all inside the crack when I thrutched around. I was able to crank these into the crack to feel as solid as an offwidth can feel.  Plus there is enough ankle coverage to keep your skin on your ankle and not in the crack. This is the main reason I got these shoes, I have a couple of Valley routes on my tick list that include OW sections. These shoes would also be ideal for tiptoeing around on really small crystals like in the Needles of SD or perhaps the Monastery.

Quality: I can't really speak to their durability, since I have only had them a short while, but the fit and finish are excellent...really good. The seams on these are TIGHT, and I didn't get any hotspots or chafing anywhere. The pull tab is pretty beefy and reinforced so it looks like it won't be a problem. The side rubber is holding up well and not de-laminating at all. My old Synchros didn't last one trip with out peeling away from the leather and requiring glue, so these are a pleasant surprise. The weak point on these shoes is the laces. In some sized cracks they will contact the rock since they lace down so far. Just make sure you have a spare set when going on a road trip.

Cost:  Well these aren't the most expensive shoe out there, but they ain't cheap either. I paid about $160.

Comparison/Opinion: I also looked at the TC pro and Butora Altura, which are comparable in price. The TC Pro just straight up didn't fit my foot, no matter the sizing. Extremely painful in size 42 and sloppy in 43, so I guess I can't really compare them. The Altura is a much softer shoe compared to the Boreal Ballet Gold. They didn't strike me as an edging/OW type shoe, felt a lot like my Mythos in a high top. The back of the shoe also bit into my Achilles painfully when I cranked them down. I just didn't feel the same juju when I put them on. They also didn't fit my foot profile as well as the Boreals, even though they were the wide foot option. I'd say these compare well to the Kaukulator, which was my old crack shoe until disintegrating.

Overall I guess the reason I like these so much is that they really fit my feet well, with no dead spots, and very little pain. They deserve a spot in your arsenal of shoes if you climb any OW or need really precise edging shoes and you have a similar foot profile to me. So if the TC Pro doesn't fit your foot, try these.

I am 51 years old and have been climbing (off & on) for about 30 years.
Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,785

It's nice to see an older shoe (these came out, what, 20+ years ago?) that can compete with the oh-so-popular-these-days TC Pro. I have to admit, I get a chuckle watching the new generation rediscover the benefits of a firm shoe.

Earl Finch · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 60

I love these shoes. My street shoe is a size 10. I go a half size down (9.5) and resole with c4. I do the same with the boreal Aces. I go up a half size for socks. These shoes will take a beating and plenty of resoles.

Buck Rio · · St Paul · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
Earl Finch wrote: I love these shoes. My street shoe is a size 10. I go a half size down (9.5) and resole with c4. I do the same with the boreal Aces. I go up a half size for socks. These shoes will take a beating and plenty of resoles.

I would do the same if someone still had access to C4 rubber. Since Adidas took over, rubber has not been readily available. I'll probably go with the Edge for a resole if it isn't available when the FS Quatro runs out.

Ashort · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 35

They are comfy and nice to climb in all day but I hated the rubber that came on them. My feet slipped off more stuff in those shoes than any other. Maybe I'm just a bad climber though. 

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530

Wild, I didn't think they made those anymore...

Buck Rio · · St Paul · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
Ashort wrote: They are comfy and nice to climb in all day but I hated the rubber that came on them. My feet slipped off more stuff in those shoes than any other. Maybe I'm just a bad climber though. 

I find they are good for small edges, and jamming.

Gunkiemike · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 2,785
Ashort wrote: They are comfy and nice to climb in all day but I hated the rubber that came on them. My feet slipped off more stuff in those shoes than any other. Maybe I'm just a bad climber though. 

No, it wasn't you. Borea;'s rubber back then WAS that slick.

Ashort · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 35

That was on granite too, I will bust them out on the sandstone around here to see how they perform, but I may have resoled with another rubber already. 

Buck Rio · · St Paul · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0
John Wilder wrote: Wild, I didn't think they made those anymore...
I don't think Boreal has many rep's in the US any more, so you don't see as many Boreal's period any more. I am really impressed by the quality and craftsmanship of this shoe. Every aspect, from the stitching to the rubber contour and glue is perfect. They are starting to soften up a bit. They really do well on the local basalt edges, don't shed rubber bits when on a sharp dime sized hold. C4 tends to roll off these types of holds for me.

I am guessing that younger climbers concentrate more on bouldering and sport climbing than older traddies like me, and require a different sort of shoe. Since these are so beefy, and can be resoled, Boreal kind of put themselves out of business in this shoe niche. The Ballet's even do OK if you need to step into some etriers for a bit, they have enough of a midsole to prevent the steps from digging into your foot. I would avoid big walls, but are great for aid routes with some mandatory free climbing.  
Steve Smith · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 3

I bought a pair of these last week and had to exchange for a smaller size. Street shoe is 11.5 and I found the size 11 too big for me. There was a noticeable gap between my big toe and the edge. I am hoping that the 10.5’s will fit better and feel more secure. For reference, my go to shoes for everything right now are size 10 Galileos.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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