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What have you climbed in approach shoes?


Tony B · · Around Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2001 · Points: 23,295

I think the nature of the climb matters more than the difficulty.  Are we talking Crack?  I've done 5.11c OW Roof (Orangahang) in hiking boots with no sticky Rubber if that's the case.
hand cracks?  I did Lightning Bolt Crack (Six Shooters) in my partner's approach shoes after realizing we EACH brought one pair of her climbing shoes to the cliff and none of mine.  That's 5.11- as well.  The 10a traverse section was the crux that day, owing to lack of sticky rubber.

Are we talking slab?  Well, then the sticky rubber is key for sure, and a tighter fit matters?  I do about 5.6 or sometimes 5.7 slab in my approach shoes (Flatirons, on a regular basis), not much matter as to the brands I've used, but prefer a flat bottom to something with too much tread. Most of us who "scramble" don't use climbing shoes up there at all, but the 5.8's would be pretty scary like that.

What about pocket-pulling?  Can't say I've ever tried approach shoes on that, as I'd prefer a lower profile toe. No thanks!
But if we are talking jug hauls, well, then 5.11- (Fuzzy Undercling) in a pair of tevas.

The point here is that it matters if or not the shoe matters on that sort of climbing or that particular climb.
In my general approach shoes (Sportiva TX 3's or my old 5.tenie guides - the soft hightops) I'd have said a lot of 5.6 or a bit more slabs.
In my old, stiffer, leather-topped Boreal Flyers from the mid 1990's (think bowling shoes with stiff leather uppers and smooth rubber on bottom, not tread, and a stiff, low profile toe-cap...) well, I routinely did 5.8-5.9''s in them.  As in, I'd go climbing casual routes for a day in them, but not anything very hard.  IE I remember doing Pear Buttress and Endless Crack (5.8's at Lumpy Ridge) in approach shoes, specifically the Boreal Flyers.

Hope that helps.
master gumby · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 227

I know someone who I have seen climb up to .11's slab routes at sui and tahquitz.

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 7

i heard some people in yosemite solo five nine in their five tennies.

Long Ranger · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 316

Mostly Class 4. Sometimes 5.real-easy.

Rob warden The space lizard · · Now...where? · Joined Sep 2009 · Points: 0
Parker Kempf wrote: I did cookie monster (5.12a in the valley) in sportiva boulder x mid’s awhile back, because you know, spray and stuff

There is no way that grade is correct. It is not 12a... 

Routes like apollo reed, pumporama should be able with fitness to climb in highheels (at least between kneebars)

I have climbed mid 5.12 at maple and other steep areas in approach shoes

I did an silly invert offwidth thing in a pair of boulder xs

I climbed epinephrine in approach shoes with a buddy

I have the 5.10 approch pro and actually really like then. 
Attentive Follower · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2018 · Points: 0

Approach shoes today are better than the climbing shoes that were available when many classic climbs were first done.

Cosmiccragsman AKA Dwain · · Las Vegas, Nevada · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 101

5.10c in 5.tennies both friction and crack.
After the 5.10 dot rubber wears down I do my own resoling.
The 5.tennies with 5.10 c4 5.5 rubber and they make a great edging shoe.

I do have a 3x3 foot sheet of 5.10 c4 thick for sale for $100.00 + shipping
if anyone that does their own resoling is interested, and I can't climb anymore.

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 7
Cosmiccragsman AKA Dwain wrote: 5.10c in 5.tennies both friction and crack.
After the 5.10 dot rubber wears down I do my own resoling.
The 5.tennies with 5.10 c4 5.5 rubber and they make a great edging shoe.

Do you know of a place to still get the rubber? I can't find the resole kits, but i have some mid tops i'd love to resole.

Brian in SLC · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Oct 2003 · Points: 15,692

I solo'd Steorts Ridge in Big Cottonwood in a pair of leather work shoes.  Had rained the day prior and I saw some kids bail.  So...went straight after work hoping to get some booty.  They bailed from a loose (no longer there) single rusty pin.  No booty.  The climb was still pretty wet but I climbed it anyhow.  Was a bit more stimulating than expected...

Tetons up to 5.7-ish in approach shoes.

Cosmiccragsman AKA Dwain · · Las Vegas, Nevada · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 101
Chris Blatchley wrote:

Do you know of a place to still get the rubber? I can't find the resole kits, but i have some mid tops i'd love to resole.

Chris.
See my edit above your post


Chet Butterworth · · Chattanooga · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 475

V4 in my camo crocs. 5.4 in my TX4s. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Jeff Maurin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 15

I climbed the Full Exum Ridge (5.7) on the Grand Teton a bunch of years ago in LaSportiva Gandas.  I was barely a 5.8 leader at the time.  I have seconded some harder things in approach shoes, but I want to be a point or two below my lead grade if I'm not in rock shoes and on the sharp end.  Depends a lot on the nature of the climb, too.

climber pat · · Las Cruces NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 241

When i was young i did 1st ascent of 2 pitch 5.9 in actual tennis shoes. I also climbed 5.9 in plastic ice boots.

I watched a guy free solo 5.11 in cowboy boots.  Blew my mind, those things are slippery on the sole. 

Parker Kempf · · Bellingham, WA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 210
Rob warden The space lizard wrote:

There is no way that grade is correct. It is not 12a... 

Routes like apollo reed, pumporama should be able with fitness to climb in highheels (at least between kneebars)

I have climbed mid 5.12 at maple and other steep areas in approach shoes

I did an silly invert offwidth thing in a pair of boulder xs

I climbed epinephrine in approach shoes with a buddy

I have the 5.10 approch pro and actually really like then. 

i agree, but like, community consensus man https://www.mountainproject.com/route/105992940/cookie-monster

Matthew Bertolatus · · Minneapolis, MN · Joined Aug 2018 · Points: 40

Did a 5.7 in the gym in flip flops. 

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 7
climber pat wrote:I watched a guy free solo 5.11 in cowboy boots.  Blew my mind, those things are slippery on the sole. 

if that was austin howell, i believe they were resoled with sticky rubber

Martin le Roux · · Superior, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 279

Fritz Weissner on Never Never Land (5.10). Have a close look at the footwear. Yes he's on top-rope but he was 73 at the time. From Richard Dumais's "Shawangunk Rock Climbing" (1985).

climber pat · · Las Cruces NM · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 241
Chris Blatchley wrote:

if that was austin howell, i believe they were resoled with sticky rubber

They were head tennis shoes about 1980.  I only had nuts and hexes too.

Ethan Little · · Boulder · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 270

I did a 5.9 at Shelf in a pair of thin-sole tevas. The rock really bit in and felt solid. The foot jams weren't as nice...

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 974
Matthew Bertolatus wrote: Did a 5.7 in the gym in flip flops. 

When I set routes at the local University gym, I set in birkenstock knockoffs. Easy stuff, meant to be climbable in street shoes, but not just jug ladders. Usually came in as 5.6ish, by consensus. The intent was to let first time climbers discover a fun activity in the campus rec center, not scare the crap outta them.

My first climbs were outside, 5.6, 7ish stuff. Columnar black basalt, super slick, so shoe rubber didn't matter much at all. I climbed in really cheap Keds knockoffs, which happened to work fine on positive footholds, and small enough at the toe to stuff in whatever was available. Sticky shoes weren't a huge help, until I got on different rock. It was the ability to edge (which I could do in those Birks at the gym) and stuff them into spaces street shoes wouldn't go, that let me keep climbing. Only a month ago, was I on my first real friction slab, five years in! Only 5.4,5 or so, but sticky feet really mattered.

Best, Helen

EDIT to add, got rid of the only approach shoes I ever had. Dot rubber was awful on cheat grass, lol!
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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