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Messages 21 - 40 of total 60 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 19, 2010 - 10:39am PT
Rock climbing in boots pretty much sucks- I've done a fair amount of it over my alpine climbing career. Could never force myself to "practice" rock climbing with boots on. Rock climbing has always been too much fun for me to knowingly handicap myself in any way.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 19, 2010 - 10:59am PT
The cobbler's curse never lost traction...LOL

I started out in RR Yosemites and I'm glad that I did because I learned a lot about footwork in terms of weight distribution and steady contact. I quit using chalk very early on and that sharpened up my footwork even more!

The amount of focus and care necessary for leading was much higher, BITD!
rgold

Trad climber
Poughkeepsie, NY
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:15am PT
I've lived through multiple iterations of shoe concepts. The original kletterschue came stiff, like the Spiders Peter mentioned, medium, like the Cortina's he also mentioned and also Zillertals, and soft, like Kronehoffers, the slipper of BITD.

Kamps was the Cortina master; he did things in them which remain very impressive even in today's upgraded fit and rubber.

For the steep face-climbing areas I learned to climb it, it was generally assumed that stiffer was better. For climbing at Devil's Lake in Zillertals, we used to use homemade insoles cut from thin cookie baking sheets. These made funny sounds when they flexed a little and eventually cracked, so it was prudent to have a second pair available.

Sometime in the sixties, while perusing a French climbing magazine (Alpinisme?), I saw an ad for RD's (the initials belong to Rene Desmaison). These had a beautiful thick leather upper, a smooth but very hard sole, and a steel shank for stiffness. I somehow managed to figure out sizing and ordered a pair from the catalog of Edouard Frendo. The total cost, after paying import duty, was $15. These shoes eventually became the standard for Gunks climbing, and were independently "discovered" by Western climbers, although they never caught on for Yosemite climbing.

As we moved into the seventies, the face-climbing shoe of choice became one of the Shoenard iterations. The green ones were the stiffest, and Steve Wunsch, one of the most controlled and precise climbers ever in my experience, was the master of the art.

From the eighties on (well, I'm really not sure of the dates), shoes evolved away from stiffness, with slip-lasting and close fit combined with sticky rubber taking the place of built-in stiffness. The sticky rubber revolution was ushered in by John Bachar and Fire's, which were a very soft shoe.

To address at least part of the OP's question, I think that modern shoes with sticky rubber, enhanced ability to conform, and great sensitivity gave rise to a revolution in climbing technique, making it possible to securely move your foot on a hold while standing on it. Modern back-stepping and drop-knee techniques, which are part of the more general technique of facing sideways on steep rock, all require the ability to pivot on weighted holds; this was an absolute no-no with hard rubber soled stiff shoes, which would immediately pop off a hold without warning if you moved your foot.

The stiff shoes required absolute precision: you placed your foot carefully by sight---the shoe had virtually no sensitivity so no adjustments by feel were possible---and then kept that foot rigid on the hold, no matter what other motions were happening with the rest of your body. Climbers stared intensely at their footholds in a way you don't see much any more, now that the visual placement is enhanced by tactile feedback and the ability to make adjustments on the hold while weighting it.

Having grown up and done all my best climbing in stiff shoes, I've never been happy in really flexible ones and have never felt good in slippers. But I've also learned a lot about smearing, and now see holds on steep rock that used to be blank.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:55am PT
I think you can tell a climber who has been trained in either boots or an exceptionally stiff shoe: they are very precise in their footwork! It becomes ingrained in their style, and it's always impressive to see a real master.

When I began climbing, I was using the classic Kronhofer Kletterschue until my first trip to Yosemite in 1965. Chris Fredericks and Steve Thompson convinced me that I needed a stiffer shoe: enter the "Kletter Spiders." They were fine on many of the earlier climbs that I tried, but then--getting out onto Glacier Point Apron and Arches Terrace wasn't particularly lots of "fun."

I did several routes wearing Kronhofer Mountaineering boots during some periods of bad weather: I did my first-ever ascent of Redguard in Eldorado Canyon wearing them to help support a badly sprained ankle, too., and then the Green Slab under winter conditions with slush and ice cascading down the face.

I agree with Peter, that having a stiffer rock climbing shoe helps on many routes with wider cracks, and helps tremendously on steep edging.

My all-time favorite rock shoe is the La Sportiva Mariacher, and I still have 2 pair that are resoled now with C-4 rubber. I've done all my climbing in JTree using these shoes, and a huge number of climbs elsewhere: Durrance Route at Devils's Tower, Ruper, Yellow Spur, and Bastille-Hair City in Eldorado Canyon, and Topographical Oceans in the South Platte to name a few varied climbs.

Everyone should try climbing in some decent mountaineering boots, "just for grins."
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Sep 19, 2010 - 01:00pm PT
We did all mountaineering rock routes in big boots and lots of rock routes. Like Phil said, the switch to Robbins was godsend, best of both worlds. Back then, I used Robbins to edge and Kronhoefer's (sp?) for smearing because their rubber was stickier than the Robbins (nowadays most guys would laugh at the difference).

Here's some pictures from Korea in 1975 (stationed in the Army), doing 5.8's and 5.9's in big boots.

Near Pusan Korea 1975
Near Pusan Korea 1975
Credit: ydpl8s

Big boots, Korea 1975
Big boots, Korea 1975
Credit: ydpl8s
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 19, 2010 - 01:11pm PT
The best thing about boots was not having to worry so much about your ankles during slab falls. They provided all the necessary support while geek skiing on stone!
stonefly

Social climber
Alameda, California
Sep 19, 2010 - 01:18pm PT
And before boots:

Norman's Shoes,Aug 12, 1931
Norman's Shoes,Aug 12, 1931
Credit: stonefly
R.B.

Big Wall climber
Land of the Lahar
Sep 19, 2010 - 02:28pm PT
I learned to climb in "waffle stompers"

I loved it when PA's and RR's came out.

EB's were mind altering.

3-Stripe feerays were the BOMB!

Now, so many choices, so little time.

My favorite boot was the "Black Beautys" Wonderfully stiff, but could grab a dime wide edge & stay!

BITD
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 19, 2010 - 04:26pm PT
Grossman needs to find that article about the dood in England doing some
classic in roller skates and boxing gloves...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Sep 19, 2010 - 04:42pm PT
I know the shot Reilly! News section of some Mountain if I recall. This is the best that I have!


From Climb.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Sep 19, 2010 - 04:45pm PT
That was quick and speedy service! I forgot that was on the 3rd Flatiron
and in the 50's! Notice that he also has boots on!
Kofi Donny Annan

climber
darkest of africa
Sep 19, 2010 - 07:30pm PT
OT trivia note- Dale Johnson (on rollerskates) is the guy who founded Frostline sew-it-yourself kits, yes?
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 19, 2010 - 07:43pm PT
Maybe Jogill will share with us the tale of the fa of his route on the thimble, in '61? In boots !
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 19, 2010 - 10:49pm PT
Masochist- someone who thinks rock climbing in boots is fun.

Realist- someone who realizes that rock climbing in boots is sometimes, not often, necessary.

Retard- I meant to say alpinist, someone who puts themselves into a POSITION where rock climbing in boots is necessary.
Brokedownclimber

Trad climber
Douglas, WY
Sep 19, 2010 - 10:59pm PT
Jaybro-

FYI-many of the traditional classics (Fall Wall, Upper Fall Wall) at Vedauwoo have been climbed in Terray mountain boots by Jim Halfpenny. Quite a few climbers in the late 1960's did so in imitation of his style.
Ghost

climber
A long way from where I started
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:13pm PT
Once upon a time climbers in Vancouver would gather at a sleazy bar called The Cecil every Wednesday night. Drink bad beer, talk about climbing, tell lies, make plans... The usual. One drunken evening somebody mentioned a route named "Foot in the Gravy."

Silly little 30-foot route in the Little Smoke Bluffs at Squamish. 10c on an 75-degree wall with two bolts.

And this started an argument. Don Serl was there that night, and he happened to say something like "Oh, right, neat little edging problem." To which Konrad Kraft replied "Edging? You must be thinking of something else. 'Foot in the Gravy' is a slab. Smearing all the way."

"Smearing? No, it's little edges from bottom to top."

"Edges? Are you nuts? It's a slab."

"Slab? No, you're nuts. There are edges everywhere you look. There are so many edges I could climb it in crampons."

"Bullsh#t."

"Not bullsh#t. I could front-point the whole thing."

"Wanna bet?"

"Sure."

So, the following weekend, everyone who had been in the pub that night wandered out to the Burgers & Fries cliff in the Smoke Bluffs, and watched Don lace up his mountain boots and lash on the crampons. And carefully and concisely front-point his way up 30 feet of 10c as a light rain began to fall.

Of course most of us had climbed the thing a hundred times in sticky shoes, but Don had that edge mentality that comes from spending thousands of hours in stiff boots on steep rock.

So what's the takeaway? Maybe it's in your own mind. Or, if you'd been standing where I was standing, you'd have been able to see the tier of cliffs above, and like me you'd have been torn between watching Don front-point his way up "Foot in the Gravy on a toprope" and looking up to watch Peter Croft solo "Flying Circus."

I mention this because the light rain had influenced Peter's choice of footwear...

He took off his shoes and climbed it in his socks.
Rick A

climber
Boulder, Colorado
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:13pm PT
Largo on the "Teflon" problem at Mt. Rubidoux, using the stiff
-as-a-board red PA's, circa 1972.

Credit: Rick A

Comments by Hahn and Goldstone regarding the precise footwork that stiff boots, such as PA's and RD's, required are exactly right. Those boots had little margin for error when standing on an edge.

Once one got used to it, however, it was a very satisfying style of climbing that rewarded the commitment necessary to step up on a tiny edge and put out of your mind that your foot just might skate off at any moment.



Spider Savage

Mountain climber
SoCal
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:20pm PT
My boots from 1977. Still have them.
Late 1970's Galibier Boots, Early 1970's gear purchased from Fritz.
Late 1970's Galibier Boots, Early 1970's gear purchased from Fritz.
Credit: Spider Savage
gonamok

climber
aging malcontent
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:34pm PT
It wasnt all that horrible. I started climbing in Lowa Alpspitz, which were fairly heavy leather mountain boots with a stiff vibram sole. Graham Crackers (5.6) at Suicide was my first 5th class route and I didnt fall. They edged ok up to 5.6 or 5.7, but with zero feeling. You sighted your foot onto the edge and stood up on faith.

I will say that when i got my first pair of EBs they felt like miracle shoes.
Fritz

Trad climber
Hagerman, ID
Sep 19, 2010 - 11:38pm PT
Spider: Thanks for the boot photo.

Those are Galibier Vercors. A great hiking and light mountaineering boot. They look like the Galibier Super-Guide, but didn't have the stiff -sole.

Spider's Galibier Vercors hiking/light mountaineering boots.
Spider's Galibier Vercors hiking/light mountaineering boots.
Credit: Spider Savage

It is the same model of boot that I foolishly trotted up to "The Finger of Fate" with, and then stupidly led the jam-crack with in 1977.

It didn't fit worth a "shet" in the vertical hand-crack.


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