Big Wall Shoes

13 September 2013

Big Wall Shoes

Category: Q&A

First off I gotta say I love your books, I never knew mountaineering literature could be so entertaining.
I wanted to get your advice on shoes. I've been using a pair of 5.10 Guide Tennies for a few years but every time I get on anything harder then A2 my toes feel like they are going numb.
I've considered the 5.10 camp 4's but I'm leery because of my experience with the Guide Tennies. Also after the dot rubber tread wore off, I started slipping and sliding all over the place.
What do you typically climb in? Do you climb more in tennis shoes or alpine boots?



For harder longer walls you really need walking style boots, as your feet will get hammered otherwise (unless you’ve damaged the nerves in your feet to such an existent that you don’t feel anything!).  The classic boot would be the Sportva Trango.  Be warned that any boot will get seriously worn out on a wall (instep and toe) so you will need to either repair the toe after a route, or beef it up beforehand. You can do this by adding more rubber to the toe (to create a bumper),  from an old mountain bike tire, or a section of climbing rubber (having grip is a good idea).  If you don’t want something so clunky, then go for the stiffest shoes you can, but with any shoft shoe (guide tennie or Camp 4) after only a few pitches they will soften up.  Did 3 routes on El Cap this year using shoes that were way to soft, and my feet really didn’t like it, plus having comfy feet is vital on hard aid.  Plus they started the trip new, and went in the bin when I went home!

Hope that helps.



Note: If you'd like to ask a question - no matter how dumb - then email me and I'll try and help.


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Andy Kirkpatrick
Andy Kirkpatrick

Andrew Kirkpatrick is a British mountaineer, author, motivational speaker and monologist. He is best known as a big wall climber, having scaled Yosemite's El Capitan 30+ times, including five solo ascents, and two one day ascents, as well as climbing in Patagonia, Africa, Alaska, Antarctica and the Alps.

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