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Fasttrack

Boot Recommendations for Shuksan

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I'm planning on climbing Shuksan this summer and was hoping to get some recommendations on boots. I made an attempt previously but was turned back due to weather and exhaustion. I tried to do the whole thing via Fisher Chimneys in 1.5 days (because that was all the time I had!). I was also carrying a ridiculous pack weighing 52 lbs with water. Most of this was because I'm from New England and didn't know what to expect. Now I know a little better and want to give it a second shot but at a more leisurely pace and a more reasonably sized pack.

Previously, I hiked in with a pair of TX4 approach shoes and carried my Spantiks up for the glacier. In retrospect, the Spantiks are way overkill for summer on Shuksan. I'm thinking I should buy a pair of summer boots that are lighter. But I have some general footwear questions for folks who are familiar with the route:

1) Do I stick with the two pair strategy: an approach shoe and a boot? Or do I look for a single solution, light weight boot that is comfortable for hiking but still rigid enough for crampons and glacier travel?

2) Specifically, I'm eyeballing the Salewa Crow GTX. Does anyone have experience with this boot in the Cascades? Will it be warm enough and rigid enough for steep snow and easy ice (I'm thinking of a band of ice right where you get on the Upper Curtis and then Hell's Highway)? Is it comfortable enough to hike in? Would it be a good choice for a single solution or would I still want to bring approach shoes... or maybe even rock shoes? I can't imagine needing or wanting to don rock shoes...

If I'm going to be buying a new boot, I'd like to do it now so I can get some laps in at the gym and maybe some outdoor crags so I can feel confident climbing in it. Any advice or recommendations would be appreciated!

 

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So, I've climbed and skied Shuksan eight times by five routes, including multiple ascents and many descents of Fisher Chimneys.  Your choice of footwear will be dictated by the time of year you go.  For Fisher Chimneys I would recommend going late season (August-September) with a single pair of boots. Something like the Scarpa Charmoz or La Sportiva Trango would be the ticket.  Light, stiff soled for the steep snow/ice portions and rock climb well enough for the summit pyramid.  I've never used Salewa boots, but the Crow looks to be nearly identical to the Charmoz and Trango, so IF it fits, I think it would be a great choice.

Don't do the two shoe strategy, that is just increasing your pack weight. Believe it or not, I once climbed it with a guy that used THREE pairs of shoes - rock shoes, approach shoes, and plastic boots.  He had more strength than money to buy a single pair of  appropriate footwear.

Also, FC in 1.5 days is pretty typical.  Camp on top of Winnie's Slide, just below the steep ice curtain leading to the upper Curtis.  One of the best bivis in the Cascades - scenic, running water, right next to the route, plenty of flat, dry real estate.

Definitely get your pack weight down.  For an overnight trip on FC there is no reason why your pack should weigh more than 35 lbs at the heavy end.  If you want a detailed gear list of what I would bring, I am happy to provide it.

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I'll go out on a limb here and offer a couple of "creative" solutions I've used to resolve the dilemma of determining an optimum summer alpine boot.  In the 1980s, my favorite summer alpine boot was (wait for it...) the iconic Royal Robbins big wall rock-climbing shoe that had dominated the u.s. rock-shoe market in the early '70s.  Mine were light, stiff, well-stretched out from years of use, and I used them until the uppers wore through -- yes, I did wear strap-on crampons on them.  My only real complaint is that they were split-grain leather rather than full-grain, so no amount of sno-seal could make them water-resistant.  I liked their climbing/walking performance well enough that I was willing to accept the occasional soggy-feet hassle.

I like light - so  my current favorites run more to the heavy end of the approach shoe category than the light mountain-boot option.  its amazing how much ice-climbing you can do with crampons on running shoes if you take the time to learn the old French flat-foot crampon technique.  And many of the current approach shoe offerings are soled with rubber sticky enough that they climb as well or better than what old-farts like me used to consider state-of-the-art rock shoes.  modern rock-shoes are likely overkill unless your objective is 5.9 or harder...  same with real alpine boots -- likely overkill unless you'll be on ice approaching vertical...

a bit of research may yield some surprises, too.  brands like Lowa and Hanwag are not so widely known/available in the US as Sportiva or Scarpa, but a couple of summers ago, one long-time partner of mine was climbing in a high-top approach shoe by Hanwag that, light as it was, had toe & heel welts  to accept clip-on crampons!  (gotta admit to lusting over those babes!!)

so--- sorry if I've muddied the waters here, but, hey! you asked!

 

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  1. 18 minutes ago, montypiton said:

    I'll go out on a limb here and offer a couple of "creative" solutions I've used to resolve the dilemma of determining an optimum summer alpine boot.  In the 1980s, my favorite summer alpine boot was (wait for it...) the iconic Royal Robbins big wall rock-climbing shoe that had dominated the u.s. rock-shoe market in the early '70s. 

     

    A number of years ago when Second Ascent was Second Bounce located in Fremont next to Dave Page I saw a fellow walking down the sidewalk in Fremont wearing Royal Robbins rock shoes.  I am sure he bought them at Second Bounce.  Quite a sartorial statement. 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks guys. Appreciate the advice.

The first time I did it, I was traveling with some bionic super-humans. We made it to the bivy above Winnie's slide and setup on that ridge. Absolutely beautiful. But we did it in less than 4 hours, which was much faster than I was physically prepared for. I was pretty much smoked and when some bad weather started to roll in, I was ready to throw in the towel. The other guys made the summit and returned safely but I sure as heck wasn't up to it.

I'll look into the Charmoz and see if I can find one. I haven't found a Trango here locally that I can try on but good to know that this class of boot is appropriate for Shuksan. 

 

Edit to add: Yeah, DPS, I wouldn't mind seeing your gear list. My pack included everything and the kitchen sink. Like I said, I just didn't know what to expect so I brought it all. 30-35 lbs sounds about right. That's a typical day pack if I'm going out ice climbing, but in that case I'm carrying a 70 meter 9.8 mm rope, ice screws, full set of nuts, etc. - a lot more gear than required for Shuksan. And that includes my sleeping bag. I take it and a emergency bivy as a precaution, if for no other reason than to prevent someone from going into shock if they break a leg or something. Switch out the rope, loose some screws and nuts, add a tent and some meals and I imagine I will end up around 35 lbs.

Edited by Fasttrack

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As usual DPS is right on. Don't overboot your feet. I climbed Shuksan last September with my Lowa boots, med weight goretex mountain boot that is good for kicking with crampons and nimble enough for the 4th class rock in the chimneys and summit pyramid. Best way to get pack weight down is carry smaller pack, 40L max. Bigger the pack the more guys stuff in there. I'm always in the mid 30lb range for a 1-2 night trip unless we need a lot of pro. We simo-climbed the gully so didn't use much gear, couple of cams and nuts with several long slings. Some years hell's highway gets real icy so I'd bring a couple screws 

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14 hours ago, Fasttrack said:

Edit to add: Yeah, DPS, I wouldn't mind seeing your gear list.

Here you go.  Note that to get your pack weight down, you will decide if you really need a full rope and rock gear.  Going with just a 30 meter rando rope for the glacier and planning to solo up and down the pyramid if that is in you comfort zone will lose quite a bit of weight. 

 

Clothing  
Head   
Warm hat Smartwool Beanie
Helmet Black Diamond Tracer
   
Hands  
Liner gloves Cheap poly pro/light fleece 
Warm gloves Smartwool leather
   
Feet  
Boots Scarpa Charmoz
Warm socks Goodhew  (x 2 pair) 
Sleeping Socks  Smartwool 
   
Legs  
Briefs Poly
Tights/long johns Light weight
Pants Prana light weight softshell
   
Torso  
Shirt Patagonia light weight, long sleeve, zip tee
Light insulation/outer layer  Marmot DriClime wind shirt
Shell Montbel Versalite
Belay Jacket Patagonia Nanopuff Hooded
   
Personal climbing equipment  
Backpack Montbel Balance Light 40
Harness Black Diamond Couloir
HMS Carabiner Mammut 
Belay Device Petzl Reverso
Small carabiners Mammut locking x 2
Chicken Sling Double 9/16" nylon
Ice axe Petzl Summit Evo 60 cm
Crampons Grivel hybrid Air Tech Lite (steel front, aluminum rear)
Optional - depends on your risk tolerance for glaicer travel - usually advisable
Ice hammer (late season) Petzl Sum'Tec 50 cm
Picket MS Coyotoe
Pulley REI
Prusik Cords 5mm perlon (Texas set up)
Ice screw (late season)  16-19 cm
   
Odds and ends  
Water bottles 3 liter Camelback, 1 liter Nalgene (empty, useful for collecting water and as mug)
TP Partial roll
First aid kit Blister stuff, gauze pads, analgesics, athletic tape, asthma inhaler
Camera with pouch Panasonic Lumix
   
Essentials Kit  
Stuff sack Small, red silnylon stuff sack
Sunglasses Cebe glacier glasses
Knife 2.5" Buck with 1/2 serrated blade
Sunblock Aloe Gator Gel SPF 40 1oz
Lip balm Bannana Boat SPF 15
Lotion Coconut oil
Lighter Small Bic with guard removed
Extra batteres for headlamp 4 x AAA lithium
Headlamp Black Diamond Storm
Water treatent tablets Chlorine Dioxide
Compass Brunton
Spoon Titanium
   
Shared climbing equipment  
Ropes 50m x 8.5mm Edelweiss Sharp Everdry half rope
Optional - depends on how comfortable you are climbing moderate rock.  Summit pyramid can be climbed at easy 4th class to mid 5th class
Nuts Black Diamond Stoppers #5-#13
Hexes Black Diamond #8-#11
Alpine draws 6 x 60cm sewn spectra with 2 wire gate carabiners
Double length slings 2 x 120cm Spectra runners with 1 locking carabiner each
Gear sling 9/16" x 60 cm sewn sling
Tat  20 meters of 6mm cord 
   
Camping equipment  
Sleeping bag Stoic Somnus 30 degree
Sleeping pad Thin Evazotte
Trekking poles Atlas
Shelter Black Diamond Betamid with stakes
Stove MSR Pocket Rocket with heat exchanger
Pot 1 liter, black anadozied aluminum with handle
Fuel 16 oz MSR Isopro
Spoon  Titanium
Bowl Thin plastic
Lighter Mini Bic
   
Hygeine Kit -optional  
Toothbrush Travel size
Tooth paste Trial size
Floss Trial size
Hand santizer Trial size alcohol gel
Foot powder Gold Bond trial size

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I have a wide, high volume foot and the Salewa boots are my new favorite, better fit for me than the Scarpa Charmoz.  I have put a bunch of miles on the Rapace which hikes great and climbs ok since it's a 3/4 shank.  I also have the Vultur boot that I picked up cheap off of Ebay last fall and really like them as well but they are overkill for anything but cold weather.  I think the Crows would be great for PNW 3 season climbing and I might replace the Rapace boots with them when they wear out.

And of course, DPS's advice and list are spot on.  Except the Hexes. :battlecage:

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2 hours ago, Bronco said:

And of course, DPS's advice and list are spot on.  Except the Hexes. :battlecage:

Years ago I was climbing a moderate alpine rock route.  I like Hexes in general and I like the additional challenge of climbing without  a rack of cams.  So, I was swinging leads and my partner slung a chockstone for his first placement and clipped the entire rack of Hexes to it so he did not have to carry them.

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I got a chuckle out of your story, DPS. And the gear list is very helpful. 

Thanks Bronco for sharing your experience with Salewa. I've been calling all the local gear shops to find a pair to try on but it looks like I'll probably wind up ordering all three boots I've been eyeballing to figure out which one I like best, then returning the other two. And then probably buying and returning another two or three times to get the sizing right <sigh> I wish the local places carried more mountaineering gear!

 

Anyway, thanks everyone. This is a fantastic resource for beginners like me, especially when I'm not familiar with the area!

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