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bedellympian

approach shoe opinions 2016

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I'm sure there is already a thread on this but I wanted some up-to-date opinions. I'm looking for what I would like to be one pair, but I suspect may have to be two pairs.

 

First, a summer alpine shoe that I can cross some glaciers with and also climb and hike a fair ways.

 

Second, a super durable shoe that climbs slabs and cracks well.

 

Ideally, I'm looking for something that I could use in the Bugs to approach the Howsers or to approach something like Forbidden Peak in the North Cascades. However, I would like it if the same shoe could be used to lead something like Serpentine Arete on D-tail, or keep my feet comfy while warming up on Gold Rush at Trout Creek.

 

Seems like lots of experienced folks like the Boulder X for the latter, there is a mid GTX version of this but it didn't get great reviews that I saw. Ganda is discontinued no? A friend suggested the Scarpa Tech Ascent but I don't think that will climb as well as I want. Saw the review on this board for the Dead Bird FL GTX which is also pricey, but maybe a good combo? I was looking at the Salewa's too, but have no experience with them.

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I'm much more on the hiking/scambling side of things but Ive been pretty happy with a midtop version Salewa Mountain Trainer. Mine are an older version and have the suede and GoreTex upper which is not that waterproof. That was from postholing around in slush vs morning hardpack.

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I have the Boulder X low top and generally like it. Good value, and very durable. Also eems to do pretty well climbing. I used them for approaches in the Bugs last summer, including hiking over to the Howsers and East Creek from the Kain Hut. I've also used them for getting to the full north ridge of Stuart.

 

In general though, I've found that the Cascades really aren't the place for approach shoes. Too rugged, and too muddy in my opinion. A lightweight real mountaineering boot that climbs well is much better. Like the Trango S or Trango Alp Evo GTX (my current boot). Boots are a pain to carry over, but most routes in the Cascades aren't that long or hard (while the approaches often are). For those really long or hard routes (or short WA pass approaches), I use my Boulder X's. For all the others, I wear real boots.

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I concur with JasonG. I have the LS Boulder X and have had previous versions of the Boulder. They seem to offer the best balance of hiking support and comfort vs. climbing performance.

 

I also agree about his comment about boots. Doing a climb up and over Stuart in approach shoes, my ankles got mighty beat up from the scree on the descent. I have a pair of Scarpa Charmoz (very similar to LS Trangos) and find them very fine for summer alpine climbing in the North Cascades on peaks like Forbidden/Triumph/Shuksan and would do very well in the Bugs. They rock climb almost as well as my approach shoes, provide more protection for my ankles and climb steep ice surprisingly well. Bulkier if you have to wear rock shoes and carry them in the pack but still acceptably light.

Edited by DPS

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I wrote the Acrux2 review and think it would probably fit both of your criteria pretty well, but not excel at either (except for the glacier crossing).

 

I got mine with the Howser Tower approach specifically in mind, I felt my Ganda Guide would like get too wet and it takes up a lot of room / weight in the pack - hence the Acrux2.

 

I also have a pair of the Arakys approach shoes, which are very minimal, and the heel folds down for casually wearing around belay ledges or if cragging.

 

I felt both shoes climbed pretty good, especially slabby routes - something any 3-season or heavier mountain boot will not do well.

 

The new line of LS TX2/3/4 look tempting, but to me I was searching for something that make the shoes unique and fit into a specific niche:

 

-Aceux2 is gore tex and thus will handle any snow/ice without compromising the foot. It also has the removable liner for wearing at camp. It's bonus was that it climbed in winter conditions unexpectedly well. I do not have enough first hand knowledge on their kick-step ability, but I think it will be sufficient unless acending a long, super steep, hard snow, mountain where all the steps will need to be placed and kicked in.

 

-Arakys is very light and minimalistic, likely my approach shoe of choice unless snow is in the equation or it needs to go across more rugged terrain.

 

I have a pair of Trango S EVOs and am not entirely sure where they fit into my shoe quiver with the addition of these other two shoes; the only place I can really think of will be anything that needs to be kick-stepped for long periods of time where the temps are mild enough to not justify a Batura or where skiing is not an option.

 

I don't have a lot of good knowledge on how Ganda/Guide Tennis/Boulder handle sustained travel in snow (ie to Howser Tower or on an early ascent of Forbidden), my sense was that they would work, but would get quite wet and then their usefulness day-in and day-out might get compromised (ie an extended trip to the Bugaboos).

 

Just my thoughts, it's a serious first world problem.

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I think anytime you are on glaciers for a long time, esp. in the afternoons, low top shoes are going to mean wet feet, no matter the construction. Gore tex doesn't really matter when the snow comes over the tops. Gaiters don't seem to work that well,in my experience, but I'm not up on every single style that's out there. On the plus side, low tops seem to dry pretty fast once you get off the snow.

 

The Arc'teryx shoes look interesting with the liner so maybe they're different..... but I'm suspicious. Time will tell.

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To keep your feet dry on snow go when it's hard. Approach shoes plus strap ons will be fine in these conditions.

 

Guide Five Tennies have become my shoe of choice for most outings. They're comfortable enough for hiking, work great for up to 5.9 or so, and can take strap on crampons if needed (I don't choose those routes that often frankly).

 

BUT if the experience is going to have a lot of soft steep snow or scree and dirt that would go into your shoes I may choose a boot with a shank and higher top. Mine are old Makalus, which are really too heavy and bulky to want to carry up anything where weight/bulk matter. I'm sure there are better options for these scenarios but I'm not inclined to spend $$$ for these rare occasions.

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I had a pair of Garmont Dragontails that lasted 4 very solid seasons that I just wore the sole off of. Hiked great, stiff enough for crampons, flexible enough to climb rock in. Handled many of the long approach with easy (<5.7) climbs here in the cascades with ease. Great shoe; I think they're still being made, but I couldn't find any locally. Google says they're still around though.

 

Just replaced them a few weeks ago with a pair of Mid-top Broeal Flyers. I don't have a ton of time logged in them yet, but so far I like them. They climb rock better than the Garmonts did, but they don't have any gtx, so I won't be taking them on any longer snow slogs. I think they'll do fine on short snow pitches though. Trade offs and such...

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