Saturday, February 1, 2014

It's All About the Feet

Ask a climber what gear is most important--the rope, the pitons, the pack--and they will always answer the shoes. You weight is on your feet and your control of that contact point, not strong arms, gets you up the crag.

With ice it's little different, but shoes are now covered with spikes in the form of crampons, and the fingers replaced by ice axes. While the axes are in your hand, in your face , and most immediate, it is still the feet that provide the base. If the feet sketch about, neither security nor style are possible. And so shoe failures are a major problem. I could just buy new ones, but plopping down $500 for something I will use a few times in a good year and for only so many years into the future is bitter, and I like many things about the ones I have.

 Heel Lift. Traditional rubber strap lacing does a fair job of holding the crampon to the but, but with less than rigid boots and vertical ice,he heels can lift an inch or more.
Enter some non standard lacing, or rather something similar to the new heel cup bindings. By threading the ankle wrap through the heel strap, the hold down force is increased about 30%. A new twist on old tech.

I like the Balatoros for their light weight, easy hiking, and agility on ice, but the same flexible ankles that make them fun, make them tough to front point for long periods. Previously, my Trezeta Sherpas did the job, but they suffered from total separation during a Great Falls ice climbing trip a few weeks ago.

But with bulk removal of rotted foam rubber and massive applications of polyurethane, perhaps they will have new life. But I'm not holding my breath. Perhaps they can finish the season, perhaps a few more. Ugly too, though that probably helps.