View Full Version : Barefootin'

Bob Kittredge
07-30-2004, 09:38 AM
Question for you guys and gals who barefoot it sometimes:

How's your traction on steep ledge? Think of ledges like Welch/Dickey only steeper. E.g. the Holt or Huntington Ravine. Do you feel like your feet are more or less likely to slip if you're barefoot?

How about if the ledge is wet?

It seems to me that when fording rocky streams, it is generally recommended that you take off your socks but leave the boots on and not go barefoot.

07-30-2004, 09:55 AM
I think a lot would depend on how tough your feet are. I know that crossing a stream early in the season is hard on the feet and I'll usually fall or stumble, but later in the season when my feet have toughened up I can sprint across a stream. I would guess the same would hold true for steep slopes and if your toes have any gripping power. Some folk have no strength in their toes! Very steep slopes would be mostly toe to rock and could hurt if kept up for too long.

07-30-2004, 10:05 AM
On most slabs, bare feet can work well. By curling your toes (on knobby slabs) and pressuring the foot differently depending on the terrain, you can develop a contextual grip. The biggest difference to me in freefooting is that your sole is only as rigid as your bones and muscles. In mountaineering boots, one can stand by placing ones toe on a microledge smaller than a dime. My bare feet can't do that! Instead, as with friction rock climbing, one usually tries to keep as much of the sole down on the rock as possible.

As for fords -- one of my favorite terrain types -- that's one place I am more inclined to sandal-up. Swift-flowing waist-deep water is no place to loose your footing, and the quick streams often have rolly rocks in their beds. When I did wear boots (now only in the depths of winter), I always hated fording in them. Taking the socks out does help, but even that way it takes a very long time to dry out.

07-31-2004, 07:59 AM
barefootin's a whole 'nother sport! i do it on occasion. the traction is better i think. i've said before that i hiked ice gulch back of randolph 'footin' and it was great. try it sometime and you'd be surprised at how tough your feet really are.

wouldn't wanna 'whack 'footin' though a la ospreyboya and all the 'core 'whackers out there. need body armor and to be seriously shod then i'd think. but for more benign trails it's great. the osseo to flume would be a good place to start for the beginning 'footer.

have fun, dog!

07-31-2004, 08:09 AM
Smooth dry rock: Barefoot is better than 'sneakers' and hiking boots, but not as good as climbing shoes, or approach shoes. Huntingtons Ravine barefoot? Sure. I'd be comfortable there. I know someone who was having friction problems on a slide (Eagle slide, Giant). He slipped and fell. Took of his hiking boots and went barefoot.

Wet non-slimy rock: Somewhat the same rules hold, I think. Hunttingtons ravine in the rain? Sure.

Slimy rock: Here we start getting into the funny things. There are some areas where the rocks are fine when dry, but when wet, they are real slimy and slippery. Climbing and approach shoes do not always work here. (at lest mine don't) Sometimes regular lug-soled hiking boots work better. Barefoot would be bad. You can also find these slimy rocks in streams.

Bob Kittredge
07-31-2004, 06:21 PM
But I notice, Pete, that in your avatar you're wearing boots on Pamola's Finger.

I hope to take another crack at the friction slabs on the Holt in a couple of weeks. I plan to wear my Salomons. Maybe I'll try them barefoot as well. I'll report if I do.

Papa Bear
07-31-2004, 08:30 PM
This thread brings thoughts of the real pleasure of feeling the world barefoot (and bare handed) without the layers of civilization that cut us off from nature, both figuratively and physically.

This fragment of a poem popped into my head:

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

[PM me if you know what that is from]

08-01-2004, 11:52 AM
I've rock climbed barefoot...

Traction was very good, as you can use your toes for additional grip and you have a better feel for a grip.

Jams into cracks and what not were easy, but if you're in the habit of relying on the firmness of a boot sole for support there's a bit on unlearning to do.

Edging wasn't really possible, the best I could do was to cross the big toe and the one next to it to get a purchase on a nubble.

The various little cuts and scrapes stung in the shower upon arrival home.

As mentioned falling back to barefoot when your regular footwear doesn't give the traction you need is a most excellent backup method.

08-01-2004, 08:40 PM
Originally posted by Bob Kittredge
But I notice, Pete, that in your avatar you're wearing boots on Pamola's Finger.

I don't ALLWAYS hke barefoot. It was cold, and sleeting that day, too. (although there are those who have seen barefot footprints in the snow in my vacinity)

I think I used to have a barefoot avatar... once upon a time.

08-03-2004, 08:46 PM
OK Bob. You made me look into my archives.

On whiteface last winter:


Then on Kate in April


Then tthat morning before gettihtng fingered by Pamola


Of course none of have me doing much other than letting my toes breathe. Lets see.. I'll try to get a picture on some slide in a few weeks..