Techniques for Talus

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Techniques for Talus

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    Stephanie Jordan


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to:

    Techniques for Talus

    Max Neale
    BPL Member


    Locale: Anchorage, AK

    First, @Darcy: the blue soled shoes are probably from Patagonia. Possibly the Evermore?

    I largely agree with Ryan's assessment of appropriate talus shoes. Just want to add: I feel there's no need for a leather upper unless you're CLIMBING 5th class terrain. For most hiking, where only a small share of time is spent off trail on talus, the best shoe I've used is the La Sportiva Ultra Raptor, which balances sticky rubber with great hiking performance. The best talus shoe used to be the La Sportiva Exum Pro, but they discontinued it (much to the disappointment of many climbers).

    If you want the ultimate rock hopping and climbing shoe–one that hikes relatively poorly but climbs extremely well–the La Sportiva Ganda can't be beat.

    Slightly outdated comparative pproach shoe review here:

    stephen korpi


    Locale: Portland Oregon

    The Salewa Firetail and Firevent are very appropriate for this application. I can attest to the Firetail sticky rubber on a Via Ferrata route in Utah, where the owner of the property tested the shoes by only smearing the hardest route.

    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    "Growing up in the Colorado Rockies, we called the small loose sharp stones scree. Larger stones that still can shift pretty easily we called talus. Areas of bigger stuff that mostly stayed put were called boulder fields."

    Agree. But whatever you call it, maybe "shale" scree or shale talus, next to wet mossy tread with no traction whatsoever, is what I dread most. Because the flat pieces of shale slide over each other, and it makes no difference how well your footwear holds to the rock. This is found in the Gore Range in CO, which explains why many of the routes near the Gore peaks are left to climbers.

    Also found some steep shale in the Collegiates, further south in CO. Went up Frenchman Creek, just a little NE of Mount Columbia. All nice grassy terrain until over the pass, where a 'trail' on the map descended North toward Pine Creek. Nothing but steep shale. Before this hike, had used only walking sticks, but had decided to bring along and try out a Leki hiking pole bought cheap at the local Bean's outlet. Thank goodness. Was able to poke around with the pole for a solid spot, move one foot onto it, then poke around for another solid spot, and so on, always keeping two points of contact with the shale. Still, could not negotiate down the slope, and had to contour way out of my way to get down. So submit that poles have their place in the heights, albeit not amongst the boulders as stated.

    "A lot of times that is just normal hiking in NH ;"
    That's because the AMC throws rocks into the middle of the treadway.

    Stephen Owens
    BPL Member


    Locale: White Mtns, AZ

    Good article. On shoes, I am currently using the New Balance 886. They seem to be all terrian (including talus). I have only had them for 4 months, so I am unsure of durability.

    Aimee M


    I know this is an old thread, but I ascended this yesterday (the pass in the background):

    which had a backside of this:



    I got down it, but it took me about 20 minutes longer than my friend, and I started some mini-slides that I had to get out of.  It was so soft and loose but it was almost straight down.  When I tried sliding it started the mini’s above me.  I made small switchbacks but how do you descend this safely and quickly?  I am not too new to talus, but this was my first time doing a slope of this extent (angle downhill and length)  and loose scree.


    For perspective, at the very bottom, here is my friend:


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