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Techniques for Talus
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Techniques for Talus on 09/24/2013 19:35:22 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Techniques for Talus

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Wish I'd seen this earlier on 09/24/2013 20:07:56 MDT Print View

I wish I'd been able to read this before heading out to the Teton Wilderness and Wind River range this past summer. Its articles like this that keep me coming back to BPL.

Any recommendations on approach shoes that are comfortable enough to hike in? An Altra Long Peak made of leather with sticky rubber would be nice but I doubt there is anything like that out there.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Techniques for Talus on 09/24/2013 20:42:04 MDT Print View

Excellent article.

A nice addition to some of the conversation that surfaced within the thread of the Lone Peak 1.5 review

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Techniques for Talus on 09/24/2013 21:04:38 MDT Print View






James W. lost his sunglasses in the car-sized talus field in the last photo in August 2012. I went back there this summer and found them, in perfect condition. What are the odds...

Edited by andrew.f on 09/24/2013 21:07:33 MDT.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
trekking poles and talus. on 09/24/2013 22:56:52 MDT Print View

poles and rocks are indeed a poor combination. if you use poles, you will invariably commit weight to them, and then they'll slip out, and down thee whilst go.
they are nice to have though, if you keep them up high, and reserve them for the occasional desperate stab. (but that only works on the smaller stuff).
if moving with somebody else with poles, keep WELL away from each other !

interesting article.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Re: Wish I'd seen this earlier on 09/25/2013 11:19:25 MDT Print View

Any recommendations on approach shoes that are comfortable enough to hike in? An Altra Long Peak made of leather with sticky rubber would be nice but I doubt there is anything like that out there.

the old terrocs arent approach shoes ...

but the rubber is decently sticky, ive used them as "approach shoes" generally fine ... though the uppers still suffer from use

the guide tennies dont have a large drop compared to many other approach shoes ... but are fairly comfortable for me with a decently wide toe box .. the problem is that the tread is not made for traction in the wet mud, and the durable leather uppers take forever to dry

excellent article from BPL


Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Technique for Talus on 09/25/2013 11:51:56 MDT Print View

Thanks Ryan for the article. My son and some friends went over Lamarck Col and Alpine Col. earlier this year. I had picked the route as we had 2 days of hiking before we headed to Tahoe. I found that hiking over the car and fridge sized boulders really does give a 53 year old a good workout! It also requires a lot more attention to what one is doing and where they are placing feet.

I am thinking about hiking the HSR next summer and figured that would be a good entry to see if it is something I liked. It is a lot of work but I look forward to getting off the beaten path.

Thanks for the great article.

Edited by scottbentz on 09/25/2013 11:52:30 MDT.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Techniques for Talus on 09/25/2013 11:55:52 MDT Print View

There aren't that many shoes on the market that have sticky rubber, low drop, and meet the hiking needs of the UL backpacker. I know because I've looked extensively. Here are the ones I found:

Five Ten Guide Tennies (the best rubber, but leather upper takes forever to dry)
La Sportiva Anakonda (rubber almost as good as 5.10, cleated bottom great for loose dirt/mud, somewhat narrow forefoot, not much underfoot protection)
Inov-8 Roclite 295 (rubber almost as good as 5.10, narrow midfoot, dries super fast)
Inov-8 Terrafly 343 (rubber same as the Roclite 295's but smaller lugs, wider anatomic fit and low drop)
Scarpa Spark (the worst rubber of the bunch, but still pretty sticky on dry rock - wide fit throughout, rockplate and cushy soles means they are the most comfortable for hiking of the bunch)

Richard Cullip
(RichardCullip) - M

Locale: San Diego County
re:Talus Dancing on 09/25/2013 12:13:18 MDT Print View

Back in the mid-70's my brother and I did a lot of talus dancing up in the Mineral King high country. We had a fun routine of circum-navigating each lake we camped by. This usually led to some fun time bouncing and hoping across some talus fields. I fondly remember the fun we had but, back then our knees and feet and hips were young and strong. Now, as I approach 62 years old, I try desperately to avoid dancing on talus. It just doesn't seem as fun as it did in the old days.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Re: Re: Techniques for Talus on 09/25/2013 12:48:45 MDT Print View

Andrew F: The Wahoo Lakes area has some of the most famous talus in the Sierra.

I love talus! Good talus technique opens up rapid travel in so many little visited places. Most people take talus one step at a time--like stopping between each turn while skiing. Each step has to "hold." I've found that talus travel is way more fun and faster using "dynamic balance." Keep moving, link your steps, side step on a rock that you can't stop on knowing that your next step will be on a rock that will hold. Look two or three steps ahead and develop the experience that lets you know just what will hold on different types of rock and contingencies if a single step doesn't behave like you expect.

Light packs and sticky (low ankle) shoes are very important. Practice, practice, practice! It's worth the effort!

Edited by ksawchuk on 09/25/2013 13:02:55 MDT.

David Smith
( - M
Winds Talus on 09/25/2013 13:54:21 MDT Print View

Had a great August trip to the Winds with my son, Ben (aged 30). We had hiked up into the Titcomb Basin and then past the Twin Sisters Glacier. We climbed up the rock face that leads to the ridge that leads down to Summer Ice Lake. Got lots of experience - and some dicey moments! - negotiating the talus and ice on that hike. Getting back down from Summer Ice Lake to the Titcomb Lakes was also a memorable scramble. All in all, while seeing Summer Ice Lake was spectacular, I wouldn't recommend accessing it via the Twin Sisters glacier. It was, however, a rush to be on top, looking back at what we had ascended.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Terminology on 09/25/2013 20:35:11 MDT Print View

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.

And, "skiing" down through loose scree with our shoes we called glissading. The longest scree glissade I know of is the upper portion of the tourist route on Kilimanjaro. Fun!

This article mostly addresses travel through what we call boulder fields. I think all the points are well-taken.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: Techniques for Talus on 09/25/2013 20:38:27 MDT Print View

nice article-thanks!

if you do much (any?) hiking in high country you're going to get to experience talus, I enjoy it (albeit there have been some terse moments at times) as usually means you're by yourself :)

Andrew- I might have to check into some of the anatomic last Inov-8's, if it doesn't have a very full toe box it's a no go for me, my wife has a pair of 255's and they really grip well in rock- I've always heard that about the Inov-8 line

my last 50k had a lot of talus/boulder/scree and I was impressed with my Pearl Izumi N2's- they stuck pretty darn well (even w/ rain), not approach shoe sticky, but pretty darn good- they are a little lacking in protection as they are pretty light, a compromise thus far I can live w/

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
re: Good article, good people on 09/26/2013 01:42:22 MDT Print View

You can often tell how good an article is by the people it draws out of the woodwork to comment on it.

Based on what we've seen so far, this is another fine entry into the BPL line. I learned a lot, and I'm excited to push myself onto some less-traveled, more-talused terrain.

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
I wanna rock...ROCK! on 09/26/2013 01:51:57 MDT Print View

Ah, who doesn't love a good scree/talus shuffle.

After slogging through, this class 4 chute didn't look so bad (it was) when compared to turning around.

I might just have to sign up for this one alone.

Edited by FeetFirst on 09/26/2013 02:10:06 MDT.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: I wanna rock...ROCK! on 09/26/2013 10:28:57 MDT Print View

Growing up amongst the rocks of Rocksylvania, we called it rock-hopping. Interesting to see a more technical take on it, applied to the much rockier Rockies.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: I wanna rock...ROCK! on 09/26/2013 14:04:30 MDT Print View

A lot of times that is just normal hiking in NH ;)
kings ravine
Mt W

alan york
(alanyork9) - MLife

Re: Techniques for Talus/Moving Over Stone on 09/27/2013 08:48:30 MDT Print View

Doug Robinson wrote a story featured in an old Chouinard catalog called ?Moving Over Stone? sorry maybe someone more tech gifted than me can link it.Great tale of training by talus running.Doug is a real High Sierra hardman.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Re: I wanna rock...ROCK! on 09/27/2013 09:49:36 MDT Print View

"A lot of times that is just normal hiking in NH ;)"

There are mountains in NH?


(odarcy) - F - M

Locale: SW
Blue Soled Shoes ? on 09/27/2013 10:47:15 MDT Print View

Ryan , or anyone else for that matter , What make / model is the middle shoe with blue on the sole ? Thanks

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Re: Re: I wanna rock...ROCK! on 09/27/2013 11:52:24 MDT Print View

"There are mountains in NH? "


come try it out sometime... don't expect casual switchbacks and nice smooth trail like those mule trails out west :)

that first pic is 1100' in .5mi 4500' in 4.5mi from the bottom

compared to captain peak NM on page 3 3800 in 6mi with switchbacks.

being a rock climber has it's perks.. climbing up, over and on talus is second nature..

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
5.10 Camp Fours on 09/27/2013 16:26:15 MDT Print View

You might try Five Ten Camp Fours -- I use them for climbing areas with very long approaches. They're called a "hiking shoe" by 5.10, and they're very comfy, with excellent sticky rubber.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Techniques for Talus on 09/27/2013 16:36:36 MDT Print View

"The Wahoo Lakes area has some of the most famous talus in the Sierra."


To which I would add the less well known Dumbbell Pass area.

Walt Bizzare
Regarding approach shoes on 09/28/2013 13:31:00 MDT Print View

The Five Ten Camp Four shoe I used recently is the best hiking/approach shoe I've every worn. No blisters after 8 days in the Sierra's Baxter Pass area. Sticky soles, good isolation from trail rocks, not waterproof (which I prefer), good for wide feet, good on snow and well insulated. I always switch out the insoles with better quality ones. Get 1/2 size larger because they run small.

Dean L
(AldoLeopold) - F

Locale: Great Lakes
Re: 5.10 Camp Fours on 09/28/2013 16:41:45 MDT Print View

I picked up a pair of brand new 5.10 Camp Fours when a local shop closed for $30. I wear them for any slickrock/scree/cobbly situations and find them to be excellent. For ordinary sand/soil trails I wear Saucony Peregrines.


Max Neale
(maximumdragonfly) - M
best approach shoes on 09/29/2013 16:38:11 MDT Print View

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
( - M

Locale: Portland Oregon
Re: best approach shoes on 10/04/2013 19:32:43 MDT Print View

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
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
Trekking Poles amongst the Talus on 10/06/2013 20:23:52 MDT Print View

"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
(walknhigh) - MLife

Locale: White Mtns, AZ
"Techniques for Talus" on 10/09/2013 15:47:45 MDT Print View

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.