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Shoes for the Cascades
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Stephen Parmenter
(parmens) - F - MLife

Locale: OH
Shoes for the Cascades on 07/17/2007 17:23:35 MDT Print View

Friday I fly in to Bellingham, WA for 5 days in the Cascades. For the most part we will be peak bagging it. Our first day is a 12 - 14 mile round trip, 5500' to the summit of Mt Maude.

Being from OH, I do most of my bp in the mountains of WV and NC (No comparison, I know.) and typically wear a pair of Montrail Vitesse with a 20 - 25 lb load. (I never have ankle problems or blister problems with these shoes.

In WA, lots of big mileage days, but with only a day pack. The person I will be bp with, lives out there, gets out often, but has a heavier gear mentality, wears heavier, over the ankle, leather boots. And has been stressing that I need to get a pair of over the ankle boots. Due to conditions.

I would like to get feedback from anyone that practices a lighter weight style of bp/hiking, and knows the conditions of the Cascades.

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Shoes for the Cascades on 07/17/2007 20:00:42 MDT Print View

I've been scrambling in the Cascades for over 8 years, and I have always worn my Zamberlan Civettas - a high-ankle leather boot. A few months ago I bought a pair of Vasque breeze lightweight hiking boots - still above ankle, but much less boot than the Zamberlans. They're my last holdout for going light. The other items - pack, bag, tent, clothing - have been an easy switch. I have found the Vasques are fine for trail, and for not-too-rugged off-trail, but when I know I'll be in serious steep terrain, I switch back to the leather boots and am always glad I do. The Zamberlans are very comfortable boots and do not make my feet tired after being in them all day. Maybe I'm having trouble weaning away from leather boots, because there are lots of people who have made the switch and say they do fine on and off trail, but I'd still not recommend a low trail runner like the Montrail Vitesse for going up Maude. If you have sturdier boots, bring them. If you need to buy some, you might look at the La Sportiva Trangos that are a very (pricey) sturdy boot but lighter than full-leather boots. I'd be interested in others' opinions and experience with trail runners on off-trail scrambles.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Shoes for the Cascades on 07/17/2007 20:15:26 MDT Print View

Something to think about....if you do go with heavier boots for the summits, you might still want to bring the lighter shoes for the long hikes in.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Footwear in the Cascades on 07/17/2007 20:36:02 MDT Print View

Given your prior usage of trailrunners and healthy ankles, your Vitesses should do just fine in the Cascades for trips of the style you are talking about (including summit scrambles). Late Spring thru fall, I have no qualms about using a lowcut trailrunner for any on- trail trips in the Cascades and not a little off trail travel, as well. Pretty much everything and everywhere but tech. mtneering routes and the Strato-Volcanoes---and even then, I will be getting to that route in a trailrunner or LW approach shoe. Set a good example, perhaps you will wind up converting your friend. ;-)

Do use gaitors for the scree on Mt. Maude. It's nice to use the snow fields to bypass the scree, where possible, but only if you have an ice axe and self arrest skills.

Edited by kdesign on 07/17/2007 21:06:08 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Footwear in the Cascades on 07/17/2007 22:44:16 MDT Print View

I think it is all about ankle strength and snow comfort. I wear heavy boots in the Spring and early Summer and switch to trail runners before I put on my cross country skis. The trails are often rugged here, but that varies trail to trail and shouldn't cause you to switch boots if you have strong ankles. You may run across some snow, but if you have a good tread and nice gaiters, you should be fine. I like to use my big boots mainly so I can kick step my way up a snow field and not worry about slush being forced through the fabric. You probably won't need to do that (you can always follow your friend). Like Kevin said, though, don't get on steep snow unless you know what you are doing (regardless of what boots you are wearing).

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
snow/no-snow? on 07/18/2007 09:40:21 MDT Print View

Since you're peak bagging, the issue of snow comes in. It also depends on the peak.

I like trail runners for all sorts of things in the Cascades. If I'm climbing anything like a real mountain, I prefer something closer to a boot, but for more lower foothills, where you're just walking up trail, give me trail runners every time.

But consider whether you'll be content in trail runners going up into snow; you could check to see if you can find any trail reports for the places you're going on that score. Maybe toss in a pair of goretex socks.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: snow/no-snow? on 07/18/2007 10:43:46 MDT Print View

From your trail distance I'm assuming you are approaching from Phelps Creek/Leroy Creek.
The stream crossings are high, there is intermittent snow up into Leroy Basin then very hard snow the remainder of the way, I would recommend ice axe and crampons on the backside.
The bugs down low are fierce as always in that drainage.
I would definitely lean towards a boot unless you have experience with crampons on trail runners.
The weather is swinging into thundershowers/lightning, keep an eye to the sky and get an early start.
Leroy basin is a class 4 climber approach with a huge washout in it, it is moderately steep and annoying, use care.
The wta is a good website but I would put you looking at
I have not posted my last trip in there but there are some from late June.
Search out your other destinations also at cascadeclimbers.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Shoes for the Cascades on 07/18/2007 18:02:04 MDT Print View

Hi Steve,
The 2006/7 winter dumped a lot of snow in the Cascades, which means most of the higher peaks will have significant snowpack well into August. Larry seems to have recent experience on Maude, and I'd second his recommendation regarding boots/ice ax/crampons and the knowledge required to use them. It's a large peak and not to be taken lightly, even on the scramble route, never mind the Entiat Icefall or North Face. What you could consider is using your Montrail's for the approach, stream crossings, etc and switching to nice, dry boots when the going gets borderline technical. Otherwise you've got beaucoup miles plus creek crossings in heavy boots, which will then be wet for the snow sections and even heavier on the return leg. Maude aside, I've been using Montrail Namche's all spring on and off trail/snow with good results, but the snow sections were east facing and soft by the time I got to them, eliminating the need for crampons, etc. Also, the further east you go, the less snow tends to be an issue. For instance, if you decide to try Mt Cashmere(just under 9000') over in the Icicle Creek drainage, you will have no problem with snow. A lot also depends on the aspect of the route you choose; east and south usually will be less problematic. Choose wisely and have a great five days!

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Cascade info on 07/18/2007 19:25:54 MDT Print View

There is a certain amount of old school, new "skool" dynamic, here. I second the Cascade Climbers forums as an info resource---check out trip reports and ask about the most current approach and route conditions. You will find a whole range on the C/C boards--- from the fast and light crowd to trad Mtneers. It's fun. There is a technical emphasis.

Incidentally, larry's link doesn't work. Try---
and use the trip report index.

Also have a looksee at---

I'm assuming you'll take the standard South route which is normally a walk up which can be made more exciting by snow conditions.

Edited by kdesign on 07/18/2007 20:11:55 MDT.