Friday, November 28, 2008

A boy and his shoes: Vol. II

Yesterday we covered my government issue boots. They certainly saw a lot of action kicking steps up steep snowfields and glissading back down again and sometimes found themselves torqued into a crack or edging on a steep slab, but today's featured footwear were purchased, by me this time, solely for action. Solely? Are we counting that as a pun? Shit yeah, we are.

Coincidentally, these now-retired kicks are, like the boots, also of the Vasque brand. I bought them in 2005 at Moosely Seconds in Moose, WY, my residence at the time. I'd been knocking around in some worn out pairs of New Balance and Nike running shoes for quite a while, climbing mountains and backpacking in them but never, ever running in them. It hasn't been until the last few years that I've decided to actually use running shoes for their intended purpose.

These Vasque Velocitys turned out to be running shoes as well, trail runners to be specific, but all I knew was they were light, had aggressive treads and were on sale. And I needed a new pair. I'd begun to suspect that wearing a pair of shoes until my toes poked through was not the healthiest choice for my feet or my knees, long term. I was one good night's sleep away from the most ambitious day of my life, so I figured I'd go ahead and take care of my feet.

I knew it would be a good idea to break some new shoes in a bit before committing to wearing them for what my friend Brian and I were gunning for, but they felt good in the store, so I just decided to go for it. Oddly, they ended up working just fine straight out of the box.

Brian and I attempted what is called the Cathedral traverse. Our climb began in the middle of the night and we intended to climb the three peaks pictured at the top of this blog (known as the Cathedral group when viewed from the northeast) in succession, right to left. We knocked off the first one, Teewinot, just at sunrise and after some downclimbing, two rappels and several hours, arrived at the Koven Col beneath the second peak, Mt. Owen.

By now we were getting the idea that continuing on to the North Ridge of the Grand Teton, which certainly would have been the most committing thing I'd ever climbed, would be foolish given the late hour. We settled for two out of three and dropped our technical gear for the scramble up Owen. The descent down to Teton Glacier proved to be a total bitch from there, but worth it just for the chance to walk across a melting glacier.

Our decision turned out to be more right than we could have known, as we later found out that the North Ridge was iced up anyway. Despite having to alter our original plan, it was a heck of a way to break in a new pair of shoes. The next two years saw me climbing many more peaks in them and subtracting many more miles off the soles. For that, they've gained entrance into the rarefied pantheon of my Shoe Hall of Fame.
My shoes during that inaugural voyage, trying to emulate this well-known photograph on the East Prong below Mt. Owen.

Trusting my feet, and thus my shoes, on Upper Exum Ridge on the Grand Teton.

Shoes at rest, Moran Canyon. Now retired, they patiently await the day they will be ground up and recycled into something useful once again.


Julie said...

It is magical to find a pair of shoes that is perfect from the get-go.

Allie said...

That's awesome. It's so nice when shoes live up to their end of the bargain. I have a pair of Keen light hikers that I'm thinking will go the distance. I worship my barefoot shoes, but man, they smell. Aside from hiking/running footwear, I don't care about shoes one bit. And I get crabby if I have to wear "nice" shoes. If I have to wear heels, I don't think it's worth going.

Stefanie said...

You're reminding me that I keep meaning to buy a new pair of hiking boots/shoes. My last pair was oddly perfect from the get-go, but decided to become unbearable a year later. Strange.