So, we’ve discussed the WHY. Now, let’s talk a bit about the HOW. There are…
Chaletan, Phil Wortmann, tests out the new Arc’teryx approach shoe, the Acrux FL, on the 14’ers of the Crestone range.
After a season of beating them up all over the Rockies, we sat down to talk about how the shoes worked for him.
AR: When we spoke at the beginning of the season you said you were looking for an approach shoe that could be the all-around hiking/climbing shoe for some 14’er action and ended up choosing the Acrux FL from Arc’teryx. What activities were you pursuing? Can we get some beta on these activities?
PW: The main reason I bought the Acrux FL was for a link-up I had been eyeing in the Crestones – the “Bag O Stones” link-up to be specific. The plan was to climb all 5 of the Crestone 14ers (Needle, Peak, Challenger, Kit Carson, Humboldt) via the technical routes (Ellingwood Arête and The Prow) solo without ropes or gear. The link-up strategy was essential for covering the large amount of terrain and climbing multiple routes in one day. The crux of the operation was keeping it light. I needed a shoe that could both run and climb well, but no other shoe fit the bill. The last thing I wanted to do was carry running shoes, approach shoes, and climbing shoes. The Acrux did the job well and I was able to complete a link-up I had dreamed about pursuing for several years.
AR: Where all did you adventure with the Acrux FL?
PW: I tried out the Acrux FL in a variety of terrain. Right out of the box I used them on the approach and descent for a link-up of two routes on the Diamond of Longs Peak, and they did great. To get to the Diamond, one must hike 5 miles to the base of the wall and first climb the 800 ft. North Chimney route at 5.5. I like to do this part in approach shoes and without ropes to save time. The Acrux FL was comfortable on the hike in, but still rigid enough for easy rock climbing. I was able to run the whole way down from Chasm Lake in them as well, which I haven’t been able to do comfortably in other approach shoes.
I also used them on a 3-day camping and climbing adventure on Pikes Peak, which involved a grueling 10-mile downhill hike with climbing and camping gear. I thought I’d end up with blisters, but they did great and I arrived back at the trailhead unscathed.
AR: With the Acrux FL as the footwear of choice for your link-up, what features of the shoe did you like the most?
PW: Arc’teryx has completely flipped the script with the Acrux series. It climbs like a rock shoe but still runs really well. The sole of the shoe is soft underfoot, which allows you to move much quicker through rough terrain (boulder-hopping). The soft rubber grips as well as a climbing shoe and the tread of the heel really grips the trail when running down hill. The rubber rand runs high up the side of the foot and keeps the feet dry when crossing small puddles or damp grass, unlike most running shoes.
The most evolved part of the shoe has to be the “Adaptive Fit Liner” which keeps rocks and gravel out of your shoe, but also holds your foot in tight. I found the liner helps to eliminate chafing on long outings. It also keeps the foot from slamming into the front of the shoe and killing your toes.
Due to sizing issues, I would highly recommend buying these shoes at a shop as opposed to ordering online. Luckily, I tried them on at Mountain Chalet and found they were almost a full size bigger than my normal sizing.
AR: What gear did you find beneficial for these pursuits?
PW: For those hard days in the hills, it is a necessity to have a light and versatile pack. I’ve been very impressed with the Arc’teryx FL 45. It is big enough to carry everything you need, but light enough (23oz.) to use as a pack for the second on a hard route.
“Bag O Stones” Link-Up
Acrux FL Approach Shoe
Front and rear pull loops
“Y” Groove split heel for braking
Custom 3D Ortholite footbed
14mm Heel Drop
EVA foam midsole