Mountaineering boots are commonly used on alpine climbs of modest technical difficulty or where weather or conditions (such as presence of snow or ice) favor their use. Boots generally hold on larger edges quite well, but are less useful on tiny edges or for "smearing" on holds.

For more difficult rock climbs, there are shoes made specifically for rock climbing (fig. 9-1). For many routes, rock shoes are essential. They are generally superior for smearing, and often will edge quite well also.

Most rock shoes consist of a flexible upper, often made of soft leather or cordura and leather, and a smooth flexible rubber sole. In recent years, new rubber compounds have been developed to create "stickier" soles that provide greater friction between rock and sole, and have aided in success on increasingly difficult routes. Rock shoes should fit very snugly to allow maximum control and feel of the rock. Specialized rock shoes are now available that are especially well suited for certain types of climbing, such as edges, pockets, and friction.

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