Conrad Anker’s Guide to Footcare
REI CO-OP Journal
October 26, 2017
by Brian Smith
Conrad Anker's Guide to Footcare: Because happy feet are more likely to summit
If Conrad Anker could be any animal, he’d be a mountain goat. “I’ve seen them climb 5.8 for sure,” he tells me over the phone, relaxing after an early fall hike in mountains near his Bozeman, Montana home. “Their hooves are just incredible.”
As it turns out, Anker knows a surprising amount about hooves; why they’re suited for climbing, what they’re made of, and so on. But I didn’t call to talk about hooves, at least not exactly—I called to talk about feet. His feet.
One of the most prolific outdoorsmen of our time, Anker has guided climbing teams to the summit of Everest (on multiple occasions) and tracked herds of rare antelope across the barren plateaus of Tibet. He’s put up first ascents from Antarctica to Alaska, Yosemite to Zion. And if you ask him how he’s managed such success over the course of his career in the mountains, instead of looking up to count his lucky stars, he’ll probably glance down toward his feet.
“Our feet take our bodies to these beautiful places that refresh our souls,” he says. “So if we’re not taking good care of them, well, we should check our priorities.”
That’s the thing about Anker: He’s damn insightful. To him, taking thoughtful care of his feet is about much more than simply feeling comfortable on the wall or trail—it’s about eliminating one possible roadblock to time spent in wild places. And while it’d be easy to write off aches, dislodged toenails and other foot-related ailments as character building side effects that come with the territory, Anker isn’t willing to settle.
“I haven’t had a blister in a decade,” he tells me confidently, before diving into the finer points of his strict foot care regimen. From a borderline Bag Balm addiction and the right footwear to self-massage and full-on pedicures, here are Anker’s top foot care tips for climbers, hikers, and anyone else who values big days in the backcountry ...