Climbing Shoes – Julia Wakeling
Our climbing shoes are the magical tools allowing us to stand on impossibly small things and dance up rock. But how to get the right ones?
The caveat with my opinion is that I’m primarily a trad climber, preferring long days of many pitches. (i.e. I’m not a roof-climbing boulder).
I have however, climbed on a LOT of different types of rock around the world from slippery limestone, to those little Boven and Blouberg edges, the polished granite of Yosemite, the devilishly rough granite in Patagonia and Spitzkoppe, and the physics-defying slabs of Gritstone amongst them. And I’ve done pretty much all this climbing in the same style of shoe. Something comfortable. Over the years this has been the Saltic Vampir’s, Boreal Diabolo’s and more recently the Black Diamond Momentum’s.
(If you’re a roof-climbing boulderer, you might like your shoes tight. So tight in fact that you need to use a plastic bag as a shoehorn to get them on. I’ve tried that. It didn’t work for me. I remember years ago sending my project at the time (Lotter’s Desire at Boven) after discarding my tiny shoes for something more comfortable.)
But, I haven’t climbed above grade 28 (yet), so perhaps my beta isn’t that founded?
How to fit your shoes in the shop?
Sometimes tricky. Not on a hot day or when you’ve been standing a long time as your feet would have swelled. They should be cosy tight, but not excruciating. They’re likely to stretch a bit, but not that much. And different shoes stretch different amounts.
I’m not that into being sore when “breaking in” a new pair of shoes. Wincing or crying from pain is NOT right! People’s feet are different shapes, and brands and models are different. I say go for comfort and get a shape that feels right for you.
Something different for a change
Recently I’ve tried some more aggressive shoes for the first time with their pointy toes – the Boreal Lynx. They took a lot more wearing in than I’m used to and I’m still desperate to get them off after a single pitch sport route. Taking them on a multi-pitch trad route almost led to tears. They are however amazing for standing on the teeeeenie tiny edges.
My preference is still to go with the old favourites – a less aggressive, more comfortable option. The Black Diamond Momentums are reasonably new to me, but super comfortable and they have been working well, right out the box. Looking forward to all the adventures in them!