Troubles Finding the Right Rock Shoe

If you’ve been keeping up with my recent posts, you know I’m on a quest to find a new pair of rock climbing shoes. I’ve received some helpful advice from a variety of sources. Thanks in particular to some of my subscribers and Twitter followers!

My quest was recently likened to a mid-life crisis. I got a chuckle out of that. I’m hardly mid-life. But given a choice between a shiny new sports car and a shiny new rack, I’ll take the rack.

The reason it was likened to a mid-life crisis was that part of the reason I want rock climbing shoes is so when Wunderkind is older and we go to the local climbing gym or crag for some instruction, I’ll have my own broken-in, smelly, old model pair of shoes that someone that used to climb more often would have; the kind dad ought to have.

So, I need to gear-up. I’ve read confusing advice for fittings though and I’m not sure what applies to me. Some recommend that beginners find a flat shoe (meaning no downward curve to the shoe’s last) that is comfortable for your toes in the “toe box.” Others recommend that experienced climbers should get it a size or two too small where your toes form a fist, especially if they are made of leather so when they stretch they still are adequately snug. Being tight helps climbers keep contact, especially with tight holds. So which category I fit into I’m not sure. I’ve never been particularly skilled or advanced when I used to climb (I think 5.7, though I really don’t know.) When I used to wear my rentals, I always took a size that firmly held my foot and put the front of my toes touching the front of the shoe without having to curl them… Is that a bad idea? It’s always worked for me before.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is that while I want to have a shoe that Climbing magazine declared was an Editor’s Choice product, or something similarly recommended, I need a shoe that has good, sticky rubber and fits me. My toes always fit into Scarpas, but what about Five Tens, La Sportivas, Mammuts, Boreals and Mad Rocks? The challenge is compounded by the three local outfitters in my area (I know, I’m spoiled that way), because they only carry about six men’s shoes. And if I prefer the Velcro straps they might only carry the lace up model, for instance.

I’m going to continue my research and let you know what I find. I’m hearing good things about the Five Ten Coyote, Evolv Defy and La Sportiva Mythos… We’ll see.

Leave me a comment or shoot me an email if you have any feedback or suggestions. If you enjoyed this post, please consider following the Suburban Mountaineer onFacebook or Twitter. Happy reading and carpe climb ’em!

Also, you can catch up on my quest for new rock climbing shoes here by reading my last post on this topic: Rock Climbing in Peaklessburg.

Rock Climbing in Peaklessburg

I don’t own a pair of rock climbing shoes. I’ve rented them all my climbing life. I know; it’s probably a little embarrassing for me to admit this here. The reason is while I’ve climbed rock, I’ve always glamorized snow and ice routes above rock. That’s why I invested in plastic mountaineering boots years ago rather than “summer” gear. I now think I’ve arrived at a place where I need to put a pair of shoes with sticky rubber in my rucksack.

Part of my reasoning is that rock climbing is much more popular and accessible than general mountaineering, ice climbing and alpine climbing. Climbing magazine always covers way more rock routes and profile rock climbers than snow and ice routes and true alpinists. That’s always been an issue for me when I crave the high, cold stuff.

Yet, recently I started looking at the rock stories with new interest. I began broadening my view of climbing, even while I write mainly about alpine climbs because that is what I dream about. Getting to the top of high, icy and snowy peaks is what climbing has always been about to me — ultimately I still believe that. But that’s hardly what is accessible around here in Peaklessburg. Our nation’s capital is mainly flat except for the shallow gorge and waterfalls formed by the Potomac River west of Washington, DC. Great Falls, VA and Carderock, MD offer about a hundred top roping climbs. A little further out are some modest crags in Shenandoah National Park. Further still are climbs in West Virginia, like Seneca Rocks.

There are also climbing gyms in the area for training that have good reputations. I think I might have to hit ’em up and take advantage of some instruction. Hopefully their reputation is partly due to their instructors. I’ll let you know.

While my ideal climbs are cold climate routes, I think I am starting to figure out how to make the most of living in a flat, hot and humid, urban area. Part of it might be embracing — even if not fully adopting — the regional tradition for rock climbing.

I’m not a diehard rock climber and don’t see that changing. I still won’t be aspiring to send big walls in Squamish, though I think those that do deserve a lot of respect. Some gym training and some outdoor top rope routes would be nice. Maybe I’ll get the nerve up to lead climb again one day.

So I’ll be pulling out my old Gear Guides from Climbing as a starting point. If you’ve got any advice, let me know…

Thanks again for dropping by. If you enjoyed this post, please consider following The Suburban Mountaineer on Facebook or Twitter. Happy reading and carpe climb ‘em.