La Sportiva mountaineering boots: 1928-2000

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Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 18, 2017 - 10:22am PT
La Sportiva boots: 1928-2000. Well, lets say until 2008

From nothing I have for a couple of months started to collect La Sportiva mountaineering boots. I have decided to stick to La Sportiva as a rule, ready to break the rule as I like it. I have no idea what principles I should stick to collecting the boots, but I want emphasis on boots 1928-2000. I know a lot about La Sportiva climbing shoes, but next to nothing about La Sportiva boots. The intelligent thing to do would of course be to contact La Sportiva, so let us exclude that possibility and have fun constructing the history from fragments. People with knowledge about La Sportiva boots are invited to post on the thread and catalogs are welcome.

I know La Sportiva started in 1928 and I have found one photo of an early boot, but apart from this boot seldom seen anything made before the late 1960s:


Feel free to add old models.

Even when we come to the 1970s my confusion continues: What cues should we look for constructing the chronology? What models are key models needed to show the chronology of developments? Do we need to distinguish between male, female and unisex models to show the key developments?

Here's some boots - one after the other - possibly in chronological order. I usually don't know the name of the models. IF you know the name, let me know.

There is still leather in the upper part of the sole. The rubber band ...
There is still leather in the upper part of the sole. The rubber band around the shoe is in the toe and heal part of the shoe lower than in later models, but pulled a little higher than in the earlier shoes.
There is no more a layer of leather in the upper part of the sole and ...
There is no more a layer of leather in the upper part of the sole and the rubber band is pulled higher than in earlier models in the toe and heal part of the shoe.
Credit: Marlow
La Sportiva Nepal Top
La Sportiva Nepal Top
La Sportiva Trango Extreme
La Sportiva Trango Extreme
Credit: eBay
La Sportiva Nepal Extreme
La Sportiva Nepal Extreme
La Sportiva Batura - first generation
La Sportiva Batura - first generation
Credit: Marlow
Mark Force

Trad climber
Ashland, Oregon
Oct 18, 2017 - 04:29pm PT
Nepals are awesome!
Gary

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Oct 18, 2017 - 05:10pm PT
I loved my Makalus.
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Oct 18, 2017 - 06:21pm PT
I don't know much prior to 2000 other than during the 1990s the Makalu was ubiquitous. I'm keen to see a timeline emerge from your research.

the history since 2000 is interesting, with proven market successes being dropped, succeeded by models of dubious improvement (e.g. the silver Trango being replaced by the Ice Cube, the Batura being replaced by I guess the G-integer).
Ian Parsons

climber
UK, England
Oct 24, 2017 - 11:13am PT
From Ellis Brigham Catalogue - c1970
From Ellis Brigham Catalogue - c1970

Two or three years later I recall another model on sale in the UK; the Civetta, I think - which would fit in with a "mountain in the Dolomites" theme. It was light - possibly split leather rather than reversed full grain - and fairly stiff; aimed more at the Alpine/Eastern Alps rock-climbing market than winter/mixed. [Bear in mind that in the 1970s it was still common to wear "big boots" for that sort of stuff. I spent a few days in the Wetterstein with some climbers from Munich in 1974; most of them seemed to do all of their rock-climbing in items that in Britain would more usually have been reserved for Ben Nevis in winter, and didn't own normal rockboots at all.]
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Oct 24, 2017 - 11:26am PT
Marlow,

I take it from reading the OP you are collecting the actual boots, and not photographs.
Those three in the middle of your selection are in remarkably good shape!

Just guessing, I'd say the boot with the red scree cuff is mid/late 70s.
The other two, with full rubber rands, maybe early/mid 80s vintage.

I recall in the 90s, Jeff Lowe was a technical consultant and designed a range of their mountaineering boots with a gusseted tongue, including his name and/or signature.
Some included an inscription of their Climbing on the Moon tagline. I owned a pair for a time. High ankles with light tan uppers.

Recently tossed a range of their catalogs from the mid 2000s.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 24, 2017 - 11:38am PT

Tarbuster,

Yes, I am collecting.

Ian,

Do you know the exact year of that catalog?

Here's La Sportiva Himalaya from a 1967 catalog
Credit: Marlow
Ian Parsons

climber
UK, England
Oct 24, 2017 - 12:19pm PT

Do you know the exact year of that catalog?

No - I can't find a date anywhere, but I think that 1970 is a fair bet; failing that, 1969. There are one or two clues:

 It includes guidebooks first published in 1969, but not others from the same series published in 1970.

 It doesn't include the Whillans Harness which first came on the market in, I think, late 1970 - surprisingly soon after the Annapurna South Face expedition.

 The prices are in old currency, ie pounds, shillings and pence. The UK switched to decimal currency [pounds and new pence] on 15 February 1971. The change obviously wasn't a secret, and one would be unlikely to launch a catalogue using an almost immediately out-of-date currency; ie it must be pre-1971.

I'm assuming that items first available in a particular year might well not be in time to feature in a catalogue for that year.

It's this one:

Ellis Brigham Catalogue - probably 1970
Ellis Brigham Catalogue - probably 1970
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Oct 24, 2017 - 01:45pm PT
The pair in your collection with red collars and tongues would seem to be the height of the art for handcrafted boots with a Norwegian Welt.
A beautiful example, they appear to be nearly unused, if not new.

.......................

This model I believe was called the Trango Extreme, and would describe the upper end of your chronological range.
I purchased this pair in Chamonix, summer of 2000:




Prior to that, I had another pair, which I had purchased used, and I recall the model was introduced near the end of the 90s. At the time, Ed Sampson of La Sportiva said they were likely to be the last of the handmade boots made in a small Italian shop. The svelte contour of the toe boxes are excellent for climbing rock.

They were, when introduced, state-of-the-art for mixed climbing.

You can just make out the war-worn Thinsulate brand insulation tag near the top edge of the boot, at the bottom edge of the scree collar. I have a ton of mileage on both pair of boots, having primarily worn them for long scrambles in the Colorado Rockies, and some moderate snow and ice. I liked them for their relative light weight and excellent fit.

(This pair were re-soled and I had an extra layer of gray EVA added for walking comfort)
David Knopp

Trad climber
CA
Oct 24, 2017 - 02:46pm PT
Tar i have a pair of those same boots, plus the not so extreme uninsulated version, both from Marmot in Berkeley, when i 'worked" there. Both have tons of mileage-the uninsulated regular tango was my first choice for long 5th class days in the sierra, used em on whitney, russell, LPP, Sill, Emerson Humphreys etc-mine were resoled twice, once just the outsole, second time by Dave Page with everything from the welt down being made new again.However,they were never the same, not blaming Dave, just that full bottom resole is a tricky business. Consequently they were ditched in favor of some scarpa wall boot, made for just a few years which is the best alpine scrambler-Dave Page aint touching these!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Oct 24, 2017 - 06:05pm PT
Yes, David.

The original Trango was green.
Went through a few of those as well.

It's interesting Marlow,

I don't remember any Sportiva mountain boot advertisements in either MOUNTAIN, or CLIMBING throughout the mid-to-late 70s. Or even later. I think North American distribution was pretty light until the mid-80s when the Mariacher started happening. And even then, I don't remember mountain boot ads?

I'll look through my MOUNTAIN first 100 issues to confirm that, over time.

And BTW, I know you said this was cheating, or to be more precise, that you said you wanted to refrain from it, ["so let us exclude that possibility"] and I will withhold until you tell me otherwise, but I put a call into Jonathan Lantz, president of Sportiva North America, (sneaky sucker I am) to see what kind of resources might be available down the line ... (just to take a look-see) should you come to desire to employ some form of direct aid in achieving your goals here.
Ian Parsons

climber
UK, England
Oct 25, 2017 - 08:14am PT
Here's the La Sportiva Civetta, from a 1973 catalogue:

Bryan Stokes/Ellis Brigham Catalogue - 1973
Bryan Stokes/Ellis Brigham Catalogue - 1973

Although it looks familiar it's not in fact the boot that I mentioned upthread; I was clearly linking the design of one model with the name of another. The boot that I remember [and was called something else] was a more traditional alpine boot design: no rubber rand, "Terray Fitzroy" style of upper - ie tongue covered by a pair of flaps with a flexible gusset between them, light tan reversed or split leather, D-ring or D-ring and hook lacing, fairly stiff sole. Or not, if my memory's going off on its own somewhere!
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 25, 2017 - 11:32am PT

Tarbuster
There's one thing I appreciate more than mysteries:

Knowledge...

So: Go, go, Tarbuster...

Ian
I don't know what La Sportiva shoe you are searching for, but a pair of great Civettas like the one you posted in the photo above, is clearly on my wanted list...

perswig

climber
Oct 25, 2017 - 11:48am PT
The second pair down, with the rand, are burly and badass!

Dale
Ian Parsons

climber
UK, England
Oct 26, 2017 - 11:30am PT
Coming right at the end of your time range, Climbing Magazine Gear Guide issues list the following models [you may have all this]:

1997 - Trango Plus
- Lady Makalu
- Makalu
- K2
- K3
- Nepal Top

1998 - Trango Plus
- Lady Makalu
- Makalu
- Karakoram
- K3
- Nepal Top
- Nepal Extreme

1999 - Pacific Crest
- Himalaya
- Trango Plus
- Trango Extreme
- Bernina
- Makalu
- Makalu Lady
- Karakoram
- Karakoram GTX
- K3
- Nepal Top
- Nepal Extreme

Here's La Sportiva's ad from the 1997 issue [cropped to fit maximum file size]:

Climbing Gear Guide 1997 - La Sportiva advert
Climbing Gear Guide 1997 - La Sportiva advert
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 26, 2017 - 11:53am PT

Thanks, Ian

According to the list, the Nepal Extreme turns up in 1998. The Himalaya was there in 1967 and a Himalaya model turns up again in 1999.

I think few models seen pre 1999 not necessarily reflect few models made by La Sportiva at the time, but few models available in Britain. I could be wrong about this.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 5, 2017 - 12:16pm PT

The history of La Sportiva - from their website

In the Twenties, Thirties and Forties

Narciso Delladio hand-crafted wooden clogs and leather boots for many lumber-jacks and farmers of the Fassa and Fiemme valleys, who trusted his skilled hands. Very important is the date of a participation certificate at the Milan Trade Fair in 1928. During the Second World War, Delladio custom produced mountain boots that were supplied to the Army. Dating back to this period is a patent for a special lacing system, that later will be used by the most important footwear factories.

After the war

the demand for boots increased, obliging Narciso to hire new workers: the good name of "Calzoleria Sportiva" crossed the boarders of the valleys and reached the cities of Trento and Bolzano.

In the Fifties

his son Francesco began to work for the company, and by doing the right thing at the right time he started building a new workshop on the outskirts of Tesero, where today is located a large industrial area. In the new and roomy building they began to design and develop ski boots, for a fast growing sport, requiring more technical boots. The market opened up quickly and Francesco Delladio introduced the brand name "La Sportiva" firstly in the Milan Exhibition, then throughout Europe, with a winter collection characterised by audacious technical and aesthetic solutions, and a summer collection of traditional mountain boots.

In the Seventies

with the arrival of plastic boots, "La Sportiva", after a trial season, had to discontinue the production of ski boots, for financial reasons; the investment would have been too high and therefore the production was limited to mountain boots and cross-country skiing footwear. In the meantime the sons of Francesco began to work in the company: Lorenzo, Luciano, Marco. The desire to create, to stand out and to make a name for oneself in an ever increasing market is a characteristic present in the Delladio family.

During the Eighties

the focus of the firm moves towards the climbing sector due to an intuition which will prove to be a winner. An innovative shoe characterised by the colours purple and yellow was devised and produced to become the forerunner of a long series of avant-garde products, which very quickly will seal the success of the brand name world wide. The footwear manufacturer "La Sportiva" became a Ltd Co, owned exclusively by the Delladio family; very courageous technical and commercial solutions were studied and evaluated, that were optimised in a short time.

La Sportiva Mariacher
La Sportiva Mariacher

La Sportiva history: https://www.lasportiva.com/en/company
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Nov 5, 2017 - 01:57pm PT
Ran into Jonathan Lantz of Sportiva North America yesterday, and he giggled some in reference to my request for information, because he said, coincidentally, they are putting together a presentation on Sportiva history, which will include an archival installation showcasing a selection of footwear spanning the decades.

The projected date for its implementation at their main offices in Boulder Colorado is May of 2018. I asked if, once it is up and running, I might be able to take some photographs and post them here and he said that would be fine.
Marlow

Sport climber
OSLO
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2017 - 09:47am PT

"... he giggled some in reference to my request for information..."

haha...I guess it's a good choice to have the history of the firm under your own control... and not leave it to fragments of speculation on a forum...

Please share later...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 6, 2017 - 07:38pm PT
So...you are clearly not just a "sport climber". LOL
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