Has Climbing Shoe Design Reached an Impasse?

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Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 5, 2018 - 12:08pm PT
The August issue of Rock and Ice shows Tommy Caldwell on the Dawn Wall, captioned "the hardest move on the hardest route". This is a great picture, incidentally. If we look closely, we see that Tommy is wearing Sportiva Miuras. Miuras were introduced 20 years ago. Clearly, Tommy gets any shoe he wants, yet he chose these over a multitude of newer shoes.
Thoughts?
TomKimbrough

Social climber
Salt Lake City
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:12pm PT
Maybe I should get another pair
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:16pm PT
I don't have the picture in front of me, but are you sure he is wearing Miura's? In the Dawn Wall film--and in Free Solo as well, TC Pros (not surprisingly) seem to be the shoes of choice.

Responding to the question though, it seems that instead of being at an impasse, rock shoe design has become both increasingly competitive and increasingly specialized, resulting in a bewildering number of choices. How much actual increase in performance and/or comfort there is over past shoe designs is an open question, the answer to which seems very dependent on individual preferences and foot shape.

For me, I prefer the tried and true, especially with feet that have been distorted by decades of being crammed and twisted by climbing shoes. I have tried many different models, but keep returning to the Mythos (actually the Lady Mythos, as they don't seem to sell the male model for my small feet) as my day-to-day shoe of choice. But I have yet to find a shoe to equal (for me) the Mega as an edging machine---though I keep looking, trying out, and hoping.

Bethesda

Trad climber
Bethesda
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:20pm PT
I have a last treasured pair of Megas that I only bring out for special occasions. I don't think I could have learned to climb at Seneca without them.

Bring back the board-lasted shoe!
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:27pm PT
Have feet changed? More like climbers are approaching the limits of human biomechanics in the same way a better running shoe is unlikely to help someone shave a significant amount of time off of the mile record...

Credit: healyje
Bethesda

Trad climber
Bethesda
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:33pm PT
Off topic a little bit.

Recently climbed Haystack at Lover's Leap for the first time, expecting an easy time. The crux almost kicked my butt. Can't imagine doing that climb in the shoes that were available in 1965, when the route was put up (I believe). Mythos were the trick for me. Megas would have been a disaster, given the slabby nature of the moves.



kingtut

climber
Jingus Newroutaineer
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:38pm PT
^^^ a lot of the old classics are noticeably polished from when I did them 30 years ago. ie I could tell that Surrealistic Pillar and RA has polished feet.
Alan Rubin

climber
Amherst,MA.
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:39pm PT
I don't know Bethesda, folks climbed some pretty hard slab--even smeary stuff, in Megas and even stiffer footwear and no sticky rubber---RRs, for example. You were used to the shoes, and made them work.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:46pm PT
In the Valley in the early 70ís nearly everyone wore EBís....there was very little choice. Choices galore now and who knows what the future will serve up? No impasse that I can see.
ron gomez

Trad climber
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:50pm PT
I may stand corrected, but I think Jonny Woodward did some crux pitches on the Hall of Mirrors in EBís long after they were no longer in vogue. The right tool for the right job. Good lord, weíre still stickiní nuts in cracks, been a while since the basic design has changed. Still use mine from the 70ís, ridgid friends...from the late 70ís, figure eight knot, ATCís, jumars. Lots of changes over the years, but knot really!
Peace
Rudder

Trad climber
Costa Mesa, CA
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:52pm PT
I have a last treasured pair of Megas that I only bring out for special occasions. I don't think I could have learned to climb at Seneca without them.

Bring back the board-lasted shoe!

Amen!

And, I wish I would have bought 100 pairs of Megas. At that point, around 1990, we had 30 years of improvements. No reason to think nothing as good would ever come down the pike again. :/
Roots

Mountain climber
Redmond, Oregon
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:59pm PT
I think rubber will improve.
Bethesda

Trad climber
Bethesda
Dec 5, 2018 - 02:01pm PT
Point taken, Mr. Rubin. I just know that on that particular climb I needed every bit of advantage the sticky rubber on those Mythos gave me.
Bethesda

Trad climber
Bethesda
Dec 5, 2018 - 02:05pm PT
Some years ago I came across a team that was leading a 5.8 at Cathedral Ledge in ski boots - they were practicing for a trip to the Alps.
Matt's

climber
Dec 5, 2018 - 03:12pm PT
Eric beck-- tommy caldwell didn't actually send the crux pitches in muiras. He wore TC pros. Same thing for kevin jorgeson-- despite being sponsored by 5.10, he did the crux pitches in tc pros.... I think adam ondra did the dawn wall in katanas.

mongrel

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Dec 5, 2018 - 03:28pm PT
Caldwell is definitely wearing Miuras on the R&I cover, and my recollection is that in the movie, they were both wearing TC Pros mostly or always. Add me to the list of people with a pair of Megas stashed, but used only occasionally to preserve them.

IMHO, shoes that edge well are a definite advantage for most people in most situations on granite or quartzite or similar. But the manufacturers are apparently focused on plastic. Woodward or some other slab meister wrote an article for one of the rags years ago, when slippers were seriously the rage. He said, first thing, get yourself some good edging shoes, even if you're doing a lot of friction, because you can learn to friction in an edging shoe but not edge in a squishy slipper.

And high tops are far superior in cracks, but basically non-existent anymore. Even TCs are not really high tops, only barely cover the malleolus. We've been robbed of good shoes.

Some years ago I came across a team that was leading a 5.8 at Cathedral Ledge in ski boots - they were practicing for a trip to the Alps.

We did that too! Worse (better??), we went to Quincy Quarries with mountain boots, and actually, they worked really well. The rock is so damn slippery you might as well be front-pointing.
skywalker1

Trad climber
co
Dec 5, 2018 - 03:43pm PT
I think as long there are different footprints there will be different and new shoes.

Wish you could buy them as a single shoe. Fit comes to mind.

S...
ground_up

Trad climber
mt. hood /baja
Dec 5, 2018 - 04:13pm PT
The TC pro is the best shoe I have ever worn. before those I had Miuras.
Both were once "new" designs. As with alot of sport/athletic footwear it's
always changing and some stand out and become a good new design while most
break no new ground.

Might be time for the 2019 new version of the blue suede Robbins boot.
Dang those were the good ol' days.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
Dec 5, 2018 - 05:04pm PT
Perhaps an impasse for today, certainly not for the future.

Roots says, "rubber will improve." With the amount of research going on today, rubber may someday be a thing of the past.

My favs are TC's and Mythos. For what it's worth from a fringe climber. :)
COT

climber
Door Number 3
Dec 5, 2018 - 05:21pm PT
I don't know this for a fact, but I have been told many sponsored climbers have their shoe sponsor make custom lasts from a mold/cast of their individual feet. This does not answer the OP question, but any shoe that fits like a glove is going to perform really well.
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