Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Lovely Love Affair

I know, I know; I said love. Its a mushy, squishy, sometimes lovely, and sometimes uncomfortable, cringe-inducing word. 

Dont worry. I wont make you blush. I'm simply in the deepest love with my climbing shoes.

Admittedly, I'm a gear junky. For example, most folks may have one, maybe two puffys for the spectrum of their adventures. But when you work in this industry and for a great company that features new colors of your favorite puffy every fall (this year in berry!!) and a new girlie version of the best uber-cozy, ideal-on-rainier puffy well, its hard not to suddenly up the count in your closet to (please dont judge) six. I often cave to the "shiny-and-new" but gear comes and goes so quickly in this highly competitive industry that its hard to get attached to any one thing before its lost its luster.

Until now.

At the start, I was unsure of this relationship. I had my eye on an entirely different shoe but the great folks at Second Ascent didn't have it in my size. The helpful sales guy didn't give up playing matchmaker and steered me towards Scarpa's Thunder. They fit well, but I was a bit turned off by the cumbersome laces vs. speedy velcro that I sought and the dull grey, last-season color.

Love, In The Color Gray
Edging, friction, solid precision, and a snug fit that didnt allow the shoe to slide around my foot in crack and on tiny features of technical routes but with enough comfort for long days.... all qualities of a perfect shoe that I didn't think existed. Though I wasn't sure if they were aggressive enough, the Thunders seemed to have quite a bit of what I wanted. And, its hard to find a shoe that even fits my foot; wide toe-box, narrow heel, short achilles, and sensitive big-toe joint. These fit and they were on sale. Hesitant but hoping for the best, I took them home with me.

A few days later I found myself at the climbing gym for break-in session #1 with the Thunders. At first a little nervous, worry melted away after the first climb and a lightning bolt of love shot through my heart. 

A month of fairly consistent climbing and they've ever-so-slightly molded to my feet for longer-wearing comfort without losing the snug fit for feeling small features. On Straight Shooter, it was easy to toe into the small crack with good purchase. Secure, solid smearing of rough sandstone a few days later, I felt confident on my feet despite my road-trip hangover. And much to the annoyance of my climbing party, I could not quit shouting "I love my shoes!" How can a girl do otherwise when her heart is soaring?

Though they're a moderate shoe - probably not aggressive enough for 5.11+ climbing - I have a better ability to feel with my feet and more confidence in my footwork than I've had in quite a while. They've ticked off every one of the "requirements" from my list. 

We're a match made in heaven, my Thunders and me. And even now, after enough use that they're starting to violate the 3-foot rule, I'm still in love.

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