Review by: maculated, 2005-06-19
All shoes are the same. You have a piece of leather, or maybe some nice synthetic thing, and it’s encased around the bottom and sides with some kind of sticky rubber. Maybe that rubber is harder, maybe it is softer, but really, when you think about it, your climbing shoes are like big condoms protecting your soft, pathetic feet from the abrasive, dangerous, and painful world of rock out there. And, just like a condom, the footwear of the intrepid climber is getting smaller, smoother, lighter – it even comes in prettier colors or more exciting shapes and forms. Remember those days? Those ones back there? Back in the day? No, I don’t either, but they were there. You know the days I’m talking about. The days of sheepskin condoms and <a href=http://www.sys.uea.ac.uk/Research/researchareas/JWMP/CaistorRomanTown/venta_p61.gif>hobnail boots. Hobnails, people. I want you to shudder. I’ll tell you once more for feeling. HOBNAILS! Yes, those were the good old days of goldline and actual machine nuts slung with wires, and those dudes were sending better than many of us with our fancy-shmancy foot pods.
Why am I telling you this? To preface the fact that no matter what kind of camber the sole’s got, whether it be stiff or soft or lace up or slipper, these days, shoes really don’t make the average climber. Or, if they do, you shouldn’t be quite as proud of that thin 5.11 send you had last week in those pointy-toed shoes. Shoes can certainly help, but it’s my opinion that if you have that luxurious sticky rubber down there and you can’t get up the route, it’s you that you should blame, not the shoes.
Of course, this is for the average person. I am sure that when you get into the elite levels, even changing shoes up like the poster of Chris Sharma with a Moccasym and an Anasazi on that’s hanging in my bouldering co-op suggests, shoes can matter. But for little ol’ 5.10 climbing me? Naaaaaaaaaaaah. So that must explain why I feel a little guilty about effortlessly floating up my favorite local climb (Camel, 5.10b) this weekend in a pair of 5.10 Girlasazis (Well, techinically they’re called Women’s Anasazis, but that is so boring!).
So pretty, so blue.
Yes, I’d previously steered clear of the 5.10 aggressive models of shoes because, like many women, my heel is just so darn thin and petite. Possibly the only part of my body that I can claim that about, but in my beloved Ascents and Newtons, the dreaded “squirt” of moist flesh against ill-fitting rubber heel cups has long been an annoyance to me. Heel hooking in even the tightest of shoes has always left me wishing for a bit of cord to put around my ankle. I’ve actually slipped out of my shoes on hot, sweaty days.
So, when the Girlasazis reached my doorstep, I wasn’t expecting much. I’m fairly disappointed in the offerings of women’s specific apparel in the climbing industry, so I wasn’t expecting much in the way of shoe alterations either. My heels slid happily out of the regular Anasazis on the infamous “Paul’s Penis” bouldering problem in Tuolumne Meadows. (And you know how much you hate it when your protection slides off?) And, if this review were truly worth the miles of postholing and digging it would require for me at this point in the season to prove my confidence in the fit of the Girlasazi, I would hop right back on that problem and prove it to you tomorrow.
So those are the “heel fart” Ascents, but trust me, I’ve done it in Anasazis.
My local area features many edgy sandstone routes (Santa Barbara) and pockety, and steep volcanic rock (San Luis Obispo) and that’s where I found these shoes the most useful on these types of routes – by leaps and bounds above more mellow styled shoes. It was painful trying to smear with them (their more aggressive downward camber worked against me), or trying to stand on rounded edges, and they are murder on the feet for any more than a pitch for easier face or crack climbing – but if you’re thinking about harder face routes with sharp edges and shallow pockets, man or woman alike, these shoes are for you.
Maculated checks out the new hotness of the Girlasazi against the blue of a lazy Santa Barbara sky.
Anasazi velcros have long been the favorite of aggressive climbers on steep or edgy terrain, and they are now my choice for rock of the same caliber. I wasn’t sure just how spectacular they were until I nosed the pointy little tip in the shallow bubble-pocket of <a href="http://www.rockclimbing.com/photos.php?Action=ListPhoto&PhotoID=56130">Camel and stood on it with confidence that I can safely say – thank goodness for footwear technology and my being born fifty years too late for the hobnail boots. My hat is off to those of you who do remember “those days.”Maculated would like to thank the creative J_Ung for the nickname “Girlasazi.” So beautiful. Not to be confused with Feminazi.