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Adventure, Climb / May 22, 2016

Testarossa: You Want These Climbing Shoes

Written by: Roxanne Trujillo

Is it odd, that I find climber’s feet the most beautiful? I don’t dabble in those pedicures. Is that what they call them? Or are they manicures? My feet show that they are hard at work, and I like that. Climbing shoes will morph your foot into what I think is pure beauty. Some say ugly, I say lovely.

There are many climbing shoes on the market from Five Ten, Scarpa, Mad Rock, Evolv to La Sportiva. A brand that I have devoted myself to is La Sportiva. I own a total of 5 pairs of climbing shoes, the shoe you will always see on my ‘beautiful’ feet are La Sportivas, specifically my Testarossas.

 

When I first began climbing, I bought a beginner shoe, the Evolv Elektra. A very flat, roomy toe box, and comfortable shoe. It is a low performance shoe and not meant for technical climbing such as edging, pockets, and precision. The Elektra is more of a  “slab shoe” which are used for slab climbing, where the rock face is at an angle of less steep than vertical. This type of rock surface creates dropped heals, butt out, calve muscles working and a lot of friction. Hence, a flatter sole for friction.

Here’s the thing, when you are beginning to get into the sport of climbing, a lower performance shoe is all you need. Don’t be the chum that goes and buys the most aggressive, expensive shoe. You will not be comfortable and you will hate it. Your feet will hate you and possibly hate the sport and perhaps even be chuckled at.

It is important that you build technique and strength before you invest in a high performance shoe. When you are getting into climbing, an aggressive shoe is not what you should focus on. An aggressive climbing shoe comes with…you guessed it!  More aggressive climbing. Climbers progress into a state where they can with stand more foot pain, sounds cool huh? It gets better, an aggressive shoe is going to morph your foot into one hell of a squished, squared, toenail-less foot. You like that huh? Just wait until you sit around with your friends having a contest on who’s feet reek the most.

Since there will not be a lot of skill as a beginner climber, you truly wouldn’t be using the full capability of an aggressive shoe, or understand the proper use of such said shoe. I climbed on my beginner shoe for far longer than I should have. I’m speaking a few years too long. I definitely had graduated from my shoe, but was being cheap. I started getting frustrated with being held back by my shoe, so my cheap self bought a pair of  the La Sportiva Testarossa shoes which made me a 5.16 climber. There I go, being all dramatic again.

 

When I committed to buying a new shoe, I went straight after La Sportiva. Being in a climbing gym for a few hours will enlighten you on the popularity of this brand. Why are they popular?  Well, they are out of Italy and since Italians take their food very seriously, obviously they take their shoes very seriously. For real though, they are out of Italy and have been making climbing shoes for 90 years! Something I find rather appealing is that they are still owned by the family that started it all. I associate La Sportiva with quality products.

I’ve learned that every step of their process from research and design to material selection and the production process is engineered to make the best performance shoe on the market. My La Sportivas have proven durability, functionality and wicked performance. They will also re-sole your shoe when needed. Which is a perk, since climbing shoes morph to your foot. Allowing a climber to not have to go through the process of breaking the shoe in all over.

My climbing level at that point needed a high-performance shoe. This is not a “women’s specific shoe”, but that did not matter. I have male friends that wear ladies specific shoes and I wear men’s specific shoes. When it comes to climbing shoes, get whatever you find to be the best fit. I chose the Testarossa for sport climbing and boulder. I chose this shoe because it is an aggressive down-turned toe shoe. This allows for standing on edges and grabbing onto features of the rock with your feet. Basically, you can toe-in on steep climbs and have precise placement on features, allowing you to use the tiniest features of a rock face. The stickiness of the rubber allows for great smearing capabilities! They are made with thin leather, which helps with sensitivity and allows the ability to feel features through it . The leather also stretches where you need it to, helping with the break in process.

For the cleansliness of the shoe, it it incorporated with Lorica, a synthetic leather that is water-repellant, breathable and durable. It is lightweight and flexible, which is nice for throwing into the pack to hike up to the craigs and also your daily bag for making your way over to the gym.

 

Don't be afraid to start with an entry level shoe... Your feet will appreciate it!

When I put the Testerossa on, I kinda chuckle everytime as it literally is a suction cup to the foot. My  foot is not moving nor slipping around in it. Less movement/room = better grip and sometimes a funny sound! I noticed a trend in my gear closet, most of my adventure toys perform better the harder they are pushed. These shoes do that just as much as my Santa Cruz Bronson.

There are so many opinions on how a climbing shoe should fit from your toes being crammed to being able to walk in them comfortably. I chose the extremely painful end of the spectrum. It sure was not enjoyable wanting to puke every time I put them on. I was enduring so much pain while wearing them that I wasn’t able to focus on my climbing. I insisted they could stretch. Bless his heart, a buddy who has a foot 3.5 sizes larger than mine even tried climbing in my shoes to break them in. We also spent a night with some alcohol and a bathtub… to help stretch them! It’s a real trick! However, the truth was, I just bought them way too small and needed to buy the proper size in order to take advantage of the precision, edging, and grip they offer.

I learned that the proper fit is everything. If it’s too small, it’s too painful, if it’s too big, there is too much movement in the heel and toe bed that prevents precision. I did end up getting them in my actual shoe size and I am so glad I stopped torturing myself as these shoes have improved my climbing capabilities and are the only shoes I pull out of my gear closet.

 

If you happen to be in the market for your next climbing shoe because you feel you have a solid foundation of skill in climbing that could potentially lead you to be the next Lynn Hill, Testarossas!  If you are looking at a cover of a magazine and fantasizing about one day having killer back muscles, earth tone clothes, and babe-a-licious dreads all while hanging from some rock face with a surrounding landscape that will melt your face off,  but have never touched foot on the ground of climbing, go with a something like the Evolv made by the brand Elektra. Gradually become more aggressive with your shoe as you gain more skill. And ladies, a girl can never have too many shoes and I think it’s pretty rad to have a shoe closet full of climbing shoes.

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about the author

Roxanne Trujillo

Roxanne is a Coloradical single track slayer, crux seeking, pow loving, thrill taking mom of a child that's comparably wild. Armed with enthusiasm and good coffee, she devotes herself to the outdoors and keeping pace with her adorable and energetic daughter. She is an ambassador for RaceFace, a V-something climber and goes by Birdy. She fantasizes often about throwing herself, daughter, friends and bikes in a Sprinter wrapped in #canvasthetoddler and peeling out to chase the mundo hermoso.

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