Thursday, September 30, 2010

Regurgitation Period

Part Two in my little series of posts of "Things That Piss Me Off" is gonna focus more on shoes rather than gloves. Even if I could go on and on about the gloves.

Everyone in the building knows that the two leaders in the climbing shoe game are Sportiva and Five Ten. Everyone else jockeys for third. Currently I'm in a Five Ten phase as I think they've really stepped their game up recently. They've debuted smart shoes that have good tech and are the best in each category.

I used to be a Sportiva fanboy. I used to love their shoes and really loved that they came out with new and exciting stuff with some regularity. The Testarossa, Venom, Solution, Barracuda, etc. They were all awesome shoes that had/have a loyal fanbase. What's frustrating and kinda sad to me is that they haven't really come out with anything super cool in years. Since the Solution really.

Instead they've regurgitated styles like the Muira, Katana, Mythos and the Cobra. What used to be just four styles in their expansive lineup has grown into half of their current line of 20 shoes. Ever since Heinz left them for someone else they've just sort of floated along on his legacy and aging names.

What's possibly even more frustrating is that when they do finally come out with a brand new shoe it turns out to just be a copy of someone else's.

The new Python is the best example of that. I already know that the Sportiva fanboys are gonna get on me about this so I'm going to start out by saying that the Python is more than likely a sweet shoe. I'm sure it's well constructed and will be a very good performer for most of the people that have it.

In SPORTIVA'S lineup, it fills a hole. It does not, however, fill a hole in the industry. I'm not saying that every shoe needs to be this brand new idea, but c'mon, a little innovation can't hurt you. Try to hide the copying at least.

Let's compare.

1 - Outsole - 3.5mm - Same as the Team.
2 - Midsole - .8mm - Thinner than the rest of Sportiva's lineup...just like the Team.
3 - Closure - Single Velcro Strap over the arch - Same as the Team.
4 - Heel - Narrow profile, similar to Speedster - Similar design as the rest of the 5.10 lineup...and the Team.
5 - Toe Cap - Same as the Solution - Also similar to the team, though not quite as beefy. Good and bad there.

So a year after the Team 5.10 debuted to much fanfare Sportiva starts using 3.5 mil outsole, which they've never done before. They also use a smaller, thinner midsole than they've ever made previously. Every single other shoe in their lineup aside from the Speedster uses a 1.1 mil midsole. They very nearly copied the outsole minus the Vibram rubber. I will say that Mystique is by far the stickiest rubber I've ever used. It's still the only rubber I've ever noticed a difference on. Like ever ever.

On top of that they copy the closure system 100%. This is a closure that Five Ten has used on many shoes. The 5X, Team, Project, Jet7 all used this closure. Sportiva would have been better off using the Solution closure in my opinion. Instead they just straight up copied their main competitor.

It's been fairly obvious for the past few years that Sportiva has been putting more energy and resources into the trail running market and it's definitely affected the climbing lineup. I would absolutely love to walk by the booth next summer and see a host of brand new shoes that look cool and perform amazingly well.

This past summer the two booths had a totally different feel from each other. Sportiva was quietly debuting three new climbing shoes. Two of those were the same recreational model, one rental and one retail. Instead they put a huge push into their new trail running shoes that definitely didn't generate the buzz they were hoping for.

Five Ten on the other hand debuted a host of new approach shoes and updated casual designs. Along with that they debuted 7 new climbing shoes, including a true Womens performance model with some of the best fabrics, features and materials on the market. They also created a brand new lower volume last specifically for all the people out there that complain that Five Tens fit too wide.

And if that wasn't enough, for the second year in a row they've debuted at least one model early. Rock/Creek is currently selling the Blackwing in both mens and womens. It's genius on their part as long as they can make production work on it.

Five Ten is coming out with incredibly smart launches full of new styles that garner a ton of buzz. Hopefully Sportiva will start doing more of the same in the near future.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


So Saturday was a great day. Really great. Sunday not so much, but Saturday was a nice change of pace.

We started out not really having a plan for the day and rather soon Katie, Sarah, Chris and I were hiking up the talus to Jenga/Seam Project/Moj. Katie and I had warmed up at North Shore but Chris and Sarah were less psyched about that. Instead they just warmed up on Jenga.

Katie was wavering between psyched and not psyched at all but every now and then she'd sack up and do the crux move. After doing it a handful of times and switching back to the Teams she gave it one last effort. She looked super strong and got through the crux without an issue. Pretty soon she was staring down the last good hold on the lip and before she knew it her right hand was off the wall and she was on the pads. Sad. Third trip up to Jenga in a row where she's come off high up on the link.

She remarked at how odd the problem is and how sometimes it just clicks for her. When it doesn't it feels absolutely impossible. All I can say is I do think it'll happen soon for her. Very soon.

We dropped the pads down to The Seam Project and Chris and I got some burns in on that thing. After a few lackluster efforts we started to get in the groove of things. I'd warned Chris about the mood swings on the problem. It's a super odd move and it feels genuinely easy when you start to think about it yet every time you try it you end up on the ground. So frustrating! After about 15 minutes he looked at me and said, "Yeah...I see what you mean about the mood swings.". Awesome. Glad to share that with you bud.

We each had a couple of really good efforts and I actually thought it'd go today. I was coming up on the end of my time on the problem and vowed for one more go. I stepped up and lurched up and right with my hand on the loaf. As my body peaked I could feel my left hand fire off of the crimp and I looked up as, for a brief moment, I saw my hand staying on the sloper all by its lonesome.

Sadly, it was short lived.

My right hand dry fired off and I came screaming and yelling back down to the pads. Fun.

Chris wanted to give Moj a couple tries and while he came very close to doing that one it'll have to wait for another day unfortunately.

As we were packing up Remo and Fuzzy came down through the trees and joined us on the hike out. Sounds like they had a great day ticking towers off on the West Bluff.

Sunday was gonna be the Dodge day. After a brief stop at Gotham Bagels (Suck it RV) we met Chris and Sarah at Camp B. Jeremy and Adam were already up there warming up and we joined in the absurdity. Adam even remarked that he had "only broken one foot hold" that day.

Made my day.

For all the gentle, and not so gentle ribbing I give Dodge, I do actually enjoy myself there. It's fun, relaxed and a nice change of pace. On top of that I've got great memories of my time there.

Katie on Split Personality

My Wife being just plain awesome

Sarah on Split Personality

Katie trying out the moves on Irrationality

Sarah looking so close on Split Personality!

We had a quick session on Split Personality and then moved on to everyone's main objectives for the day. Sandstone Violence and Hangman.

The boys went to one side and the ladies went to another. Jeremy, Chris and I traded attempts on SV and gradually warmed up to the added friction. Pretty soon we were all making good progress and making it relatively high. Katie and Sarah walked around the corner and while we were punting around on SV Katie had stuck the throw on Hangman! Naturally she punted fairly hard off of the jug and didn't finish the problem when she stuck the move. Way to keep up the family name sweetie.

Soon after they came over I had my one requisite good attempt on the problem and got back up to the pistol grip pinch without much of a problem. Sadly, I came off switching my feet on the start hold.

I sort of just gave up after that and numbness set in. I just don't care anymore. I'm not angry. I'm not frustrated. It's such a fight to get the motivation to even try hard on it anymore that I don't even care if I do it now. If I do the problem, great. If not, oh well. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

All that numbness, along with some other stupidity from earlier in the morning, may have led to some assholery. Sorry about that boys.

On the bright side both Jeremy and Chris figured out good beta to skip the pinches and at least one of them should send it soon. Here's to hoping, right? At least some other people might be able to do this thing!

We all made the epic 2 minute trek over to Hangman to hang out with the ladies. Both of them were looking incredibly strong on it and each time seemed like 'the' go. After Sarah smoked her elbow on the sloper she left it all up to Katie. After a couple of tantalizingly close efforts she gave it all she had and hit the finish jug with authority. For a moment she paused on it and then her right hand violently slid off of the jug ripping off all remaining skin. So close. So so close.

And with that we took off. Chris ran a lap on Highly Executed and Adam pushed through and did Hangman for the first time in a real nice effort. Good jorb!!

I can honestly say that this weekend was rather refreshing. It just felt good to climb in good conditions. Felt amazing really. Despite what you may think, I'm incredibly excited about this fall. I think good things are gonna happen. Real good things!

Also, I just had to put this in here. I'm sure you've all seen it by now but if you haven't then mother of God this is the greatest thing to ever happen on the TV ever. REVENGE OF TEH WATERMELONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

No Holds Barred

Sorry RV. 115 pictures. Every damn one of them at least a little bit embarrassing. Good stuff. Enjoy folks.