Photo courtesy of Katie Lambert

A Salute to Used Climbing Shoes

by Katie Lambert Nov 2, 2011
I’ve just sat down to unlace my climbing shoes.

MY BLUE SUEDE SHOES that are on their sixth resole and soon to be seventh. In the summer of 2005 I moved to Yosemite to climb the granite walls high into the realms of being human. I needed a good pair of shoes. It wasn’t long after I arrived in the Valley that I met Surfer Bob. We became quick partners and as we climbed up the clean and varied cracks of Yosemite’s lower canyon we talked shop about life. He said if I wanted to learn to climb these wide cracks I needed a solid pair of high tops. I needed the Kaukulator.

Only thing was, La Sportiva discontinued the shoe some 10-odd years ago. It could be hard to come by a pair.

I went on a search via the interweb and eventually came upon a pair on Ebay. Someone had bought them for their wife some time ago and they had been sitting in their garage unused. They were brand new and $35. When they arrived they felt like magic shoes. That day I took them on a test run. They were magic; not only could I climb the wides, but I could edge on dimes. I knew these shoes were going to open up a whole new realm of climbing for me. I also knew that they would wear out and I would be in need of another pair.

I watched Ebay obsessively for another. Nothing for weeks. And then one day as I was walking through El Portal I saw a pair on the dumpster. Someone had discarded them. They were well used but still had life in them. They were broken down but still stiff. They seemed perfect! I carried them home almost skipping with joy. Come to find out they had belonged to Jo Whitford and she had already had them resoled three times. She felt like it was time to let them go.

Since I picked them off the dumpster I’ve come by four more pair, making my collection a total of six. It seems a good idea to stock up on them since they’re discontinued – but as this pair has proven, they’re built for the long-haul. I’ve worn these shoes on hundreds of pitches and have had them resoled three times myself. They remain my best Yosemite all-around shoe.

So, here’s to things that last.

Editor’s note: This is a reprint from Katie Lambert’s blog, Thoughts and Things from a Bird’s View.

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