I'm a woman

I'm a woman
Photos copyright Laurence Gouault
No reproduction on other media without the photographer's permission.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Choosing and fitting climbing boots, by Stevie Haston.

Choosing and fitting your boots is one of the most important things you can do as a climber! If you pick a boot that fits badly, and doesn't do it's job, you can ruin your holiday. All your training will come to nothing if your boots dont work, your hopes turn to ashes, and your victory laurel turn to an embarasing crown of thorns if you stupidly buy and take the wrong boot on your mission/quest/thingy.   

So why do people pick boots like they pick football teams? Instead of careful consideration they just go for the most popular or their local team! Or if they are a girl or vain they go for the pretty one! Or Macho choice, or whatever. And the last thing you should consider is price! Price and money might be important in ordinary life, but this is climbing, and you can't just cant put a price on success and the pleasure of doing well.

Top photo is my favourite boot of the moment, it doesn't matter who makes it, what matters is that I have two pairs a size apart, Ok! And that's the minimum I will take anywhere!

Here are three different pairs that all fit me, I might take these away too. Why? Ok, trad shoe on the left, toes are flat(ish) in the shoe for comfort in jamming cracks, I might still prefer a less flat pair with a really narrow toe profile for thin cracks-middle photo. Right hand photo is a different boot, it's more asymmetrical lasted, with a big nose turn down, my favourite for really steep rock.

Here's a photo of the different lasting on the last two, it makes a big difference to me. There is also difference in how they stretch I prefer the bottom one, you might not if your foot is shaped different, the bottom one favours a wider foot with a more prominent big toe-me.

This photo shows the degree of downturn, I like downturn, but you might not, it takes some getting used to and some get cramp when they first try them, my tip is get over it. Theres a 0.5 mm difference in the rubber sole which actually means that the top boot will fit certain small pockets seams and cracks, better than the bottom one. The lower boot  edges a little better. You have to choose. You have to know what your looking for and make an educated choice. 
Heres a couple of things to consider, there is not such thing as a woman's boot, or a woman's fit, that's plain stupidity, they either fit, or they don't, you either have wide feet, or thin feet, or what ever TF feet!
Colour only matters in the degree that it sucks up sun heat, and will make you scream with pain. Oh yes we are back to pain. Pain in shoes is very important to many people, if you are cringing in pain, you can't push on your feet. However if your boot is not tight, you can't push either. You might want to compromise, I don't. Turned over toes in tight boots hurt, they can really hurt, and some climbers have bone spurs, and horrible feet due to over tight shoes, modern shoes are better than they used to be, you don't have to go so tight. I go tight, and lots of climbers do, tight might be right! I only wear tight shoes for a hard routes that dont take long, give your feet a chance. Slippers are really good for slipping half off to give your feet a rest, all day comfy shoes are really limited on harder routes, they are my last ever choice.
If you are into steep rock, you need a good heel that doesn't come off, and some toe rubber on top, the perfect shoe hasn't been made, but there are lots of good shoes out there, don't pick the wrong one! Some folk wear different shoes on each foot, it is that crucial at times.
Buying different shoes doesn't mean wasting money, because as you only wear one pair at a time, two pairs will last twice as long as one pair. Last tip, go to a good shop with a big selection of boots, that doesnt mind you taking your time and buy at that shop, dont find your size and buy on the net. Surport that shop, you may think you have the right size, but boots vary, and the edge of the shoe, the business end of the shoe can be badly or wrongly ground and this can make the boot worthless! Hope this helps.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Scarpa Techno X climbing shoe, by Stevie Haston.

So here's a boot which I wouldn't normally look at, or think of reviewing. It's a straight lasted or flat normal climbing shoe it's not turned down! So why have I got them, and what's it to you? Well straight lasted are way more comfortable for most recreational folk, and I was looking for a shoe I could do a bit of crack with. This translates into a all day shoe, but the Techno X doesn't feel floppy, and has a good heel. For all day shoes or Trad shoes most people should consider laces as these primitive string things allow you to tighten or loosen your shoe! 

The shoe has Edge rubber which isn't my favourite, but gives more cross torsion, and protects the foot somewhat in cracks. The upside of Edge rubber is its good on sharp nasty holds particularly at the end of a day when your feet are tired.

This is a good photo showing the rubber on the toe area, this bit is the bit that gets shoved in the crack and gets twisted around, this toe is very good  and works well on most other climbing too, like toe hooks. Make sure you get a good fit though as you can't tighten it right to the end. Remember in climbing shoes fit is every thing. In general this shoe is a good all day shoe that I will be using it on cracks, its comfy and well made, and as I say its not my normal choice shoe. You might consider it if you don't like turned down toes, or tight shoes.  The Techno X is extremely comfy, the tongue is soft and padded, and as its better than a great number of boots I have done hard routes in the past it will defo do for most people up to hard bouldering grades, or climbing, good luck with it.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Scarpa Nitro Gtx by Stevie Haston.

So here's a handy shoe for most purposes, and most seasons if you live in the north or are having a bit of a damp time. Its a  gortex socked shoe, with  a swede upper and very robust, I got it at the moment just for going to the crags as its really damp this year and I got fed up of having wet feet and socks etc. So it works very well in that respect, it's very smart so you can walk around town etc with out looking like you are in the tour de france or an athletic meet like some shoes. I didn't get it as an approach shoe/guides shoe, even though you can use it for this purpose if you wish. 

The sole is very functional in my opinion, the lugs are big enough to handle gravel and scree, and other rough terrain without having hot spots and pressure points like when you have a more spiky tread. Its comfy in town, and the last has a slight roll to it. The sole is sticky at the front and more hard wearing at the back and cleaned easily going through damp soil, its kinnda got a self cleaning lug profile or just stamp them on the ground or kick a tree root and the sticky mud thing should drop off.

Like I said its not for running although it's got a duel layered EVA sole, you could get away with a gog, or a warm up, or kick a ball around with the kids. The toes are protected by a nice sticky rubber box which should last well. The swede should protect the gortex part as its 1.5 thick, it looks good but unless you have a bit of a layer here your goretex sock will effectively punter very quickly, this is worth thinking about when you bush which through thorns as the effectiveness of any waterproof membrane generally doesn't like thorns! So there you go, I thought it was very good, with a wide fitting, and it should last a fair while.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Anorexia , drugs, and no rational control. By Stevie Haston.

Christian Bale, 8b version on the left, 9c on right!

Charlotte Durif the great french comp and cliff climber has written an amazingly critical open letter to Grimper mag in France. In it she discusses the widespread anorexia that she sees in competition climbing and compares it to doping. She also criticises the competion organisation and format. Here is a link to the original in French and a google translation. Her points have been made before and many people agree with her, so what will be done, the answer is nothing! If you have a child or a friend who is anorexic whether they are a climber or not make no mistake it's very serious. Whether it's as serious as Honnold soloing a big wall or an alpinist soloing a north face is also a matter for scrutiny. There has to be some kind of free will in life or our lives aren't ours. In some sports like Body building people take drugs and become very very thin, it's the only way to win or compete. Is every sport like body building, well no, there are a few who don't take drugs, let me try and think of one that doesnt-shit for a second I thought of one, but championship knitting isn't a sport.
What does this all mean to you, you might ask. Well if you have a child in sport not just climbing but say mountain bike riding, you have to consider the risk they will be partaking in and how responsible you want to be! There is not just the risk of tumbling off a bike, or cliff, but the risk of being sick in some way due to drugs or a very odd diet. Now then there are lots of magazine people who read my blog and they are fairly guilty in not talking about any of this, if they do talk they just do a shallow piece and earn their money. Climbing is a very weird sport, it's susceptibility to a small amount of drugs and light weight taking the laurels is really really high. In fact the lighter you are the more change you can have by small amounts of drugs, so children who take drugs and anorexics who take drugs will have the highest success, so in future our sport will be dominated by anorexic or very light weight people who are either sexualy immature or both, if that hasn't happened already. 
And by the way I was commissioned to write about the Charlotte Durif controversy when a commercial web site started a hatchet job on Charlote Durif  for supposedly fibbing, I was reluctant to do this job even though I was short of cash as I knew ultimately that the truth would be illusive and it was just about entertaining the masses. One of the key elements of this so called controversy was a route called PPP, a huge 9a that people said Durif couldn't do. Well strangely that 9a wasn't 9a anyway so it brought it down to more than very possible that Miss Durif could have styled it.
Years ago the best french sport climber and competition guy said that he wouldn't be able to compete any longer without some medical help, as he was feeling big pressure from former eastern bloc climbers, he retired and became plump.
An interesting aside is that this anorexia thing will never go away, it's there at the very heart of climbing, but at least you can see it. You can't see the drugs. I have no right to preach, and every body takes drugs, but the playing field is not level, and, and, and..... 
Another interesting aside perhaps is that Laurence was working with a Tri Athlete recently, who commented that nearly everybody in a famous local race was drugged to the max, its a famous race but winning it won't pay your drug bill for a year. The same week my grand kids who are really into sport and are really into winning were over for a holiday, they really want to be good at hill running, and when they were enthusing I was nearly crying, because fell running is just pharmaceuticals. Still I smiled and marched them up that hill!

If you want some good advice about losing weight in a sensible way, check out Steve Edwards blog  this guy is a climber as well as a sportsman. Good luck Steve. 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Designer fitness. By Stevie smart Haston.

Was staying in a swank hotel, which even seemed to care about my veggie food requirements, and bumbled into the Gym. It was a very good Gym, I have to say, no people in it except a very buff young man, he instantly accosted me as to my needs. Anyway after he explained everything, he told me I looked ok for a man of my age, then he kindda arched one eyebrow and asked me some questions and he put int into his machine and gave me a little routine. The routine was ok, I said thanks and went over to the Lat bar, I maxed it out and did a couple of pulls and Mr Buff was on me,  He explained I was doing it wrong! Anyway Mr Buff was a nice guy, and the hotel was nice and all, but the cleaning guy has got more usable strength than Mr Buff.
The boulder problem called Jade has been repeated by a girl-a strong girl- but a girl. I seem to remember this route being touted as a very burly prob by the dudes etc Dave Graham and crew failed etc! Next up, forget the boulders and get on Action Direct, I am dying for this to be done by a girl. Oh and instead of all the Mr Buff training programs in the mags can you please down load what the girl does as I might like to try her program as it seems to work. Thats what its about right, results!
My own personal climbing journey is starting again, so I am up for receiving ideas. I have 8 months before I go to the States, is 8 months enough to get me up the two routes I want to do? Planning my Wellness gentle regime today, penciling lots of Kale smoothies, absolutely no power pulls.
Congrats to Alex Puccio for doing Jade.