Thursday, April 27, 2006

Secrets of the Stars

When Tommy Caldwell linked two El Cap free routes in a day last October (totaling 51 pitches), he carried two pairs of shoes: a snug-fiitting set for the crux pitches and a more comfortable pair for the wide cracks and easier stuff—everything 5.12a and easier, that is. (They were La Sportiva Miuras and Tradmasters, respectively, if you care about that kind of thing.) Many of us carrry multiple pairs of shoes to the base of a crag and swap out depending on the situation. But this got me wondering if I should do the same on a long route. There's always a compromise with a single pair of shoes: Either they're comfy and a bit sloppy or they're tight and precise but your feet hurt so much that you start losing your concentration—if not your will to live. For certain long routes, with lots of moderate cruising and a few hard pitches, the Tommy Two Shoes technique might be just the thing. Of course, I'm not likely to have a belayer who will carry my spare shoes like Tommy had.

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