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History of the climbing shoe (Read 21163 times)

monkey boy

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History of the climbing shoe
October 09, 2006, 04:16:09 pm
Hello,

I am doing my uni dissertation on climbing shoes, I have to do back ground and history on them before testing etc. Was just wondering if anyone could help with good websites or books that will give a kind of timeline of the climbing shoe? For example when hobnails were invented, when proper climbing shoes first came out, when velcro's and slippers were first introduced.

Any help be awesome
Thanks
David

widdop

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#1 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 09, 2006, 08:06:49 pm
i had a pair of worn PA climbing shoes  given to me in 1960 and i think at the time they were the only rock shoe about ,all the rest were clogs  ,i cant believe someone hasn't allready looked into climbing boot history,

monkey boy

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#2 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 09, 2006, 08:31:26 pm
Cheers

I am sure they have, i am not really focussing on the history its just sort of an intro to the whole testing of shoes etc! Thanks for the knowledge!

(woz)

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#3 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 09, 2006, 08:41:44 pm
There is a good section on the history of climbing boots in "Rock climbing in Britain" by David Jones (1984) which I can bring up to leeds tomorrow if you want. The Ron Fawcett book has a section on boots I think.
D

erm, sam

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#4 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 09, 2006, 09:47:44 pm
www.johngill.net

John Gills website has quite a bit of history stuff on it....

7lbs overweight

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#5 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 10, 2006, 10:43:54 pm
The first proper rock boot was the 'PA' designed by Font maestro Pierre Allain.  By the 1950s it looked like a red suede and black canvas version of the famous EB.  A bit before my time. 

The similarity in design to the EB was no coincidence.  Edmond Bourdonneau originally made shoes for Pierre Allain, then set up on his own.  From the 1960s – 1980, the EB Super Gratton was the only shoe to wear for high-standard rock climbing.  See any classic 1970s photo.  It's hard to imagine, but shops sold nothing else.  Good feel, good edging, and, once worn a little, an excellent thin-crack boot.  Shocking friction by today's standards but some pretty terrifying grit slab climbing was done in these.



There were occasional competitors but none approached the standard to the mighty EB and were swiftly crushed underfoot.

Around 1980, Bourdonneau switched to a moulded rubber sole to speed-up production.  A marketing move even more disastrous than http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Coke.  They were completely shit!  Their bulbous toes had a huge void which meant they had as much feeling as a durex extra-safe and the vulcanised rubber was even slicker.  Desperate climbers drove around the country buying multiples of remaining stock in their size.  Competitors rushed to fill the void.  Amongst several new kids on the block were….     

c1980. Asolo Chouinard Canyons.  A tasteful denim blue as you might expect from Mr. Patagucci.  These were OK, no actually they were pretty rubbish.  The friction was slightly better than EBs but they were pretty clumpy.  Some of us lead E5 in them though.

c1979-1981. Galibier Contacts - came in both high and low top versions. Advanced design: the first ever 'shoe' as opposed to boot and high wrap-around rubber.  Excellent friction for their day, but not terribly sensitive and not great edging. Popular in the 'states for padding up low-angle slabs but never really caught on in the UK.

c1982.  Hanwag Crack Specials – the red suede and yellow nylon coordinated beautifully with a pair of yellow Ron Hills.  Beautifully made, very comfy, reassuringly expensive.  Ron wore them in a very early boot sponsorship deal.  Ironically they were rubbish on cracks, but OK for edging.

1982.  Boreal Fires – prototypes were available earlier but fiercely guarded.  The biggest single breakthrough in rock boots.  The design was pretty conventional – grey suede high-top but the sticky rubber…Grit E6 slabs became piss-easy overnight! (well, relatively)



For two or three years, Fires were as ubiquitous as EBs had been before them, but the pack closed in quickly as other manufacturers started to cook their rubber.

Asolo Run-outs, Calima Lince, Sportiva Megas, the rise of 5.10 Stealth: others can carry on from here.

widdop

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#6 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 10, 2006, 11:11:21 pm
thanks thats filled a few gaps in my failing memory  and sadly made me feel older,  still the PA was a boot from outer space at the time

webbo

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#7 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 11, 2006, 08:16:36 am
i had a pair of hawkins masters and a pair of r.d's.the latter were named after some aussie climber.the friction on the them was so shite they were impossible to wear out.this was before i got my first pair of e.b's.

SA Chris

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#8 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 11, 2006, 08:44:14 am
Monkey boy, I'm sure that if you go to some of the climbing shoe websites; Boreal, etc, they have a history of the company.

andy popp

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#9 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 11, 2006, 09:20:01 am
7lbs overweight gives an excellent summary, especially of the EB debacle - which is surely relevant to you if you are interested in quality/testing issues. What sort of degree are you doing? I started out in 1978 and was desperate for a pair of EBs from the very first day I went - partly because everyone wore them, partly because there was nothing else and partly because they did actually seem really good. I got a pair through the post from Alpine Sports (another interesting business history lesson in commercial hubris) for, I think, £10. You should probably read Invisible on Everest by Mary Rose and Mike Parsons, may not be anything on boots but would give a useful academic framework for looking at innovation in the outdoor equipment industry.. One thing it looks at is how adaptations occur from the ground up. For instance in Stoke in the early 80s me, Al and Nick Dixon were cutting boots down to below the ankle (as I'm sure other were elsewhere, there's a classic 70s photo of John Long at Tahquitz or somewhere in cut down EBs) before we were aware any 'shoes' had appeared on the market.

fatboySlimfast

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#10 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 11, 2006, 09:57:35 am
I have a pair of Hawkins rockhoppers in a size 7 in my cupboard if any wants to find out how shit they are/were

monkey boy

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#11 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 11, 2006, 11:35:51 am
Cheers guys its helping a lot. Just the kind of thing i need. Just got to put it all together now and link to more modern day stuff for the intro.
I am doing sports science with outdoor activities which means i do performance textiles, pretty good course really.

Anymore info would be greatly appreciated and let me no if anyone wants to know how the end result of project turns out not that it will be finished till about april.

David

monkey boy

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#12 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 11:48:12 am
Another plea for help from climbers who were pulling in the 80's and early 90's! My climbing shoe history is in detail up to the Berol Fires and Scarpa Cragratz, about 82!
I think i can cover from the late 90's on but there really isnt much on websites about history of shoes.
Was interested especially in the Boreal ninjas as these were the first slippers? I think! And other break through shoes.

Help would be great  :thumbsup:
cheers
david

Andy F

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#13 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 11:56:48 am
Before 5.10 were 3.10 they were known as Vertical (only the rubber was called 5.10) They gad a green-grey boot out in '88, followed by a pink boot/blue shoe (can't remember the names). AFAIK the Ninja was thje first slipper, but the biggest breakthrough shoe was The Asolo Runout which set the tone for everything that followed.

Ru

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#14 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 12:04:43 pm
Craig Smith was telling me an interesting story on the way to the crag the other day. Craig was one of the early climbers to secure lots of sponsorship deals and work closely with manufacturers. Anyway he was telling me about how he asked a friend who was good at sewing to rip the elasic out of some Ninjas, sew some leather round the horseshoe shaped hole, then punch and thread to make a laced Ninja. These worked really well and he showed them to Boreal who shortly after produced the (Spirit?) forerunner to the Laser. I think that's the story but I can check with Craig and get the full details.

Johnny Brown

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#15 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 12:55:34 pm
I thought Jerry had a hand in the laser design? Wasn't he so impressed by the fires he invested heavily in the then small company, designed the laser which took over the world, and set Jerry on the path to being a self-made millionaire with a porsche and medal-nestling-in-chestwig combo?

Andy F

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#16 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 01:26:16 pm
These worked really well and he showed them to Boreal who shortly after produced the (Spirit?) forerunner to the Laser. I think that's the story but I can check with Craig and get the full details.

The Sprints were the forerunner of the Laser, came in two varietys labelled Sprint 1 and Sprint 2. The 1's had a carbon fibre insert that made them stiffer than Ron Jeremy and usless for anything but Slate. The 2's were much softer and great for the Grit. Just after that time there was the La Sportiva Tao (all veggie boot, black so very sweaty in the sun) which was the best seller for a couple of years IIRC, then 5.10's introduced the world to the anazai (mid 90's for the lace-up, velcro and moccasyms?), and things have never been the same since

Pantontino

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#17 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 01:43:31 pm
Don't forget the La Sportiva Megas (oops, just seen that these have been mentioned), which were very popular right at the end of the 80s.

Scarpa had a red and blue high top, I think called Superatz that were very much an 80s boot, then they refined them with a blue and yellow version which I remember Andy Pollitt used to wear (see front cover of Gogarth guide). In fact if you can get hold of any of the Pollitt posters from the 80s you'll get a good idea of rock boot development. Look in Extreme Rock and David Jones' Rock Climbing in Britain book too for 80s footwear.

Andy F

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#18 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 01:50:52 pm
Were the Mega's those purple and green super stiff things as advertised by Andy Pollitt on that rather controversial LPT route? What were the blue and yellow La Sportiva lace-up's called that appeared shortly afterwards called?  I remember them being rather popular as well.

Johnny Brown

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#19 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 02:57:31 pm
Kendos? As I remember they dominated they early nineties comp scene

lowlife

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#20 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 03:03:45 pm
Hello folks, long time lurker, first time post...
My first pair of boots were the very Fires pictured in the Ron book. £25 from Outside bargain bin, with the promise of some Ron magic FOC. The magic never turned up! They are in my garage sporting the Collegiate Crescent low cut look, complete with felt tip racing stripes... it was a crime and I'm guilty as sin.
Unable to fit into the great looking Megas vicious heel cup, I settled for Boreal Jazz (Nice!) Hatefull things. They are in the garage.
Ninjas looked like the biz but the early model had a very low rand, the suede went through in days. Rock and run had some new ones with a higher rand and kindly upgraded mine. This saw me rocket through the grades from 5b to 5c! I still have them in my garage.
Maybe...the Ninjas were the first climbing product specifically aimed at bouldering? What was the difference between the red ones and the green ones? Anyhow, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I am crap at throwing stuff away and anyone breaking into my garage will be sorely dissapointed!

monkey boy

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#21 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 03:07:57 pm
Awesome guys keep it coming, its all helpful! Need to try and get a good mark for this. I have looked in Rock climbing in Britain it only covers the period till the fires!
If anyone has any cool pictures from any decades that a shoe can be well seen in i would appreciate a few to go with the words, so if you can be bothered just PM me them.

Thanks again

Andy F

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#22 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 04:23:26 pm
Kendos? As I remember they dominated they early nineties comp scene

That's the ones, very soft lace-up, lots off feel. Your right about them dominating the comp scene around that time as well.

luckyjez

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#23 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 04:25:46 pm
Purple and green stiff things were Scarpa Rockmasters, which were preceded by the Rock Star (yellow and blue). both very well made but very stiff. Asolo slowly lost market share after the green runout, with first the orange runout and then the horrible Kevlar runout (yellow and burgundy!). Also they had a brace of more technical lace-ups in 2 version (one stiff and one soft - like the Boreal Sprints) but their names have temporarily escaped me.

Andy F

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#24 Re: History of the climbing shoe
October 26, 2006, 05:26:26 pm
Purple and green stiff things were Scarpa Rockmasters, which were preceded by the Rock Star (yellow and blue). both very well made but very stiff. Asolo slowly lost market share after the green runout, with first the orange runout and then the horrible Kevlar runout (yellow and burgundy!). Also they had a brace of more technical lace-ups in 2 version (one stiff and one soft - like the Boreal Sprints) but their names have temporarily escaped me.

I remember those Asolo's, they came in a green colour (stiff) and yellow (soft). Crap heel IIRC, can't think of the names either :-\