At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is just a heap of old, identical climbing shoes...but wait!
Upon closer inspection, each shoe (or at least, each pair) has its own story...(surely you can't believe that I just randomly buy too much climbing gear for no good reason?!)...
These shoes are Scarpa Forces. They are a beginner to intermediate all round climbing shoe, well made using high quality materials - suede uppers and vibram rubber soles.
High performance rock shoes often feature a heavily down-turned toe, and many climbers wear them very small - up to 3 sizes smaller than their normal street shoe size...the thinking behind this is that the tighter the shoe fits, the more it's like a second skin, and the smaller the holds you can stand on...so climbers often wear shoes that require their toes to be scrunched up in the end of the shoe, allowing the application of greater force through the big toe.
Whilst this is all great in theory, in practice it hurts like a bastard!
Hence my approach is to wear shoes of a size that means my feet are flat, my toes aren't scrunched up, and I can wear them all day without discomfort. I figure that the occasions where the reason I'm failing on a climb is because my shoes are too loose can be counted on one hand over the year.
The vast majority of the time, it matters not a jot...so I always choose comfort over performance.
So this first pair of Forces I bought were generously sized at Eu46, which is around UK11, against my normal shoe size of UK10.
I picked these up in late 2011 for the bargain price of £56, against a manufacturer's RRP of £100.
However, although I really liked everything about the look, feel and quality of the shoes, and shape-wise they're a good fit, my big toes were a little squashed in the end of the shoe, and I found them very uncomfortable to wear for more than 20 minutes or so. I think they might break in a bit better, given time, but I only wear them very occasionally now, when I'm struggling with footwork on tiny (or non-existent) holds.
Because I liked them so much, in August 2012 I bought another pair in a size Eu47, which is UK12...
These weren't such a bargain price, at £65, but they have been my favourite shoes ever since. My toes are not squashed at all, and I can indeed wear them all day with no issues.
Sure, they're a little big sometimes, and small holds can be a bit tricky, but I can counter that to some extent at least with good and careful foot placement.
Anyway, these shoes have been my go-to shoes ever since...I've climbed in them all over the Peak District in all weathers, on Dartmoor in the wind and rain, in Snowdonia in the snow and Anglesey in the cold, in Pembrokeshire and the Lake District in blazing sun, and of course not forgetting the hot and dry Costa Blanca, and the beautiful and atmospheric Fontainebleau.
All of my significant outdoor adventure climbing has been done in these shoes. By winter 2013, they'd become very worn, so I got them re-soled, intending to use them solely(!) for indoor use...but still I find they're my #1 pick, wherever I'm going and whatever sort of climbing I'm doing.
That said, recently they've become very worn again, the soles have thinned and they're less supportive.
In Summer 2013, Scarpa announced the end of the line for this model of the Force, and I really wasn't impressed with the new version...it had turned into a dumbed down beginner's shoe, so far as I could see. I started looking to buy a spare pair for the future. However, I couldn't find anywhere that had the somewhat unusual size of 47 in stock. I'd almost given up hope, when late August last year I found that Newcastle Climbing Centre had a pair in stock for £71...
So despite them apparently getting more expensive as time went on, I had to purchase them, and I've been saving them to transition to these newer ones (below), from the older ones (above).
I've worn these quite a bit now, outdoors on occasion and whilst the older ones were being resoled. For all of this year, I've found myself saving them for Font...and now the older ones are really wearing out, I'm looking forward to moving to these.
Then, earlier this week, I noticed a post on the UK Climbing website forum:
FS Scarpa Force size 47, only worn twice.
I opened the thread to find that they'd been on sale for a couple of weeks already, with no interest, and the price had reduced from £45 plus delivery, to £40 including postage!
Of course I couldn't pass up this opportunity, and now I have a virtually new pair to act as standby...I'm sorted for the next couple of years at least.
|may the forces be with you|
Now I just have to decide how many of these are coming to Font with me...I'm thinking the three newer pairs, but maybe I'll take all of them so none are left out.
In other news, following last night's deadmau5 drama, tonight I got to stem the tide of death, a little at least.
As I made my way through to the lounge, I noticed a tiny wood mouse in a little ball at the bottom of the stairs. Sighing and swearing under my breath at Loz, I put my bags down and went to investigate...only to find the mouse sitting up and Maisie looking at it with interest...
I put my hand down to pick the tiny thing up, and he ran into my palm, before dashing out again and rushing off into a corner.
Of course all the skittering activity really caught Maisie's attention, and I had to shoo her away with one hand whilst trying to herd the mouse into the other.
Luckily, the little fella ran into the slackline sack which was sitting next to the front door. So I took him over to the hedgerow and encouraged him out, and he ran straight off into the undergrowth.
Take that Loz, you Killer Queen...
Today you lose!