Month: February 2015

Sole Searching: The Truth About Tight Climbing Shoes

Foot binding was the Chinese custom of wrapping young girls’ feet painfully tight to prevent growth and maintain a small shoe size. Up until the early 20th century, it was a status symbol, as women who bound their feet could afford to not work in the fields. Binding started between the ages of four and nine, before the foot was fully developed, and consisted of squeezing curled under toes into the sole of the foot until the toes and arch broke. The thought of breaking my feet so I can wear a size four instead of a size eight makes me nauseas, however, for the first three years of my climbing career I forced my feet into climbing shoes that were two sizes too small. Why? Because tight shoes make you climb harder; or rather, that’s what I was told. In retrospect, this practice isn’t really that different from the Chinese tradition – just another culture’s example of the pressure and power of societal competition. When climbing first began, specialized equipment for the sport had …

A Recipe for Success: One convertible, 10 pairs of shoes, and a batch of whole wheat pancakes

If you live in a van long enough, you’re bound to find yourself in some interesting situations. This one was a first: Adam and I rolled into Coyote Corner the morning of a rest day to fill up water and cook a leisurely breakfast in the parking lot. It’s common to see vans, Sprinters, and small RVs, so we didn’t think twice when we saw a bus sized motor home taking up half the parking lot. As Adam brought the water jugs over to the spigot, I opened up the kitchen and got to work measuring out pancake mix. As I heated up some oil and poured the first batch of pancakes into the sizzling pot, a man walked over. “Hey! Are you the caterer?” he asked eyeing the pancakes keenly. “Uh, no, not a caterer. Just cooking breakfast,” I replied. He quickly apologized and walked away with an air of disappointment. That’s weird, I thought to myself. I flipped my pancakes and continued cooking, only to notice another man sitting in a chair outside the motor home …