Its all too common to hear some dude at the gym yell that out after their failure on a route they almost sent. On the inside, I laugh at every single occurrence and occasionally, I walk away to laugh out loud. I find it hilarious watching grown men pouting as they remove their shoes and throw them on the ground – what are you, 8? Perhaps you are fortunate enough to not have whiny dudes bouldering at your home gym, but at Stone Summit, there are a select few who use this as their “go-to excuse.”
Looking around the bouldering room, one shoe, without a doubt, is the most commonly worn shoe. La Sportiva’s Solution. They are $170 shoes that are pretty awesome apparently (I wouldn’t know, I have never tried them). I notice that many of the V2-V4 climbers rock the high-end shoes – Solutions, Miuras, Testies, etc. I guess I can see why: “Why not invest in the best shoes on the market for the sport you are so passionate about? After all, they will make you worlds better.” False.
I remember this one dude falling on a V4 midway through the route. First thing he does: sits down, unstraps the velcro, angrily pulls off his shoes, and slams them on the mat while yelling, “f**king shoes!” Yeah. Tell those $160 Miuras who’s boss.
Look up to my header image at the top of the page. You see those shoes? Those are Mad Rock’s Phoenix. I am proud to have paid $35 for my shoes on clearance at REI. I find no shame in having crappier shoes than most gyms’ rental shoes. (One of the girls on the youth climbing team asked me while we were working a V8 together, “Why are you wearing rental shoes?”) I find it funny that it would cost more to resole the shoes than to buy a new pair.
So you aren’t paying for skill-in-a-box when you buy those high-end pairs. Spending $150+ won’t make you more technically skilled or supply you with more power. They are shoes. On the shoe box it should read: “Good footwork will yield best results.” They will make your climbing better if you are a good climber. If you have crap footwork, you will do just as well if you use rental shoes.
Do you think good runners need the best shoes on the market? It will help if they are already great runners but giving them to a crappy runner won’t make them amazing. Do you think a pro tennis player needs the best racket to beat you? No- give them any racket that works and they will still destroy you.
So why make excuses? Unless your toes are hanging out of your shoes, you sprayed Pam on the bottom of your shoes, or you are wearing sneakers while climbing, blaming your failure on your shoes is not acceptable. Why do I continue to wear my $35 shoes? Because I’m poor and they work. Ill make the upgrade when I surpass my V7 plateau. If this is you, do yourself a favor and put the nice shoes away for a little while, buy a crappy pair of shoes, and work on footwork. Not only will your footwork skill vastly increase but you will have a good pair of shoes waiting to be used for their intended purpose: skillful climbing.