I’d worked my old pair of climbing shoes for about six years. After getting them re-soled several times, they were finally so tattered I had trouble distinguishing them from the rags I use to check the oil in my truck. Time for an upgrade.
After trying on a couple dozen shoes, I settled on La Sportiva TC Pros. They are a little on the pricey side, but I figured if I make them last anywhere near as long as my old pair, they’d be well worth it.
TC Pros, of course, are the “Tommy Caldwell pro model” I don’t care much about which pro uses what, however they have a few unique features that are right up my alley.
My favorite type of climbing is long, moderate trad (who doesn’t like those?), but I tend to use the same pair of shoes for all types of routes. TC Pros feature a stiff, thick sole, great for edging and crack climbing, ostensibly designed for freeing aid routes in Yosemite. The shoes also are slightly high-top, which serves to protect the ankles while not restricting range of motion. The uppers are leather and lace-up, two other features I like in climbing shoes.
I’ve been using these for a while now, and I’m impressed. While I’m not sure how much climbing shoes can increase your skill level, these certainly come close. With the stiff sole and ankle protection, stuffing my feet in cracks is decidedly less painful and more secure than with my old shoes. There’s no feeling like when your foot cranks down into a solid foot jam! After struggling up some offwidths recently in Squamish, I happily noted my ankles were less bloody than my partner’s shredded appendages. Edging is awesome as well. I got these shoes quite small, since I tend to do the opposite and end up with shoes that are comfy, but slightly too big. After walking around the house and quite a few climbing trips, they still aren’t as comfy as I would like, but they definitely climb well.
Smearing doesn’t seem to be these shoes’ strong point, but that is just about my only complaint. A small part of the toe rand is already peeling up, and I haven’t used them that much. I’ll glue it back down and see if it starts to peel up again.
While I might not be Tommy Caldwell, I’d say the Sportiva TC Pro is pretty sweet. I love the extra ankle protection, and the stiffness really makes for all-around performance that, in my view, favored cracks. The only weak point is perhaps smearing, but who likes slabs anyways? (Ahem, forget all those recent trips to Darington.)