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REVIEW

Friday, 8 May

Tenaya's Tarifa

Tenaya's Tarifa

By Esteban Diez Fernández & Ignacio Sandoval Burón


8a.nu has been collaborating with TENAYA for a while and for the last 5 months we've been trying out their 2 top-performance shoes, 'Tarifa' and 'Oasi'. This time we're going to inform you on what we've experienced with the former, which has recently been released to complement the already well-known 'Oasi'. 


The Tarifa is a technical climbing shoe conceived for optimal footwork in very different kinds of routes and overhangings. They come with a downturned last, which is a little bit less pronounced than most of the climbing shoes that we've tried out lately. This is one of the characteristics that makes them a really good quality all-round climbing shoe.  


Really technical footwork on small and smearing footholds performed by Ignacio Sandoval Burón with these shoes on 'Temporal de Voll Damm' 7c in Valdehuesa (León - Spain).
Pic© Esteban Diez.

If you're already thinking about purchasing this model, you should bear in mind their adjustment. We think they'd rather be bought quite small if you want them to keep being performant after the first 2 or 3 climbs. They tend to stretch providing a comfortable feeling and a super nice adjustment thanks to a good combination of natural and synthetic leather.

All of the climbers testing the shoes for this review use a EUR 43 / US 10 in street shoes like TNF and a EUR 40 / US 7  ½ with the 'Tarifa'.    


Esteban Diez Fernández progressing on the polished footholds of 'Orient' 7c/+ in Bruixes (Lleida - Spain).
Pic© Nuria Feito.

We used them on all kinds of routes (limestone only) from steep overhangings to vertical walls where the footwork and the need of relying on the shoes is high. They excelled on all these terrains. Their new insole and midsole permits them to perform well on everything thanks to the fact that they're not too soft or too hard. We felt good stepping both on polished holds and edges, although we think they perform better on steep terrains.


Miguel Díez Trabajo using them on the super overhanging 'Aguja', 7c in Piedrasecha (León - Spain).
Pic© Esteban Diez.

It comes with laces which permits a better adjustment than the velcro system used in the Oasi. Thus, it is highly recommended for people with narrower feet —in fact, the last in both models is quite narrow if we compare it with other brands—. Their lacing system is designed so that you don't need to take the laces out of the holes when taking them off and then feeding them in again when squeezing into them. You only need to pull the laces three times plus the bow to feel all fits perfectly.

They have a deep heel box with the outer part in a classic style, i.e., with a high, narrow band which is both simple and efficient when heel hooking. The outsole is the 3.5 mm Vibram XS Grip, a thickness which seems to be the producers' favourite when it comes to high-end climbing shoes since it's an optimal equation between sensibility and durability.


Ignacio Sandoval Burón on 'Fantasma', 7b+ in Piedrasecha (León - Spain).
Pic© Esteban Diez Fernández.

The things that we liked the least, although none of them interfere with the shoe performance, are the two break-in loops at the heel, since the one in the internal side is slightly shifted towards the centre and it makes it a little bit more difficult to put them on when they're really small and you have to pull like crazy. 

Also, we've found that the internal lycra sock is a little bit bigger than the one in the Oasi. Once your feet are in, you have the feeling that there's an excess of fabric around your ankle. However, the sock has a clear function, making the feet slide in more easily by wrapping around the instep.


Esteban Diez on 'Efecte 2000', 8a in Bruixes (Lleida - Spain), a route with a wide variety of footholds.
Pic© Ignacio Sandoval Burón.


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TRAVEL & CRAGS

Friday, 23 January

Railay Beach Additions

This will be gone once the new hotel is set up.
LAO LIANG ISLAND
KO YAO NOI ISLAND - 
CHONG PLI, below CHICKEN ISLAND
Railay Beach Additions, by Michael Weitsman and Björn Alber

Even before  the work to put a wall around the interior part of Tonsai this season, there have been some common and constant problems that have affected the status of Railay Beach as a 'climbers paradise'.  Three noticeable problems:

1. Tonsai Tummy - Half of the climbers getting sick from food and/or dirty water.

2. The cesspool of stagnant 'dirty water' under the ladder climbs on Tonsai next to Freedom Bar.

3. And the copious amounts of garbage scattered throughout the Tonsai interior.

The current state on Tonsai does not mean the end of southern Thailand as the best winter climbing destination.  In fact, it has improved significantly in the last few years.  Staying on the mainland offers the climber an opportunity to climb at some amazing new crags.  As well, Railay and Tonsai are simply crags with a boat approach for those of us staying on the mainland.

LAO LIANG ISLAND
A private island resort located a few hours south of Tonsai; beautiful isolated island and beach, great sea for swimming and snorkeling, climbs on the beach less than two minutes from your two room/two bed with fan and light tent; exploratory DWS without boat traffic, no crowds, great for 4-5 days. The climbing is right off the beach here and never more than a few minute stroll from your tent.  There is also some great bouldering in the nice range of grades from 5-7C.  Possibly the best 6C in Thailand (Golden Triangle) is located down the beach here. Many climbers come here and spend much more time swimming, snorkeling and kayaking (and relaxing) then they planned. It is the perfect combination of a relaxation/beach climbing holiday

KO YAO NOI ISLAND
Between Krabi and Phuket; stunning location in PHang Nga Bay, island of 4 000 locales, low-key tourist scene, winter home of a number of old-school Railay/Tonsai climbers, some amazing crags that are only accessible by boat, some crags accessible by an adventurous motorbike ride. Over 100 routes.  Great for 2-4 weeks

MAINLAND
The real future of southern Thailand climbing. Centered around Spirit Mountain in Chong Pli (10 minutes from Ao'Nang) which has bungalows onsite, about 100 routes on the mainland now, all grades, all styles, endless potential, quiet location but only 10 minutes from the beach and downtown ao nang, great local cuisine.  It is the perfect combination of a relaxation/beach climbing holiday.

Shangri-La
 the newest addition to the mainland, this crag offers spectacular views towards Ko Yao noi and ko Phi Phi as it resides above treeline.  From a 3 pitch grade 5 to a few projects that will check in at 8 (?), this crag offers a great adventurous sport climbing experience.  Do not miss the Mavericks Sector which offers climbing similar to Cat Wall, Teenage Rebellion (a spectacular crack that goes at 7a) and Nam Wao (one of the better 7c's in the kingdom).

As well, it is very easy to go to Railay or Tonsai for the day. You can also have a nice kayak trip from Ao'nang to the nearby located Ao'nang tower where you can climb a  steep exposed multi pitch (90) m in the shade from noon or take a long-tail boat to Chicken Island where one of the worlds most spectacular multi pitch is waiting to be climbed (4 pitch, 90 m with a horizontal 15 m roof).

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TRAINING

Thursday, 15 January

Usobiaga Zlagboard interview

Celebrating 9a's with Adam Ondra
During the recovery, surfing was the focus.
Training on the Zlagboard
Patxi Usobiaga, one of the greatest climbers in the history both on rock and plastic who lately has been training Adam Ondra, gives some thoughts about training. Between 2010 and 2012, he did not train climbing after a car accident but now he is back doing 9a again.

In your opinion, how important is finger and upper torso strength in relation to the maximum performance of a climber?
The finger and upper body strength is practically the most important thing for climbing. Without finger strength your development will be limited, and without power in your arms, too. Therefore, especially when training we have to work on those parts of the body in order to improve our capabilities. On the other hand, we can also strengthen a core ability, the pressure strength which enables us to place and fix fingers, hands and arms on the holds, using body strength.

Regarding climbing grades, at what point does it make sense to start training and work specifically on your finger strength?
Specific training is not only important for improving your climbing, but also for avoiding injuries and physical overload. It enables you to develop as a climber, strengthening your tendons. Therefore, I would not set a minimum, like the grade someone climbs or the time period a person has been climbing. I would rather look at every climber individually and personalize their training depending on their abilities.

What do we have to consider when training for different gripping strengths?
Your actual gripping strength, your experience in climbing and your motivation. But it is important not to hurry too much to improve!

What is the biggest mistake climbers commit when training?
They do what they read in books, what they watch in the media... And they don’t really look at themselves in their real shape. You have to think honestly about your level, handicaps, age, etc. And then you need to personalize the training for yourself. Climbers have to know that sometimes the journey to be in shape is longer than they want it to be. This is one of the most important thoughts do consider: not to get frustrated.

What is the advantage of training with hangboards and specifically with the Zlagboard, for which you designed the training plans?
Training with hangboards helps you avoid injuries as much as possible, while you get more power in arms and gripping strength. The Zlagboard gives you a complete training cycle, each full cycle aiming at improving your climbing significally. Until now, everything has been subjective in climbing and somehow it was impossible to objectively track one's own evolution. Now this technology has given us the opportunity to track and register the performance, and we will finally reach our goal of climbing better.

For what performance levels did you write the Zlagboard training plans?
All different performance levels have been considered. You only need to choose your level. If you have doubts, it is better to start a step lower, to make things well and to be able to achieve similar results in all the trainings.

What is your personal favorite training exercise?
Pull ups and locks!! They make you a huge climber!! ;-)

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INTERVIEWS

Tuesday, 30 December

Nacho Sánchez about 'Crisis' 8C/+

Nacho Sánchez about 'Crisis' 8C/+

By Ignacio Sandoval Burón & Esteban Diez Fernández

Pic from Boreal webpage.

Last Friday, Nacho Sánchez sent his long awaited project in Crevillente, style="font-size: x-large;">'Crisis', grading it as an 8C/+. After two and a half years of efforts, he finished off this boulders 21 movements which in his blog he calls it a power-endurance problem.

It's the hardest boulder in his career and also in Spain, and this murciano (from Murcia) has stuck his neck out suggesting such a grade in a time when the need to be brave and suggest more than 8C is being discussed.  

We've made the most of this opportunity to talk to him. Don't miss out his impressions on his last achievement:

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- We’ve heard that you'd been trying this rig for some time now. Is that right?

More or less, two years and a half ago I was able to figure out and do all the moves separately and then, I started trying to link sections little by little. Last Winter I was able to do it except for the six first moves and finally yesterday I did it from the sit-down start from the very bottom of the cave.

I had to invest so much time to be able to do it, trying to optimize sequences and, in the climbing gym, training mostly body tension and power-endurance. In order to achieve this, Eva López's intermittent suspensions training method has been of a great help.


text-autospace:none">- How would you describe this problem? text-autospace:none">This is a power-endurance line with 18 super sustained movements until you reach the lip of the roof for a total of 21. It hasn’t got any extreme move, but you just can’t relax at any time and it deflates you at every second you’re hanging on. text-autospace:none">The 7th is a quite low percentage move and the rest to the 15th move is quite tense and sustained, with none specially hard, but with a lot of feet changes and unstable toe-hooks. You need to have everything super clear in order to be able to go fast, since from move 15th to the 18th there’s a super hard crimpy section which you need to get to relatively fresh.   text-autospace:none">After that, I had to rest a while on the lip of the roof to do the last 2 moves on the vertical section, since there’s still a lock-off where you could fail.  text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">- This would mean it’s the hardest boulder problem in Spain and one of the world’s hardest. Do you see yourself at the world's strongest boulderers level? text-autospace:none">There’s people way stronger than me, but I guess they don’t spend much time focusing on the same project. They are lucky to be able to travel a lot and do things super quickly in many different places, otherwise it doesn’t make sense that they have almost the same flash and redpoint level… Although, in that sense, there’s also the fact of the 8C range amplitude and the fear to propose 8C+. text-autospace:none">Maybe this one is just 8C and has taken me that much since I’m not used to doing long boulders, but I feel it’s quite harder than the others I have done or tried at that level. text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">Learn more things about what Nacho tells us in this longer Spanish interview.

More pics in Nacho's blog.





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Satori de Boreal

By Esteban Diez Fernández & Ignacio Sandoval Burón

Pic from Boreal webpage.
text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">Third and last installment of the reviews we've been carrying out on the new Boreal climbing shoes collection. This time it's the turn of the most technical out of the three, the Satori. 

These shoes have been specially designed for bouldering, that's why they come with quite a few details for this discipline. However, like with some other climbing shoes, they will end up being also used in certain routes (specially the bouldery ones).

Esteban Diez in Albarracín ©Ignacio Sandoval

These shoes general form is quite similar to that one of the Dharma (which we told you about in our last review). This is, a wide last at the front (so, super comfy for those with wide feet), downturned for an extra contact surface on steep terrain, quite elevated arch, neoprene sock, the heel totally covered in rubber and a quite elevated instep at the toes level in order to avoid an excess of pressure on the bent toes when leaning against the rubber. This last provides comfort as well as nice work when edging on small foot holds.

Esteban Diez en Las Tuerces ©Augusto Rodríguez

text-autospace:none">Otros dos detalles técnicos que también incorpora el Satori son la goma de la puntera surcada de pequeños relieves para tener máxima fricción en los empeines y el sistema Rand Wrap —las tiras de goma que van del talón hasta el puente que mejoran la sujeción; algo necesario en gatos con esta horma agresiva—.  text-autospace:none">La primera diferencia que nos llama la atención respecto al Dharma es el sistema M2Fit, un método novedoso de atado que combina cordón y velcro para dar mucho ajuste en la parte central del pie. Incorpora además una lengüeta de espuma encima del calcetín de neopreno para evitar que los cordones se 'claven' en el empeine al apretarlos mucho o al usarlo metiendo empeines en alguna presa grande. 

Respecto el M2Fit, nos hemos dado cuenta de que aquellas personas que tengan mucho puente/empeine pueden tener ciertas dificultades a la hora de calzarse, ya que si bien el neopreno da bien de sí, el cordón no tiene suficiente recorrido para dar demasiada amplitud de paso al pie.

Ignacio Sandoval en Albarracín ©Esteban Diez

text-autospace:none">Otra particularidad de estos gatos con respecto a los Dharma es que tienen una protuberancia interior, a media altura de los dedos, que cubre el hueco que dejan estos al doblarse hacia arriba. Algo que nos ha parecido interesante por la comodidad y soporte extra que proporciona. 

Debido a que sólo tiene media entresuela, es más blando que el Dharma, con lo que ello significa: mejor trabajo en desplome, presas romas y mayor sensibilidad, pero menos eficientes en placas o vías donde se descargue mucho peso en los pies. 


Esteban Diez en Las Tuerces ©Jorge Bousoño

text-autospace:none">La parte más controvertida es el talón. Quizás demasiado técnico para los que no se dediquen en exclusiva al bloque, debido a la espuela que incorpora.  text-autospace:none">Si bien es cierto que esta espuela es una manera muy eficiente de 'engancharse' a regletas o garbanzos, en la mayor parte de las ocasiones en las que se usa esta parte del pie hay que buscar la forma de que asiente en la presa debido a esta protuberancia, perdiendo en este tiempo parte de una pegada que quizás necesitemos unos pasos más arriba. 

Esta espuela ya había sido utilizada por Boreal con mejor resultado, según nuestro criterio, en gatos como el Falcon. La combinación en el Satori de un talón tipo 'burbuja' (igual que en el Dharma, ya voluminoso de por sí) junto con este resalte no sería la mejor de las soluciones, puesto que se pierde muchísima sensibilidad, es prácticamente imposible meterlo en ciertas presas y, como ya decíamos más arriba, no asienta lo bien que quisiéramos para darnos seguridad o tenemos que currarnos mucho el posicionamiento.    


Manu Córdova presentando el modelo en la feria de Friedrichshafen 2014 

Nacho Sánchez habla sobre el Satori durante la reunión del equipo Boreal en Chulilla.


REVIEW

Saturday, 27 December

Boreal's Satori

Satori de Boreal

By Esteban Diez Fernández & Ignacio Sandoval Burón

Pic from Boreal webpage.
text-autospace:none">
text-autospace:none">Third and last installment of the reviews we've been carrying out on the new Boreal climbing shoes collection. This time it's the turn of the most technical out of the three, the Satori. 

These shoes have been specially designed for bouldering, that's why they come with quite a few details for this discipline. However, like with some other climbing shoes, they will end up being also used in certain routes (specially the bouldery ones).

Esteban Diez in Albarracín ©Ignacio Sandoval

These shoes general form is quite similar to that one of the Dharma (which we told you about in our last review). This is, a wide last at the front (so, super comfy for those with wide feet), downturned for an extra contact surface on steep terrain, quite elevated arch, neoprene sock, the heel totally covered in rubber and a quite elevated instep at the toes level in order to avoid an excess of pressure on the bent toes when leaning against the rubber. This last provides comfort as well as nice work when edging on small foot holds.

Esteban Diez en Las Tuerces ©Augusto Rodríguez

text-autospace:none">Otros dos detalles técnicos que también incorpora el Satori son la goma de la puntera surcada de pequeños relieves para tener máxima fricción en los empeines y el sistema Rand Wrap —las tiras de goma que van del talón hasta el puente que mejoran la sujeción; algo necesario en gatos con esta horma agresiva—.  text-autospace:none">La primera diferencia que nos llama la atención respecto al Dharma es el sistema M2Fit, un método novedoso de atado que combina cordón y velcro para dar mucho ajuste en la parte central del pie. Incorpora además una lengüeta de espuma encima del calcetín de neopreno para evitar que los cordones se 'claven' en el empeine al apretarlos mucho o al usarlo metiendo empeines en alguna presa grande. 

Respecto el M2Fit, nos hemos dado cuenta de que aquellas personas que tengan mucho puente/empeine pueden tener ciertas dificultades a la hora de calzarse, ya que si bien el neopreno da bien de sí, el cordón no tiene suficiente recorrido para dar demasiada amplitud de paso al pie.

Ignacio Sandoval en Albarracín ©Esteban Diez

text-autospace:none">Otra particularidad de estos gatos con respecto a los Dharma es que tienen una protuberancia interior, a media altura de los dedos, que cubre el hueco que dejan estos al doblarse hacia arriba. Algo que nos ha parecido interesante por la comodidad y soporte extra que proporciona. 

Debido a que sólo tiene media entresuela, es más blando que el Dharma, con lo que ello significa: mejor trabajo en desplome, presas romas y mayor sensibilidad, pero menos eficientes en placas o vías donde se descargue mucho peso en los pies. 


Esteban Diez en Las Tuerces ©Jorge Bousoño

text-autospace:none">La parte más controvertida es el talón. Quizás demasiado técnico para los que no se dediquen en exclusiva al bloque, debido a la espuela que incorpora.  text-autospace:none">Si bien es cierto que esta espuela es una manera muy eficiente de 'engancharse' a regletas o garbanzos, en la mayor parte de las ocasiones en las que se usa esta parte del pie hay que buscar la forma de que asiente en la presa debido a esta protuberancia, perdiendo en este tiempo parte de una pegada que quizás necesitemos unos pasos más arriba. 

Esta espuela ya había sido utilizada por Boreal con mejor resultado, según nuestro criterio, en gatos como el Falcon. La combinación en el Satori de un talón tipo 'burbuja' (igual que en el Dharma, ya voluminoso de por sí) junto con este resalte no sería la mejor de las soluciones, puesto que se pierde muchísima sensibilidad, es prácticamente imposible meterlo en ciertas presas y, como ya decíamos más arriba, no asienta lo bien que quisiéramos para darnos seguridad o tenemos que currarnos mucho el posicionamiento.    


Manu Córdova presentando el modelo en la feria de Friedrichshafen 2014 

Nacho Sánchez habla sobre el Satori durante la reunión del equipo Boreal en Chulilla.


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INTERVIEWS

Wednesday, 10 December

Obituary: Marietta Uhden 1968 - 2014

Marietta Uhden 1968 - 2014
Generation X, 



By Nicholas Mailänder

Marietta Uhden, Grande Dame of German Sport Climbing, died of breast cancer in the late hours of Sunday, November 23
th in Bad Tölz, Bavaria. 
Although a born climber, Marietta came to the sport relatively late – at the age of 21. But she made up for lost time fast: within a year the delicate young woman from Munich led the strenuous and technically demanding Rocky (7a+) at Kochel/Bavarian Pre-Alps and became a member of the national team, winning the German Sport Climbing Cup in 1993. Good sponsorship contracts enabled Marietta to follow a lifestyle of climbing, indoors and out, to her heart’s content. 

Wo die wilde Kerle wohnen
 at Kochel marked her rise to the 8b grade in 1995, soon to be topped by the highly selective Happy Bizeps to You (a today it would be 8c..climbed with a kneebar…marietta did without) at Schleierwasserfall/Kaisergebirge. Eight more routes of this grade were to follow. In this period Marietta dominated the German championships, winning the title ten times in the lead category and twice in bouldering.

It was the French training guru Gilles Bernigolle who enabled Marietta to achieve an even higher level of performance. This training involved regular visits to Fontainebleau, where the German lady 1998 did a flash ascent of the scary boulder La mur de lamentation (Fb 7B+) and sent Alta (Fb 7C+) in an afternoon.

She learned how to rest in the most improbable positions on lead, how to climb difficult sequences with unbroken momentum, how to relax even while making the most strenuous moves; and finally she learned that one should only give everything if absolutely necessary.

The Bronze Medal she won at the 1997 World Championships in Paris proved Marietta’s world-class standard. This was underlined by winning the Bouldering World Cup 2000 in Munich and reaching place three in the European Championships the same year.

Marietta had come into her own. Not only had she developed her characteristically fluent climbing style, but she had also realized that climbing well has a lot to do with living a happy and healthy life. By the turn of the century she found that happy and healthy life. Together with her then trainer and friend (and later husband) Peter Naumann, Marietta took up residence in the beautiful valley of Lenggries, in the Bavarian Pre-Alps.

Right at the beginning of their relationship Peter gave Marietta a special gift: a futuristic project in the nearby Jachenau. The savagely overhanging 
Sonne im Herzen (‘sun in the heart’) had been bolted for a decade, but had withstood all sieges. It involves two full-out jumps, one of them for a hidden, sloping pocket.

On May 21
st 2001 the stage was set: Marietta catapulted into the jump, hung in the air motionless for a split second, and then, in slow motion, her hand closed on the hidden hold. Never before had an 8c+ been first climbed by a woman. It was one of the happiest moments in Marietta’s life – and a world first almost unnoticed by the public.

After a severe shoulder injury in 2003, Marietta returned to the limelight in 2005, when she won the Bronze Medal at the World Games in Duisburg. Soon after, at the age of 37, the ‘Steffi Graf of German sport climbing’ announced her withdrawal from the competition circus. Marietta retired to a secluded and balanced life in the Lenggries valley to start a family and go climbing with her friends.

Deeply interested in functional kinetics, Marietta and Peter developed an innovative approach to climbing coaching, an approach that integrated elements of the Feldenkrais method and Qui Gong. They passed on their knowledge both to individual clients and to a team of young talents at the Bad Tölz climbing center. It looked like one of those ‘and so they lived happily ever after’ stories – until Marietta was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and had to undergo surgery. But within a year of her operation Marietta was climbing 8a+, seemingly without effort.

Their daughter Antonia was born in 2009 and grew up in a circle of family and friends that could not have been more caring. But Marietta’s health had entered an unstoppable downward spiral, in which hope was followed by despair, despair by resignation. That downward spiral ended last Sunday. We miss her dearly.

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Boreal's DHARMA

Pic from Boreal website.

Trying them out on 'La Boda Roja', 8a+ in Piedrasecha (León - Spain).
Pic@ Ignacio Sandoval Burón.
Here you can appreciate the arch elevation, as well as the instep and the heel design.
Another shot in the same route using the same climbing shoes.
Pic@ Ignacio Sandoval Burón.
Michael Pickwell explaining the product's main characteristics during the 2014 Friedrichshafen fair.
Dani Andrada does the same in Spanish during the Boreal team meeting in Chulilla (Valencia - Spain).



In this second installment of the reviews we're carrying out of the new Boreal climbing shoes collection –after the one we did about the Marduk and with the Satori's still to come–  we're going to tell you about the DHARMA model.


No doubt these are the more versatile out of the 3 new models, looking for maximum performance in all climbing terrains. With this model, as well as with the Satori, the Spanish shoes company has just made a big leap forward. Pretending not to be left behind, Boreal has come up with this more modern and innovative model, with features which are very much demanded in the actual market, such as the quite aggressive and downturned last.



Their main characteristic is their last which, as said above, is downturned at the toes. Something which is conceived to provide much more contact in steep climbs. At the same time, it is quite wide at the front and the arch is quite elevated (something to be considered by those with these kind of feet). 



It also comes with an integrated elastic tongue in neoprene and a triple velcro system for a better fit. Add the Rand Wrap system with tension bands –a mandatory construction in this kind of last– in order to get a super snug fit which doesn't allow the heel to move at all –something super convenient for heel hooking, a usage this shoes have been designed for–.



The last remarkable detail is a quite high top of the instep, thus avoiding an excess of pressure on the bent toes against the harder rubber part. 



Even if the Satori and the Dharma share the same last, there are certain details which makes them differ from one another. The main difference being that the Dharma has a special anti-deformation half midsole which makes them stiffer than the Satori's. This makes them more convenient for vertical or slightly overhanging routes, where edging on very little holds is the key to performance. The Dharma haven't got an integral molded talon with an insert which eases the heel hooking if we're not specialists in this kind of foot work and/or we're not much into bouldering. With the entire heel all covered in rubber we found it a little bit bulky when trying to put it on tiny/narrow pockets or similar –however, that extra contact surface works better on wider sidepulls or slopy surfaces–.



On a more positive aspect, we would like to highlight the rubber quality. We've had nice feelings on all terrains where they've been tested, from vertical walls with tricky foot work to climbs with polished foot holds, as well as all sort of overhangings... 

We've experienced a normal to fast rubber wear and tear. 



What we didn't like as much was the velcro design which, don't get confused, work really nicely after a lot of usage but it's aesthetically poor for our snobbish taste... In fact, we've found it the least appealing out of the 3 new models.













REVIEW

Monday, 3 November

Boreal's Dharma

Boreal's DHARMA

Pic from Boreal website.

Trying them out on 'La Boda Roja', 8a+ in Piedrasecha (León - Spain).
Pic@ Ignacio Sandoval Burón.
Here you can appreciate the arch elevation, as well as the instep and the heel design.
Another shot in the same route using the same climbing shoes.
Pic@ Ignacio Sandoval Burón.
Michael Pickwell explaining the product's main characteristics during the 2014 Friedrichshafen fair.
Dani Andrada does the same in Spanish during the Boreal team meeting in Chulilla (Valencia - Spain).



In this second installment of the reviews we're carrying out of the new Boreal climbing shoes collection –after the one we did about the Marduk and with the Satori's still to come–  we're going to tell you about the DHARMA model.


No doubt these are the more versatile out of the 3 new models, looking for maximum performance in all climbing terrains. With this model, as well as with the Satori, the Spanish shoes company has just made a big leap forward. Pretending not to be left behind, Boreal has come up with this more modern and innovative model, with features which are very much demanded in the actual market, such as the quite aggressive and downturned last.



Their main characteristic is their last which, as said above, is downturned at the toes. Something which is conceived to provide much more contact in steep climbs. At the same time, it is quite wide at the front and the arch is quite elevated (something to be considered by those with these kind of feet). 



It also comes with an integrated elastic tongue in neoprene and a triple velcro system for a better fit. Add the Rand Wrap system with tension bands –a mandatory construction in this kind of last– in order to get a super snug fit which doesn't allow the heel to move at all –something super convenient for heel hooking, a usage this shoes have been designed for–.



The last remarkable detail is a quite high top of the instep, thus avoiding an excess of pressure on the bent toes against the harder rubber part. 



Even if the Satori and the Dharma share the same last, there are certain details which makes them differ from one another. The main difference being that the Dharma has a special anti-deformation half midsole which makes them stiffer than the Satori's. This makes them more convenient for vertical or slightly overhanging routes, where edging on very little holds is the key to performance. The Dharma haven't got an integral molded talon with an insert which eases the heel hooking if we're not specialists in this kind of foot work and/or we're not much into bouldering. With the entire heel all covered in rubber we found it a little bit bulky when trying to put it on tiny/narrow pockets or similar –however, that extra contact surface works better on wider sidepulls or slopy surfaces–.



On a more positive aspect, we would like to highlight the rubber quality. We've had nice feelings on all terrains where they've been tested, from vertical walls with tricky foot work to climbs with polished foot holds, as well as all sort of overhangings... 

We've experienced a normal to fast rubber wear and tear. 



What we didn't like as much was the velcro design which, don't get confused, work really nicely after a lot of usage but it's aesthetically poor for our snobbish taste... In fact, we've found it the least appealing out of the 3 new models.













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REVIEW

Monday, 22 September

Boreal's Marduk

Boreal's MARDUK

Pic from Boreal webpage

Pic@ Ignacio Sandoval Burón.

Pic@ Ignacio Sandoval Burón.

Marduk is one of the three new models which the Spanish shoe company, Boreal, has released this year. A collection completed with the 'Dharma' and the 'Satori' (which will be presented shortly).


Even if this new collection is a big step forward for Boreal, you have to bear in mind that the Marduk is the most "average" one or, let's say, the less revolutionary out of the 3 new models. With a flat last at the front, a semi-asymmetric and a little bit downturned construction and quite a big arch, this one is similar to the convencional models and not like the new tendencies, i.e., not that aggressive.


Their main characteristic is their rigidness. Due to a special anti-deformation midsole this is a climbing shoe which doesn't bend much, thus the edging is guaranteed and vertical walls are a better playground for this tool. Two powerful velcros and a padded mess tongue are the closure system, which together with the 2-way tension system “V2Rand” allow for a good fit.


They've got a wide last at the front which provides our feet with extra comfort; something very interesting in multi-pitch climbing (one of the climbing disciplines at which this model might excel the most). 


The heel is a little bit lower than in most of the shoes out there nowadays. Still like the old Boreal models. The rubber band at the heel is narrow and not bulky at all, as if it had a little reinforcement all along the central area, which is more than enough for the usage these shoes have been conceived for (not exactly for bouldering).


The last but not least important detail is the rubber. Remember that Boreal is one of the very few manufacturers producing their own. Marduk comes with Zenith rubber, an outsole which they have been developing for several years in order to reach the same level as the best rubbers in the market. We've used these shoes for quite a few months in a lot of not exactly easy routes and we're super happy with how this rubber performed.


Summing up, we think they are '4 x 4' climbing shoes which, even if they are not super technical, do a good job in every circumstance, with comfort and stiffness as their main characteristics.

Pic@ Ignacio Sandoval Burón.


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INTERVIEWS

Wednesday, 11 June

Patxi Usobiaga

PATXI USOBIAGA

By Ignacio Sandoval Burón




















- You've just sent your third 8c after the injury and almost three years out of the game. Is this the basis for some subsequent harder stuff?

The evolution has been serene. I've had to combine training indoors together with climbing on real rock, since my body has to readapt to a climber's body. It could seem that three years is not much time, but my body and its musculature adapted to that of a surfer, from the tendons to the muscles. This makes me not climbing as smoothly, neither as flexible nor as with the same power or endurance as before. However, I'm enjoying this process a lot, combining both the Patxitraining with short-term objectives on rock.

- After Adam Ondra's visit to the Basque Country we learnt that you're in charge of his training. What does your work with him exactly consist of? How is the relationship and monitoring of a pupil at such a long distance?

Adam is an incredible climber, strong and with super clear ideas. The truth is that he's even surprised with how far he can reach in the training just based on his raw motivation.

I'm in charge of his planning and training design with the aim set on the World Cup. Even if the trip to the Basque Country was just a test to gain confidence and see that Patxitraining works, it is always necessary to do this some time before in order to boost the climber's confidence, especially when the objective is ambitious and important. You cannot wait until the end to see what happens. The mind is everything, thus the first thing to feed is the mind and then the physical fitness state.

- There's a video interview with Adam saying he sometimes disagrees at some point with the training he receives from you so he likes to specify/adjust it. What has he changed? Do you find his personal touches interesting?

Patxitraining is based on what Jon Iriberri taught me during the years he trained me. Since then, everything has evolved by means of listening, sharing, reading, watching videos, etc. so, in the end, making a more complete mix. In fact, Patxitraining, keeps evolving, if not it will end up outdating. This is where the conversations between Adam and myself become very productive.

- I think you work with more climbers.  Can you tell us who they are? How do you specifically work with those who you can regularly see and with those who you can't?

I train twenty-one climbers all around the world, either boulderers or sport climbers. I can't mention all of them, but I'll do it briefly, Christian Medina from Ecuador, Rodri Plaza (Barcelona), Adam Ondra (Czech Republic), Mikel Linacisoro (together with Josean Mulas, we are both in charge of the planning and the face-to-face coaching), Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia... and even Portugal with the recent incorporation of André Neres.

Also, I work with a group of 24 climbers in the Treparriscos climbing gym in Santander. This is for me a new way to do it. It's a trial to see whether this is worth it or not, since there's not such individualization as there is with the Patxitraining program.

Thanks a lot to all the climbers who trust in Patxitraining, it's super nice to work with all of you!

- This summer, you're offering a climbing camp in the Basque Country. Can you explain to us what it's all about? What difference is there between this camp and the motorhome climbingtrips you were offering before? What other training modalities are you offering and what do they consist of?

This coming Summer, amongst many other personal projects that I have in rock, I've created a 'Climbing Trip' from July, 4 to July, 11. It's designed for 4 climbers whose climbing level is below 7b+. It will take place in the Basque Country with the base camps set in Villanueva de Valdegovía and Araotz.

I've put on hold my motorhome climbing trips, since I think staying in a bungalow and travelling by car will be more comfortable for everybody. I try to give preference to the climbers' comfort.

The idea is to climb 4 days in Valdegovía, Apellaniz, Atauri and San Fausto, lodging in Valdegovía. Later on we'd travel to the coast, to Itziar, probably one of the best places in the Basque Country with the sea in the background and from there we'd go and climb in Araotz and Atxarte.

During that week there would be seminars on training, technique, injury prevention,  dieting, on-sight climbing, psychology and, above all that, nice climbing in 'petit comité' psyched to death.

Registration ends 15 days before so that I have time to arrange everything. Climbers will have to arrive either to the airports of Bilbao or Santander.

- I've heard nowadays there's a super fanatic atmosphere in the Basque Country with Rubén Díaz, Iker Arroitajauregi, Primo (José Luis Palao), Mulero and you trying hard climbs. What do you personally expect from this synergy? And, what about the others?

It's such fun to climb with super psyched, mocking and strong climbers.

It's a good way to make climbing evolve. Although, I'm trying to convince them to compete... but they're cowards, hahahaha.





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REVIEW

Thursday, 15 May

Outdoor Research's CATHODE HOODY

Outdoor Research's CATHODE HOODY 


Here are the 3 available colours.

Notice the darker elasticized and breathable textile on both sides, lower part of the sleeves and the frontal part of the hood.

The new Cathode Hoody by Outdoor Research is a light jacket built with 60 grams of PrimaLoft® placed in the crucial spots where greater warmth is needed, id est, the front, the back, the upper part of the sleeves and the hood.

This is combined with an elastic and super breathable Schoeller® textile on both sides, lower part of the sleeves and the frontal part of the hood, which allows you to climb with a total freedom of movements as if it was a second layer. Plus it's water resistant thanks to the Pertex® Quantum finish.

It weighs only 377 grams in size L and it fits in one of the two pockets placed strategically high so that you have access to them while wearing a harness or a rucksack with the belt on.

The hood is helmet compatible and, in fact, the elasticized textile makes it adapt super nicely. When we are not using the helmet but making use of the hood, the extra Schoeller® fabric perfectly adjusts around our forefront and feels cosier. 

We've used this jacket for climbing –being careful not to tear it with some aggressive rock surfaces– as well as a piece of casual clothing in the city when the temperatures are not extreme. Being way less bulky than a feather jacket, it looks better, it's more elegant since we don't look like Michelin's tyre puppet...

Summing up, the Cathode Hoody is a jacket that we specially liked for its lightweightness, the freedom of movements it provides and its aesthetic. It's neither as warm as a feather coat or other jackets with more synthetic fill, nor as waterproof as a Gore-Tex or similar, but it accomplishes both when it's not super cold or it's pouring rain.

This is a garment which our critical minds haven't been able to find a con except for the one we always point out in all the OR jackets we've tested: it lacks a double-ended zipper. This aside, it's highly recommendable!!

Some of its main features:

  • Left hand pocket doubles as a stuff sack.
  • Fully adjustable hood with stretch fabric panels.
  • Zippered and completely insulated Napoleón pocket.
  • Waterproof.
  • Two zippered hand pockets placed over the harness/belt line.
  • Two internal front-zip stormflap.
  • Drawcord hem.



Are you looking for something warmer? If so, have a look at the reviews we carried out on these feather jackets: 
Floodlight Jacket (waterproof) and Transcendent Hoody.

We also reviewed one of their Gore-Tex jackets (Axiom Jacket) and one of their Soft-shells (Cirque Jacket).




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