Recently he's really been pestering me to get into rock climbing with him. It's been tricky for him to find a reliable rock climbing partner, so he figured that once he teaches me a few things about it all, I'll be an ideal candidate. Since I am down to try new things, but also #CheapAtHeart (who's with me?), I didn't want to spend a ton of money on brand new rock climbing shoes for myself. Who knew if I'd even really enjoy the sport enough to warrant spending $$ on actual gear?
So after poking around a bit online on Friday, I turned to Twitter to ask #Vancouver where a homegirl could get some second-hand rock climbing shoes around these parts. I received what turned out to be extremely helpful advice - that I ought to check out Sports Junkies on Broadway, a consignment shop for sports stoof. Bingooooooo. As they say.
Before going to Sports Junkies, I popped into MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op - the REI of Canada) just to pick the brain of one of their employees to find out a bit more about what I should be looking for in a rock climbing shoe. Again, helpful advice abound. There are several different types of rock climbing shoes, but the most notable difference between them all are the shape of the shoe. If you're an advanced climber, you'll want to get these crazy, warped-looking shoes with curved bottoms and pointed toes so that you can really hook your toes over small ledges or wedge them into crevices. Basically these shoes will turn you into the beast of an animal that you always knew you were and help you scale insane rock walls like you're a freaking eagle spider.
Not exactly what I was going for.
For newbies like me, it makes much more sense to get a beginner shoe that is just flat-bottomed and non-talon looking. The terrain you'll be on is actually what determines the shoe you'll need, but of course terrain is chosen based on the skill level of the climbers (me and Dave), so flat-bottomed shoes were the choice for me.
Another important factor to buying rock climbing shoes, once you choose your shape, is the fit. They're supposed to be quite snug. Certainly more snug than any other pair of shoes you'd ever buy. If there's room at the toe, they're too big. Your foot should feel like it's being given a very close hug by a rubbery, loving bear. Not a crushing or painful hug, but a close one.
The last piece of advice I received from the MEC employee was that if I was going to buy second-hand rock climbing shoes that I should make sure to double-check the condition of the rubber soles. If they were cracked or cratered at all, they were no good. It's worth noting that the price range of the brand new beginner's shoes were about $85-$99 - actually less expensive than I'd anticipated.
SO armed with all of that great information and advice, I headed down the street a little further to Sports Junkies to see what kind of second-hand shoe selection they'd have.
Sports Junkies does have a great selection of lots of things - bikes, athletic clothes, boots, cleats, golf gear, backpacks - but they only had about a dozen pairs of rock climbing shoes to choose from. And since they were all second-hand, there was certainly no guarantee that there'd even be a single pair in my size. Well, you wouldn't even believe my luck. Of the dozen pairs of shoes, at least 2 of them were in my size range. After trying on a pair of $65 size-7.5's and feeling like my foot was being given one of those painful, crushing bear hugs I was mentioning earlier, I tried on a pair of $35 size-8's and those fit great. It was like that moment in Cinderella when the glass slipper fits perfectly onto her foot, except that my glass slippers looked like this:
|. mmmhmm you know you wanna take me to the ball .|
After I had the two friendly gentlemen at the Sports Junkies counter check out the rubber soles for me, to get their thoughts on how the soles were holding up...
|. ship shape .|
... I felt assured enough in the quality and fit of these shoes to go ahead and purchase them. I seriously can't believe that they only cost me $35. Of course the real test will be how they feel when I'm scampering up and down rock walls, dozens of feet in the air. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes, whenever Dave and I end up going climbing together.
Have you ever gone rock climbing? I've only done it inside once at a rock climbing gym and it was fun. I'm excited to do it outside on an actual rock wall!
And just as a complete and total sidebar... today is my Gram's 93rd birthday!!! I love her tons and wish I wasn't on the other side of the world from her today! Please send her lots of positive birthday thoughts :)