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How to choose your first rockclimbing shoes

How to choose the first climbing shoes for beginner climber.

Of course, I could answer this question in a very detailed way, with a listing of various types and models of rockclimbing shoes and all the nuances of shoe selection for various rock relief features. But the fact that this question was formulated in that form suggests that the asking person was for the first time confronted with the choice of this particular rockclimbing shoe. Therefore, the first thing you should understand - what is rockclimbing shoes?

How to choose rockclimbing footwear

Rock shoes are very specific footwear, the specialty of which is that it firmly fixes your foot, allowing you to use for support some very small parts of the rock. The principle of function of rockclimbing shoes is that the sole of rockclimbing shoes is shorter than your foot – which is, when you put it on, the rockclimbing shoes squeeze your toes and tighten your foot in length, shortening it and reducing the lever. That allows you to get maximum reliance on your toe on the small holds without the application of any significant power. That also means that you should not dream about any comfort when wearing rockclimbing shoes – in our case the comfort is sacrificed in favor of the effectiveness of the stable position.

How to choose rockclimbing footwear

Rockclimbing shoes are not designed for long time use - as a rule, rockclimbing shoes are taken off immediately after returning to the ground for a break between rockclimbing sessions because it is extremely inconvenient to walk in rockclimbing shoes because the positioning of the foot in the properly sized rockclimbing shoes does not allow to stand on a flat sole –constructively, climbing shoes are designed to support only your toe. These are the general principles of the rockclimbing footwear.

However, asking a question about choosing rockclimbing shoes, you confirm your incompetence in a basic issues of the rockclimbing – in other words that means you are a beginner. If you are a beginner, then you still do not know how to climb properly. In that case, if the technique of putting your legs on the footholds has not yet been worked out, and you climb the easy climbing routes with an abundance of comfortable and large holds for your hand and feet - you should not expose yourself to unnecessary pain and be guided by the professional rules for choosing specific climbing shoes. In your case it will be enough if the rockclimbing shoes just sit tight on your foot, leaving no free space either in the heel nor under the lacing. No need to make a show in the climbing store and squeeze the tears from your eyes, even if the seller suggests that you should put a plastic bag on your foot and drink a glass of vodka for courage. Put this bag on his head and calmly try the rockclimbing shoe using a thin ordinary sock - try to avoid the feeling of the acute discomfort - at the first stage in your climbing carrier, the pain in your feet will not allow you to focus on the main technical elements of the rockclimbing. In the future, going to the more difficult routes and realizing the importance of accurate use of the small foot holds - you will choose for yourself the level of suffering that you are ready to endure in order to achieve some sportive result. But this is a sport. At the initial stage, and in the amateur rockclimbing segment, no such sacrifices make any sense - you should only enjoy climbing and live your life happily!

How to choose rockclimbing footwear

The choice of the model of rockclimbing shoes at the initial stage of climbing is not that fundamentally important. We have very wide range choice, in accordance with the aesthetic preferences and possibilities of our budget. It should be kept in mind that the rockclimbing shoes are consumables for a person who regularly trains and goes to climbing gym or climbing location. Until you learn to control the movement of your feet, until the precision and coordination of or your body will appear – your rockclimbing shoes will get worn very quickly - this should be taken into account when purchasing the expensive models of rockclimbing shoes. However, the cost of rockclimbing shoes is not a parameter to be guided by when buying - the price of many models is solely due to their specificity, which a newcomer - a beginner climber is just unable to understand, not owning special rockclimbing techniques for which this shoe construction was intended. And generally speaking. 30 years ago, famous climbers trained in the ordinary rubber galoshes - which did not prevent them from climbing the most difficult routes and even winning international competitions.

How to choose rockclimbing footwear

Here are 4 practical guidelines for choosing the rockclimbing shoes for a beginner:

  1. Where you are going to use your rockclimbing shoes. Indoor of outdoor? More hard shoes are taken for the rocks, softer shoes for the indoor use on the climbing gym
  2. Fixation - laces, velcro or without fixation? Depends on your weight. Shoelaces fix shoes the best and are suitable for rock climbers with some extra weight. Velcro and shoes without fixing are suitable for rock climbers with low weight and children.
  3. Which size to buy? - the rockclimbing shoes should fit tightly to the foot, not leaving any free space, you can try them on a thin sock which is ok for beginning. If the shoes fit tight, there should not be any painful feeling concentrated in one place - that is, rockclimbing shoes should not strongly squeeze your foot in some particular spot. If you feel the pain, you should try another model which is more convenient for the personal specific of the shape of your foot.
  4. Which model to buy? Anything according your taste, color preferences and budget. Do not forget, rockclimbing shoes are consumables, which are enough for 3-6 months of moderate training use.

Text — Alexey Trubachev, founder of the MCS AlexClimb mountaineering and climbing school.

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Our Principles

AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

AlexClimb Rule #2 - Leave No Trace

Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.