I have a new secret weapon in the fight against gravity: a pair of orange La Sportiva slippers called the Pythons. A year and a half ago, I had an epiphany that I had no idea how to use my feet. Sure, I stood on foot holds, but I became acutely aware of the fact that my upper body was mostly trying to drag my lower along. I immediately set to work on changing this, though it’s no short task to correct more than a decade worth of bad technique. Still, with perseverance, I’ve now gotten to the point that I at least know how I’m supposed to initiate movement with my lower body, even if my execution isn’t always optimal.
With that in mind, I’ve given a lot more thought to what I’m wearing on my feet these days. Stiff shoes have generally fallen off the map, as I want to be able to feel what it is I’m standing on. That being said, I’ve never been into slippers for outdoor climbing, and when I got the Python’s, I didn’t have any big plans or high expectations. I used them on plastic a couple of times, and they were nice, but everything changed the day I took them to Rifle.
I felt like I had stumbled across a door to a secret world, so this was what it was like to feel the holds under your feet! From that day forward, I’ve used them three to four times a week, all summer long, and they’ve become my go-to shoe for steep sport climbing. For the majority of this season, I’ve been climbing vertical to overhanging limestone, with foot holds that range from big, glassy ledges to small dimples and pockets. The Pythons allow for precision when standing on the most marginal of features, and even on the mirror-like bumps at Rifle I could stand with confidence, because I could FEEL the hold.
The fit is intended for lower volume feet, and the single Velcro strap helps cinch everything tight. The sole is a thin 3.5 mm XS Grip2, which is Vibram’s softest and stickiest offering. The unlined leather stretches to your foot, so be sure to get them a little tight. I have an 11.5 street shoe and went with 42′s, which was perfect. Being a slipper, they come on and off quite easily, which is nice since you’ll probably have them sized pretty tight for performance. And the toe hooking aficionados out there will find plenty of rubber on top for when the beta calls for fancy maneuvers.
Of course, these shoes aren’t for everyone, but those who appreciate a high level of sensitivity for steep climbing should find them to be an excellent choice. They’ve certainly allowed me to push my limits with new confidence this summer.
Retail on the Pythons is $130, more info and tech specs are available over at the La Sportiva website.[Gallery not found]
Disclaimer: This product was provided to SplitterChoss.com for the purpose of reviewing. Like that makes a difference for how much we beat the crap out of it …