$190 | www.sportiva.com | 4½ Stars
A little over a year ago Tommy Caldwell and Justen Sjong established the most sustained free route on El Cap when they romped up Magic Mushroom, left of the Nose. With 11 pitches of 5.13 and 5.14, and nine of 5.12, as well as “miles” of flared groveling, slab paddling and overhanging cracks, the varied challenges would have most climbers packing a quiver of shoes, but Caldwell wore the same shoe throughout, one that he designed. This spring Sportiva will release that shoe, the TC Pro. All-arounders take note: This could be the best multi-purpose shoe yet.
I received a pair of the TC Pros about a month ago and I have been climbing in them exclusively ever since. At first glance the shoe seems a little clunky. It has a high ankle cuff and a relatively flat sole, but don’t let the retro look dissuade you from wearing these on steep and difficult terrain. The upper effectively shields the ankle on heel-toe cams in wider cracks, but doesn’t adversely affect mobility, and the sole features Sportiva’s patented P3 midsole, which provides a solid edging platform that won’t break down over time as well as a new Vibram rubber compound formulated for edging. I really liked the asymmetrical, chiseled toe, which penetrated pockets and seams and stood easily on measly chips, and I appreciated the double thickness of sole rubber used on the rand when I torqued my foot in jams. These technical details allowed me to use the shoes to climb at my personal limit, but I fell in love with the fit. I could size the TC Pros tight and because of the padded tongue they actually became more comfortable after I cranked down the laces.
I’ve worn these shoes on vertical sandstone, steep granite and super-steep limestone, and, honestly, I like them for everything. As an old dirtbag, I was a bit freaked at the price, but given the versatility and performance, I could throw out my string of specialized shoes and pick up a pair of TC Pros. Like Tommy, they can do just about everything.
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