The Tenaya Tarifa was a wunderwaffe (wonder weapon) used by the German Alex Megos as he rampaged through seemingly every 5.15 in the world.
My curiosity drove me to try a pair myself. Is there a better way to test a shoe than on your project, a near-60-meter-long link-up with smears, edges, knobs, heel hooks, toe hooks, pasting on glassy faces, and lots of precision placements?
Due to the route’s length, I was going to be climbing for about 30 minutes. My big toes are beaten from mogul skiing so I can take only so much torture from climbing shoes.
On one sneaky knee bar, a toe placement is high above my hands and requires laser-guided precision. The Tarifa let me shake there! At the crux! I could have taken a nap! To top that, after three burns I could still dance on my toes!
The shoe is only mildly cambered. When the foot is pressing on holds, the toes don’t curl in pain; the shoe stretches minimally. The rand doesn’t bulge beyond the sole and the pointy toe, which is key for precision placements.
The Tarifa’s last is narrow. A concave area under the toes curls and pushes them slightly upward so they are activated. The toe box is tall enough to accommodate that slight curl, but climbers with fat toes may struggle to pack their piggies in. The midsole is on the soft side, which makes edging good but not great. You will need stiffer shoes for perfect edging. Lastly—the laces! Lace-up shoes can be a real pain in the … tooth. All that loosening and tightening! Some climbers hate it so much they only wear slippers, trading off tight packaging for quick drawing. But the Tarifa’s laces are brilliantly designed, super simple, easy and effective.
Overall, the Tarifa is a wunderwaffe for sport climbing. They are comfortable, don’t require a break-in phase and excel at precision pasting.
I can see that climbers with more demanding foot types (such as weak, fat or ugly feet) might need a stiffer or wider shoe. There is no one, ultimate,
sacrosanct climbing shoe that will fit and suit every climber. But these work for me (and Alex Megos).
This article was published in Rock and Ice issue 224 (February 2015).