Saturday, July 31, 2010

La Sportiva Katana

Katana: a curved single edged sword, traditionally used by Japanese Samurai. The Katana facilitates speed by being worn with the blade facing up allowing the Samurai to draw and cut their enemy in a single motion.

While the La Sportiva Katana may not be a sword in the traditional sense, it’s surely as precise as its Japanese counterpart. I have had 4 pairs (with resoles) of this shoe and can certainly say, the Katana is one of the finest rock climbing shoes I have worn.

CMS Guide, Eric Whewell, with comfortable feet high on The Diamond, Rocky Mountain National Park. 
The shoe features a quick on and off with its Velcro closure and dual pull on loops. This allows me to easily slip the shoe off and on at belay stances on the Diamond and quickly change in and out while projecting at Rifle. It’s stiff enough for me to climb all day in and sensitive enough for delicate edging testpieces in Eldorado Canyon.

Eric Whewell utilizing La Sportiva Katanas for ultra-technical footwork on The Monument (12d, Eldo).
The Katana is a high performance shoe that excels at technical edging and precision. Like the Japanese Katana, it exemplifies not only sleekness and agility but speed as well. One of the best shoes in the La Sportiva lineup, the Katana will not disappoint.

Eric Whewell
Colorado Mountain School
AMGA Certified Rock Guide

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

La Sportiva Ganda

As a mountain guide, what goes on my feet is one of the most important things I consider. Often while rock climbing, figuring out what combination of shoes to take on a long climb is the crux of the packing. When the climb requires a walk off in technical terrain the decision gets even harder. Do I take a very light approach shoe and rock shoes for an easy climb that requires lots of walking or do I carry a more substantial approach shoe where comfort comes first? The problem with the second option is carrying the heavy shoes in the pack can make the climb not as fun.

La Sportiva has solved this problem for me with the Ganda. It is half approach shoe half climbing shoe. While guiding in Red Rocks this fall I used the Ganda for climbs up to mid 5.10 and felt very comfortable in them. They are very comfortable for the approach and then climb like a dream. The best part is that I only had to bring one pair of shoes, making the climbing pack much lighter. The Ganda is hand made in Italy. Its craftsmenship is second to none and they should last me at least 5 years! The shoe is designed to take many resoles and athough the cost is high, its value is considerably greater than other approach shoes when you consider it’s longevity. The Ganda is not quite as comfortable as the Exum but not carrying rock shoes is a reasonable trade-off. The shoe is a bit warm due to the beefy construction. So far these are the only drawbacks I have found.

For climbs that are moderate in nature and when I only want to bring one pair of shoes the Ganda will be my first choice.

Ganda specs:

WEIGHT: 14.74 oz • 418 g LAST: Approach Tech CONSTRUCTION: Slip Lasted (forefoot)/ Board Lasted (rear) UPPER: Leather/ Vibram® rubber rands/ Synthetic leather LINING: Mesh (heel only) MIDSOLE: PU Lite SOLE: Vibram® Dot Rubber

For more information on the Ganda check out La Sportiva's website:

Dale Remsberg
IFMGA/AMGA certified guide
Head Guide Colorado Mountain School

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Marmot Women’s Oracle Jacket

I tested Marmot’s new Oracle shell during a windy and cold day of crevasse rescue practice at 12,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park. The Oracle blocks out wind and precipitation well, and keeps you dry and warm. The Oracle is ideally paired with the Marmot Lightweight Zip Neck. If you are looking for an ultra-lightweight, all season wind, rain, and snow season shell, the Marmot Oracle is tough to beat.

Check out the technical specs for this jacket at

Norie Kizaki
AMGA Rock Instructor
Colorado Mountain School