The new La Sportiva Women’s Skwama technical climbing shoe was released in the middle of 2018. Mont Adventure Equipment in Canberra was kind enough to give me a pair from their first shipment, just before I left to compete at the New Zealand Lead Nationals in Auckland, in late August.
The women’s Skwama have the same rubber as that on the men’s Skwama and the La Sportiva Python’s, this provides huge amounts of grip on all surfaces. Compared to the men’s Skwama, the women’s shoe is slightly softer with a thinner mid-sole. When competing in New Zealand a few days after getting them, I decided to wear them despite only having one light training session in them just before leaving. The upper surface of the Skwama is made from materials which mould to the foot removing excess space and making the shoe fit really well. Despite only having an hour or two in them, they felt comfortable enough to compete in, showing just how quickly they broke in to my foot shape.
My finals climb in Auckland was a steep, pumpy route and at one point I needed to pull in hard with a heel to enable me to get a rest. By using the same S wrap of rubber behind the heal and under the sole, La Sportiva have made the heal in the women’s Skwama deep and secure, but also able to be stretched and moulded to the climbers’ foot. Having such a confidence inspiring shoe lets you put lots of trust in the fact that the heel isn’t going to just pop off. Being designed for steep technical climbing, the Skwama also have a rubber pad on the upper, stretching from the big toe up to the Velcro, becoming narrower as it gets closer to the opening. This rubber pad is amazingly sticky when positioning toe hooks. It gives you a solid pad to place on the hold and makes you feel like your toes are glued to the hold. When climbing modern comp boulders, which often feature co-ordinated dynos, having the ability to land such a solid toe allows you to jump for a hold without having to cut your feet.
Skwama are well known to be fantastic for steep climbs, but they are just as amazing on slabs. The women’s shoes are slightly thinner than the men’s shoe, this allows lighter climbers to feel and position their feet more accurately on small edged holds. This ability to stand on the smallest edges, definitely showed when I was recently competing at the NSW State Boulder Titles. One of my boulders was a thin, technical slab with small and slippery footholds. The rubber on the Skwama is so sticky and fine that I could feel the holds perfectly, it gave me the confidence to put all my weight over tiny foot jibs, freeing up my upper body to keep in balance.
For a competition climber like me, where I need to be able to compete on a wide range of boulders, the women’s Skwama is pretty much the perfect shoe. They have the feel and grip you need when trying the trickiest of slabs and the most amazing ability to stick heals and toes for when the setters decide they want to make you work hard on the steep stuff.
Mont sponsored athlete and 2018 Youth C Australian Lead & Boulder Champion.
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As summer approaches, I keep looking through my list of past walks to see which ones I want to do again.
In September 1986 I walked from Lake St Clair, up past Little Hugel to Mt Hugel. I then continued down the western slopes to Lake Hermione, followed a valley up to Lake Petrarch and walked back down to Lake St Clair. A good partly offtrack bushwalk. This time I only had two days, so the plan was to camp next to a tarn up on the Mt Hugel plateau.
One of the biggest jobs at Mont is customer service, with the inbox sometimes a little overwhelming! But the emails are overwhelmingly positive; questions about our gear, emails about how well a customers gear worked, and fun stories and photos from the wild.
It isn’t all smiles, though, negative emails do occasionally pop up. But not to let that get us down, often these emails highlight a failure of communication on our part or provide information for us to reflect upon and improve.