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The NRG Craggin’ Classic…

This weekend marked an exciting milestone for the American Alpine Club, as well as any climber frequenting the New River Gorge (which is probably the majority of us in the Southeast…)  The “Craggin’ Classic” event gave climbers a chance to get a sneak peek at the latest progress on the new AAC climbers’ campground.  It’s pretty bare bones right now, but from the sounds of it, it has the makings to become a staple part of the NRG!  The crowd was small, but the camaraderie was high, and it seemed as though everyone was relieved to finally see some fall temps again!…Read the rest of this entry →

Why You Need a Pair of Tenayas in Your Climbing Shoe Quiver

When I found out a few months ago that Tenaya would be joining Trango under the Great Trango Holdings, Inc umbrella, my first thought was, “YES!!!  Free shoes!”  But then my second thought was, “Geez, what if I don’t like them?!?”  I mean let’s be honest here.  Though at first glance many climbers may seem like easy gear junkies who will try anything and everything if its free, the majority of our flirtations with gimmicky swag is just temporary before we toss it aside in favor of our old stand-by gear.  And there’s probably no piece of climbing gear that…Read the rest of this entry →

20 – 12’s in 2012

Plus one 5.13!After the June trip to Yosemite I needed an obtainable/fun goal to occupy my mind.  Summer in Estes is filled with too much work, a lot of play, and minimal amounts of sleep.  I rallied friends and co-workers, “let’s all try to climb twenty 5.12’s in the year 2012!”  Some agreed to the challenge and currently we are all working towards completing the 20.  Adam Sanders, Trango Rep. and climbing madman set this goal in 2011, trying to climb 20 5.12’s before 2012 arrived.  I stole his idea! :)So far, I have climbed 8 sport climbs and one traditional climb.  (It seems I have time for a sport wanking outing about once a week).  My one full day off each week is spent wandering the Rocky Mountains alpine splitters!

Wes Climbing a 5.12 in Boulder Canyon

So far

1.  Mistrel in the Gallery, 5.12, The Gallery, Red Rocks
2.  Days of Future Past- 5.12a, Animal World–Boulder Canyon
3.  Free Fall -5.12a, Avalon–Boulder Canyon
4.  Furious Howard Brown 5.12 a/b, Surprising Crag–Boulder Canyon
5. Threshold of a Dream 5.12-, Animal World–Boulder Canyon
6.  Wet Denim Day Dream 5.12-, Wall of the 90’s–Clear Creek (Onsight)
7.  Red Neck Hero 5.12, River Wall—Button Rock Reservoir.  
8. The Wasp 5.13-, Rock of Ages — Rocky Mountain National Park (Trad climb)
9. Rise and Shine 5.12-, Bitty Butress — Boulder Canyon
10.  The Gate Keepr 5.12a, Wizards Gate — The Crags, RMNP

My most exciting lead to date, The Wasp, occurred Wednesday.  Tuesday, I hiked out with Bronson to top rope and suss out some gear.  Previously, I had one top-rope lap on The Wasp this summer in late June.  I also have had some miserable burns on it a few summers back.  This June was the first time I top-roped it with no falls and no extreme pump.  I had to work at noon, so although I felt strong and was tempted for a lead go, I didn’t have time.

Wednesday, my girlfriend Kelly Cramer, returned with me.  Through a small debate on the hike up, WE decided that there would be no more top-roping.  I would walk up to the climb and lead the darn thing.  I fell entering the crux traverse.  BOO.  I was fully pumped.

I rested for a while, then tried again.  Feeling solid I reached the “jug” at the end of the traverse left, but had placed a piece in the way.  I shuffled around trying to jam my hand under the cam, but in my flurry ended up just grabbing it.  Double BOO.  I definitely hollered a few F-Bombs.  Irritated at my lack of mental control!!!!

 I was also worried I wouldn’t have the energy for another full effort.  I rested 20 minutes or so, then headed up for the 3rd time.  Through the traverse, I placed the cam in a better location, moved through, and stood up for a rest.  One more reachy move puts you on a “smile-evoking-foot-holds-surprise-hand-rail-of-joy”traverse right.  I placed another piece but was short a runner.  I clipped it directly and began climbing upwards towards the piton.

The Wasp, Photo taken from Mountain Project

WHEN DID THE SMALL CHILD JUMP ON MY BACK, I thought?  I just sand-bagged myself with an extreme lightening zag of rope drag.  I thought about down-climbing and taking the piece out but thought I would waste to much energy.  In hindsight, I wasted just as much energy climbing upwards with the rope drag, Elvis clipping and such.  Even with the little extra epic I created for myself, I clipped the piton, moved through the last few crimps to the jug at the lip with just enough energy!  YAHOO!!!!!!!!!

Heel hooking in the Ra’s in Boulder Canyon!  

Thanks Kelly and Bronson for hiking out there with me!

Recently, Trango has picked up Tenaya shoes, and have been testing a few.  I have always been partial to climbing with Muira’s, but am finding Tenaya’s Ra to be quite comparable.  Great rubber, stiff and comfortable.  The Masai’s are a less aggressive shoe that I am climbing in a size bigger than usual, but am loving them for long days.  They still have a great toe box and edge, but more flexibility.

Give these shoes a try!!!

 
 

The Tenaya Masai: Sometimes you really can be good at it all

So the saying goes: jack of all trades, master of none. We’re so familiar with this concept that, when we hear the term “all-arounder,” it has almost a euphemistic feel. Do we really remember anything about Deion Sanders other than that fact that he played football and baseball? Even worse is “well-rounded,” which reverberates from high school superlative awards as little more than a consolation prize.

With outdoor equipment, the label carries no fewer connotations, especially when it comes to climbing shoes. Tell me a pair of shoes does it all, and I’ll tell you it does nothing well. Fortunately, there is at least one exception: the Masai from Tenaya. From eeking up microscopic dents on a slab to toeing down hard on a sharp pocket, the Masai inspires confidence and, simply put, performs under a wide range of demands.

The Masai comes from a strong line-up of shoes from Tenaya recently released in the United States and distributed by Trango. For more history of the company and information about the other shoes, check out Trango’s site, the English version of Tenaya’s site, and this review.

I got the Masai in mid-summer. Sitting in Trango’s office, I went through a few different sizes trying to gauge how snug I wanted the fit. Ultimately, with an upcoming trip to the Bugaboos, I went with a more comfortable size. I’ll admit that I was kind of thinking “Sure, I’ll climb most stuff with these, but for the hard, thin pitches, these are not nearly tight enough to perform.” Since then, I’ve worn the Masai on a wide range of climbs: steep limestone, cracks of all sizes (tips to OW), blank stemming corners, slabs, and technical granite faces. The shoes never disappointed. By the time we were packing for the Bugaboos (after climbing in Rifle, Boulder Canyon, the Tetons, Index, and Squamish), I was confident that I only needed to bring one climbing shoe in with me.

While the Masai performs well in a nearly all climbing styles, it excels in a few particulars. First, I love it for longer routes, especially ones that are more difficult. The Masai’s fairly neutral camber makes it comfortable enough to wear for relatively long periods of time (I could consistently wear mine for two pitches unless I was really pushing hard on my feet), but its precision worked well on the technical climbing that difficult granite climbing demands. In general, I have found the Masai to climb very well on just less than vertical to just past vertical rock than involves a combination of hard edging and smearing and/or jamming.

From toe to heel, the shoe feels fairly soft, helping it conform to delicate smears, but across the toe, it is quite stiff, which allows for more power when edging and more stability in cracks. This lateral stiffness also gives good support when wearing the shoes for a long time. The uppers feel pretty soft, which makes the shoe even more comfortable. I had my concerns about the durability of this synthetic material, but aside from a bit of fuzziness, the shoes are still in great shape after probably 5000+ vertical feet of climbing, much of that on abrasive cracks in Squamish and the Bugs.

For bouldering and extremely steep climbing, the Masai is a bit on the stiff side, but the toe box does have a slight bevel giving it the little “power pocket” that is usually only available in severely downturned (read: painful) shoes. This power pocket allows the shoe to still be able to grab incut holds on steeper rock.

I really did try to be a skeptic with these shoes. I would climb a pitch in the Masai then try the pitch again later with one of my old standby shoes. Performance wise, if there was ever a difference, it was the Masai that felt more solid. What I really couldn’t get over was how much less my feet hurt at the end of the pitch. With my other shoes, I was pulling them off as I lowered down, but wearing the Masai, I came down, de-racked, sipped some water, and happily slipped them off.

The short version: If you need a pair of shoes to do it all: edge, smear, jam, hook, whatever and still deliver plenty of power without making your toes scream, the Masai is the shoe for you.

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