How To Break In Too Tight Climbing Shoes


Ashima could not do a sick heel hook in ill-fitting shoes!

You know that feeling when you get a fresh new pair of climbing shoes, and they are so pretty, and you are so psyched on them?  And you insist that this is the correct shoe for you, as you cram and contort your foot to get the shoe on.  Then you start to climb in them and you’re thinking to yourself “Did my feet get bigger? I know I’m usually a size 38.” You make it through one climb, and wincing you take your shoe off, and your foot is already starting to look like something from a horror film.  Yeah, I’ve been there too.

I know for many of you diehards out there the solution for too tight shoes is “Suffer!! No pain no gain!” and that you in fact pride yourself on your feet growing weird new protrusions, and your toes folding over themselves, etc.  But what if you’re like me and you are basically…a huge baby when it comes to foot pain?  I’ll admit it!  If my feet are absolutely killing me, it’s hard for me to focus on climbing hard.  So what’s a gal to do when you plunked down a hefty chunk of change on shoes and you realize they don’t fit?  Today I’ve got some tips for all you tender-footed folks out there.

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Ashima Strikes Again! Ciudad de Dios 9a/+

Ashima sending Ciudad de Dios (9a/9a+). Photo credit: Ashima's Instagram c/o Cross Road Studios)

Ashima sending Ciudad de Dios (9a/+). Photo from Ashima’s Instagram c/o Crossroad Studios.

Less than a week after sending Open Your Mind Direct (9a+*), becoming the first female and youngest person to send 5.15a, Ashima is at it again. We’d barely had time to pick our jaws up off the ground, when Ashima posted her ascent of Ciudad de Dios, (9a/+), and in only three days. According to her Instagram, she actually fell on the last move after just one day of working the route, evidence that despite being only thirteen years old, this young lady is a force to be reckoned with. Ciudad de Dios links two routes Ashima is quite familiar with: Open Your Mind Direct and La Fabela (8c+), which Ashima sent last year.

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Ashima Shiraishi Becomes First Female to Send 5.15!*

Ashima on Open Your Mind Direct (9a+/5.15a)

Ashima on Open Your Mind Direct, 9a+/5.15a (Photo credit: Ashima’s Instagram)

*Since posting this on 3/17/15, critics have questioned whether Open Your Mind Direct, with the broken hold, is actually 9a+. See our later post regarding this controversy

We’d made bets on who would be the first female to send 5.15a, with Ashima being a clear favorite. Yet, moments ago, our jaws dropped when we heard that it happened: the female-5.15 barrier has been broken, and it only took four days of projecting (is that really even a project?). “OMG!!!” exclaimed Ashima on her Instagram, “I sent my 4 day project Open Your Mind Direct 9a+, in Santa Linya!!!!!!” It’s hard to find words other than “OMG!!!!” to respond to Ashima’s send of the exceptionally strenuous and relentless 40 meter route in Santa Linya. Open Your Mind Direct was originally sent by Ramon Julian in 2008 who gave it 9a+, then it was repeated by several who called it 9a. Julian described the route as “Enormous! 8c+, 8c+, 8c stamina required!!” Just watching the 8 minute video below of Magnus Midtboe climbing the route confirms the endurance required to clip the chains. Recently, a hold broke near the top with local climbers claiming it bumped the grade from 9a to 9a+. “I was able to be the first person to send the route after the hold broke off!” shared Ashima. The list of factors that make this send historic is long, but we could start with the fact that Ashima is 13 years old. For reference, Adam Ondra sent 5.15a for the first time at 15 (La Rambla, Siurana), making Ashima the youngest person (male or female) to send 5.15 (are we missing anyone?). Over the last few years, Ashima has taken the climbing world by storm claiming victories in bouldering and route climbing, in competitions and in outdoor ascents. It’s clear that she is only getting started. We bet on Ashima to be the first female to send 5.15a, now we’re betting on her to be the first person to send 5.15d. Watch out world, this lady’s coming for you!

Climb on! ~CXC

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Challenged to my Core: Climbing as a Mom


There’s something about becoming a climber that convinces you that you can take on anything. At Crux Crush, we have heard multiple stories of climbing empowering women to overcome everything from addiction to arachnophobia to a fear of heights. I believe this is specifically unique to climbing. When you look up at the tall, steep, seemingly featureless route that you just climbed relying solely on your own body strength, the idea of being able to tackle anything seems completely plausible. It was this (mis?)conception that led me to believe that I could have a kid, continue working, and climb harder than I ever had before.

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A Cinderella (Climbing) Story


My ReSoul shoe (left) and my homemade shoe (right).

This is the tale about finding the perfect climbing shoe for “Little-Half-Foot”. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this fairytale, it involves me, Amy, (aka: Climbing With One and A Half Feet), a lawnmower accident when I was three, and half of my right foot. To sum this fairytale up without getting too cheesy, let’s just say that climbing is my prince charming and New England ReSoul is my fairy godmother creating my perfect glass slipper/climbing shoe.

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Sports(wo)manship at its Finest: Iron Maiden Season 2 Report

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Lily Canavan takes home the title of Iron Maiden 2015 (still from Cold House Media)

A few weeks ago some of New England’s strongest lady climbers gathered at MetroRock in Everett, MA for the second annual Iron Maiden bouldering competition. The competition series began in 2014, with Angie Payne taking home the first ever title of Iron Maiden (check out last year’s video here). As we see it, the competition is a celebration of the strength and camaraderie of the female climbing community. This year we got in on the action by competing and chatting up some of the finalists. Today we’ve got a report on the event from Boston area climber, and 1st place winner of the Iron Maiden advanced category, Ann Pham.

In comparison with your average competition, there is undeniably something different about the Iron Maiden. The obvious difference is that it’s a female only bouldering competition. Yet, even the camaraderie between climbers feels different. Top female climbers in the world compete alongside local lady climbers, all vying to earn the title of Iron Maiden, yet equally supportive of one another performing at their best. I was given an opportunity to sit down with a few of the local climbers at MetroRock during the isolation period to discuss everything from preparation rituals to what makes all-female comps special.

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Girl Crush of the Month: Jenn Flemming

This month we’re crushing hard on Jenn Flemming. Yea, because she’s a strong, successful climber, but also because she has fears… and it’s good to see that we’re not the only ones.

Jenn Flemming on Skinny Love (5.13c). Photo (C) Fred Marmsater

Jenn Flemming on Skinny Love (5.13c). Photo (C) Fred Marmsater

From Crux Crush’s backyard, this 30-year-old Massachusetts native has been climbing for 9 years. Crush status was confirmed after reading her narrative on Evening Sends about her multi-year project, Skinny Love (5.13c, Boulder Colorado). Jenn worked this project for three seasons, but it was when she was accepted to Harvard University (strong & smart? *sigh*) that she realized sending before leaving Boulder for Boston was a big time goal for her. This drove her motivation and commitment to be all in—even if that didn’t guarantee success. Spoiler alert: she sent Skinny Love on the last day before she moved to the East Coast. Jenn recounted this experience saying, “Somehow all of these fears had become wrapped up in this one rock climb. This objectively insignificant piece of granite had become this monumental personal symbol of so much more.”

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Big Ups to Alex Puccio

Alex happily upping her training game

Alex happily upping her training game

Lately all I can think of is Alex Puccio. Creepy, I know. In my defense, she seems to be everywhere: dominating comps, taking down hard boulders outside, constantly training, and popping up all over my Facebook feed. She’s been on the scene for many years, but recently she seems to be taking the climbing world (even more) by storm. So today I wanted to give some huge props to Alex Puccio for being a totally rad, feminine, strong, beast of a climber.

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No Excuses: Training From Home

No excuses! Grab that pan and get started training now!

No excuses! Grab that pan and get started training (forearm hypertrophy) now!

It’s the middle of winter and while you might be dreaming about sending your proj this summer, you’re full of excuses when it comes down to training for your summer of sending. “It’s so hard to get to the gym after work.” “There’s a driving ban because of the snow.” “If only I had a home wall…” Ya, ya, ya, we’ve heard and said it all ourselves. For today’s training post, we share 10 ways you can get fit for climbing, without even leaving your house. We’ve kept these exercises minimalist, the first five require a hangboard and the second five require only yourself.

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