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.
Last year was my first full season climbing outside, during which I noticed how much I didn’t trust my right (half) foot. Even with my homemade little-half-foot shoe I wasn’t feeling stable on foot holds outside. It was really messing with my head game on lead, my attitude towards climbing outside, and consequently, my overall performance. I knew that getting a shoe that fit my little-half-foot properly would take me to the next level.
Enter Ri from New England ReSoul. In November 2014 he graciously took on my case and built me an awesome custom climbing shoe! In the limited time I’ve been able to use it, I can definitely tell the difference it makes in my ability to edge and smear with my right foot.
I love my custom shoe so much I’m actually having a second made this spring. Surprisingly, this was the first custom shoe Ri had done. As an engineer, I’m always curious about the process behind something. I sent Ri a full shoe and a mold of my foot and he sent back a half shoe that perfectly fits my half foot, more exact than any climbing shoe could ever fit. As I ordered my second shoe, I picked Ri’s brain about the process. Ri explained, “Initially the process was very similar to a normal resole with rand repair: I ground away the sole and rand, just a little further back than I normally would. It was then a matter of ripping the sewn seams of the shoe and tailoring a new pattern based on the existing material, and the mold of your foot you gave me. My main concern was making sure that the newly reconstructed upper (or leather portion of the shoe) fit closely to the foot mold. This was just a matter of taking some time to make sure the pattern fit well and the stitching was snug.”
Ri made it sound easy, but after climbing in a make-shift shoe for the last two years, I knew it was more challenging than he made it out to be. “The largest challenge was making sure that the edge of sole seemed in line with the appropriate spot. This may sound rather straight forward, but because the front of your foot (or at least the mold) is rather rounded, making sure that the edge of the sole didn’t roll up the front of the foot, but also didn’t get caught so far under the “toe” that it became unusable for edging, was a more subtle process than I had expected.”
There was not a doubt in my mind that Ri was fairy-godmother when he told me, “I just wanted to make sure it fit to the best of my abilities! The first time making something like this is always the most difficult, and I knew from the look of your last shoe that if I could just get it to fit snugly and edge decently that it would probably be worlds better to climb on for you and good first go for me. Win, win!!”
Thanks again Ri for making me an amazing shoe and answering my questions. I can’t wait to see how the shoe performs when I take it to the Red River Gorge in April!