In recent years, SCARPA has really put the pedal to the metal in the research and development of high-performing climbing shoes, launching products that are more and more on the cutting edge.
The one putting the pedal to the metal at this time-honoured footwear company is Heinz Mariacher, the inventor of the shoe as we know it today and the artist of rock climbing shoes. Speaking with him makes us realize just how complex and detailed the process is – from initial design, to the shoes we find on the shelves at the store. «Creating the perfect shoe is as complicated as the climb itself. The problem here is combining features that are a bit contrasting: force and sensitivity, a tight yet comfortable fit. You need the force on tips for micro footholds and sensitivity to feel grip limits; the shoe has to fit tight but not too tight…the art is in combining the various materials and components in such a way as to ensure that feet can adapt to any movement on the rocks».
In fact, the shoe is the most important technical tool we’ve got to go forward and it is the only artificial interface between us and the rock. This explains why attention is placed on support and forward movement without neglecting the fact that it has to be totally in tune with the foot – becoming a single entity with the climber.
Chimera is the result of this objective: combining the world of force and upward motion with the world of lightness and synchronicity with the rock: half lion and half snake with the agility of the goat.
Gabriele Moroni, the new bright star of the SCARPA team, has started using them for his climbs: «I was in northern Sardinia the first time I tried Chimera, on the granite blocks in Luogosanto. I was a bit reluctant at first: could a shoe this soft and sensitive be suited for the rigid, hard Sardinian granite? Unbelievable but true! After two “adjustment” problems, Chimera was ready to accompany me on the spectacular “Dove nasce il vento” (Where the wind comes from) project, a long and complex extension with small, clear-cut footholds as well as precarious palm and heel hooks where a versatile shoe is fundamental».
You can test these shoes this year at Melloblocco on the Valley blocks. You might even discover that you too are part lion, part snake and part goat.