Weight: 8.71 oz / 247 g
Sizes: 33 – 46 (half sizes)
Size Tested: 35
Fit: Tech w/ Medium-High Asymmetry
Upper: Leather / Vibram rubber rands
Midsole: P3 with 1.1mm LaspoFlex
Sole: Vibram® XS Edge
My Foot: Average shape, medium arch, but small
Climber Type: Primarily sport and trad climbing, some bouldering
Time Tested: Six weeks
Test Locations: Shelf Road, Clear Creek Canyon, Tarryall Mountains, Independence Pass, South Platte Area, Colorado.
The TC Pro is widely seen as the go-to shoe of hard-climbing types. It sees ascents in some of the most intense and hard-core climbing areas: the Tetons, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and Utah’s sandy towers, to name a few. This is the shoe chosen by mountain men—those with grisly beards and gnarled hands, the masters who spend days on single routes, bivvying on overgrown ledges, and eating cans of beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is Tommy Caldwell’s shoe on some of Yosemite’s hardest big walls. This is the shoe for climbing’s longest, burliest, and scariest multi-pitch climbs.
So naturally I thought it would be the perfect shoe for a 5-foot tall, tiny female climber who grew up clipping bolts in a gym.
Or at least I’d see how well it held up. I wanted to see whether the features that make the TC Pro so loved on big walls transferred to other types of climbing, or whether the shoe has become so specialized that it’s relegated to its niche and doesn’t apply elsewhere.
The TC Pro has the same P3 technology as La Sportiva’s popular aggressive shoes (like the La Sportiva Solution and the La Sportiva Miura VS), but it is designed specifically for cracks and hard, delicate face climbing instead of steep terrain. Thus, it’s not nearly as downturned.
With its subtle color, it’s less attention-grabbing than Sportiva’s other top-sellers, yet the TC Pro is touted for its performance both in cracks and on hard faces; it’s renowned for its edging and smearing abilities on everything from slabby to vertical; and it’s well loved for foot jamming in cracks of all sizes, perhaps because La Sportiva adds a bit of cushion to the top of the toes and anklebone areas.(One of my climbing partners considers it “jamming in pillows.”) These shoes are generally considered to find a happy medium between performance and comfort—something you need on all-day ascents.
I decided to test the TC Pros both in their traditional terrain (granite trad climbs) and in places like Clear Creek Canyon and Shelf Road that seemed to push their limits—Clear Creek for its overhanging walls, and Shelf Road for all its pockets. As expected, they excelled on South Platte granite. I was impressed with their ability to smear on the tiniest of holds, and they did indeed jam like pros.
But when I took them to Clear Creek and Shelf Road, they still performed exceedingly well. They handled the slippery-feeling gneiss at Clear Creek better than I expected, and actually held onto pockets at Shelf with little effort (although I acknowledge this might have to do with my tiny-sized toes).
I started thinking that the TC Pros might actually be applicable to normal climbers; it’s obvious from climbing a single pitch in them that they perform best on techy faces and in cracks—but they don’t fall apart on other terrain. In fact, their edging ability, designed first for balancy slab moves, transfers very well to other types of climbing. At Shelf Road, they made some of the thin crux moves feel just as solid as with more aggressive shoes.
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