Of the heaps of gear nestled in the hearts of the climbing community, none is so greatly treasured as the climbing shoe. No matter how sleek your rope or how sexy your cams, at the end of the day, your shoes make or break a climb. Unless you prefer sandpapering your heels and getting your toes bitten by lizards, à la Charles Albert.
From worn leather boots to psychedelic high-tops, the world has seen its fair share of legendary rock-wrestling footwear. Out of all the models that have graced the planet, is there any that holds as much folklore as the La Sportiva Mythos?
First launched in 1991, this year marks its 30th anniversary. La Sportiva, in celebration of the shoe, have released a special commemorative pair in their iconic ‘Lilla” colour (rubber and all). But what makes the Mythos so special?
THE BIRTH OF AN ICON
Conceptualised and designed by Giuliano Jellici, La Sportiva’s Research and Development Manager at the time, the Mythos’ perfect balance between comfort and performance set it apart from other shoes of the era. In 2016, in celebration of the last production of the lilla Mythos (up until the 30th anniversary edition), La Sportiva sat down with Jellici and Lorenzo Delladio, current CEO and President of the company, to discuss the history and success of the shoe.
It is remarkable that the Mythos has been on the market for thirty years, virtually unchanged since the original design. Of all the shoes’ excellent features,the highlight is the patented lacing system which wraps around the climber’s heel for a snug fit and elevated performance. Furthermore, a soft, unlined suede leather upper allows for the shoe to mold to each wearer’s unique foot for comfort and confidence on the wall. The special anniversary edition keeps the majority of the Mythos’ original design and construction, with a few changes to make for a more ecological production process, including:
- The use of eco leather for the upper, made using an eco-friendly tanning process free from any heavy metals.
- The use of recycled raw materials, specifically fishing nets, to make the laces and heel webbing loop
- The use of exclusively water-based glue
The Mythos’ flat, fairly symmetrical profile combined with a pointed toe, good edges and sticky Vibram rubber allowed the wearer to balance on the tiniest of holds, while still being able to comfortably wear the shoe for prolonged periods of time. This made the Mythos especially popular amongst big wall climbers making their names grappling with the toughest lines in areas like Yosemite Valley and the Italian Dolomites. In February of this year, as part of the 30th anniversary celebration, La Sportiva brought two of the climbing legends, Heinz Zak and Alex Huber, to talk about their connection with the shoe.
Both climbers hail the Mythos for its versatility, an attribute for which it is still beloved today. We’re going to make a sweeping generalisation here and guess that the majority of trad climbers own, used to own, or want to own a pair of these babies. They’ve been legendary for thirty years, and that’s not fading away anytime soon.
The Mythos is very dear to the La Sportiva team, and they ran a rather special campaign for the launch of the 30th anniversary edition. They gathered together Huber, Zak and a host of other famed climbers for a discussion on their personal “climbing myth”– the one person that gave them the fuel they transformed into a lifetime celebration of the mountains. Rather than names of Royal Robbins, Warren Harding and the like, we hear “my father”, “my grandfather”, “a mountain guide and friend”; the ‘ordinary’ people that we surround ourselves with, aren’t so ordinary after all.
The video, titled #MyClimbingMyth, extended to a competition that asked climbers to share their own myths. The winner, selected in April 2021, was Laila T., who caption his submission “My myth: my son, pure passion!”
We’re doing something a little different…
SHARE YOUR STORY & WIN
Everyone loves a dog-eared old photograph that holds an anthology of fables – we want to see yours! Upload an epic climbing picture to the “Celebrating the Mythos” folder in the Get Psyched Gallery, along with a caption explaining the backstory, and stand to win a pair of Mythos to call your very own!
Make some magic, and good luck!
T’s & C’s apply:
- Only entries within South Africa will be considered.
- Photographs must be uploaded to the “Celebrating the Mythos” gallery folder with a caption no longer than 250 words.
- Competition entries close at midnight, 31 July 2021.
- Winners will be chosen through a fair process by the goodBETA team.
Find out about the Mythos 30th’s specs and sparkles from La Sportiva’s Climbing Product Specialist, Pietro Dal Pra, in this video.