Starting In the 1920's Narciso Delladio hand-crafted wooden clogs and leather boots for the lumber-jacks and farmers of the Fassa and Fiemme valleys in the Italian Dolomites. The Second World War came along and Narciso began custom making special mountain boots. Even in those days, "innovation" was already the watch word with a patent having been filed for a unique lacing system that would later be used by all the leading footwear factories in Italy.
La Sportiva released their iconic red and yellow Mirage shoes in 1995 - the world's first down-turned rock-shoes, which were designed in collaboration with top Norwegian sports scientist, Marius Morstad.
These shoes were years ahead of their time with many reputable climbers dismissing them as a gimmick that would never catch on. Neil Gresham was the first British climber to test a pair.
'I remember being mocked for having 'banana shoes', which looked like they'd 'warped on the radiator'. Yet as soon as you put them on your feet, the advantages for overhanging climbing were blatantly obvious. At a simple level, you could use your feet like a claw and 'pull' with them on steep ground, to prevent them from popping off. You could also curl your toes over onto footholds when performing high step-ups, which made them amazing on many slabs.'
Since the Mirage La Sportiva have continued to evolve their designs with some important refinements such as their patented P3 'Permanent Power Platform', which maintains the tension in the rand and the fit at the instep along with other designs which work well with down-turn such as No Edge and S-Heel
La Sportiva team member Charlie Woodburn is also a fan of the down-turned/no edge combination...
Sure enough, over two decades later, every reputable rock shoe manufacturer has at least three down-turned shoes in their range and they are now regarded as an essential tool for modern climbing.
More from Neil:
'Contrary to popular misconception, you don't need to be an elite climber to benefit from down-turned shoes, and anyone who's been climbing a year or so, who climbs in the mid F6s or V3/4 may stand to benefit. They're not the best choice for complete beginners as they need to be worn fairly tightly in order for the advantages to be experienced.
Similarly, down-turned shoes won't work for everything and a stiffer, flatter shoe may be favourable for 'pure' edging on long vertical wall climbs or slabs. But if you're into steep bouldering and sport climbing and you haven't yet tried a pair then you may find that they enhance the sensation of climbing and that they can improve your performance by at least a grade.'
In this competition La Sportiva are offering your choice of rock shoe from the entire range (stock dependent) including Genius, Futura, Skwama, Otaki and Kataki. Simply answer the question below to win.