The Claim: La Sportiva makes big promises with this approach shoe. From their website: “We pulled out all the stops to produce a shoe that will withstand multiple resoles, let you carry a 30-pound pack, and climb 5.12.” Oh, is that all? The Ganda are board lasted (the upper is formed around a 3D model, or last, with a supportive insole as a platform) in the back and slip lasted (a sock-like upper gets its form from the last, with rubber and insole added after), with Vibram Dot Rubber on the sole.
The Trial: The Ganda were on my feet for 45 of the 64 hours it took to complete a Grand Traverse of the Tetons last week. I scrambled over fourth and fifth class terrain and climbed six pitches on the North Ridge of the Grand Teton. I also traveled on snow (with and without micro spikes—think minimalist crampons), glissaded, rappelled, clung to exposed ridges like an agoraphobic gecko, and tried to stay one step ahead of a twisted ankle descending boulder fields.
The Verdict: I’m not climbing 5.12s—but that’s me, not the shoe. Once I learned to trust the sticky Vibram rubber, I stopped shaking on exposed rock and climbed better than ever. It was easy to brush dirt and snow off the sole and keep climbing. Breaking them in was the hardest part, and the tight toe box can pinch on descents, but for technical climbing beyond my comfort zone, the Ganda gave me a much-needed edge and sense of security. $215; sportiva.com —Olivia Dwyer
Look for a story on the Grand Traverse in a future issue of Mountain.