My favorite part of climbing has almost always been meeting other climbers. We are a group, a community, and it seems everybody who pursues the sport has an interesting story to share. On our second day of climbing at Smith Rock, we met a fun fellow climber named Menno.
I think I was getting tied in to climb and clean The Outsiders, when Menno, being a very nice helpful person, ran and grabbed my shoes for me. I’ve been climbing in Montrail Zealots for the last year or so, and when he brought them over, he asked how I liked them. I know Mark and I have been climbing a lot of trad in recent years, and these shoes are considered “aggressive” and best for sport or bouldering. But I love them. I buy them a bit too large, and they fit me great. They have flexible soles that work well on slabs, and tiny toes that work great for edging and thin cracks. I expounded on the virtues and wonderfulness of my shoes to Menno as I tied in.
“That’s great,” he said. “I owned the company that made them.”
That’s when I noticed that Menno was wearing a Montrail jacket, a Montrail hat, and Montrail shoes of his own. Menno is Menno van Wyk, the former CEO of Montrail. About a year ago, they sold the company to Columbia, and the climbing shoe line has since been discontinued.
“Oh,” I said. “Wow. So, that’s why I keep getting them on close-out for super cheep.”
He laughed. He told me the person who designed my shoes was from Oregon, and often climbed at Smith Rock. My shoes were designed with technical, edgy, routes like those at Smith Rock specifically in mind. It makes a lot of sense, and made me immensely happy to be climbing in the birthplace of my shoes.
Menno said he had quite a few pairs of shoes left over, and as he headed out for the day, he took Mark’s card, with the casual promise that if he had any more size 5 Zealots’s laying around, he’d get in touch with us and send them my way.
Great guy, that Menno. Too bad my shoes are discontinued.