Climbing steep rock is hard work, especially if you’ve got scrawny arms like I do. Because of this, I prefer to wear stiff shoes, stand on small edges, and dance my way up slabs most of the time. So I was a bit disheartened when I realized that to properly test the Scarpa Stix, I’d have to tackle the terrain they were designed for: ultra-steep rock found beneath intimidating overhangs with foreboding names like Madness Cave, Project Wall, and Coliseum.
The first thing I recognized when I pulled them on was how light they were (just 6.5 ounces per shoe for a size 40.) I also noticed how free to move my foot felt due to the X-tension rand that sucks up against the arch of the foot, allowing the forefoot to move independently of the heel. One of my gripes with slippers has always been that the heel slips off when hooking, but the reinforced elastic over the top of the foot held the shoe firmly in place. The heel on the Stix has a suction-cup fit that stayed put on even the most aggressive heel hooks. It’s also got nearly full rubber coverage across the toe-box for toe-hooking. The 3.5mm XsGrip2 sole finds the balance between sensitivity and just enough stiffness to grasp edges on a 45-degree overhang.
Wearing the Stix on steep rock actually changed the way I climbed. I immediately felt more like a monkey, able to use my feet like hands to pull on footholds that were tucked away beneath me. I went home with sore quads that day from pulling so hard with my legs and efficiently using my core to take weight off my weak arms. After dozens of training laps on steep stone, the Stix have found their niche in my quiver of rock shoes. They’re best suited for overhanging sport climbing, steep bouldering, technical heel and toe-hooks, gym climbing, and any time that sensitivity is required.