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Q&A with SCARPA rock shoe designer Heinz Mariacher

Aug. 1st 2011

Storied climber and legendary rock shoe designer Heinz Mariacher is still in love with climbing. And shoe cobblery. The 55-year-old Austrian spends as much time at the crag as he does at the sewing machine. Matching proactive materials, Active Randing methods, and biophysical ergonomics, Mariacher and SCARPA are creating shoes that showcase Mariacher’s expertise. Their common goal: produce shoes perfect for their function. We talked with Heinz from his home in Italy to share a little about how his passion for climbing created a craftsman at the top of his game.

What were your first memories of climbing?
That brings us back to the sixties. Back then Climbers were not considered athletes, but kind-of-crazy-outsiders who risked their ass every time they went to the mountains. Already as a kid I admired them and dreamed about becoming a real climber. After exploring and scrambling up every freaking canyon around my home town, I couldn’t wait any longer, jumped on my small bicycle. and pedaled 20 miles to a real mountain. I was 12 years old, had no idea about the dimensions, and how exhausting the following approach with one mile elevation gain would be. After an endless 4-hours hike I finally found my wall: vertical, big and frightening. I had no climbing equipment, just well-worn tennis shoes and a dream about living a real adventure. I followed some old rusty pitons, challenged several times the absolute limit of my modest climbing skills and luckily survived (later I found out that the route was 5.8).

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