Rock shoe review- the Evolv Pontas Lace

I’m now on my third pair of Pontas Lace, and I still love them.

For years I struggled to find a technical shoe in a real women’s fit – not just a unisex rock shoe in a smaller size and pinker color but something narrow across the forefoot and flat down the back of the heel. I’m not really a girly girl when it comes to climbing gear, but my feet are much daintier than the rest of me.

On my quest I tried women’s offerings from 5.10, Scarpa, Mammut, Montrail, and countless others – even Evolv, so imagine my surprise when I tried on the Pontas Lace – a unisex shoe – and found it fit my tiny little feet perfectly.

Being a clever bunch, the folks at Evolv realised a more-or-less universal truth. Women tend to have smaller feet than men. Therefore, the people most likely to wear their unisex rock shoes in a small size are women. The shape of the Pontas Lace changes significantly as the sizes get smaller, to suit narrower, girlier feet. Genius!

To be fair, Evolv aren’t the only rock shoe manufacturers to change the shape of a climbing shoe depending on size, but they’ve hit on a good combination with the smaller Pontas Lace. In particular, there’s just enough of a slingshot heel to deliver force through the toes but not so much that the back of the shoe is baggy on a female foot with a less chunky heel. If you have problems getting a secure heel hook because your shoes don’t fit perfectly at the back, they might be a good choice next time you need a new pair.

Fit is half the battle when choosing rock shoes and rubber is the other half. The Pontas Lace is stiffer than the velcro version, but it’s not a stiff shoe compared to most offerings from Scarpa and Red Chili, for example. It edges very well but there is enough stickiness there to let you smear with confidence.

I also love the lacing system. Most of Evolv’s higher-end shoes have a square lacing pattern that makes for fast adjustment all the way down to the toe. It’s much quicker to get the tension just right than with the traditional diagonal criss-cross layout. The Pontas Lace are also vegan-friendly.

At the end of the day, they won’t be everyone’s ideal rock shoe. Every pair of feet is different, but I have managed to convert a few other women (and one man with narrow feet) to the Pontas Lace. If you struggle to find a good women’s shoe that lets you climb to your full potential, give them a try.

Jess Spate lives and climbs in South Wales, UK. She writes travel articles for companies like Timeshare Secrets, who provide Marriott Time Share Resale resources.

Lessons from my Cushion

My Cushion

My Cushion

Upon my return from a 10-day silent retreat with 100 hours of “extreme meditation”, it dawned on me that the experience is reminiscent of coming off of a major alpine climb. Whenever I’ve come down from above, the world always looks different – or at least I am different.  Colors appear more vibrant, odors are pungent, a feeling of accomplishment resonates throughout my tired body, I’m glad it’s over and best of all, I feel very alive, acutely aware and transformed in some way. Another handy side effect is I don’t take as much for granted, loved ones feel extra dear, simple moments are precious and my dog is more happy to see me than usual!

I let go of climbing big peaks and living a more vagabond lifestyle over ten years ago and with that, part of me has felt left behind and nostalgic. Last week while sitting on my cushion learning Vipassana meditation, I began to understand the restlessness climbers experience when they attempt to replace this passion with more “responsible” options such as family and/or professions. Sometimes we don’t have a choice and the path we’ve been on is altered forever.



If the root cause of human suffering comes from keeping our attention on our cravings and aversions, it is easy to become miserable in the process of this obsession.  Most of us have a sense that true happiness and contentment comes from living in the present moment where the law of nature/life exists. We can know this, say the words and even believe it, but it is a monumental leap to fully live it. This is why people climb and now I understand, this is why people meditate.  Climbing is a delicate balance between mind and matter as the body experiences pain, fear and the assortment platter of suffering, the mind is constantly working to create equanimity and ease the discomfort.  I use this strong mental determination when I step up to a difficult lead and it is this discipline that commits me to sitting perfectly still on my cushion for an hour at a time, moving through each sensation as they arise, trusting they will pass. This sharpness of my mind points me towards the moment and nowhere else.

Climbers keep going back for bigger and harder climbs with the addiction to recapture this delicate edge where life feels pure and harmonious. At the point we can’t or don’t want to venture to those heights, how do we fill that glass? I am grateful for meditation, an opportunity that is available in my simple, daily life – the highs, the concentration, the challenge, the insights and the fulfillment all survive on my cushion.  I never knew it was so simple.

June Newsletter

News from the Chicks with Picks Nerve Center:

Chicks Rock!We have officially launched our new women’s rock climbing program appropriately named Chicks Rock!

All Chicks are welcome as we are offering beginning to advanced clinics. We even have different packages you can sign up for.  You can come and climb with us in the daytime only or join us for dinners, slide show and camping. You choose.
Register Now!

2009 Dates:
Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin
September 7-10: Full or Daytime Package available

Red Rocks, Nevada
Option 1: October 1-4:
3-Day Weekend, Full or Daytime Package available
Option 2: October 1-5: 3-Day Weekend Plus Multi Pitch Day, Full or Daytime

Chicks Climbing

It’s our  new Social Networking group that combines Chicks with Picks and Chicks Rock as the go-to place for women’s climbing!  Interacting & networking over the internet is the sign of the times!
We have created three great opportunities for like- minded women to connect, have conversations and discuss hot topics about women & women climbers.

Chicks Climbing Facebook Group
Chicks Climbing Blog
Chicks Climbing Twitter

"Happy Home" Kathmandu Nepal

"Happy Home" Kathmandu NepalMedia:


This month Kim got great exposure with an interview on Everest Mind Camp a web site founded with a simple yet powerful mission in mind: To inspire people to take conscious and empowered action to achieve their personal and professional goals. Check it out

Everest Mind Camp: Go to Guests and then Previous Guests to read the interview with Kim

Women's Adventure Retreats

Women's Adventure Retreats

MIND OVER MOUNTAINS: Thought Provoking Retreats

Don’t forget our Women’s Adventure Retreats, combining yoga, workshops, outdoor activities, spa treatments, Life Coaching and lovely accommodations! Sign up for these transformational retreats soon, as they start in July!

Passion and Potential
Location: Chipeta Sun Lodge & Spa, Ridgway, Colorado
Dates: July 16 – 20, 2009
Difficulty: High Aerobic
Min/Max group size: 4/12
Price: $2250 – all inclusive

Circling Back to Simplicity
Location: The Nature Place, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Dates: August 23- 28, 2009
Difficulty: Moderate Aerobic
Min/Max group size: 4/12
Price: $1550 – all inclusive

Nothing is Constant But Change
Location: Colorado Chatauqua, Boulder, Colorado
Dates: September 17- 21, 2009
Difficulty: Low Aerobic
Min/Max group size: 4/12
Price: $1550 – all inclusive