In Part 1, I took the General to the desert and threw it on every size crack we could find. Compared to its chief rival, the La Sportiva TC Pro, the General held its own. Here’s a summary of my findings after ten days of climbing sandstone:
- Offwidths and Squeezes: Superb. The extra rubber above the toe knuckles and overall stiffness made old-school heel-toe technique a dream rather than a nightmare.
- Hand and fist cracks: Great. It jammed very well in hands and fist cracks, feeling just as secure and comfortable as the TC Pro.
- Off-fingers: Average. Neither shoes is ideal in this size due to their boxy toe profiles. Since the TCP has a somewhat narrower toe, it has a slight advantage. In this size, something lower-profile like a 5.10 Moccasym or Evolv Addict would be vastly preferable.
- Wide chimneys: Good. Despite the General being shod with Evolv’s edging compound (Trax XE), the rubber pasted itself securely against smooth sandstone chimney walls and felt stickier than the TCP’s XS Edge.
We knew the real test for this shoe would be on Big Granite, so we were excited to take it to Cochise Stronghold for a week of pure friction and funky cracks on coarse stone. Our biggest question: will this hard-rubbered, slightly downturned shoe actually smear?
Of all disciplines of climbing, I am least fluent in pure friction slab. The granite of the Western Slope tends to be featured enough that I seldom need to venture into the dark arts of downpalming, full-on smearing and running backwards while falling. The routes at Cochise required all of these shenanigans and more.
On the pure friction pitches of routes like Ewephoria, Absinthe of Mallet and Peacemaker, the General performed quite well. I was able to gingerly paste my forefoot onto small dishes and step up, trusting the rubber to stick in the absence of any positive features. The shoe flexed into the smears much better than I expected for being a stiff, high-top crack climbing shoe. I felt like the Trax XE rubber compound was softer and stickier than the TC Pro’s XS Edge, and therefore more confidence-inspiring. The slight downturn of the toe never really proved to be an impediment, either. While a shoe like the 5.10 Moccasym would undoubtedly be a better choice for sustained friction climbing, the General’s ability to edge as well as smear made it a good choice for the variety of face climbing we encountered at Cochise.
When it came time to edge, the General’s toe was precise enough to latch onto small crystals and dime edges. The shoe’s construction is stiff and supportive, but not quite as much as the tensioned P3 rand and harder XS Edge rubber of the TC Pro or Katana Lace, the latter of which is my go-to for technical face climbing. Nevertheless, the General did well on the techy fourth pitch of Abracadaver and the off-balance first pitch of The Long Strange Trip.
One of the best testpieces for the Gennies ended up being the shortest route we did: the aptly-named single-pitch “Tiny but Exciting.” Delicate, focus-intensive edging led to burly heel-hooking through a roof, followed by a splitter tips seam with dicey dime edges for feet. The General did great on all three segments of the route.
Funky cracks and flares abounded in the East Stronghold, and the General managed them just as well as the splitters of the Creek. One noteworthy pitch was the six-inch offwidth corner on Abracadaver, which was too flaring to allow any nu-metal Leavittation wanking and instead required good old-fashioned arm-bar/heel-toe thuggery. The shoes were burly enough to handle the abuse and also precise enough to work the outer footholds on the face.
My only real complaint with the General has been that now, after five thousand feet of climbing, they’re ready for a resole. That seems significantly sooner than TC Pro’s. For what it’s worth, that 5K of vert had an inordinate amount of noodling around on splitter finger cracks, heel-toeing in offwidths, and skating around on rather coarse granite, all of which are high-drain applications. I sent the shoes to Yosemite Bum to renew the original rubber for the sake of continuing the test under original conditions. Future resoles might need to be XS Edge depending on how long this reapplication of Trax XE lasts.
Overall, I’m still very happy with the General on both rock types thus far. I’ll post the third and final part of this review after getting some early-season mileage on Black Canyon granite. Of all climbing areas, I’m most familiar with the Black — feels like home — so the results should be conclusive in my decision to either continue shelling out the shekels for TCP’s, or conscript the General for continued active duty. Stay tuned!