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As anyone who has been climbing for a few months knows, shoes are the piece of climbing gear replaced most often. They’re also one of the only pieces of gear common across every climbing discipline. Even free soloists need a pair of rock shoes to get on the wall.
Unfortunately, shoe repair can be slow and hard to come by (there are only a handful of resolers across the country), so most climbers opt for a new pair of shoes when their old ones wear out. New climbing shoes aren’t cheap either, with even low-tier budget shoes coming close to $100, and many shoes costing twice that, if not more. Climbers reportedly spent over $168,989,622 on gear in 2018, according to the annual AAC State of Climbing 2019 report. Of that $168+ million, 25% was spent on climbing shoes. That’s a lot of dough.
That’s where Flash Friction, a new resoler opening in the growing NYC climbing scene, comes into play. Created by climbing brothers Ceasar, Edward, and Alex Saingchin, the sons of immigrant shoe cobblers in the Bronx, Flash Friction aims to both provide an affordable way for climbers to repair their shoes and a sustainable alternative to sending our worn down shoes to landfills. Flash Friction has committed to donate 3% of annual profits to local community organizations working towards social, racial, and environmental justice, with donations already going out to the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, Chhaya, and UPROSE. They’ve also set a goal to collect, resole, and donate 100 pairs of used climbing shoes this year, sending them to various climbing nonprofits working to empower youth from historically marginalized communities.
“With the economy being slow, we hope Flash Friction can help climbers that are struggling financially due to the pandemic to save money and keep climbing,” said Edward Saingchin, company Co-Founder and Operations Manager, in a press release.
“To be able to climb regularly is a privilege,” added his brother Ceasar. “Gym memberships are not cheap, gear starts to add up, and paid vacation time to go outdoors is a luxury for many. We hope Flash Friction can play a tiny part in helping the climbing community be more accessible and inclusive.”
With an estimated turnaround time of one week, Flash Friction offers a fast way to get your shoes back in shape to climb. Repair costs vary, but full shoe repair is estimated at $45 and rand repair at $18, according to the Flash Friction FAQs, so it’s much more affordable than a new pair of shoes, and less wasteful!
Currently, Flash Friction is the only dedicated climbing shoe resoler operating in New York City. Climbers looking for resoling can drop-off shoes for repair at one of Steep Rock Bouldering’s two Manhattan locations or mail them to the Flash Friction team directly.
Owen Clarke is a writer currently based in Tennessee. He is a Contributing Digital Editor at Rock and Ice and Gym Climber. He enjoys Southern sandstone and fish tacos, and is afraid of heights.
Follow him on Instagram at @opops13.