La Sportiva, a family-owned company based in Val di Fiemme in the Dolomites, was one of the GORE-TEX brand’s very first Italian customers. This long-standing working relationship has already produced a multitude of product innovations. The partnership is characterised by a shared desire to drive continuous innovation and can justifiably be described as balanced.
Find your balance
The latest chapter in the history of this cooperation is all about finding the right balance. La Sportiva and the GORE-TEX brand have recently launched the AEQUILIBRIUM SERIES, featuring boots geared towards balance and targeting three different aspects of mountaineering. A new event format, the “La Sportiva Aequilibrium Talks Tour 2022” (“AE Talks” for short), got under way in April to support the launch. This gave us the opportunity to try out these new footwear innovations. It also meant that we were able to get up close to some of mountaineering’s big names. At each of the tour stops in 9 European cities La Sportiva athletes have been talking about what the right balance means to them, in alpine environments and everyday life.
Balance on the mountain – AE Talk with extreme climber Alex Huber
The evening got off to a good start: that enjoyable feeling of switching off after work with a beer in your hand, added to that a rooftop terrace with a view of the Munich skyline and the company of Alex Huber, one of the Bavarian climbing scene’s most legendary figures. Then came undiluted life experience served up in a broad Bavarian accent. Alex has a lot to say. He’s been a member of the La Sportiva athletes’ team for 40 years and especially enjoyed pointing out that he’s been a fan and customer for even longer. But he wanted to make something else clear right from the start: “There’s always an imbalance between the mountaineer and the mountain. The mountain always has the upper hand. That’s why it’s never about conquering a mountain. In mountaineering balance can only mean attempting to return home with what is most important - the exhilarating experience of having been up the mountain.”
The right mix
Mountaineer Roger Schaeli with the AEQUILIBRIUM TOP GTX®
When he left university Alex couldn’t decide whether to embark on an academic career or become a professional climber. This was the first time that he had experienced that feeling of being thrown off balance. In the end, he decided to become a climber and threw himself into his new career. This was a career that enabled him to test his personal limits to the full. Alex was soon climbing in a class of his own, up there with the best in the world. He puts this down to his strength, technical expertise and excellent equipment, as well as having climbed in roped parties with his brother Thomas for over 40 years. Although Alex claims it’s just as much a question of your inner balance. It’s about having the mental strength to deal with extreme challenges and the absolute conviction that you can handle the challenge, whatever it may be. It is his ability to find his inner balance on the mountain that enables him to tackle extreme situations.
Restore your inner self
The film “Am Limit”, which translates as “At the Limit”, vividly depicts how easily your inner balance is upset when you experience failure. It tells the story of how an attempt to set a new speed record for ascending the 1,000m high Nose route of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park had to be abandoned after a fall. The magic begins to work after the film has ended. The two brothers return home frustrated and disappointed. Even so, they knew they had very nearly succeeded and were perfectly capable of setting a new record. They returned a year later. This time they climbed the route in record time. What had happened in between? They had worked on their inner balance, the real key to success. This transition takes place in the mind. Ultimately, it’s not about objective successes, records and personal bests, Alex says. It’s more about subjective success, within mountaineering and beyond. It’s all about the experience. Which can be all sorts of things.
La Sportiva AEQUILIBRIUM SERIES
The AEQUILIBRIUM SERIES lays the foundation to finding your own subjective balance in mountain settings. The product innovations developed by La Sportiva and the GORE-TEX brand are the drivers of professionalism within the sport, while also allowing amateur athletes easy access.
The styles in the AEQUILIBRIUM SERIES offer the perfect balance between comfort and technology, combined with lightweight and durability. Each of the three styles targets very specific alpine activities.
The AEQUILIBRIUM ST GTX® is a lightweight, technical boot for via ferratas, trekking, glacier crossings and mixed terrain. The AEQUILIBRIUM LT GTX® is the boot of choice for alpine hikes with heavy packs, ideal for backpacking and multi-day walks at high altitudes. The AEQUILIBRIUM TOP GTX® is a lightweight, high-performance, high-tech boot for fast mountaineering on mixed terrain and use at medium altitudes. All of these styles can be tested at the “AE Talks”.
A cooperation that strikes the right balance GORE-TEX and La Sportiva have even more in common than their work in the sporting goods industry would suggest. Their company DNAs bear many similarities. They are both global market leaders and they both work tirelessly to drive innovation in the apparel market and professionalism within mountain sports. Both companies are family-owned. Both respect man and nature and focus on sustainable, low-emission production technologies, durable products and the efficient use of resources. The right mix of progressive ideas and stability is the key to success, both in the marketplace and in business relations.
Francesco Delladio, La Sportiva Climbing & Mountain Product Manager: "For an outdoor company deeply rooted in a mountain territory such as the Dolomites, in Trentino Alto Adige, "balance" means continuing to offer high-performance, innovative and safe products while preserving the environment that allows us to train, have fun and enjoy our favorite sports. A deep concern for the environment is crucial, both in the choice of materials used and throughout the production and logistics of our products."
Grand final in Courmayeur Mountain sports professionals test their limits on a regular basis. What they all have in common is the desire to get to know themselves better while testing their boundaries, lifelong learning and an insatiable thirst for life. In the end my key takeaway from the “AE Talk” was all the worldly wisdom that Alex has accumulated throughout his climbing career. Plus lots of inspiration. This summer’s “AE Talks” have seen a whole array of world-famous climbers reveal the fascinating stories of their lives while talking about striking the right balance on the mountain. There is one more highlight to come: the final event in the series is taking place on 17 September in Courmayeur in France, at the foot of the spectacular Mont Blanc massif. An event not to be missed!