Monday, July 18, 2005

Guts and determinaton

When next you need to replace your walking boots/approach shoes don't worry about shelling out for Scarpas or Salomons.
If you're heading to the mountains toss away your Koflachs and crampons.
Instead, visit your local butcher or abattoir and grab some liver and pig brains and lash them to your feet.
Read on ...

From The Sydney Morning Herald

By Allan Hall

July 18, 2005

SHOES worn by a 5300-year-old Iceman have been replicated using boiled liver and pig brains.

Now they are set to go into commercial production after getting rave reviews from mountain climbers and backpackers.

Petr Hlavácek, a Czech university department head and expert on footwear, spent years re-creating the mountain boots found on the mummified body of ötzi the Iceman, discovered in a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991.

The shoes - made of a mixture of calf, bear and deer skin, hay, and animal fats - were then given to some of the Czech Republic's top climbers to test in mountain conditions, and were so highly praised that a Czech footwear company has contacted Dr Hlavácek to acquire the rights to make them.

Dr Hlavácek, who is head of the technological laboratory at Tomas Bata University in Zlin, in the Czech Republic's east, said: "Wearing the shoes is like going barefoot, only better. They are very comfortable … They may not look very attractive, but from a technical point of view they are very strong, sound, and able to protect the wearer's feet against hard ground, extreme temperatures and damp. They also have a very good grip and withstand shock very well."

It was after a visit to a museum in Mainz in Germany, where ötzi's footwear had ended up (ötzi himself is at a museum in Bolzano, Italy), that Dr Hlavácek and a university colleague, Václav Gresák, decided to try to reproduce the shoes the Iceman was wearing when he died.

Dr Hlavácek said: "We will have to look for a replacement for the bearskin leather, [which] is not easy to find, but other than that I don't see any problems in mass production."