In 2010 and moving forward, SCARPA will become the official footwear sponsor of one of North America's well-known mountain guide services, Exum Mountain Guides.

Exum's demo fleet will be comprised of SCARPA approach shoes and mountain boots, including the Dharma Pro, a new SCARPA approach shoe that was developed specifically to meet Exum's requirements for guiding in Jackson Hole's Teton Range. In addition, all 70-plus full-time Exum guides will be outfitted with Dharma Pros.

“What's great about SCARPA shoes, beyond exceptional construction and performance, is that they are able to fit a really wide variety of foot shapes, and that's ideal for a situation like ours,” said Nat Patridge, Vice President and Chief of Operations for Exum Mountain Guides.

Patridge said those factors, along with SCARPA's willingness to build a shoe designed to meet Exum's needs as relate to the unique nature of its guiding situation, made the brand the perfect footwear partner. SCARPA Design Team members traveled to Jackson Hole last summer to interview and climb with Exum.

“Based on experience, we figured the best way to understand the requirements for the Exum shoe was to go to Jackson Hole, go through Exum's climbing school, and ascend the Grand Teton as clients,” said Kim Miller, CEO of SCARPA North America and SCARPA Design Team member. “That way, we could truly see and feel the specific performance needs for footwear through the eyes of both guides and clients.”

Armed with that information, as well as extensive feedback from the guide service about which features in footwear work and which don't, the SCARPA R+D team went to work on the project over the fall and winter.

Climbing in the Teton Range is different than many other areas in North America where guiding takes place in that most climbs require long approaches, while the rock portion of the routes ascend relatively featured terrain. Thus, for the majority of its frequently guided routes, Exum prefers footwear that offers support and cushioning for the hike into the mountains and the descent out, yet is sensitive enough to climb 5.5 to 5.7 rock. That way, clients and guides don”t have to wear one pair of shoes and carry another.

That's a delicate balance to strike, according to both Miller and Patridge, since the requirements for walking, particularly for support and cushioning on the descent, are often at odds with features that make the shoes precise enough to climb rock well.

The resulting SCARPA Dharma Pro combines a low-profile, sticky rubber forefoot with a dual-density midsole, shock-absorbing heel, and mid-cut ankle to balance sensitivity and responsiveness on the climb with support and cushioning for the trail.

The shoe will become part of SCARPA's global collection for 2011. For 2010, one SCARPA retailer in Jackson Hole, Teton Mountaineering, will sell a limited production run of Dharma Pros.