Of Rocks and Needles

Laos Laos is amongst the poorest countries in the world. This land­locked country between Thailand, Vietnam, China, Myanmar and Cambodia has to come to grips with a difficult legacy.

For many years Volker Schöffl works and climbs in Laos.

For many years Volker Schöffl works and climbs in Laos.

More than 2 million tons of bombs were dropped over Laos during the Vietnam War between 1964 and 1973 – about half of these did not detonate and thus remain dangerous as blind shells. People are regularly injured or killed by them. In order to help these people, LOWA ACTIVE Team athlete and doctor Volker Schöffl has with his wife, Isabelle, who is also a doctor, is operating a medical aid project for more than a decade. They do not of course imagine they can change the lead­ership of the country or the health system.

After work, Volker and his wife go climbing. Sport climbing is something that never existed in Laos. The two doctors from Bamberg are signi­ficantly responsible for the intro­duction of this sport in this small country.

Still, the very young climbing system in Laos has its perils. At the very beginning, nobody really knew what it was all about, and Volker Schöffl was stopped by the police nearly every morning and evening. With the help of his Laotian friend Inthy, the couple received a climbing permit. Still, that is only valid for a particular region and is also subject to the agreement of each village.

2019_Von Steinen und Nadeln

“When you work here or want to develop new things like climbing, you have to adapt to the system. You must not lose yourself, however, or give up on your values and goals. But you must adapt, and do a lot like the Laotians do.”

Volker Schöffl | LOWA ACTIVE Team

The result is a film for which you need some nerves of steel to watch. It was even awarded the “Excep­tional Merit Award of Excellence for Cine­ma­to­graphy” in 2018 at the film festival for “Doctors without borders”.

The shoe

“I love the precision and power transfer of the LOWA X-Boulder. The shoe performs excep­tionally well during small steps and on over­hanging routes.”

X-BOULDER: Any climber who works without a rope and belt has to have the right hand and foot tools. LOWA’s X-Boulder is a shoe that succeeds in impressing both boul­dering fans and ambitious open-air climbers. The wearing feel of the microfibre upper and its air-system perforation creates good vent­ilation for the feet. To facilitate optimal power transfer and high sens­itivity for every surface, the X-BOULDER uses a somewhat stiffer sole made of Vibram® XS-Grip®. More …