the whole point of this blog is to help others with all the questions they have about setting up a similar home climbing gym, and ramble about a variety of climbing related subjects.
There is a variety of subjects... most involving rock climbing, written about on this blog. MAKING VOLUMES OR CLIMBING HOLDS, is probably one of the more popular subjects. just check the labels links or search bar to find your fancy.
of course if you want to go back and start from the beggining, please do! to that end, if there are any question let me know ... i encourage you to add comments for others to read or if you want to get me directly you can email me at treadwallproject@hotmail.com
IF THIS IS YOUR FIRST TIME, READ THE MUST READ LIST.... oh!, ...and you have to fight!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hold theory!

so about seven years ago i quit playing music and started climbing again (i origionally started at 16) ...best mistake of my life! within the first year of my return to the vertical i began climbing obsessively. so much so that my joints hurt and my skin weeped. i could be seen do countless traversing laps around the gym. the staff at the gym stared at me like i would later stare at other possessed souls. i needed to be around climbing constantly. so when i couldnt physically climb any longer i would just watch others climb. i tried to gleam their technique to improve my own. when there was no one climbing i would watch the routesetters. to figure out how they set the "beta", which invariably was better than my beta. then i began to focus in on one setter in particular, his flow and style set him apart and the way he force movement on route was impressive. (man crush?)

Ben Massie, the "man cub", was the gyms he routesetter at that time! well after some pestering and OCD behavior on my part i started setting routes. over the next 6-ish years i set for numerous comps and events as well as just providing the staple product of the gym. i learned a lot, screwed up plenty now and then. eventually i became the head route setter for the gym.

the point is any route setter knows how frustrating it is to have a hold that is close to what you want but not exactly. "this hold would be perfect... if it was left handed!" ive heard it said by others and from my own mouth. so i did what any passionately curious individual might do! i started researching hold making. the final straw convincing me i should try was meeting a certain "name" hold-maker at a major NW comp and realizing if this retarded, power-stoner could do it, then so can i. i was right!

so ill be honest i steal ideas like nobodies business, it's like quoting someone, it's your article but still their concept! given that, god bless the simple design plans of pusher holds. nothing could be better for training. so my theory on hold shaping is this: simple, either left/right neutral or mirror images, and no tweaky holds. at the same time i agree all rules must be considered breakable or else we kill our inspiration. That being said one of the holds above is not my own it is in fact one of Pushers, the tell tail "P" gives it away if you look close. the rest? all me bi-otch!

before you started to shape have and idea of what you want. this wont be like clay, once you take away you cant put it back. many times i have drawn my design on graph paper and traced it into my starting block. try to figure out what you need for this hold. i often make series of holds that go from positive good edges to less positive sloping ones. for example in the picture below consider the three rails at the top or the five triangles in the lower right. this makes it so as i master a problem i can also go and make the moves harder. or if the moves are too hard i can make it more managable. That being said, some times i do my best to avoid a plan, but i'll get to that in a sec.

so what do you need to get start? first of all there is nothing i am gonna write that is more informative than what is already on the net. but you came to me so ill give you me thought in my color. First get some carving foam, or get that gray dry floral foam. the floral foam bricks are perfect cause your starting block is 2 1/2inches tall and fits the size requirement for the treadwalls! plus if you start small and make all of your mistakes there you wont spend as much money!!! so try making little foot jibs and edges first. you can use lats of things to work the foam with. i use the putty knife for big flat cuts. for more shaping cuts i use a letter opening knife (cuts fine and i dont stab myself as often!). for detail cuts i use and xacto knife kit. and for shaping i use a clay working set. some other folks i know use dremel tools. anything works even pressure with your fingers if it gives you the shape you want. i suggest lots of goofing off, the foam bricks are cheap and it's expensive to mold a crap design. thsi gets back to my no planned designs, try just breaking off a piece of foam and see where it takes you. after all thats how nature makes her holds. finally i use a tooth brush to bring out the texture of the final shape by removing the dust created by carving the foam. given that... get a particle mask and do this in the garage!

Here's a video of some of my shapes that are waiting to be molded.

video video

once you have the have the shape done your ready to mold it. essentially you can do this a number of ways with multiple different products. that business i leave to you. but you will need this:

this is corrugated plastic board. essentially it's plastic cardboard. you can buy it in craft stores if your lucky, spend a lot at sign store (they use it!), or you can rummage around your town after an election for signs in the ditch that werent picked up like they were supposed to be! remember, vote yes for EMS! next you need every hobbyists' staple...the glue gun. see if you can use it without making a mess, gluing your clothes and burning yourself 87 times on the tip. we are gonna make a five sided box. cut a big piece for the bottom then four more for the sides/walls.

i like to do multiple holds at a time, but you can do it individually. so glue the holds down on the bottom first. then makes sure you remove all the glue gun stringys that always turn up. next glue the four sides in place. lastly if you have big voids in your spacing use additional foam spacers. the mold only needs to be 1/2in thick so save molding rubber in this way. plus it makes it easier to get your holds out of the mold.

next we mix up a batch of silicone molding rubber and pour it into our box completely covering our design originals. notice in this picture i need to add more rubber. if you run out like i did ....fear not, let it set up, order some more and pour it with the knowledge that it will bond and make a functioning mold. i nearly cried the first time this happened to a beloved HUGE design. nest look at the bottom of the picture... heres a close up.

notice the leaking silicone. have a glue gun hot and ready before you start to pour your box... invariably i find little leaks i need to plug every time. no biggy just douse the area with smoldering hot goo.

Thus ends part 1 of hold making, fear not i will finish this one after i get more silicone and resin.

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