Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Review > Metolius > Blue Ribbon's


When we receive holds to review our first thought is usually can they be put on the roof? It normally doesn't matter what size the holds are, from pinches to crimps we always try them on the roof at some point! So it came as a relief when Noodles told me he'd gotten some holds for the roof and that they were the Blue Ribbon mini jugs from Metolius and as an added bonus the Blue Ribbon roof jugs. You all know how it go's now, we climb and go through our process of looking and setting with the holds and then we end up hitting the computer.... these days with videos and whatnot we end up on or near a PC a a lot of the time :)

We received one set of roof jugs (the set includes a pair of holds, Metolius has two other sets in this line) and prices run $21.95 for the set of two and $62.00 for the full set of six. The mini jugs came in a set of five for $34.95, so with these prices you won't have to break the bank to get yourself some bomber holds. Noodles grabbed some Blue Ribbon screw on hand holds way back on the original wall at his other apartment, so they've been on the wall in various formats for a year or so, right now as we're cranking down on enough crimps at the gym we're using them as foot holds, but they're more than big enough for most people to climb on on angles up to 30 degrees, after that they become a little marginal to hang, these guys run at $25.95 for a pack of ten.

Blue Ribbon holds are true to their name as the holds only comes in the one color....blue, just like Henry Ford when he said "you can have the car in any color you want as long as its black" that's what you're getting with these, except they're going to be blue! If you do your research (as Noodles did) you will find out that "Blue Ribbon" is a term used for grading high quality livestock and for items that are deemed of a high quality, and lets face it, Metolius have been making holds for long enough to know what they're doing. You're going to get clean consistent resin shapes that stand up to a hell of a lot of abuse, cleaning, traffic, hand gunk, shoe gunk and god knows what else and they'll always clean up like new! (We find resin holds do clean up a bunch easier than urethane holds, but it depends upon the hold)

All of the holds from this series, have a distinct thumb catch ridge that runs along them so when you're looking through a box of blue holds these are pretty easy to find, and when you climb on them you're going to find yourself using the ridge as a thumb catch when the holds are set at an angle rather than flat horizontal. Like all jugs these holds are best suited for steep terrain, anything will do from an overhang to the roof depending on your climbing ability, we've mainly had the minis and the roof jugs on the roof and steep terrain and this is pretty much where they will continue to dwell unless we take them to the gym and set a 5.6 with them on the beginners wall. I set a short route that started on the overhang and into the roof. I thought it was a good set until this:

If you pay attention at the beginning of the video you can hear me say that Noodles is climbing in his regular shoes and sends it (Ok he fell off once, he did it second try). Conclusion: the holds aren`t small enough to stop Noodles in is regular shoes but for a normal climber of average ability this route and sequence would be a challenge, and that's where we think this set lies in the grand scheme of things... anyone that has a wall and needs some challenging shapes that are skin friendly and durable for climbers that are just starting out and need to gain confidence you should have a look at these! Routes that beginners haul on are going to get mucky, slimy and covered in gunk from normal everyday shoes, and this is what these shapes are for... getting dirty and then cleaning up nicely with a wire brush and some soapy hot water. Don't get us wrong, these holds are for everyone, but we'd point beginners and gyms that needs good shapes in these holds direction first and foremost. But, if you're like us and have been climbing for a long time we'd suggest getting the mini jugs and the screw ons, then you're going to have fun as you can monkey across roofs on the minis and then have some nice challenging tendon friendly screw ons for the harder part of the route!! The minis are there and are good enough if set close enough together to be a jug haul on any angle, but start to spread them out and they start to get very interesting, and as I've found out over the last few months.. not as big as you'd like them to be when I'm pumped out :)

go ahead and throw a few of the mini jugs into the roof and see if you can get across, for more of a challenge set them further apart, if you can't make the move do what we did and stick in one of the bomber roof jugs, Noodles is campusing across the roof, so they're super big, The roof jugs can only be described as huge, as their name suggests they are best suited for the roof but make for a bomber hold that any climber will feel confident grabbing onto, Seb who hates roof's loves these holds as he feels like he can hang off of them all day, they're some of his favorite holds next to the Huecos


When used as hand holds they can be used exclusively on vertical walls for the average climber. I personally would not want to be using these on any kind of overhanging terrain, but we have had them on our old 45 degree wall and they were fine there, you have to be a little careful with setting with them as moving screw ons is a pain, but we had them all over a vertical and overhung wall randomly and they were great to grab onto, not super huge and sometimes not super positive but with careful footwork they are more than doable. These days we have them as feet on the overhanging wall, not because we don't like them but because at the time when we built the wall they were close to hand and we had the drill charged! They are wicked feet as well as handholds, as they're big enough that we can use them in a pair of sneakers or a worn out pair of climbing shoes that have no edges anymore.

Metolius is one of the original hold makers and it is reflected in their product. The back of the holds are sit flush on the wall and the texture is skin friendly. The largest roof jug has a bolt placement off to one side that's not optimal, on a roof it's fine, one of the corners lifts a little but it's never spun, what could (and probably will happen) is that if you use it on a vertical wall due to the bolt placement it will probably spin on you. The mold for this hold needs a screw hole to stop this problem, or you could put in a self tapping screw to stop this from ever happening. Thankfully if you pre-drill a small hole and then put in the self tapping screw the hold won't explode on you and you've solved the problem

All of the holds have nice flat backs that sit flush to the wall, and other than the hold that's mentioned above, the bolt placements are set so the holds don't spin when tightened properly
The hue of the color isn't all that bright, but they're good enough that you can see them against other manufacturers holds so you don't get muddled on a wall covered in blue holds, the ridge is a dead give away as well :)


As per usual I was pretty surprised by the holds, and again by Chris' setting, you'd think that 20+ years would see me looking at the route and going "yeah, my hands go here in this sequence" and yet again I fall off of the roof... I am blaming the torn and not healed finger on this :P
Metolius have a lot of holds out there in the World, and I've always seen them at pretty much every gym I've ever visited, I think that the Blue Ribbons will be being seen sooner rather than later at a lot of places because they are so beginner friendly. If you're more advanced then grab the mini jugs and the screw ons (Metolius should really do a box set of most of their lines) and you're sure to have a ball. I found that the mini jugs are good when you're fresh and not so good when you're pumped, the roof jugs are a "thank god" hold everytime I grab them when i'm tired, they're not all that easy to match upon, but with a little determination it can be done... I'd class the roof jugs as single handed, matchable but you need to work for it! I need to sort out a kick board on the overhanging wall and when this is done the screw ons are going back to where they belong... no longer as foot holds but as hand holds as they were intended, all I need is some wood... as per usual.

Sneakers (or as Noodles call's them trainers), if we're hauling about on these holds in sneakers then they've got to be good, even when you've got your feet on the roof they're fine, the holds have enough surface area to take any foot. Apart from one hold that I noticed was pulling off of the wall when we climbed on it the holds are fine in every respect, there are no sharp edges, the backs are flat and the bolt placement well thought out. I love the minis as they're a challenge on the roof, the jugs are what I use to spin my body around when I'm coming back into another wall. The entire route was Metolius holds with the starting and ending holds being from one of their other lines which is called the "Power Line" apparently Noodles brought these holds over from the UK when he first came over (He came here with a skydive rig, a suitcase of clothes and climbing holds!!!) so he must of liked those ones. The videos a bit shorter than usual and shows only one of us climbing, I'm repairing the video camera we use as the focus has gone off on us... and guess what? the camera is full of chalk! If you're starting your first wall and need to gain strength without killing your fingers the minis and roofs are good for monkeying about as much as you want, they're great holds to bounce about on.

Huecos or the Blue Ribbon roof jugs? It's a hard question to answer! I'm not fond of roofs in anyway shape or form, but when Noodles says he has some new jugs from Metolius (after I got across the roof the first time on the Huecos) I wandered over and see what they're like. I have a particular fondness of anything large and from Met these days and when I'm allowed to move holds around I do grab these holds more often than other holds that are just as big. They're not as big as the Contact holds that i'd not seen as they are HUGE, but if I can haul my self across the roof on these holds then chances are you can aswell. The mini's aren't as good for me as my hands are quite big, but I can see them being good for beginners on most slightly overhung terrain.

I'll see you all, no doubt, on the next Metolius review... Seb out

  • Beginner friendly, soo beginner friendly on vertical or shallow overhanging terrain
  • They're multi use holds (except the screw ons) strength dependant the minis and roof jugs are great on overhangs and roofs
  • Skin and tendon friendly design, nothing that will catch your skin
  • Price is pretty good
  • One of the roof jugs does need a screw added if used on high traffic (Read lots of feet) routes
  • Color, its a minor gripe, but we wish that Metolius would get some brighter colors
  • (This is a pro as well) The holds are super easy on most terrain, so if you want hard problems these aren't necessarily the holds you want for your wall. BUT if you're starting out they're kick ass and will give you a work out
Roof Jugs: $21.95 for the set of two and $62.00 for the full set of six.
Mini jugs: Set of five for $34.95,
Screw Ons: $25.95 for a pack of ten.

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