Thursday, April 23, 2009

Review > Element Climbings > Beta

We received a few sets from Element Climbing, everything from a roof jug to crimps. Now sitting in front of the box of fresh new holds it was easy to see the jugs and pinches but way at the bottom, there was a little bag of lonely holds. So we fished the bag out to find the Beta crimps. At first we thought they were foot holds but when we got them out of the bag we realized that they are too big for foot holds and that they must be crimps, a quick check on Elements site and yup they're crimps...Ranging from incut, to slopey to flat out edges this set has something for everyone, setters will have fun as these holds are good enough for walls up to 45 degrees, we had a number of routes that we used to see how the holds performed, the best one was also the hardest! From the Ammonia holds on the 45 into the Betas on the 30, round and under the box and then finishing up with some easy roof moves on the Metamorphosis... everyone was left pumped at the end of this one!

The holds at first sight are going to leave you thinking "feet?" and sure they do make some pretty nice footholds, big and positive; but where they're best is when they're used to as handholds. Two sets and you're going to have a ball, one for hands and one for feet, but maybe the holds when used as feet are too large for anyone other than beginners or on very steep walls, there's nothing really special about these holds in this mode... keep them for hands unless you're in need for some bomber bolt on footholds.

As hand holds on our 30 degree wall the small slopey holds are super hard to get onto and hold, you can hang them but you need to be delicate, what made our route run was the edges that gave you a slight break before you head into the box and the moves there, then you end up on some of the slopey guys underneath the stairs... brutal? You betcha!!

Most of the holds are deep enough (as you can see from the above image) for two pads of your fingers, so they're really not all that bad for your fingers, some of them to have flat edges so they could dig in and cause a little pain, but no one complained about this, what they did complain about mind you was the move from the 45 onto the 30 degree wall, it was the small round holds and dynamic moves and then hand bumps that caused a lot of problems.

Overall the holds are good as either feet or hands, it depends upon what you need and where you're going to place them, they're by no means anything out of the ordinary but they do climb pretty well.

We went all the way upto 45 degrees with these, and the only real complaint people had was that they were getting pumped out, that is because of a number of reasons the holds (the slopey ones aside) are big enough that if you're semi strong or have good foot placement you can hang around longer than you expect... so you can think about your next move and figure out what you're going to do. That could be a problem for beginners as they're going to be looking ahead (we hope) on a small hold and then are just going to fall off the the wall pumped, this of course is by no means a bad thing, but it could put people off of your intended route / problem because they get pumped out quickly. The holds do inspire confidence, they're small but they're actually pretty damn big compared to other crimps on the market, and that leads us to a question... "Are these holds true crimps?"; well the answer is yes and no, Dan (pictured above) crimped on them, whereas Noodles was using them open handed (better for the tendons) and everyone else did something in between, these holds don't force you into the classic "crimp" hand position, which is a good thing, but if you're looking to train crimp strength you could find these holds a little too big for that.... they're more like 2 finger pad edges than crimps

You can put these holds anywhere as feet, and on a 45 degree wall they're superb, not too hard and not too easy. There are a few sharp edges, but nothing that we found overly bad

Versatility: Crimps to 45 degrees, or footholds
Screw Holes: No, not needed

Urethane! It's a pretty strong mix from what our torque wrench tells us, there were some bubbles on the backs of the holds but nothing major to worry about, unless you look at the Worms which we think will be reshaped... those holds although huge, do not make use feel comfortable on the roof at all!

The holds were well packed and came via Fed Ex. Ah Fed Ex, how I love to hate you! As per usual I had a run around with the buggers and had to make some phone calls to get the box; they'd not thrown it around too much and the shapes came out without being bashed about, which is pretty unusual for Fed Ex :) There was enough packing in the box to give your rabbit bedding for a month or two, so needless to say it was more than enough (Copy from before as we have had the holds a while)

These are the type of equipment that asking for beta is not shameful, unless of course you are only using them as footholds. Otherwise these are clearly to be used by experienced clientele. The surface finish is porous, giving good adhesion, that is, if you can even hold onto the Betas. The surface gives the feeling that these holds will be nice and sticky, and that they will remain that way despite exposure... under the condition that you treat them to a nice brushing to avoid magnesium saturation.

The fact that there are some holds in the kit that have positive angles brings a level of difficulty I do like to see in crimps. Since the Beta come in a pack of 12, a setter can use them to force a given movement on the climbers. The construction seems solid since we didn't feel like we were going to snap the pieces when bolting them onto the wall. The size of the pieces are well guaged, giving solidarity and a nice technical difficutly, there are no irregulaarities that could cause finger discomfort or skin flappers. And so for me it's back to the wall for training, remember... it's all in the footwork :P

In order to lengthen the problem we set, we used the roof jugs "Metamorphosis", you know the ones that look like worms, which is why we clearly named them "Worms" around here! Again the holds are pourous so once you're holding them, you know there's no slipping off of these holds. Although the "Worms" are pleasant to look at on a first glance basis, we wondered if they could handle a few extra pounds or "big-bones" hanging off of the roof... the skinny part of the Worms caused us to worry about their durability, until none of these holds have broken, even after we've had a heavier guest over then Noodles*, leaving us with more confidence. Conclusion on the Worms, they're massive handle bars to be used on a roof or to entertain children with their shape. Although I should mention that we still doubt their strength against someone 200lbs or more

*Noodles being the heaviest member of CHR... hahahaha!

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