Friday, June 26, 2009

Review > Nicros > Lotta Balls

Nicros Lotta Balls give us a good work out, lots of thumb catches and crimpy fun
Nicros Handholds
At first glance you'll do exactly what I did, look again! Why? Because of this what came through the post:
The Lotta Balls from Nicros are a strange dual textured bunch of holds that routesetters smile that evil smile they sometimes get, and will make climbers wonder what the hell they're holding onto and what kind of sick genius put these onto a wall, let alone the wall they're climbing on.

From the base up these holds are a little strange to get to grips with, their geometric bases are slick and then the only place for someone to grab is the balls that are on the various angles that compromise these holds; I'll admit that it took us a few go's on some of the routes we set to get them to a place where we could complete the moves we'd set, but that is part and parcel of being a routesetter! Deceiving is a good was to describe these holds as well, many a time we've been talking about how to hold the grip in it's specific orientation and we've been totally (not just a little) TOTALLY wrong; Nick O has done an amazing job, these shapes do have a particular feel to them that says "balance is going to be key"

We had these at the wall when we grabbed a half set and Noodles used them in a route with some other black holds we had, he set the holds we had; the largest one and the two top holds in the above picture; as the crux move of a route that ran at 5.10+ The comments that came back from some of the staff was that it was the best route that he'd set at the gym for a while and they especially liked the tricky back step move off of one of the holds to the largest that spanned one of the stepped overhangs at the gym. It was a tricky route that really tested peoples grip strength and balance all the way up, despite the fact that he ran up it the first time in his 5.10 Guides it still proved to be tricky for a lot of the climbers, many making it to the top in one pumpy session and others getting stumped at the pinch move on the large hold (It was a real balance and trust move :P Noodles)

Even after a couple of months on our wall, and a month away at the gym we still had more to do with these holds, when they're set on a corner they make some wicked wicked pinches / open hand grips that test your trust in what you can hold, in most cases you can hold them but others you just find yourself on the floor. Noodles actually broke his foot last week when we were wrapping up our filming for the video below, you'll see a cut right at the end of the video when he fails on a route that we're still trying and kicks the wall so hard he flew backwards and into Eve who had just walked through the door into the room... all in a flurry of swearing as he missed the blank part of the wall and kicked a pointed foot hold :( He takes his climbing seriously!

So people will have a hard time reading the holds, that's not a bad thing to have in your arsenal if you're setter, or if you're playing on your home wall. They're not the easiest, they're not the hardest but they are fun to play with.

We'd like to know how many iterations they went through to get to where these holds are today. You can tell a lot of thought went into the placement of the balls, which have enough texture for you to holds and pull, but you're going to be surprised by how delicate you have to be with them when you're on them :P

These holds get three ratings, incut, sloper and flat, because it really depends upon where and how you're set these holds on your wall; we've been from crimps to wide pinches to around the edge pinches with these holds with little or no effort, nearly all of the holds can be matched, but you will have to work for it as these holds are hard. We'd suggest them for larger home walls as they are hard, but they are versatile.... and good for up to a 45 degree wall, it'd be nice if the were some more of these with different sized balls so they really cater for beginner climbers a little more... not that beginners can't climb on them, they can and they're going to have a lesson in how to hold a strange shape and then if they're using them for feet afterwards a lesson in footwork and that's something that these holds are good for as well. If you set the hold so it's just right for our hands, chances are the feet aren't going to be optimum so you can catch people out pretty easily. If you're good with your feet the amount of options available are huge, but if you're of a mind set to dump your foot onto the biggest / closest thing you could and probably will be surprised by what's going to happen, us we'd not be surprised as we got caught out too :)
It's surprising how many options there are to hold on these holds, we're constantly finding new ways to put them that makes for some either easy to just plain hard moves, the choice is yours, but if you get them you've got a Lotta Balls, that's for sure!

Versatility: Rotate for a new grip position, if you can hold them
Screw Holes: No

I like these Nicros holds, they are quite original! I certainly never seen anything like them. They're fairly big and usually big means comfortable but in this case don't be fooled: The Lotta Balls are not a beginner's friend. They are mostly impossible to hold on to, with a slick texture and very little angles, except for the 'Lotta Balls' plastered all over. Little beads set up in rows or aggregates that are truly the only thing worth squeezing on these holds. These holds are very fun to play on, don't get me wrong, but they are challenging holds and if you are climbing on a finger injury, I wouldn't advise climbing on these. The first route the boys set, I went on and killed it, one shot (yes, I am gloating!), and even after only 30 seconds of climbing, I felt the strain in my fingers for a few hours. My take on it? The Lotta Balls are 'lotta fun' but potentially 'lotta pain'! (and yes, I think I'm funny ;) lol!)

Promiscuity comes with a share of risk and the wall at climbing hold review lives precariously as it is making out with a lot of people and toys. I was stunned as I entered the room of the wall last week.

Me - WTF noodles!!

Noods - What?

Me - The disease on the wall for f@$# sake. Where does that comes from?

Noods - Red rock Nevada… well it originally comes from there but then spread to Minnesota

Me - Do these gazillion zits have a name? By the way; I’m not popping any of these.

Noodles - Lotta balls

Me - I know…

Noodles - No, it’s the name… and don’t lick them.

Me - hummm…

I gotta say that I did not play that much with these holds. Not that they were disgusting (but the color is weird) or anything like it but it just happened that way. Anyways once you stop starring at them (which is hard) and start feeling them in more intimate way; you quickly realize that they are not amateur stuff. In the sense that they are pinches/crimps but man these are tiny finger tip deep holds. Don’t get me wrong, they are fun… actually quite fun… even versatile in a weird way but HARD. Nicros is not lying when they describe it: “when you need a little extra something”.

As for the texture well there is not enough skin that gets in touch with the balls to really make it a matter of discussion :)

The route that I tried was not easy but taking advantage of these shapes. Their versatility became obvious as almost nobody did the route the same way and yet everybody had fun on it. Keep in mind that this is rare… not the fun part… the variety. We usually all end up doing it in a similar way except for the foot placement (there are giants and midgets in the crew).

Bottom line: Hardcore people should buy some. As for me, I would not discard them but they are a bit intense and expensive for my level of climbing / budget. That being said every gym should have some. They are really interesting so make sure that you do look and TOUCH them in order to make your own opinion.

All that said I must reiterate that they do look like a rock disease.

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