Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review > Uncarved Block > Blades (Bolt on and screw on)

uncarved
If you remember the last Uncarved Block review we did, we had some screw on holds which could be big enough to be a bolt on. Well this time we have two versions of the same hold, the Screw on Blades and the Bolt on Blades.
The screw on holds in this set were worthy of screws and consisted of thin slopey edges with some incuts hidden in the shape:) There are all kinds of holds you can get like these but its Uncarved Blocks comfortable shapes that make them different from others. The Bolt on Blades are larger and more of a pinch than the edge that you would have on the screw ons. The corner of the 45 was begging for the screw ons.

The video shows what we did with the holds in reverse. Noodles set the first problem that traversed along the wall on both the Screw on and Bolt on Blades. The holds ended up being better than we expected and it made our first set rather easy. The larger Bolt on Blades have agood size edge on them and the thinner Screw on Blades are quite intricate and have alot for your fingers to discover and open the doors to a variety of options when gripping. One of the holds even has a small incut hidden on the hold:) In all truth we tried to set a hard enough problem but we just miss read the hold and the first problem was sent during our warm up.

We set a problem with the bolt on blades and LP triples from Uncarved Block. The problem was set purposely with long moves. The Bolt on blades have one side that is better than the other. Some of them have an edge on one side and a slope on the other and we set some of these hold up on the 30 degree wall with the slopey side up. Even though the Bolt on Blades have quite a bit of meat on them, the shape is still pretty thin and they don't give you much to pinch on. The long moves on the problem let the girls work on those reachy sequences.

It was time to get the drill and set up the holds on the corner of the 45:)

Once again, we misread the holds. We took all 5 holds and stuck them up when we only used a few in the sequence. The bubbly shape of the hold makes it so you won't have any kind of finger pain. The rest of the problem continued on the Motivation volumes we have lying around (will this make it any easier?) and ended on the 45 degree wall. We went pn and tried it and got the start sequence down pretty quickly and it was the final part of the sequence that gave us a problem. It was only a couple of moves but it took us two sessions to get the beta and you can tell from the video that we spent a lot of time on our buts;)


SUGGESTED USES BOLT ONS:





The bolt ons are a thing to behold, they really really feel like they're going to be bomber on the 45 but they're very very tricky to get a firm grip on.... so much so that Noodles knocked himself silly a couple of days in a row trying to stick a move. Still they're doable on a 45 just don't try to match them and then move as you'll have a hell of a time doing that, hell matching them on a 15 or a 30 when you have to chuck for a long move is pretty hard... again doable but super tricky :)

What is it with UCB and nice looking but tricky as hell to hold onto holds? All of these have a good placement (the deep part) and then the "ok" placement (on the tapering part), so yes as their website says they can be matched... but again it's hard to do so on an overhang. On the vertical they're really nice to play with giving you the options of a) nice and slightly incut b) the wrong side up and then super death slopers / undercuts c) sidepulls (one side will be nicer than the other) or d) the other sidepull option where the good part of the hold is at the bottom and hard to catch onto! There's a lot of ways to play with these holds and most of them will give you hours of fun... unless of course you hit the mats on your head :(

OVERALL BUILD BOLT ONS:



  • Number of holds: 5
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): 39.95 / 5 = 7.99 AUD
  • Color: Blue
  • Bolt placement: Off center on most of them
  • Sanding: Good
  • Texture: Nice
  • Set size: Large but thin
  • Versatility: Pinches or slopey edges
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes on each hold
Right if you go and read the UCB website about these holds you'll notice that only one of them has the inset ying-yang logo, the rest have different style logos on them "but the jury is still out on that concept"; right, round up the jury and then shoot them... keep using the inset logo, just place it where it's not going to become an issue... or in the case of smaller / thinner holds get some smaller versions and then use those! Right, job done!

Well, no not really :P
These holds all have set screw holes (something we applaud for everyone that does this) and nice straight bolt holes and the backs have all been sanded flat. Color wise we're rocking some deepish blue holds that really show where you've been placing your hands as after the first few sessions you can see some finger indents. Texture is classic UCB, something that you'd think that would have been lost during the switch from resin to urethane... thankfully it hasn't and it's kind of hard to tell the difference between the two

Shape wise the holds are finger friendly and the only sharp angle is where the backs meet the wall.

SUGGESTED USES SCREW ONS:



 

 

These will go easily on a 30, on the 45 you're into the land of finger tip crimps and pinches (depending upon how you set with them); where we had the most fun with these is up the side of an arete, you can turn pretty much any corner into a nice long feature and even though they're thin you can get a sneaky heel hook on them

Do you have any long edges / corners that won't take a bolt on? Then these are what you should be looking at, grab numerous sets of these and place them wherever you can't get a standard bolt on and you won't be sorry, mix them in with some of the Metolius outside edges and you can take a what was once blank unusable feature and you can turn it into an epic :)

They're sure not deep, but there is a lot of purchase on these holds all you have to do is be creative :P

Sure, screw ons are a pain to move and to be honest we can't see you moving them around all that much. Once these guys find a home we think you'll leave them where you placed them.

OVERALL BUILD SCREW ONS:


  • Number of holds: 5
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Screw ons
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): 34.95 / 5 = 6.99 AUD
  • Color: Green
  • Bolt placement: None, they're screw ons
  • Sanding: Good
  • Texture: Nice
  • Set size: Medium to super long, very thin
  • Versatility: Great if you have lots of aretes
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
The sanding on the edges of some of these holds was off, when we say off they look like they've been rounded slightly from sanding.. the backs are fine but some of the areas where they meet the wall don't seem correct; no real biggie.

These holds are a really nice almost emerald green in shade and that's a unusual color for climbing holds, all of them take three screws and they are pretty long, and seeing as they're pretty damn thin as well you'd think that they could snap on you.... nope, we smashed one in the walkthrough against a wooden table and there was no damage to the hold; go see the video if you don't believe us!! As always the holds all have the inset ying-yang logo which makes them stand out on the wall and easy to find in a mess of holds (how you'd loose these is beyond us as they're pretty long), the texture is classic UCB i.e: grippy but not all that bitey and it's smooth across the entire set.

Shape-wise these are pretty finger friendly but they're a little bitey sometimes... why? because you do have a lot of skin on holds that seem thinner than they are and depending upon how you set with them dictates how hard you're going to be trying to lock off on them... and when we say bitey, we really mean skin burn from whipping off of the holds at great speed :P

WHAT ARE THEY MADE FROM:

Both sets are made from urethane

PACKING / SHIPPING:
Great, all holds were wrapped in news paper and survived the trip from down under

RATING:
Noodles:
The bolt on Blades gave me two minor concussions a day apart! I really wish I was joking, but the move on the 45 where we came off of the screw ons to the bolt ons and tried to stick the last move (with a Blade up the crappy way for your foot) spat me off of the wall so many times that I ended up really knocking myself about.

See what I do to myself to see if these holds are stickable on the 45?

Thankfully we rotated the foot out of sheer frustration and managed to get the route done, but it was by no means easy!!

Playing with either sets, the bolt ons or the screw ons, has been fun as they're both stickable but you have to dig a little deeper than you'd really want. The route that I've been talking about is the one where we ran up the edge of the 45 on the screw ons and then across the 45 with the help of a Motavation volume and then onto a pair of Blades up "the good way" to give us the most chance of sticking and holding. Heel hooks, toe scums around the corner and some hard work (and a wrench spin later) it went, but it probably went around a V4 maybe higher as you had to use everything within your aresenal to get yourself into the correct body position (a bad one) to manage to nail the last move.

The screw ons are very thin, and very long. They feel fragile and if Uncarved Block hadn't switced to urethane I'd never have tried to smash one against the desk. Did I think it was going to break before we even had it on the all? Yup, I was expecting some bits of holds to go flying about all over the place and for us to have one less hold to review; to my surprise it didn't even get scuffed... and I smashed it pretty hard. That, in my book, is a pretty strong mix of urethane!! Shapewise they're not bad either, the rails (because lets face it, that's what they are) have good areas and bad areas on all of the holds and you may find yourself throwing and hitting a bad part and then bumping your hand to get settled. They're by no means something that you could or should chuck onto the 45, but if you feel like it you can pull on them.. they just become very long thing crimps and you know how I fell about those evil suckers.. the set was slightly marred by some meh sanding, not on the back as that would have been super bad, but on the edges where they meet the wall... it was a little half arsed on one of the holds; I think from the pour being a little off in this case :(

Ah the bolt on Blades, these are almost made so you could use them as system holds but there's subtle variations in all of them that means even though them all look similar they all feel different and therefore take a little time for you to know the good, bad and just plain evil ways to set with them. Obviously they're far easier to move around the wall than the screw ons and they're also super deep, but way more slopey... so they do take a little more strength (mainly from your thumb as you desperately bear down on them) to hold onto and then feel like you can move, but that's just part and parcel of the shapes and the way they climb. They're very very friendly (as all UCB holds are) but i'd actually say that the texture could do with being about 25% more than it currently is for them to be a staple of all 45 degree overhangs... they are doable, but they're pretty damn hard. Try and match on of these on say a 30 degree wall... you can do it but you feel sketchy as hell as you do do it.

Basically: awesome, both sets. Is there actually an Uncarved Block hold that isn't nice?

Chris:
Wow! These holds really took us for a ride! Each time we set them we were humbled . The problems always had a twist to them, something to unlock. First, the Screw on Blades. They're very shallow and don't have a lot of "meat" to them, so when I first saw the problem noodles set, I was a little worried that my fingers would be aching after the session. I'll be honest and tell you that I didn't get it the first time. We had the screw on holds on the 30 degree wall and they threw me off the first time around. I was over gripping the hold and by finding the right foot holds and staying low on the holds I managed to send the problem on my second try.

What helped with the Screw on Blades is that there is a small little pocket hidden on the hold. It gives you the extra grip you need and it doesn't dig into the fingers at all. As for the larger Bolt on Blades...well I found them to be the harder of the bunch. With the Screw on Blades, you're limited on the moves you can do because of the size of the hold. With the Bolt on Blades, we got a little over zealous and set above our standard. We tracked our feet the whole way and the screw on hold on the corner of the 45 made for perfect heel hooks. We tried using our toes instead but that didn't work. The bolt on hold we had on the 45 were solid, our only problem was we couldn't come around to match it until we came up with some new beta. We ended up crossing into the overhang. But even at this we still had problems because these holds don't work as foot holds on a 45 degree wall :P Our final solution (after three sessions on two moves) was to put the foot hold on another Motivation volume and we ended up getting the sequence.

There's something to be said about Uncarved Blocks holds. They are much more on the technical side and the shapes tend to be simple but the hold still has many of the intricacies of flashier looking holds. They have a lot of offer even though the shapes are generic. The holds are pretty deceiving and in every case we miss read the holds. In some cases we set too easy, and in others we were in over our heads but the shape and texture of the hold made it so we could work the problem over and over.

PROS:

  • Screw ons are great for unused edges!
  • Bolt ons are very ergonomic
  • Both sets are a good price
  • The screw ons are STRONG!
CONS:
  • Sanding was a little off on one of the screw ons
  • Maybe a little hard for some people

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