Sunday, August 15, 2010

Review > Uncarved Block > Large Edges

It's been a while since we've run an Uncarved Block set of holds, we have a bunch and bit by bit we've been working though them. This time we're looking at a set called the Large Edges:

One thing that is always apparent with UCB sets is that the texture never varies between the holds; the texture is always grippy with enough friction for you to stick a move but without it being too rough that you can't spend all day playing on their holds. The other thing is that we don't think we've found a hold from them that has a sharp edge on it, except of course where the back of the hold meets the wall... in days gone by this sharp edge used to get chipped; but as the holds are now mainly made of urethane (you can still get most of the sets in resin if you'd prefer) this has become less of an issue.

Any set of holds that comes from the other side of the World (Australia to Canada) is always going to be one of those boxes that you worry about, shipping companies aren't exactly known for their TLC when they ship their holds, thankfully this box didn't come via TNT it came via airmail and nothing was broken or chipped during transit (The reason we talk about TNT is because one box we had was just destroyed... you can see the reenactment of this: here. Go watch the walk through video for some giggles)

So the holds are unscathed, they're urethane and the texture and shapes are nice... so how do they climb?

These holds are by no means large when it comes to edges, they vary from a couple of pads to just single pad, but they're very very matchable and when you get them on a 30 degree wall they're a little harder than you'd expect, put them onto a 45 and you're going to be making some pretty desperate moves just to stay on. As we've had these holds for a long while they've been moved about, either as a full set or as parts of other routes... and when they're part of a longer route whenever someone is a little lost all you generally have to say is "ying yang" and they know that they have to hit an UCB hold :)


We'd say rock on all the way up to 45 degrees, but that'd just be a little crazy... hang on... we said goto 60 degree's, we must be plain mad. To put it very simply, these holds are matchable on a 60... but you're going to be pretty sketched out getting into and out of whatever you decide to set :) On a 30 these holds are harder than you think but fun, on a 45 you're able to pull but it's hard and on a 60, well that's just where things get interesting. Interesting if you're watching someone else do the route... bloody hard if it's you that's actually trying to maximize the amount of grip you can get out of the holds.

As always the holds are skin and finger friendly, they're a little more technical than they look in any images you see of them... so be warned, they're not that easy, they're slightly hard to read and harder than you really think


  • Number of holds: 5
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt on
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): 50.95/5 = $10.19 AUD per hold
  • Color: Blue
  • Bolt placement: Slightly off center as these are edges
  • Sanding: Not so good
  • Texture: Classic UCB, grippy but skin friendly
  • Set size: Large
  • Versatility: Not so good, you're not really going to want to use these as under clings :P
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes on each hold
  • Shaper: Todd Free
One thing that makes UCB holds stand out on the wall is the ying-yang logo, it's inset and whenever people are a little lost you can just say ying-yang and they'll be on the right track pretty quickly. The sanding on these guys was a little off, and some of the edges look as though they've been run across a sander to lessen the edges... which is a little strange for these guys; we've had large sets from them in the past and there's never really ever been a problem with the sanding.
All of the holds have a smooth even texture and the same goes for the shapes, one thing that UCB always has is very ergonomic finger friendly shapes, these are possibly somewhere between edges and crimps... but we always seem to climb with very open hands with them. Inset washers are nice and square, same for all of the drilled bolt holes. These holds came in a darkish blue color that is a little flat when it comes to our wall as we have lots of blue holds, but because of their size and the logo they stand out pretty well

Inset screw holes are included with all of these holds, because of some of the forces you can generate with these holds means as some of the bolt holes aren't in the center (they're placed to the side) means you're going to have to use them. Normally we'd not bother, unless the hold was going onto the rood, but we had a long pull to one of the longest shapes and as the wall had been through a few temperature fluctuations it meant that a quick trip to the mats was in order :)


Australia to Canada in perfect shape!!

Sometimes I wonder how UCB make a shape, do they make some horrible stuff and then just smooth it out until the shape becomes nice? Who knows, but they do a good job and i'm still impressed with their new urethane mix... did you see me smash one of their thin holds onto my coffee table? It's strong ol stuff.
So far, there hasn't been one UCB shape I don't like... actually there is, but it's a pocket and it's not something you see around very often... the only reason I don't like it is because we always put it somewhere stupid and I end up falling off and tweaking a finger :(
The large edges are another one of the sets I'd say people should look at, we spent weeks and weeks pulling on them in one route or another and no one ever complained of anything other than they can get a little chalked up and the texture (which is fine) can get lost... so you brush and continue climbing to your hearts content.

It's a shame the sanding was a little off, it's not something we expect from any company and it was a surprise to see something so simple as that taking away from a set of holds that is way more technical than you think. Angle wise it's up to you, on a 45 they're hard but fun... it depends upon (as usual) what you set and how strong you are... I think Chris puts it very well when he says "you need to have both strength and technical finesse to feel comfortable climbing on these deceitful double edged swords", I would go so far as to change that sentence to "decietful double edged b*srds"... still fun holds thou


Anytime I see that Yin Yang logo on a hold I know that I'm in for a world of pain...pain for my ego that is...and as with the concept of the Yin Yang, Uncarved Block holds have always showed a duality in their shapes. There was a time when I would climb at the gym and fail miserably on routes set with Uncarved Block holds but I've come a long way since and I manage to stick the holds now. It seems as though all their shapes are slopey and even with edges like this, there are no corners, just nice round edges to keep our tendons happy but at the same time, the round slopey edges adds a level of difficulty to their holds.

So how about these shapes in particular? I don't see these holds being used on any kind of steep overhanging terrain by most climbers and they would be too difficult to climb on for the average climber on these angles. The shapes of Uncarved Block holds are on the technical side and you'll be hard pressed if you try to use brute strength and ignorance to get you through a sequence but here's where the duality of the holds come in. Now I've mentioned that the shapes are technical and that they're probably geared towards a more experienced climber but at the same time, even when the problem/route is hard and frustrating, I keep coming back to try to get the send and even though the holds are hard to climb on, you get the feeling that with just a little more effort, you can get through the sequence and it keeps me coming back for more. If you were to ask me in the moment what I thought of these holds I would tell you straight out that they suck, but in the end I think they're really good holds. Climbing on these holds will make you a better climber, but not in the traditional "get strong" sense but in the fact that you need to have both strength and technical finesse to feel comfortable climbing on these deceitful double edged swords. In my book, they're winners :)
  • As usual superb construction
  • Nice even texture
  • Easy to locate because of the logo
  • Sanding was off
  • Could be harder than you expect

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