Monday, January 10, 2011

Review > Project Holds > Carbonates Mediums and Large

It's been a while since we looked at Project Holds, they've been pretty quiet of late... and now they've starting dropping new sets left right and center. This week we're looking at an interesting set of holds called the Cabonates. It's an interesting name, as a carbonate is a mixture of salt and carbonic acid... we're guessing that the name comes from the fact that the holds look and kind of feel like carbonate rock....

What is interesting about the holds is their shape, nothing unusual you'd think considering what we do here, but the sets are broken up into two seemingly separate lines. The mediums consist mainly of pockets and some scooped pinches:and then when you look at the large holds they turn into large matchable edges and matchable pockets:So are these a setters dream or a nightmare? It's obvious when you get up close and personal with the holds that most of them are matchable, sometimes easily and sometimes they're a little less subtle to see but, be assured, they're all there just look.

As we've had the holds on the wall we've set some very interesting routes, some of them super easy, some of them just plain crazy. We set hand and foot matches, routes where you're tracking your feet and this is where we ran into a couple of problems with the holds, none of them have a pre-drilled set screw hole... it's something that we'd kind of expect these holds to have. Even though the bolt hole placements are good when you get cranked down (especially on the larger rail holds) you can get them to spin. How did we find this out? Well just set a route where your feet are at the same level as your hands and then try to move... we were kind of surprised that this element was missing, sure we could just go and drop a screw into the offending shapes, but it's something in this day and age that we shouldn't have to worry about because the hole or the hole placement should be there already!

If you're going to go steep with these guys then you're going to be working on some pretty exact control of where your hands are hitting and where your feet are going to be placed, we set a few routes on just the pockets and we made people only use the pockets for their feet and hands as they went around the route, there was some pretty creative stuff being done with peoples feet as they (at times) struggled to get their toe where they really wanted them to be. In some cases where people found sticking their toe into a hole too hard we let them just use any part of the hold for their feet and the route probably then ends up dropping a couple of grades. Why? Because if you use the entire hold for your feet they end up being massive... this is going to be good on easy routes for beginner climbers that may not have the footwork to be as precise as they should be.


We have the mediums and the larges of this new set and one thing is clear, there is always a match to be had on these holds, sometimes easy, sometimes hard... but it's always there somewhere. This makes setting a forced move hard to do, unless you want the move to be from a match... and then lets face it, into another match :) So there's good and bad to the shapes from a setters point of view, one thing the match does give you is the ability to use these holds on steeper walls than you'd expect... roofs are pretty well out unless you're getting into some really crazy matches, mind you we played with them on the roof and then we found you can just about stick them but you're going to be rolling with some pretty strong opposing moves... work your core people if you're going steep or horizontal with these guys.

These holds really come into their own on a shallower angle, something around 30 degrees. At this angle you can work on your pocket strength and not worry about injury too much. Also on the flat walls it's fun to set long wide open moves that force matches and some tricky footwork to work upon your balance and posture as you climb


  • Number of holds: 15 total
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds):
  • Medium 1 & 2: $46.80/5= $9.36 each
  • Large 1: $67.60 / 5 = $13.52 each
  • Color: Yellow / Pink / Orange and Green
  • Bolt placement: Good, sometimes off center because of the shapes
  • Sanding: Good and flat
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Rock like and very grippy
  • Set size: Medium and large
  • Versatility: Most holds are matchable
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: No
  • Shaper: Louie Anderson
  • Weight: Medium 1&2: 2.5kg / Large 2: 5kg
We have these holds in a number of different colors, all of them neon, from pink / yellow / green and orange. All of them are well colored with no light spots and they're all very bright, except for one of the holds, one of the yellow ones that turned up in a slightly off color, it's more baby yellow than neon yellow.

All of the holds have good sanding and are all super flat and smooth, most of the holds have a little Project logo and well placed bolt holes and inset washers.

On the texture from they're all pretty even, where the grip really comes from is the shaping of the holds and their real rock like appearance and feel. In some cases, especially with the pockets, there is are some that could have a slightly smoother radius to make them slightly nicer on the fingers. The large incut edges have some really nice dimples for your fingers, all of the holds are either matchable, obviously so, but there are a few that will make you look a second time for the sweet areas to grab.

The holds are all solidly built and even the medium have a good weight to them, we've cranked them up tight and have had no problems over the months that we've been looking at them.


Very good

Pockets, pockets, pockets. I have a love-hate relationship with pockets :( Why? Because unless the pocket is outside, or very well designed they're generally a little tweaky on my fingers. I like nice rounded smooth edged pockets, something that allows my fingers to sit nice and flat without and "hot spots" that could cause injury. What we have here with these pockets is something that I think is right in the middle of what I'd like my pockets to be like. The edges are pretty rounded in most cases and most of the pockets have enough space for three fingers without having to stack them... and some of the pockets that are two fingers (thankfully) tend to be on the deeper side. I have to admit I was pretty surprised how much I actually climbed on the pockets before I decided to back off because I could feel the fingers starting to get achy, I was also surprised at how hard we climbed on the pockets (mainly thanks to some interesting setting from Mark).... again I decided to walk away from some moves before I did hurt myself.

The first route we set was just a fail, there's no easier way of saying it. Chris was meant to set a warm up so he just chucked holds around the wall and across the roof and it just didn't work... it was then we started realizing that despite being deep coming across a roof, or off of a roof on the pockets (even when they were on a volume up there) wasn't going to be easy or nice to do... mind you I did throw myself at it quite a lot :)
Then Mark set basically a hand foot match on the flat wall that was just burly... it was too strong a move for me so I walked on that one... and then there were lots of in between routes that we didn't film where the sequences were nice and the moves flowed well.

and then...
ah, then I decided to set with just a single pocket for your feet :) Across the flat, onto the side of the wall and then down along the edge to the ground.... that was a highlight for me, watching people swing and try to get their feet up on the hold on the volume. Yup I enjoyed that one, despite the near foot to my face matches I almost took when spotting.

And now the big decision... what do I think about the holds and would I buy them for my home wall? The larger sets because of the slots and the incut that's in them... yup, I think they're an amazing set of holds that despite the matching options on pretty well all of them have a place on a wall. The pockets, well pockets aren't my thing, I enjoyed climbing on them and I liked the simple matching nature of them, but for me with an old finger injury I'd probably skip them... Not that they're bad!! Just because I don't like pockets, I think that they're well designed, easily matchable most of the time (sometimes I didn't even bother using the pocket I just grabbed around them) and are great for feet, it's probably a shame that they are so easily matchable, but I saw them in action at a lead comp just before Xmas and it was fun watching people matching and using them once they've moved past the holds as footholds... they worked well and the setters and climbers enjoyed climbing on them. There's a full on range with bigger volumes coming later this year, so Project has bolstered their line up with a range of pretty unique looking holds.

Now will someone please make some nice pockets?

I'm one of those people who like to see holds that mimic real rock. The downside to this is that real rock shapes have the tendency to bite when climbing and the Carbonates are no exception. I've noticed that lately Project holds have quite a bit more grip to them and it adds to the amount of finger pain by the end of the session. Also, the lip of the Carbonates shapes are sharp and painful, especially if you catch one dynamically and lose your footing.

So with these holds freshly in my hands I went on setting and trying to visualize our sequence. The holds are large and forgiving so I figured that making a problem with long moves was an order. I took the good with the bad on this one. I set the first sequence in the video and you can see that the start of the problem was easy enough but it came time to get through the roof, I found out that the holds aren't as forgiving as I thought. I had thought of that while I was setting and put in extra holds to accommodate but it was still a very hard problem. So back to the drawing board for me with these holds ;)

So would I buy these holds? Well on the one hand they are really cool holds with a lot of grip options. The grip options and the fact that the pockets are shallow and not too forgiving made it a little difficult for me to set and force moves. Personally I think that these are really good shapes for anyone. The pockets are made so its very hard to get both hands on and it almost forces you to use the second pocket to match. I say almost because if you're hands are small enough, or you're strong enough, you can attempt to match one pocket. The other more edge like holds (Carbonates L2's in particular) are similar in the fact that there are two ideal hand placements on each hold and the beginner and/or novice climber will be forced to match. For the stronger climber, these are just big shapes to set problems with long moves or burly roof sequences.

What can be said about the Project Carbonates? I`d have to say that they are good easy to medium difficulty holds. They aren`t what I would call a jug in a roof but they do hold and the closer to vertical the wall gets; the exponentially better they get as well.

These brightly colored pocket and pinch holds definitely hold the eye, and seem to hold the skin pretty nicely too. In my opinion, they need a fair amount of chalk on them if you are going to be pulling on anything difficult because the pores on them are deep and it`ll burn if you somehow slipped off of them. They`re not too big but still able to be used and gripped in a lot of different manners, keeping the climber and the route setter happy.

We definitely made some fun problems with these, and I have to say that these holds are up to my standards and expectations.

  • Lots of different pockets
  • Most holds are easily matchable
  • Quite rock like texture
  • No set screw holes
  • Pockets are a little tweaky, some of the edges could be rounder

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    The question is, "do Project have the business pieced back together?"

    We love their shapes, but we were members of their hold of the month club last year and got smaller sets than what we were expecting for the cost, and some months we received no set at all, granted we weren't charged for the no shows, but it made us wonder. And we heard of quality issues from other gyms.

    I hope they do, because like I said before we loved the shapes.