Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review > Core Climbing > Font Mini Slopers

 core climbing
There are a bunch of Font inspired shapes on the market, today we're taking a look at Core Climbing's (from the UK) Font Mini Slopers
Core Climbing Holds Font Mini Slopers

The word mini is a misnomer in this case as these holds roll into the medium / large size range of most normal climbing holds, but the word sloper fits very very well. If you've climbed at Fontainbleau or are looking to train to go and climb in Font then right now (and considering we've seen a lot of Font inspired holds) you're looking at some of the best on the market. If you want Font on your wall you have in our opinion a couple of options that we've climbed on... you have the Project Holds Shellshocked series which have a simple take on a Font texture, Pusher Gears Font sets and of course the Boss and then there is Revolution Climbing that have their Font range and their Font Huge (which is very like the Boss) there are of course lots more sets from other companies out there that you can order from.

From the get-go the first thing you'll notice is that these holds are heavy, they're definitely not the lightest holds on the market for sure. Each hold comes with a nice pre-drilled set screw hole and an inset Core Climbing logo... but what you'll really notice is the texture and the detail of that texture. We were half sure that these holds could have been molded from the rock in France so we actually checked to see if this is the case; unfortunately it's not, someone has just put a lot of TLC into shaping these holds to be as realistic as possible when we say a lot of time we mean it, the level of detail on these holds is amazing. Another thing you'll notice is that when you climb on them they have a subtle way of spitting you off, you have to hit them with balance and poise, and then you have to be in the right position with your body and hands to get the most out of them. There are of course downsides to this type of climbing, it means the holds are pretty hard to stick so when you're climbing on steep angles you have to set for the holds and the moves you want to replicate, on anything steeper than 30 degrees these holds are super hard and the amount of  body tension you need to use to execute a move is hard.

We played with these guys a lot and really had to work the routes in order to complete them, none of the climbing was particularly easy and was just what we were looking for, from simple traverses to no break V5's everyone ended up on the mats at one time or another. As we took so much footage and there was one route that was just shutting people down we made a second climbing video, a great deal of that footage is us failing on a couple of moves. The route had two cruxes, one on the 60 degree roof where you have to execute a hard foot match and then foot movement where the Font's were on some volumes and the second was getting down and matching the last hold... we set feet sparingly on this route... there were enough feet to get it done but none of them were particularly large :) Needless to say it got done by a few of us, not all of us, but it did get done. It only took about 3 weeks of on and off trying, some bets and a bunch of hard pulling :)


If you keep these holds on simple shallow angles you'll have an interesting time, you're going to learn to place your hands carefully and to move slowly between moves. As soon as the angle gets steep (45 up) you're going to be using the meat of your palm to stick onto them. We'd say these holds are technical and will be hard work for beginners to use, but if you're nice with your setting a beginner will be challenged and even stronger climbers will have to think about what and how they're climbing.

Steeper angles are going to make you work harder than you think as these holds are slopes and basically you'll end up pinching them; basically on anything over 45 degrees you want to be mentally strong :)


  • Number of holds: 12
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds):
  • Color: Ours are neon yellow
  • Bolt placement: Great
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Grippy
  • Set size: Medium / Large
  • Versatility: Ok
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Leo Moger
  • Weight: 7.3kg
  • Distribution:
Composite resin in a way of saying resin with fillers, we checked with Core about this and the answer they replied with is long and complicated, the short answer is yes they use fillers but they are careful with what they use to not degrade the strength of the shapes in anyway of form. From the bolt hole that takes any bolts, to the pre-drilled set screw holes (that are taped for the screw head) these holds are very well made.

The sanding is good, the shaping is amazing and the set consists of lots of slopey fun. One the downside is the weight of the holds, they are heavy and they will weigh down a setter bucket... but we think the extra weight is worth it the holds feel very very solid to the touch

Colorwise you can choose from a mix of the colors Core have, we were surprised to see these guys in neon yellow as it's not easily shown on their website. All of the holds have a Core logo so they're easy to pick out of a bin of holds (that's if the color didn't tell you what they were anyway!)

On the texture front you're looking at something that very closely resembles Font, so much so we thought that they'd been molded from real rock. Even when extremely chalked up the texture is enough to hold onto without skin burns or feeling like you're going to slip off, well until you slip off :P. If the holds get super super chalked up a good brushing brings the texture back quickly.

Composite resin

Awesome, holds were vacuum packed onto cardboard and arrives with no problems

Ah my favorite place to climb... and now some of my favorite holds! Why? Fontainbleau teaches you to climb delicately and the rock / types of movements used to climb there are unlike anywhere else. If you want to replicate a Font route then get these holds and the smallest smeariest feet you can find and the go set, I don't think that you'd be disappointed!

I've seen enough Font holds and enough of Fontainbleau in my 20+ years of climbing to be able to know what a good Font inspired hold is... these are exactly that, they're well shaped and they feel like the rock. But I do have a small issue with them... nothing major just something that irks me a little. These holds, although superbly shaped and poured are of a size where you can get the meat of your thumb around the hold... this is something that I can't remember doing when climbing there. Sure it gives the holds some extra use and extra grip for the climber but I'd have liked to not have been able to do this... that being said, in some cases I was super happy that I could grip them like this because when you're on a V5 with no breaks you need to pull out every trick you can think of to get through the moves.

I spent more time than I care to think about on the bonus / extended route that I set... every time I walked away from the wall tired but not hurting. To say I was tested with these holds is an huge understatement to say the least. I think I'm pretty strong and I can climb some alright grades but I got my ass kicked a number of times when I thought that I had the route, had gripped the hold in the right manner and was feeling like I was kicking ass... infact I got my ass kicked time and time again, and then I went back for some more and I'll keep going back for more as these holds are brilliant replicas of Fontainbleau and what Fontainbleau, for me, means.

I have yet to go to the French bouldering Mecca of Fontainbleau, but this classic climbing area has inspired many a climbing hold. I’ve seen these shapes in the gym and we’ve received quite a few sets of these kinds of holds, notably the 60 pound box we got from Atomik climbing. I’ve noticed that each company who makes these holds has their own spin on the shapes. The aggressive,  bulbous texture of Climb It fonts are full of surprises while Atomik made their fonts slopey and open hand. Our latest edition to our font collection is just as unique as the rest. Now I’ve heard about the climbing in Fontainbleau and the emphasis on the technical quality of the problems mainly from the fact that the place is littered with slopey holds. Although Core’s font holds have that bulbous look, there are a lot of crimps found in the set….are there crimps found in Fontainbleau? I’m sure there is and this is what I would imagine them to be.

I’ve only been recently introduced to Core and their shapes and I am really impressed with the workmanship in the shapes and the quality of the holds. The holds are poured in resin, like many European made holds, and I prefer the feel and texture of resin holds. You’ll probably disagree with my preference have to lug 50 hold up and down a ladder. I also like the bright colors. We received a box full of holds and they were all bright and vivid colors.

The shapes themselves are awesome. They’ve managed to stuff all kinds of grips into one little hold. If yopu can’t get a good pinch on it, well switch to an open hand or better yet, you might find yourself a good crimp. Being bulbous (I know, I’ve used this description a bunch of times, but it best word I could find) makes for small, comfortable crimps and it gives the set a nice dynamic.

We made good work of this set. I wasn’t around for some of the stuff that Bobby and Jeremy set but I climbed my fair share on the holds. They have a lot of chalk on them and the texture still has a good grip. I like these holds and the only downside is they aren’t found on routes in the local gym.

Alas, my own trip to Fontainebleau was screwed since the weather wasnt cooperating and my fingers and body were freezing. From the short sojourn I did discover and see alot of the place, and these holds do look like some of what can be found there. The truth, as noodles mentioned too, is that it is very rare to have a sloper in Fontainebleau that you can close your thumb on. For this, I believe the set does not do justice to the true site. Fontainebleau is open hand slopers and gnarly mantles but these holds are neither except in the perfect route setting environment and with a good setter. To top it all off these holds way as much as a real chunk of rock from Fontainebleau would way.

Not to only bash these holds though, they do have wonderful texture and can be enjoyed rather thoroughly as the rest of the crew has. The manufacturing is great, the texture is great, they have done everything right except make these holds realistic. I must digress though and say that very few people have been to Fontainebleau and that they will all enjoy these holds, only the avid routesetter looking to bring Fontainebleau home with him will be dissapointed with the holds and the weight of his bucket. Overall, these holds are ok to me
  • Some of the best Font holds on the market
  • Will test most levels of climbers
  • Awesome neon yellow color
  • Heavy
  • You'll have to set carefully, don't think you can just power through on these holds

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