Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review > Holdz > Comp Holdz


Here's a little intro from your friendly neighborhood Climbing Hold Review owner, Jeremy. I feel we've pulled this review into a new realm, we have some pretty big hitters commenting... every heard of Percy Bishton? He's a big gun in the UK scene... then there's Jacky Godoffe he's a 20 year professional routesetter... then there's Dave Bursey, head setter at Vertical Reality who happened to wander into Montreal and ended up having an epic evening with me... then there's of course our comments and Dustin Curtis' as well, he gives a good competitors look at these holds. I'd like to take the time to thank everyone for taking the time in adding their thoughts to what is a really unique set of holds... enjoy the read, I've enjoyed editing the videos and the text.

Ah another Holdz review, they're kind of few and far between if you ask us... we take our time on all of our reviews but when Steve sends us something it's always interesting to get his holds up and running to see what's going on. Noodles has a particular love of Holdz holds, probably because he's from the UK and he owns a great deal of their holds at his other home wall.

This time we knew what we were getting ourselves into, we've seen these holds, we've climbed on these holds at competitions and we knew what was going to be coming... the end result of these holds is more mat time than usual because these holds are something a little bit special

Welcome to Fontainbleau people, welcome to barely being able to hand on to the wall on vertical, welcome to standing on something that feels non-existent.... welcome to technical hard climbing! There are people in this world that make technical hard climbing (THC, ha!) look easy be it half way up El Cap or in the middle of a forest moving up a smooth piece of sandstone. There are people that make THC at a competition look easy because they're plastic pulling monsters of power and grace

And then...

And then there is the normal person, or as we like to call them; Us. There is a combined wealth of talent in various forms here at, people have their strengths and weakness', people have their likes and hates and when these holds came in everyone shirked off the responsibility of actually setting with these holds. Why? Because like we'd said we'd seen them in action. Noodles took the job with Martin one night of getting these puppies onto the wall in a form that would allow us to get some wall time in. What resulted (after a few tweaks) is what you see in the videos and at this point in time is still an ongoing battle, some people are close to sending it, others are still trying to figure out the second move. In other words War has broken out... it's really a one man war and it's a war the Noodles is so close to winning it's palpable, you can taste it, you can see the frustration in his eyes when he blows a move... we love it, thanks Steve, he is trying so hard to nail that route, to string it all together it's almost painful to watch (mind you we do and there have been some amazing bails)

Noodles is getting pitched off of this route so hard at times with so much energy that you'd think he'd been shot out of a gun! Mark was over the other night and he's by far the strongest of the group (also the tallest) and this route stopped him for a couple of tries. Technically this route isn't hard, it's probably only around V4 or V5, but it's THC, yes that little acronym again, every move on it is a balancing act of movement and power. You cannot thug your way across this route, you cannot lunge and leap from these holds... you have to be water flowing over stones... you have to be subtle as all hell.

Now take these holds out of our realm and into the competition scene, where the man with the drill and wrenches is king. These Kings of Spin take the time to craft perfect routes with the competitors in mind, they dig through thousands of holds to find the correct sequence for your hands... and your feet, these people get paid to do this and when there's cash money on the table at the end of the day some of the biggest names in climbing will turn up and they will throw down. We're talking about top level athletes who are paid to win, paid to perform and will do their best to do so. And here you have a fun little battle... strong as all hell climbers against the devious devious routesetter... an aging battle that is only set to get bigger and better in the coming years.

The routesetters job is to make you the top level climber work for that money and for that first place... to make your finger tips sweat on every precarious move of their carefully crafted evilness. Their job is a hard one, but it does become easier with a couple of sets of these (not that they're easy to set with) because these holds are made is such a way that you can have an epic Elvis session on a flat wall... couple these holds with Holdz Comp Feet and then you have the makings of something wondrous, something that will make the competitors work and the crowd go wild watching them try in their allotted time slot to "get it done"

These holds at the end of the day are like drugs... they're THC, THC at it's Technical Hard Climbing's best :)


If you put these on a 45 you're a psycho! Unless you're putting them onto a feature for a slap or a sneaky match, holding most of these holds on a 30 degree wall is possible, holding them... moving off of them is something else entirely :)

Steve executed this idea with extreme prejudice and when we say extreme prejudice we mean it, these holds are meant to spit you off and to test the best climbers in the World so it's really a case of be warned, these holds don't play nicely with others, probably because the other holds you're using are probably better than these guys. These holds are meant for hard bouldering and we mean HARD bouldering so if you're setting a comp then you should probably hook yourself up

  • Number of holds: 9
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Screw on
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): TBC
  • Color: Ours are neon orange
  • Bolt placement: N/A
  • Sanding: Great
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Dual texture on the edges, grippy for the rest
  • Set size: Small
  • Versatility: Interesting
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: Yes
  • Shaper: Steve Goodair
  • Weight: TBC
Dual texture on the outside edge of a hold, on a sloper of all things, on a really thin sloper or in this case set of slopers... who'd have thought it'd happen?

These holds even though they are thin have a little bit of flex to them which means they'll fit nicely wherever you want to put them, the set screw holes are nicely placed and have a sunken head recess for the screw heads so if the holds are on the wall properly the climber can't use the screw holes to help them or get snagged up

The texture is grippy enough that you can get all of your fingers on there and it's inspires you to believe you can pull on the holds... it's that, the dual texture and the shaping that makes them special. Once your fingers slip off of the dual texture (in most cases this means you're on the floor as you've been sloppy) and find the texture on the shape they climb wonderfully. The dual texture isn't the slickest out there but it will make a badly placed foot slide when pressure is applied, it does its job quite well.

These holds can be ordered in a variety of colors, ours are neon orange and they stand out on the wall really well... Holdz is one of the few people that actually make color combinations for color blind people!

All Holdz holds have a D.O.B (date of birth) and QA stamp on the back of them, so if there are any defects in manufacturing then it can be tracked back to the batch of holds that were made and problems can be sorted out.

Despite being polyurethane these holds are light but super strong, so you'd have to be doing something wrong to break them



Now this type of hold has a special place within the grand scheme of this thing we called life, it's either competitions or hell :) To say that Holdz has some of the best comp holds on the market is one thing, look at the review we ran on their comp feet.. look at the dual texture pockets... look look look. Stare in wonder at what wondrous things Steve cooks up, and then he has a line of normal shapes as well. Holdz has as well rounded line up as most company's.

And then...

Well then there is just plain evil, like depths of hell evil. We thought that the Screw Ons were hard to hang on some angles, take those, make them bigger and thinner and then add a dual texture edge to stop those cheating monkeys we call climbers getting their fingers between the hold and the wall and then you have something close to these holds. Close, but then step it up ten levels and THEN you have these holds.

There is innovation, and then there is evil genius!

Holdz made the thinnest comp feet on the market.
Holdz have some of the best volumes out there (bolt on AND screw on anyone?)
Holdz has one of the slickest dual textures out there, DRCC still wins on that point
Steve is as prolific a shaper as Louie Anderson

Lets face it there is a lot going for Holdz and Steve, the fact that these holds exist is a wonder in itself.

It's not just the shaping, its the shaping and then adding the bloody dual texture on the edges that makes these holds what they are! And what are they? Bloody mother f'ing hard.

Not hard like some street punk trying to act tough and giving it the whole act, but tough in the "you looking at me mate" kind of hard when you're in a pub... i.e: these holds would kick your teeth in.

Ooops, went a bit Engligh there, my bad! These holds will test, and have tested some of the best European climbers out there. I'm sure that if I emailed Chris Sharma or any other climber that's been to a World class comp and I described these holds I'm sure that they'd know what I was talking about.

Where do I stand on them? Tricky! On a vertical wall you're in for some technical climbing that will test you to the absolute limits of your ability to hold on and balance... if you add an angle then you're just in for some really really really really hard climbing. I've been playing with the V2.0 route that you see in the videos and I'm still (as of writing this) going at it, if I blow one hand, neigh, one finger placement I'm done... I'm on the floor wondering what I did and how to not do it again.

These arent' holds for a woody, they're not for playing around on, these holds are some of the most serious ass kickers out there and will remain so. These holds are for comps, they're for use in a gym as a sneaky slap around an arete, as a technical foothold on a problem... they are made to test the climber that goes anywhere near to them and they do, they will, and chances are until you dial in your movements the holds will win... pure awesome in a screw on

Percy Bishton (Head Routesetter, Climbing Works, UK): 

I love these holds. They are the answer to a comp route-setters dreams. In short – they are rubbish. Flat plates of polyurethane, with not really any discernable part to hold – just the odd small ripple or depression that you have to ‘feel’ your way with instead of just grabbing and pulling. All these holds fix with two screws, so you aren’t restricted on where you can put them. The resin has a little ‘give’, so the holds are pretty much indestructible no matter what you fix them on to. And then to cap it all, the master stroke. A thin quarter inch shiny perimeter on every hold, which looks pointless but makes these holds great. When climbers stand on a resin hold, there is normally little care or attention – you could just slide your shoe down the wall surface and when it hits the hold it sticks. But not these babies. No, the dual texture ring around the edge of the hold means that if you stand on these like you would a normal resin hold (on the top like a clumsy punter) your foot will probably just slide straight off. What Holdz have done is made holds that are very realistic to stand on – you can’t just point your shoe towards the hold and forget it, but you must look at the hold, find the textured part and then place you rubber exactly on the sweet-spot. These footholds are a technicians dream – like the poorest of Fontainebleaus sandstone footholds, you must be precise, weight the hold smoothly, and maintain constant pressure and your confidence throughout the move in order to use them properly. Sloppy footwork and these holds won’t mix!

So these holds rule when it comes to being the most technical and demanding footholds on the market, but what’s the use of them if they are so bad you can’t pull on them with your hands? Well, the answer is that you can. Steve Goodair – the guy who shaped these holds, worked closely with a number of guys who set for the World Cup series competitions to find out what they really were doing and what they needed. The answer is bad holds. Setters are being more and more creative with their use of volumes
and big features on walls like arĂȘtes, lips of roofs, and corners. Most of these things can almost be climbed without any holds, but not quite. Adding most other existing holds to volumes (even tiny foot jibs) just turned un-hangable plywood into a jug for modern comp climbers. The Holdz screw-ons fill the gap brilliantly - you can hang a few of the shapes just on vertical or gently over-hanging surfaces if you have the necessary ‘feeling’, but where they really excel is when you put them on a sloping plywood volume in a roof or on an arĂȘte. Then you can really appreciate just howsubtle and technical these holds are to use.

I can’t really stress how crucial these holds would be to any creative route-setters arsenal of holds. A few of these holds are normally the first things to go in my setting bucket at the start of the day when I pick the holds I want.
A little bit about Percy: I have been a professional setter for the last 16 years, and an IFSC  Chief routesetter for the last 8 years. Have set 3 World Championships in bouldering, and loads of bouldering and lead world cup events. Currently the teacher for the British national competition route-setters qualification and owner of two of the largest dedicated bouldering walls in the world – and . In 2011, I set over 1800 boulder problems just in The Climbing Works with my crew of guest setters, as well as being the Chief for the boulder world cup in Slovenia and opening a new gym in Ireland, so I handle a lot of plastic climbing holds!

Jacky Godoffe (Freelance Routesetter of 20 years):
Fatal weapons

That's the best words I can find to quantify this type of holds.

As route setter for 20 years so far, I always tried to propose movements which are understandable by spectators who are not specialists, just because climbing in competition needs to be an exciting live show. And for me one of the solution is to have kind of "electric holds" That means holds can look alive looking at your hands or feet shaking to make the next move

These double texture holds are a solution, they look good, the friction is perfect except that you can use only the middle part. And that was a brilliant idea because it's very hard to feel strong when you touch it for the first time or if you arrive too fast, they're also very tricky to put your feet on without paying attention.

That's exactly the matter of competition game. If you're not strong enough to use all your muscles, not only your finger strength...same player shoot again, and you've lost a precious try.

I think these holds are not for beginners because they are so far to be basic that some climbers hate them. Because they don't/can't feel anything if they are not expert enough

I remember, in the last competition I've set in Canada, I turned up with fifty of these holds, - maybe I used them a little bit too much because we didn't have many holds provided by the organization who's competition it was - at the end of the competition, some of my friends and competitors told me, never do that again!, it's so risky and unpredictable to be safe and relax with these holds. OK guys, my goal as route setter is not to keep you confident, but to play with your thoughts!

In conclusion, well done for that Steve and thanks to Percy Bishton who suggest you this brilliant idea for these holds.

For me of course. I don't know at the end if this idea is well payed, but that was an innovation. I'm still waiting for the next one to be inspired for route setting

Dustin Curtis (Head Routesetter, True North Climbing):
Now what do you say about something you hate...? I think before I answer that sentence I should give you some background. I have never ever... until my Tour De Bloc coming in March 10th 2012 *AHEM* Jeremy, those HOLDZ (yes a pun, haha) are mine and I want them ASAP.. have set with these HOLDZ (yes it will continue all post.)

I've only encountered these HOLDZ as a competitor. I've encountered them only three times, twice at world cups and once warming up and let me tell you, these HOLDZ defy all plastic climbing nature.

Now I know, I know, you're sitting there with doubts, questions, but have you seen who else is on this evaluation list? I'm not kidding you, these HOLDZ are devious to say the least. Any competitive climber's natural instinct is to throw for the back of the hold, not these HOLDZ. The dual texture around the base of these HOLDZ only facilitates you sliding down, over the good part and on to your ass. From what I've climbed on, I love these things on features, they're the perfect hold for precise, static movements.

From what I've climbed on these HOLDZ, they're a competitor's worst nightmare and should be viewed by all Route Setters as such.

David Bursey (Head Routesetter, Vertical Reality):
When I first saw the picture of the Holdz screw-ons,I was a bit disappointed, thinking “another screw
on…Big deal”. Photos lie. When you see these puppies up close, you see right away that the picture did
not do justice.

A screw-on is a screw-on right? Wrong. I always thought screw-ons were moulded from the scrap pieces of their bigger siblings. These guys are, in fact, unique. The first thing I noticed up close was the dual- tex. You notice when you start feeling around that the entire base of the hold is slick, turning that base into a lunch ramp for any lack of precision when trying to use the hold. You need to be solid before moving onto these!

Next thing you’ll notice is the profile. These holds are thin. If you want to spice up the dead-vertical
sections of your wall, add more catch to volumes or aretes, or have any slab section to your wall, these
are holds you’ll want in your bag of tricks.

As for texture, these guys are gritty enough for a solid feel once established (no kidding, never
underestimate the dual-tex. If you just slap at these, you’re on your ass), but soft enough for a lot of
attempts, without sacrificing too much skin.

Bottom line, I feel the name of these holds is right on. I would keep these holds aside for comps, and
unless you have some perfectly vertical features, or own a good selection of wooden volumes, I’d stay
away from these for home-wall use. These are definitely a set of holds I’d like to keep handy if I want my climber to REALLY think before moving, or if I want to punish them for not doing so.

These are an all around good hold, and if you think all screw-ons are in the same category, you should
check these out.

  • Stuff of routesetters dreams, also the stuff of climbers nightmares
  • Super strong polyurethane
  • Make very technical routes / problems easily
  • Not really for the home wall owner, they're a little too specific
  • You have to be a setter to really get the best out of them


Anonymous said...

I cant find these holds on the Holdz web site anyone know how your supposed to order them if there not on the site? or if they are and are simply listed different let me know.

ntmb said...

they're not on the site, email: to get a price