Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review > Friction Climbing > Comp Series (Chrome Domes, Chrome Pockets and PK Pinches)

Alight, we're back. 2012 the year that the World is meant to end; does anyone actually use the Mayan calendar? No, well shut up then :) So we figured that as the WORLD is going to end we'd start the year with a bang... with something that's not for everyone but fits into what we've been training for!

For full disclosure, the holds we grabbed were the second set poured and Friction Climbing didn't know if they were going to go into production (so most of the niggling issues we have with our holds have been fixed) So please take the comments and opinions that are in the review with a grain of salt!

What are we training for? Comps, it's comp season and occasionally we pull our asses out of bed at the crack of dawn and we go and drive for a while and we hit a Tour De Bloc comp. We know you know all about them because we mention when we're going to be there :) There are two things about these holds and Tour De Bloc that link them together... Luigi. He's the guy that runs the TDB's and he also owns Friction Climbing and that's where these holds come from; we grabbed some early versions last year and now it's time for us to weigh in on them. So lets start the ball rolling and get the show (as it were on the road):
Friction Climbing: Chrome Dome 1
Friction Climbing: Chrome Dome 1
Friction Climbing: Dome Pockets
Friction Climbing: PK Pinches

So, three sets of holds that have been built for comps, which is an interesting thought when you think about it... holds, even comp holds (unless sold in super small quantities to routesetters) are going to be easily recognized very quickly by anyone that competes in anyway shape or form, the name is more of a suggestion (for us) of what these holds will be useful for, a way to categorize what kind of hold you're buying, rather than a "what they should be used for" type of slogan!

Despite the name, these holds are pretty versatile, all of them, the pockets are pockets (well designed) the pinches are pinches and the slopers are slopers. There's not much in it, other than the dual texture that is the thing that will throw people for a loop.

Lets look at the sets one at a time before we start climbing on them:

Dome Pockets:
Pockets are the hardest hold to shape by far, people will throw out more foam shaping pockets than any other shapes. It's a fact and a hard learned fact for most people that shape holds, a well shaped pocket is a hard thing to do, these pockets are nice and comfy for the most part and have been well thought out

PK Pinches:
A pinch is a pinch is a pinch right? NO! A pinch is a pinch, but add dual texture to them and then you get a PINCH where you can't use the meat of the hold (unless you're sneaky) as a hold, as something to grab. Adding dual texture to these shapes just upped the hard factor by 10

Chrome Domes:
A sloper.... blah whatever. But no Friction has the foresight to slope up the backs slightly to stop any finger wedging around the back between the hold and the wall, that's a good thing it means that you can't cheat the move that's been set!!!

So what did we do? Despite the short video we used these holds a bunch (sorry HD problems) we even had them at Allez Up on the bouldering wall. We set so many routes with these holds that it is hard to keep count on what we did and didn't do, we used them in different combinations on and off for months of training. One thing that can be quantified with these holds is that they're not easy! The pinches are wide the slopers on a moderately sloping wall is a test of skin against plastic and the pockets are super comfortable. Noodles backed off of the pockets pretty early on as he doesn't like pockets in any shape or form but despite this he did continue setting with them for us; he managed to make a simple looking problem into a core strength work out and that's where these holds do stand out... they make something that looks simple a couple of degrees harder than anyone would expect.

All of these holds are over a pad in depth but even when you're on a 30 degree wall on the Chrome Domes and you've got all of your skin on their surface you're going to be trying to find the sweet spot so you can move and sometimes that's harder to find than you'd think.... the texture on these holds isn't super aggressive so you have to take that into advance, you will need to brush these holds a bunch because otherwise your ass is getting high fived by the pads :P


A Chrome Dome in the UK is someone that is bald :) Bet you didn't know that! These holds are finger friendly to the Nth degree, you're not going to have much trouble hanging them until you start into the realm of 30+ degrees, from that point on they become hard to hold and you really need to bite down on them. These holds aren't for everyone because their use does become a little limited after a while but they are some of the most evil slopers out there right now. Keep it simple and you'll be fine


When asked about these holds some of the CHR routesetters said that they're not that economical and they feel a little awkward and that's coming from the guy that will ulitmately set with them in a comp setting. Sure the pinches are wide as all hell but if you look at them as edges and little crimps then they're pretty versatile and if you've got monster paws then you can wrap your thumb underneath with little or no problem, all our small handed brethren beware!

You can pull these on a 45 if you don't set too crazily


Pockets are something that in our mind most of the time should be left to the outside, Mother Nature does them better than anyone can shape.... BUT, yes we said but, these are very well shaped pockets, generally there's a good side and a bad side and you can sometimes work that sneaky match in there. 4 out of 5 of these holds for the fairly strong climber can pull them on a 45, then on a 60 you're using them more as an opposing option more than anything else. Beware with these if you intend to stand on them because these holds (more than the others) will spit your feet off. These holds are not for novices in anyway shape or form unless the wall is vertical or a slab


  • Number of holds: 2
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $60 each
  • Color: Yellow
  • Bolt placement: One is through the center column the other is a little off
  • Sanding: Good
  • Hollow backed: Yes, again one hollow back is great the other is bad
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Dual texture, the grippy part isn't too aggressive
  • Set size: 2XL
  • Versatility: Ok
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: No
  • Shaper: Luigi Montilla
  • Weight: 2.2kg
Big open handed slopers are a thing of beauty and these are definitely that, you will have no problems with your fingers with these guys. They're pretty if you like holds. No set screw holes is an interesting one, they should have been included on these holds and the Chrome Pockets that's for sure; maybe even in the pinches... it's a little detail but some gyms in the US won't buy holds without set screw holes because of their insurance.

The hollow backs do take the weight down, why one of the hollow backs was only half done is a mystery and one of the drilled holes almost missed the center column. The color on the holds is nice and even across what we received and despite not being the brightest yellow out there (ours are a pretty earth tone) the nature and size of the holds makes them stand out. (The hollow backs have been fixed since production started)

When undercutting these holds and getting up above them you will notice that you can just about stick on the dual texture but when you slip (and you will) you will leave a nice big rubber mark from the soles of your shoes, on one problem the holds ended up looking like someone had been wearing mascara and had been crying; thankfully it wasn't too hard to clean off.


  • Number of holds: 5
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $48 / 5 =
  • Color: Yellow
  • Bolt placement: Center
  • Sanding: Good
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Dual texture, the grippy part isn't too aggressive
  • Set size: Medium
  • Versatility: Good
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: No
  • Shaper: Luigi Montilla
  • Weight:0.7kg
Despite the comments that these holds are a little awkward they are good pinches, they will train your pinch strength up a few degrees!! All the holds are well sanded and nice and flat, the bolt holes are well placed to stop spins and despite not having a set screw hole they were fine.

Again the color is fine and even.


  • Number of holds: 5
  • Type (Bolt / Screw Ons): Bolt
  • Price per hold (set price divided by number of holds): $55 / 5 =
  • Color: Yellow
  • Bolt placement: Well placed
  • Sanding: Good
  • Hollow backed: No
  • Soft back (Rubber backed): No
  • Texture: Dual texture, the grippy part isn't too aggressive
  • Set size: Medium
  • Versatility: Not bad
  • Pre-drilled screw holes: No
  • Shaper: Luigi Montilla
  • Weight:1.9kg
We always add that training hard on pockets isn't the best thing for you, despite being some of the best pockets on the market you still need to be careful as you can get caught out on these guys!! Most the lips of the pockets are nice and rounded so finger problems when you pop out of them isn't too much of an issue.

These holds do have a nice profile on the wall and the outside is nice and slopey making thumb catches hard but not un-doable. We say this because you can get a little purchase on the dual texture, but not much.

Again colors are fine, sanding is great and the holds performed much better than we'd have expected


These holds, remember kids are made for comps, that's more of a suggestion in our minds than anything else. Despite being heavy across the board these holds to stand up to a bunch of abuse, the dual texture has a couple of runs in it here and there but other than that they're well formed holds!

Pockets, like we've said are a hard thing to get right and these are done exceptionally well. We can name all the good pockets on the market and these hit the list with no problems. All of the holds have a nice defining line between the texture and the slick that make the holds look really nice.

Other than the obviously bad bolt hole and the half arsed hollow back on one of the Chrome Domes there isn't much to complain about. The holds are pretty well thought out and work really well

As usual we send these reviews to the company in question before they go live so we can grab some extra information and to make sure that everything's correct...  here's what Luigi said about the lack of screw holes on the holds; "Lack of the set screw. We chose not to put one as the made sure the bolt placement was in the optimum position. Our Material easily accepts a screw provided that it is pre drilled" We agree, the bolt hole placements are exceptionally well placed but set screw holes should be there from the start. The only holds that did spin in our tests were the pinches because we have a huge temperature difference in our wall so holds do loosen up

Poly Urethane

Very good

We love getting in on holds when they're fresh, second pour is pretty damn cool when you think about it. The fact that these holds have hit production is a bonus because without feedback it'll be interesting to see what we thought actually matched up with what Friction Climbing have actually done!!

Dual texture is a wonderful thing, I really enjoy it, love climbing on it because as a setter / reviewer I can set what I want and know that if someone is going to cheat the move they're going to have to work really hard for it :) Same goes for me, when I think about setting, I'm very careful when it comes to playing with pockets because I'm kind of scared, mainly for my fingers so when reviewing these I did back out a little on the pockets or fell off because I wasn't giving a full go at it. I'm a wuss, but rest assured I went as hard as possible on the other shapes.

The pinches are a little awkward, but they're totally doable, add angle (like most holds) and it gets harder and harder. Matching is a beatch but when you pull it you have a great big grin on your face because you feel like you just pulled off the impossible

Slopers, I think everyone knows I love slopers... I love training on slopers, I can climb hard with little risk of injury to myself. The downside to slopers is I do tend to fly off of the wall at warp speed because I'm so focused on what i'm doing and it basically means that my spotters earn their beer

These holds could be, and should be, expanded into a larger range of holds. Smaller (wall space) pockets, slightly larger (grabbing surface) pinches and a smaller range of slopers to really round it out.

As always would I recommend the shapes. If you have an open mind, the pinches are the most versatile, the slopers are a little large if you have a smaller wall and the pockets are as good a pocket as we've seen in a long long time. We have another set coming up sooner rather than later which are the crimps that we basically did some really stupid things with to see how far they'd go.

Basically, base opinion, if you're having a comp this year look seriously at these holds.... oh the colors have been made brighter as well now!! Awesome

I didn't spend much time on these holds at the home wall, I spent more time on them at the gym when we lent them. The problems that Fred set (although he is a man of few words in this review) were super fun to play on and really took some working to complete... working is never a bad thing as getting to the top gives you a sense of accomplishment and lets face it at the end of the day you feel a little stronger for getting it :P

I didn't like the pinches all that much but the pockets are great and the slopers have that nice lip at the back that stops little cheating fingers. Good work Luigi!

Fred; Head Routesetter at Allez Up:
Finger friendly. Ideal for comp setting because of dual texture. Good for any angle. The pinches are a little awkward and not ergonomical

  • Great for comp setting
  • Nice dual texture
  • Heavy
  • Some of the holds are wall space hoggers

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