Grips Yes Grips

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Following up on my post just a few days ago about ABS Nationals, I wanted to dedicate a post entirely to talk about all the new Teknik sets…

We must begin with the Hulk.  I won’t go into too much detail on this, because Zoe already posted an awesome epic – just take a look at this monster and know that – if you buy it, you can’t possibly be disappointed..

Hulk - Foam

Hulk - Foam

The shape speaks for itself, but I think it is important to point out is that while many brands out there have priced some large features well into the $100+ range, even nearing $200+, the Hulk is an affordable giant, and that is because Teknik wants you to be able to enjoy it.

Next – Low and Half Fat Slopers.  The idea for this set came after we did a short pour of some of the now already classic Fat Slopers, at the 2010 World Cup in Vail.  I told Seth and Zoe how awesome the short versions of the shapes were, and we all thought – why not make production versions!

Low Fat Slopers - Reference

Low Fat Slopers - Red

The LOW FAT SLOPERS are about 1/3 depth of the original Fat Slopers 1 set.  They are amazing for low angle, slab, or arete climbing…

Much like the originals – they put a premium on contact strength – but since you can get your tips back towards the wall, these variations allow you to grip with some better surface tension against the wall, or with just a little bit of crimp.

Half Fat Slopers - Reference

Half Fat Slopers - Grip View

The HALF FAT SLOPERS are about 1/2 depth of the Fat Slopers 2 set.  The variations in the grabs make them really interesting to use, because though the shapes look similar from the ground, the subtleties of each shape make them a bit different, and some are definitely better than others.

Along with the LFS and HFS, there are a few other sets that took their inspiration from shapes already in the Teknik line.  The rest of the Teknik shapes in the post are brand new creations – from Seth and Zoe.

Meatlets - Side View

Minimeats - Orange Side View

One set that has always been a favorite of mine, perhaps my overall top pick, is the Meatiums.  I had mentioned to Seth and Zoe how much I love those shapes, and that what is so great about them is the little bit of curl you have to do with your fingers, to really get the most bite on the hold – the type of thing you often have to do on rounded sloper crimps outdoors.  I thought it would be awesome to have smaller single pad tiny crimps, that emulated this.  Seth went right to work and came up with two amazing new sets – the Meatlets and Minimeats.

The MINIMEATS are the bigger of the two sets, and are nearly full pad crimps, with slightly incut tapers back to the wall.  Notice the muscle-y texture, just like the original Meatiums.

Minimeats - Foam

Meatlets - Foam

MEATLETS, smaller than the above Minimeats,  are just like the name suggests, cutlet little versions of the real meat.  They are half-pad at best – amazing little edges for super technical stuff – vert climbing, lock-offs, etc – these little guys will be unforgiving and honest – they’ll tell you just how much finger strength you do or do not have.  They are thin enough that they have a tapered recess for Flat Head bolts, though as with all Teknik shapes, they still have washers, so you can use either type really.

Another pair of sets that I was psyched to see get into production this winter were the LONG METHODS 1 and LONG METHODS 2.  While I was up in Edmonton last fall, I got a look at these guys in foam, and was very impressed as always.

Long Methods 1 - Reference

Long Methods 1

Long Methods 2 - Reference

Long Methods 2

I had always talked about how much I love the Methods, but that it would be cool to have similar style pinch-edges, but that could be matched – like Method rails.  The end result is a nice combination of shape styles – I look at them and think they are reminiscent of the Dragonflys as well.  Both Long Methods sets are perfect for crimp tension climbing.

The next sets of shapes that took their inspiration from popular designs Seth had already created, are the BIG SNEAKERS 1 and BIG SNEAKERS 2.  If you know the superb Sneakers foothold set, you know that those 20 holds are some of the most perfect little smooth smear edges out there.  Longtime Teknik friend Mike Moeltron had taken to using these for really difficult crimp climbing on the vertical walls at his gym Movement, and told me that a dream set would be an expanded, handhold version of the Sneakers.

Big Sneakers 1 - Grip View

Big Sneakers 1 - Grip View

Big Sneakers 2

Big Sneakers 2

Yet again, Seth came up with a brilliant group of 20 shapes – the amazing thing is – these truly are like magnified versions of the 20 original Sneaker shapes.  Seth labored for hours on end to create these.

As soon as I brought them to the gym the first time, a bunch of folks started searching for the Sneaker footholds so we could pair them up with their big brothers.

Now onto what I personally think are the most original of the new carves – the Hooded Fangs and the Hoods.  Zoe never fails to come up with unique ideas, and these are certainly no exception.  The Hooded Fangs are truly roof jugs – they are scooping “hook” shapes that couldn’t have a better name.  You’ll have to ask Zoe how she really came up with it – but I’m guessing it’s shaped like a hoodie hood, but well, it’s a fang too – so… HOODED FANGS.

Hooded Fangs - Foam View

Hooded Fangs - Foam View

Hooded Fangs - Purple Grips

Hooded Fangs - Grip View

What you can’t tell from these pics is that these guys are super lightweight, because they have an incredible hollow-back.  Perfect for super steep walls, and on less steep, I envision them being used really well as sidepull. or undercling grips.

Hoods - Wide View

Hoods - Wide View

Hoods - Orange Grip View

Hoods - Grip View

The HOODS are smaller, and do not have any particular “fang” part of the grab, but are more widely tapered.

But like the Hooded Fangs, they will also lend themselves to sidepull grip positions, if you want to create great compression climbing.

They’ll also be excellent for walls in the 45 degree range or steeper, in more horizontal positions, because they will really demand pinch strength and core power.

Lastly, there are two new sets in the line, of the geometric bent.  Those of you who remember the classic Mathematics set (soon to return in fact) will recognize the flat angle aesthetic of the Mathematics 2 and the Hard Math.

Mathematics

Mathematics 2

The MATHEMATICS 2 are definitely the more positive of the two new sets, and a bit bigger overall.  They have super hollow-backs, so they are really lightweight.  Easily match-able, but everything will be dependent on the wall terrain with these guys.  You may want to calculate the degree of overhang you can successfully put these on and still be able to dead hang, before experimenting too much with them.  I bet they’ll be great for pulling just over a headwall.

Hard Math

Hard Math

HARD MATH will not be so easy to employ when routesetting for moderate climbing.  On each of these five grips, the angle tapers towards the center like a pyramid, so no matter what way you angle these suckers, they are sloper edges.

I would love to set an arete climb up a super tall wall just purely with these shapes, making for pure compression sloper tension, where you’d have to keep your heels squeezing at all times.

And… finally, a parting shot, pairing one each from the Mathematics 2 and Hard Math sets.  John Muse, a top USAC Routesetter who this year was on the ABS Youth Nationals crew, was making art on one of his harder climbs.  The end result didn’t keep both these holds, but, how often is it that you find t-nut placements so perfect that you can literally turn two holds into one???  The perfect mash-up…!

Mathematics from Youth ABS Setting

Math Vs. Hard Math

Shoot us an email if you want to get some new grips!  cdanielson@teknikhandholds.com or sethandzoe@teknikhandholds.com.  Keep reading below to see details on how a lot of these grips were used in the ABS Nationals…

If you are headed out to Canadian Bouldering Nationals at Climber’s Rock in Burlington, Ontario, I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Competitors – good luck!

2011 New Teknik – How it all shaped up at ABS Nationals

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It has been a long while since I have had the opportunity to post, but the recent comp madness that ensued here in Boulder at ABS Nationals, and the plethora of new shapes that have been added to the Teknik line – have had me very excited to share.

Women's Qualifiers

ABS Nationals - Women's Qualifiers

With Teknik sponsoring the USA Climbing Series, and specifically ABS Nationals – the routesetting crew had loads of new shapes to work with and unveiled many of the new Teknik grips for the competition a few weeks back.  Seth and Zoe have produced nearly 100 new designs in the past six months or so, all of which are now in production, but which many people have not yet gotten a glimpse of.  I get the first look at the new shapes as they come out of production here in Colorado, and I have to say, I feel lucky that I am often the first to put these grips on a wall and climb on them.

Below are some details of the comp and images (generous thank you to Curtis Bullock – http://www.flickr.com/photos/snwbeast/ – and e-Grips for use of the photos) from the event.

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Kynan...

The comp prep began months prior to the event itself, and my good friend Kynan Waggoner is the man who made it happen.  John Stack of Vertical Solutions came to Boulder in early January and went like a bat-out-of-hell to get the amazing competition walls completed in time for routesetting.

Another longtime friend of mine, and Teknik’s – master setter Scott Mechler, was the Chief Routesetter for the comp and came in early on to do some construction preparation as well.  As soon as we got the new grips in, we began assessing and organizing.  I try to go into every comp I do with a bunch of movement ideas and it wasn’t uncommon for Scott, myself, and the other setters on the team to be discussing ideas over the phone or in conversations long before being on-site.  But no matter what ideas you have, until you know what you are working with in terms of the wall terrain and holds, you cannot really effectively determine what you will be able to successfully create.

IMG_1384

Scott Mechler - Grips Assessment

To start off, I want to talk a bit about some Teknik-specific boulders that we set, and I’ll follow the course of how the comp went in action, qualis, semis, finals… to describe some of them.

Qualifiers – One idea I had had for some time was to set a problem with tons of Teknik Fat Slopers.  I  had played around with variations of this in CATS with other shapes (“Big Balls,” “Small Balls”) but had yet to execute a really good “Balls” style problem in a comp.  I ended up setting Women’s Q6 with 13 all orange Fat Slopers, and referred to it as “All Balls.”  For how simple they are, Teknik slopers actually make for excellent outside-style climbing, where grip positioning, contact strength and core tension are essential.  It turned out to be a quite difficult sloper-tension indulgence, and only Angie Payne, Sasha Digiulian, and Alex Puccio were able to complete it.

(“All Balls” Pic)

Another Women’s Quali problem, WQ3, featured some brand new Teknik shapes…

IMG_1386

Meatlets and Minimeats

I never hesitate to use Meatiums, especially on a steep wall, and I put them up for Men’s Q3 which was intended to be pure power – straightforward, to divide the men from the boys.  After some discussion, we thought it would be cool to also engage the women in this kind of climbing on one of the qualifiers, and thought we might just use this boulder, but tweak it down to the appropriate grade and height range.  A few of the new grips that Seth recently shaped – Meatlets and Minimeats were added to the second variation, to create a crimp/pinch power problem to help split all the strong women.  It did its job well, mandating both crimp lock-off strength, which we typically estimate the girls to have a great deal of, along with dynamic power and jump strength.

Qualifiers went well for both genders.  It was a goal, over six problems, to create a very diverse set, that would be hard enough to split the middle of the field, but allow the real contenders to strut their stuff a bit.  The womens’ round ended up splitting the entire field near perfectly, though on the whole it was a bit stout, with only the APs – Alex Puccio and Angie Payne – both topping all six qualifiers.  The men’s was about what we wanted, 11 guys topped all the qualifiers, with 5 flashing all six.

Leading into Semi-Finals, we knew we had to step it up for the men, and that it would be a challenge to divide the top dozen or more, over only three   boulders.  Anyone who was lucky enough to see the live feed of Semi-Finals, would have gotten a glimpse of the new much-talked-about Hulk Feature on both the Mens and Womens SF1.

abs-comp-2011-0342

Magnus Midtboe working out the dihedral press - Hulk V. Beehive

The Men’s SF1 was technical down low on vert, to a tricky mantle press with the Hulk and a new e-Grips feature, the Bubble Wrap Beehive.

Portia Menlove hugging the Hulk.

Portia Menlove hugging the Hulk.

Sarah Fullerton on the Hulk

Sarah Fullerton on the Hulk

Women’s SemiFinal 1 was a simple and elegant boulder set by Scott Mechler, with a jump start to the Hulk, great mantle to follow, and drive-by double-clutch move up high to two Fatty Fat Pinches to finish.

Most of the women were able to stick the first jump to the Hulk easily, but the mantle spit off quite a few.  Those that did make it up to standing on the Hulk had a difficult sideways jump to encounter and only the strongest women sent.

About to crush the Blade Runner on Men's SF2.  Daniel has bICEPS on his shoulders.

About to crush the Blade Runner on Men's SF2. Daniel has bICEPS on his shoulders.

Heartbreakingly close to finishing Men's SF2 and a spot in Finals

Desperately close to finishing Men's SF2 and a spot in Finals. This problem should have been much easier than it was.

Many of the men flashed the first boulder, but the second problem proved to be too much.  This boulder was heavy on Teknik, with a Pinchtite start to big moves on Geeks, over some of the steepest terrain.  A powerful sequence from a Fat Lip to the Bonus hold, and then from the Bonus down to a Blade Runner, really sapped most of the top men.  Only a few were able to drop down to match the Blade Runner, and only the machine-man that is Daniel Woods moved a few moves further, campusing up to a Grasshopper, moving through a far-too-difficult pinch sequence, and then falling from the jug finish, heartbreakingly close to what would have put him into finals.

Women’s SF2 was long moves between jugs, and when I say jugs I mean, the biggest jugs known to mankind – the Super Villians.  It worked out much better than the Men’s second semi, with most reaching the zone, and a handful of girls getting to the top.

Andrea Szekely Extending between SUVs

Andrea Szekely, with superb technique, engaged the toe-hook on one SUV to keep the core tension, while pulling full extension to the next SUV.

Fat Lip Mash Up

Fat Lip Mash Up

The last problems for each gender, made it especially interesting.  Women’s SF3 began with compression on Fat Lips in a horizontal roof, to technique and lock-off strength above a difficult lip section.  Again, Alex Puccio and Angie Payne, were the only two to complete it.

Men’s SF3 ended up really shaking things up.  360 pocket spinning led to a very difficult sloper, which, to Woods’ despair, was the Bonus hold.  While others worked out the spin sequence, rocked a heel on a Low Fat Sloper, and reached up to hold the Bonus Beehive sloper, Daniel just could not figure it out, and his failure to reach the zone kept him out of finals.  Sean McColl, on the other hand, gave the crowd a preview of what was in store for Finals.  He was the only climber to gain the two Half Fat Slopers above the zone, and with pure determination, he compressed the grips, slowly raised and set his heel, and exploded to the finish, letting out an enormous scream.

Sean McColl showing what's up for Canada - The calm before the storm

Sean McColl showing what's up for Canada - The calm before the storm

This shows Sean just moments before the loudest moment of the entire competition, his sole send of Men’s SF3 and to my mind, what was one of the most impressive insights into a competitor’s pure mental force, on display physically.

Sean set things up well to be the expected winner for finals, but it’s never over til it’s over…  Finals were a blast.  It was a tight field for both genders, and ultimately, everything came down to the last boulder, which made for an exciting finish.

Women’s F1 featured powerful climbing out a steep roof to balance and technique up high.  Those of you who have participated in or watched climbing comps in the past 6+ years have most likely seen many burly boys engage with the Pinchtite.  (Zoe’s best ever shape, in my opinion.)  However, it is rare that we’ve seen women squeeze their way through a Pinchtite in a roof, and something we wanted to make happen.

Angie Payne - WF1 - Beginning her perilous wrestling match with the Pinchtite.

Angie Payne - WF1 - Beginning her perilous wrestling match with the Pinchtite.

Though the early Pinchtite encounter had bouted Angie, Sasha Digiulian, and Kasia Pietras, and Tiffany Hensley and Alex Johnson fell up high -  Francesca Metcalf and Alex Puccio had no trouble at all on Women’s F1.  Here’s a little shot of Alex after pressing out the Hulk, working through a couple Crickets and finishing up on the Teknik Logo Pinch.

Alex - No trouble on WF1

Alex - No trouble on WF1

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New Teknik - Hard Math

Women’s Final 2 featured the New Teknik Hard Math set – very technical sloper edges, on vert.  This problem turned out to be very important, because though Sasha Digiulian had struggled on F1, she bounced all the way back to be tied for first with Puccio, after this boulder.  Sasha lightly cruised her way up the boulder, while all of the other women completed a hard mantle but were then stumped, trying to work through the hardest of the Hard Math.  And since Alex Puccio could not complete it, it also left open the possibility that on F3, any of the other girls might be able to step back in and have a chance.

Sasha in the preview, miming the correct grip position that probably helped her get the only send of WF2

Sasha in the preview, miming the correct grip position that probably helped her get the only send of WF2

The women then battled through a long and powerful F3.  Francesca Metcalf and Angie Payne came achingly close to sticking a hard move past the bonus, but did not have enough power left.  Alex Johnson, who seemed out of the running, blew through the power squeezing dynamic section, only to come off one hold from the top on a desperate sloper move.  And in the end, no-one could beat Puccio, who, true to form, literally pounced through the hard zone pinch section, and burled her way to the finish jug..

Alex Johnson holds the swing on WF3

Alex Johnson holds the swing on WF3

Alex Puccio - 2011 ABS National Champion

Alex Puccio - 2011 ABS National Champion

The Men’s Finals were just as exciting, but only after the first boulder, which, though fun to watch, had a finish that was just too far out of reach for the competitors.  No-one did Mens’ F1, and so when they all moved on to the second boulder, a volume-centric arete climb, it was wide open.

Volumes Volumes Volumes

Volumes Volumes Volumes

Men’s Final 2 was all volumes, with the exception of one VERY key hold – a new Teknik Big Sneaker – it may have been the only one of these guys revealed in the entire competition.

New Teknik - Big Sneakers 1

New Teknik - Big Sneakers 1

Though not without a great deal of effort and a few tumbles from the finish volume, five men preceded Sean in topping the second Final.

Nick Sherman - Step 1 of Triple Jump

Nick Sherman - Step 1 of Triple Jump

Sean walked up as the last climber to attempt it, and knew that it had been sent multiple times.   He fell a couple times down low, finally figured out the tricky triple-jump, and then went for the finish with just an ounce too much dynamic movement.  He held both hands on the ledge of the last volume, his feet swung out first, testing his core to the limit and lifting and knocking him back off to a hard fall on the mats.

Men’s Final 3 was all that was left.  The real dark horse and crowd favorite of the competition was young Alex Johnson, a midwestern kid who now lives in Colorado and gave a strong effort.

On his first attempt at MF3, Alex cruised through the low section of long moves between Fat Pinches and Runts.  I don’t know how tell he is but when combined with his overall reach and great strength, he’s going to be a challenge to set for in the future.

Alex Johnson being long on MF3

Alex Johnson being long on MF3

From the big moves down low, Alex went up through two Fat Slopers, and powered out right to a Fat Pinch.  In a brave move, he then tried to skip straight to the finish with a huge dyno.  He was close to making the grab… too close for a routesetters’ comfort.

Most of the other men made good progress through the last final, getting up through the middle, to at least one of the two Fat Slopers, but then struggling through a pinch power section just before the finish.  California kid Kyle Owen may have came closest, performing well in his impressive style, but Ian Dory and Matty Hong also did well.  Sean stepped up last, knowing he had to flash to win, and promptly destroyed the boulder with a great display of confidence.

As a routesetter, you never know what will happen, but sometimes your instinct and the climber’s actions align, and in this case I felt like I just knew that Sean would flash.  The crowd blew up and Sean held on to the finishing Fat Lip hold for a few moments to take it all in, then dropped to the mats below, taking the American title with him.

The ABS 12 National Championships: Stop #1 of the 2011 UBC Pro Tour. Boulder, CO. from NE2C on Vimeo.

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