Wednesday, October 8, 2014

eGrips: Sandstone Chips

Best Holds in the Dojo:  Sandstone Chips

Subtle complexity, varied sweet spot location, technique enhancing

In Spring 2014 I set ordered a bunch of hold sets from e-Grips.  Some of the best holds were the smallest ones, the Sandstone Chips which are screw-in jibs.  A home wall can never have too many footchips and these are some of the most interesting and technical footchips I have encountered.

The photo above shows the starting hold:  the Sandstone Chip with blue tape on lower right.  "Blues Clues" is one of the most challenging room traverses in the dojo, and also the most unusual.  The route follows limited feet (blue footchips with tick marks, of which you can see see three in this photo).   The hands are open-- you can use any handhold as long as it is not a handlebar jug or the finishing rail on the edge of the wall.   The footholds on the route are almost entirely from the Sandstone Chips set (there are three Atomik chips and one Vision chip on the route as well).

Because of the Sandstone Chips, the Blues Clues problem creates decision making and route reading challenges as well as forcing close attention to technical feet.

The chip above illustrates the complexity in the holds in this set.  As you approach this hold from the right, with your left foot, the top right hand side presents the best location for your foot.  But, after you pass the hold, the best surface for the right foot is on the lower left.   This level of detail is good preparation for outdoor routes and problems with technical feet.

The chip above is on a 50 degree wall.  It is nicely incut and allows you to match feet, but the small size demands precise placement and body tension to use it effectively.   The fact that it is a screw in allows me to fill spaces between larger holds with the chips, rounding out the array of holds in the dense areas of the wall.  

These two chips illustrate something I love about these footholds-- they are incredibly sensitive to the angle you place them.  Here both holds present their best edges to the side, while the right hand chip offers a technical smear when approached head on.   This means that if you load the hold from the proper direction, with the right type of pressure it is a good hold, but if you don't your foot will skate off the hold.  

Summary:  The eGrips Sandstone Chips are the best foothold chips in the Dojo.  They are subtly complex, which means that climbers who pay close attention to the shape and angle will get much better purchase and leverage on these holds.  Many of them have foot and angle specific sweet spots, which really highlights technical ability.  And finally climbers who work with these footholds will be much better prepared to climb and boulder outdoors where such complex footholds are the norm.  Like all jibs these are compact, but like all best jibs they are screw-ins, which allows me to add them wherever they are needed.  I will certainly get more when I make my next eGrip order.  

Full disclosure:   In 1993/94 I managed the climbing wall program at Miami University, Ohio.  I hired a promising young climber and route setter named Chris Danielson. (what is the deal with me hiring route setters?) Since then, I recently got in touch again with Chris because I was stopping through Boulder.   I ordered all of my sets of eGrips at a slight discount.  We did not discuss the fact that I might be writing hold reviews for the Dojo.   

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