I've only climbed at Manchester Depot (ie not the other Depots)
Essentially the black to yellow hold groups are all very similar to each other, but different to the colours above and below, which generally means that when you move onto a different level of difficulty you are also moving to a different style, which is weird, and seems to show a complete lack of understanding from the person who ordered the holds.
Blacks are generally small edges, with a few tufa type things for yarding up overhangs.
Reds are generally these lovely bulbous featured bleaustyle volumes where you need to search around loads to find the good bits.
Purple are quite varied, but generally very large and featureless except for one bit.
Yellows are predominantly Nike Swooshes with a few tiny edges thrown in.
I love the different styles, but it would be so much better if they had got different colours of each hold and thus were able to build more styles of problem at each grade, rather than generally Of A Type.
Conversely it would be great if when you succeed on a slopey volume red you could go off and find another slopey volume problem in the next grade up.
I know people will come on and say the styles aren't that defined/ regimented, but they really are compared to if they had bought a more varied set of holds at each colour.
Perhaps Bleaustone only make red holds?
Any other Depots opened in the last few years?
Have they realised the mistake and corrected it, or are they still ordering each hold style in only one colour?
PS, before anyone gets defensive, I really love having a Depot nearby. Great place to climb.
I hate the red holds. I think its just a matter of opinion, no?
But yes they all have broadly the same holds.
Am i the only one who can do laps on all of the blacks but can’t do a singe red, even ‘though the grade ranges are meant to overlap?
I really like the Sheffield Depot and it's my usual wall but it does share this same problem.
I think it's a real shame when walls use the same colours (and thus hold set) for the same grade every time. TCA in Bristol used to mix it up which was the main attraction of going. Keeping the same colours means that each grade is also a completely different style and offers so much less variety in the setting. After a while, the new sets are basically indistinguishable and you notice the same move being reset with the same holds week on week
slightly off topic, but if you want sublime black routes it's worth travelling to the Climbing Works
I find that's a problem at a lot of walls. Get to a point where I can virtually flash every one of one colour and yet can barely pull on to any of the next one up. There needs to be more of an overlap in setting and less setting at the top of every grade.
Mix in some sandbags and soft touches!
I haven't climbed there for a while but back when my local wall was The Arch / Biscuit Factory in south London they had a set of holds which were 'wildcard' in grade, i.e. a given problem could be any grade, from easy to impossible, and you just had to assess and give it a go. Really enjoyed those
Nottingham Depot is unfortunately one of the worst for this - the setting at the lower end is particularly poor/lazy. I've found the other Depots have better setting and more varied holds. Having said that I stopped my monthly membership at Depots (mainly went to Notts) because I prefer the setting at other centres.
I will say I think setting is a really hard thing to get right - I'm not saying I would do a better job.
I totally disagree. Pre pandemic Nottingham Depot had a brief bad phase for white and to an extent for blue, but normally setting has been good to excellent for white, blue and black (if you ignore the plain bs Depot standard V grade ranges attached) often better than the other depots I've used (Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds)
The upshot of the issue is true of anywhere that uses the same colour holds for a defined range of grades. Some venues use different colour holds and put the grades on the starting holds. I find this creates more variation.
In answer the specific question, some Depots use similar holds but there are differences. For instance the Blacks at Pudsey are very different to those at the Sheffield or Manchester. And then there’s Armley - that’s very different, with generally much larger, modern style holds, across the grades.
> The upshot of the issue is true of anywhere that uses the same colour holds for a defined range of grades. Some venues use different colour holds and put the grades on the starting holds. I find this creates more variation.
Yeah, this seems familiar. IME it's better at bigger (or just more conscientious) walls where they can have a greater variety of shapes and styles of hold within the same colour, but for really small walls, setting circuits by colour just doesn't seem to be a great option.
> I really like the Sheffield Depot and it's my usual wall but it does share this same problem.
Substation in Macclesfield has the same problem - virtually all their black holds are large slopey volumes.
I think much bigger issues are insufficiently frequent resets (I’d like a reset every 4 weeks, so two circuits per week) and knackered holds (if you’re trying to break into a new circuit, the last thing you want is polished, permagreasy holds, especially slopers which rely on friction).
My perception is that the blacks are about fb 5+ to -6a+(V1-V2) and the red problems are about fb 6b-6c(V3-V4) with the odd one being a bit harder or a bit easier.
I've noted this as a thing looking at the hold colours and shapes at my local wall (Rainbow Rocket in Cambridge) but it never seems to affect the climbing, at least up to the middle of the overall grade range, where I am climbing.
I've always been a fan of the route setting at RR and I think the way they have limited the impact is to have very wide, overlapping grade bands. So at a set grade you can have (from memory) problems of 3 different colours, with different hold styles.
I'm similar but sometimes get one or two reds. Realised the other day that pinks are an inbetween grade now so get on them and you should get quite a few.
I fully agree.
I can lap the blacks but struggle on the reds, mainly because I'm crap on slopers (and bouldering full stop tbf)
It would be good to have a range of 'black' problems using the full range of holds from blue , black , orange , red , orange , yellow etc etc but its guess its down to cost.
I've made the exact observation to the staff at Manchester a few times and even collared Steve Dunning once to give him my opinion! I always thought the jump from black to red is the harsh-est, from ratty crimps to font-y blobs, totally different styles. I actually think blue at the lower end and purple and yellow at the higher end have a better variety. Having looked at the comments, I seem to be right!
Still a great wall though, especially as there setting frequency has gone up, as well, imho, as the quality!
What the works has and Depot doesn’t is technicality. The Works problems are often involved and technical, taking some working out to find the optimum method, whereas the Depot and especially blacks is climbing by numbers, left right, right left repeat upwards etc. You’re either strong enough to pull the holds or not. Depot blacks are too easy being mainly big sharp holds and Reds are a big step up and also much of a muchness. We’ve moved back to The Works for the variety.
It’s not the holds, it’s the setting. Blacks and reds are meant to overlap by two grades. Essentially, they should be around the same level once you exclude the easiest blacks and the hardest reds. If they consistently don’t overlap in this way, the setting needs improving. I think they overlap well in Birmingham.
Agree with all this. Though I'm not on high grades by any means (some blacks but not a hope on reds) I really miss the interesting problems that used to be common down at the Vauxwall empire where I used to climb. Surprised to find a real lack of the sort of problems in Sheffield where you go home still trying to puzzle it out... where the answer might be starting backwards, some other beta that makes you think and completely captivates and maddens you... Those are the ones I miss far more than just, 'am I strong or brave enough?'.
(The Works I don't know, so it may well have this, just always been too busy for me.)
At the Pudsey Depot the sets only overlap by one grade, so they are only equivalent at extremes, i.e. Blacks V1-V3, Reds V3-V5, Purples V5-7, Yellows V7+
We’re moving up to Cumbria in February, and The Climbingworks is the thing I’ll miss the most. I always enjoyed Percy’s route setting at The Edge, and when they set up The Works, that became the setting gold standard.
Looks like Kendal will be our local wall, and Ive not actually been there since it first opened, so should be interesting!
I am pleased to find I am not the only one that has felt this. It's a great venue but why couldn't they have bought some of the red Core holds in black and some of the black holds in red etc.
I love coloured circuits but given you can get all holds in all colours these days more variety would make them so much better.
There does seem to be quite a gap at the moment between red and black at Sheffield. Following the reset a couple of weeks ago I flashed almost every black and failed on almost every red! Although probably not helped by the fact there are very few reds on the vert or slab walls.
I thought blacks were meant to be V2-4 but clearly not the case everywhere. There are also pinks which are meant to be V2-5 though in practice here they are more like V1-3.
I’m the same only with reds and purples. Cannot get on with that circuit for whatever reason.
also the black holds at Sheffield depot are awful, really nasty crimps and generally not enjoyable.
> ...why couldn't they have bought some of the red Core holds in black and some of the black holds in red etc.
> ... given you can get all holds in all colours these days more variety would make them so much better.
Maybe I'm being a bit old school here but if they marked the problems with coloured tape instead then they could use any coloured hold on any problem and would have a lot more setting possibilities. With only a handful of holds on each problem it doesn't take all that much longer to spot the holds while you read it. I agree it doesn't make much sense for a whole circuit, or problem even, to be the same hold type. Function over form and all that...
Well the Armley depot just bought huge volumes in every colour. Its the future apparently?
Agree and disagree! (you get Alex setting as well so you guys are extra lucky!)
The setting obviously varies, sometime you get a soft red set, sometime you get a hard black set and the overlaps are sometime big or non-existent, so at times, it is the setting.
However, the hold type makes a massive difference and I think reds are often quite tricky to get on with (I have the same a few of the yellow slopers, I just really struggle on them). I've seen people "jump" the reds and have more success on purples after blacks due to the hold types.
Again, having said all of the above, I still love the Depot (Manchester) and the addition of the comp wall setting and variation, and the increase in quality and frequency of the setting has made a great wall better.
> I’m the same only with reds and purples. Cannot get on with that circuit for whatever reason.
> also the black holds at Sheffield depot are awful, really nasty crimps and generally not enjoyable.
I’m going to try the Hangar this evening for a change, despite the lack of a circuit board. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a thread yet on the capabilities of heating systems at the various walls. We are very lucky to have a choice
Sheffield's Hangar put in a circuit board a few months ago, where the spray wall used to be. Smaller than Depot's, but more than adequate to train endurance.
In my opinion, Hangar is significantly better than Depot. As you say, they actually have some kind of heating in winter and cooling in summer, but I also think the setting is significantly better across the grade spectrum, and especially in the lower grades. They actually seem to put effort into putting interesting moves in the lower grades, as opposed to Depot's approach of "jug ladders of varying steepness and distance between holds".
Something I've noticed at Hangar is that they have regular female setters, whereas (I think?) the regular setters at Depot are all men. This is really evident in the number of problems at Depot that have long moves that are much harder for short people, which they "fix" by adding in a crap intermediate hold instead of changing the move.
The only downside to Hangar is that it's smaller and busier than Depot. I tend to get there soon after 4, so I'm winding down my sessions by the time it starts getting crowded. If you want to get serious circuiting done though, you're probably better off going in the morning!
Went to the Hangar on Friday expecting arctic temps as per the Depot et al. Beware - it's not that cold; I spent the session regretting being overdressed!
Have to say when I first went to the Hangar a year ago I didn't like the setting, but having just returned I was pleasantly surprised that the problems weren't all a total sandbag for someone 5'3". So I think you're right. Plus an unusual number of walls at the Depot seem to be slightly overhanging which really isn't my strength.
Crimpy vertical for me please - personally I hate those slopy volumes!
In reply to TheGeneralist:
I only climb at the Sheffield depot, so don't know how similar the other are, but this rings true to me! They could really do with more hold variety in each colour set. Also I really want them to bring the cracks back (ideally on the steepish wall near the training area), I asked the manager but he reckoned they weren't popular enough to justify.
The grade spread isn't great either. Roughly speaking I can normally do the whole purple set, flashing >50%, but then can barely touch the yellows. Though tbf it does vary set to set, when the yellow set is soft I'll do a few. Black to red definitely seems like the most jarring step up and change in style.
R.e. the Hangar, the setting there, especially in the lower grades, is way better than at the depot. The two or three easiest circuits I tend to just ignore at the depot bar a little warming up, whereas when I go to the hangar I enjoy climbing the easier circuits. If I was to have non-climbing friends visit I'd definitely take them to the hangar over the depot. I still go to the depot basically all the time though because it's less crowded, the circuit board setup is better and I don't really like the 'vibe' at the hangar (though obviously loads of other people do).
To me the difference in grading between black problems and red is quite realistic.What V2 (fb 5+-6a+) is to V4 (6b+/6c) should be like V4 is to V6 (fb 7a).I was there about 2 weeks ago and the red problems on the vertical or less seemed spot on grade wise whereas the steeper ones felt pretty low end of the scale.I went to the hanger seems like a great wall but a bit to crowded (sunday morning ) for me.Sheffield is so lucky having 3 great bouldering walls
> I’m going to try the Hangar this evening for a change, despite the lack of a circuit board. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a thread yet on the capabilities of heating systems at the various walls. We are very lucky to have a choice
Well the Hangar was quite nice, and not cold either. I like it that the colours are just graded relative to each other rather to some V grade or such. I appreciate the Hangar and Works may provide more entertaining and technical problems but that’s not why I go to bouldering walls; I don’t need a Lattice assessment to know I’m weak and over weight for my technical ability. For me the less sophisticated Depot setting is better for strength/endurance training for routes, particularly the excellent circuit board and the less steep LED thingy.
In Sheffield we are very fortunate to have such a wide choice of climbing walls.
> You're forgetting the wave, the best of them all
Maybe, but a poor imitation of the late lamented Broughton Wall
I find the setting at most climbing centres can be all over the place.
For instance, I’ve done all of the current Reds and all of the Pinks at Pudsey but couldn’t do a single Purple last weekend. I’d normally get a few and get close on a few more. I think that’s just issue with current sets.
I normally find the grading at Sheffield, Pudsey and Manchester consistent.
At Armley, many climbs seem much harder. There are quite a few Pinks and Reds that have single moves I can’t do. I’d say some of the moves on some of the Reds can be as hard as crux moves 6C+/7A boulders outdoors. Much of the setting can be especially reachy. I have friends who would normally get all of the Blacks but get shut down by plenty of them at Armley.
To a point, yes. I think the reds also get significantly harder once greasy, same as some of the purples and yellows. The reds seem to be particularly prone to grease though, perhaps due to the traffic. If red is your limit, the grease factor makes a big difference. I don’t find this much of an issue on reds but it can be on purples. Going to be different for everyone depending on their level and strengths and weaknesses.
I really struggle to get into the yellows, partly because a lot of the holds are knackered but mostly because I’m crap!
Having recently been to the MCR and Sheff Depots (Sheff twice, two different sets) and comparing them to the Brum one, the holds are mostly the same at each level, with some variation. The setting style and quality seems similar, sort of average, generally not a tech fest but can be interesting and fun and certainly good for a bit of cranking. Brum seems more technical but that’s probably because I’ve got a more averaged view on it across many sets.
If you want really good setting (technical, physical and realistic), check out Birmingham Bouldering Centre.
One of our walls (Creation) moved away from coloured circuits a few years ago, the idea being to introduce more variety. I don’t go there often as it’s mostly a lead wall and is further away for me but warming up bouldering there is a bit of a faff as you have to check the grades. Guess I’ve got lazy from years of coloured circuits…
I think the Works was the first wall to popularise the concept indoors and it’s still with us - for good reasons, I think. Presumably it makes resets easier, which is also a consideration.
Just come back from a session at the Depot. Couldn't simultaneously hold the two starting holds on a red. Please, get some shorter setters!
Pet hate, added for no good reason: boulder problems where the crux is getting into a weird low handholds starting position. Often after you've already stepped on. Or you could just use those holds right there that are already part of the problem.
> Pet hate, added for no good reason: boulder problems where the crux is getting into a weird low handholds starting position. Often after you've already stepped on.
Mine too, often a small screw on foothold would help solve starting in a very scrunched up position with my arse scraping the floor.
Until relatively recently I thought my bad back and dodgy joints meant my indoor bouldering days were over but the the temporary closure of the Big Depot in Leeds has forced me to spend more time at the very new Armley Depot. And I must say, I'm very impressed, and enjoying it immensly.
I can usually manage most blacks, several pinks and a few reds from every re-set. Sometimes more than others but maybe that is simply down to different setters? What I particularly like is the regularity of the re-setting (always at least one new sector to have a go at). But the big plus for me and my 'older generation' mates is the provision of the red-arrow down-climbing jugs to allow a controled descent from every problem.
I do understand the sentiment of the original post as the different colour ranges do tend to require different styles but that is a small price to pay for a very modern and friendly facility. I'll just have to work a bit harder to master those purples. (only 2 so far but still trying). Well done Depot Group. - And the coffee and cafe is first class too!
> But the big plus for me and my 'older generation' mates is the provision of the red-arrow down-climbing jugs to allow a controled descent from every problem.
For about a year and a half I mithered every depot staff member I saw about the complete lack of downclimb options on easier lines. They were like Bernard Thum on frankenjura bolting... but we can downclimb the blacks ( solo UIAA 7) once we've climbed a yellow/ purple/ orange, why can't you ?
Err because its not easy enough after just managing to get up a Red/Black.
Was so irritating, especially as the signin rules state you should always try to downclimb.
Anyway, they've finally seen the light, so excellent.
So big thanks to any other old farts that made the point too
> Pet hate, added for no good reason: boulder problems where the crux is getting into a weird low handholds starting position. Often after you've already stepped on. Or you could just use those holds right there that are already part of the problem.
Welcome to bouldering those only wishing to train for other forms of climbing can do as you suggest and use any holds!
Funnily enough I spent a lot of last night trying to piece together an ungraded combo on the circuit board. #punksnotdead.
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