During the summer we were lucky to be selected by the guys at Extreme Dream in Aviemore, to test some of their new Dream Holds.
We initially received holds from the Torridonian Sandstone, Lewisian Gneiss, Skye Gabbro and Gritstone ranges. Later we received holds from the newer Dumby Basalt range too.
When I originally opened the boxes, I must admit I was skeptical. My mind went back to the climbing walls of old; Rothwell and Leeds Uni walls, now both unfortunately gone, but both of these walls used either chipped sections of the brick or real rock embedded in concrete as the holds. These holds were also completely fixed and therefore the problems never changed; obviously climbing walls have now moved on! When I think back to the problems we used to have on these 'old-school' walls they often used to be very devious and fierce, in fact quite similar to climbing outside as a lot of the time you where pulling on real rock.
So other than getting all nostalgic I put away my rose tinted spectacles and started to set with the Dream Holds. We set a number of problems around the Depot at different grades and marked them up as guest problems fromm Dream Holds. This allowed us to get a wide range of customer views on the product:
"They are very realistic, you need to use much more thought than with regular climbing holds and because of this they force you to be very precise with your feet. They a nice change from the norm and they are made by really nice guys." Drew Haigh (Winner of BICC 2009)
"Great friction even when well chalked - fit the "full body" thrutchy problems well.Good variety of ways they can be used as well, not just the usual 'one way' nature." Tom Crane
"Great holds. Real rock feel (sharp like real rock) and can be used creatively on problems, amazed by the friction." Jim Lound
"Excellent holds providing a good "outdoor" - indoor feeling, provoking more thought over climbing technique. All in all a nice change from the run of the mill climbing wall holds." Andy Wiggins
The following points are based on the verbal feedback from the climbers who used them and my views from using them as a route setter:
Because the holds are based on real rock you do find that you can use the hold in more than one way. For example on one hold you may have a small positive crimp and a larger sloper. This is great for both the setter and the climber because as the setter it provides you with a lot of variety in setting possibilities. A very subtle change in how you place the hold can really alter the problem, it can also allow you to be really sneaky in your setting.
Like wise for the climber it can provide a different experience from the sometimes dot to dot problems when the hold itself is regular. It also forces people to think about how they are going to use the hold and be precise.
The different textures of the holds, make you use the holds in different ways. With the Dumby holds you have really hold them very firmly as the friction on those holds is virtually none existent. Just as if you were climbing at Dumby itself or on slate.
The Gabbro and Gritstone holds had very high friction and therefore you more often used an open handed grip. You did need to take this into consideration in the setting and you probably wouldn't set a 30 move problem on the Gabbro holds as this may prematurely end the session due to trashed skin.
Again the different friction emulated outdoors climbs very well and should help with that transition from indoors to outdoors.
The widget that's built into the hold, is great for reducing spinning holds. You could feel the difference as you tightened the hold up and the rubber within the hold structure got loaded.
We will definitely continue to use Dream Holds. We have currently integrated them into our circuits at The Depot as we think they really mix the best of old school with new school. They throw in some extra science too meaning the team in Aviemore have come up with something quite unique!
Oliver C Wright @ The DepotPrice: £50 to £130 per set
There is nothing mock about our rock! Born in Aviemore in the Cairngorms National park - Our Indoor Climbing and Bouldering Holds are 3000 million years in the making. Dream Holds are proud to present the best of Scottish Rock as nature intended. Our mission was to make the indoor climbing and training experience more realistic, thus less predictable, harder to read and with varying textures, frictions and finger combinations as only nature could design. There is no way man made artistic alternatives could ever sculpt such unbelievable natural features and texture.
The friction on every hold varies greatly and the composite mix we have used has been tweaked to simulate the feel or real rock whilst maintaining integral strength. We have designed a very clever SMARTr HOLD System which offers greater fixing security and removes the damaging tightening vibrations experienced by route setters.