I am a creep about gym routes. I’m one of those people that can recognize the style of a setter and probably know what they ate for breakfast. Occasionally, it has led me to only climb routes that a particular setter has produced. However, there is one thing that has gotten me to climb routes set by other people or routes that were not so great: Purple Holds.
I love purple climbing holds.
The Elephant Tufas by MENAGERIE
These holds are nothing but pure bliss to climb on and they can go on any angle of climbing wall. Pair them with Atomik’s Font Jug holds and you’ll have yourself a great time.
Next, (and I’d be a total fool if I did not mention this) Kilter and pretty much anything to do with the TEAGAN collection. You can do so much with these holds, specifically the kaiju stalactites. From weird balancy leg strength climbs, coordination (skate style), brutal roofs and just loads of all around fun.
I pretty much swoon as soon as I see these on the wall.
The So iLL Bubbies paired with the e-Grip Edge Loafs -which sadly, do not have pictures of these holds in purple, are so great for those corners that tend to get overlooked. The stem climbing possibilities are endless and of course, exhausting.
Finally, Rock Candy’s Blockus which in every sense have the versatility necessary to be in any gym. You can do terrible or terribly fun things with these grips and I’ve enjoyed them every single time I’ve had a chance to climb on them.
So, you may be thinking to yourself, ‘Wow, all these holds are huge! Are there any small holds you actually like?’ The answer is yes, I think the Teknik ‘Meats’ series is incredible.
But, after climbing in some of the best gyms all over the United States, I have to say, you don’t really need that many small holds. In fact, having only a few routes with small holds is ideal for a climbing gym as you tend to make a lot more money and train much more powerful climbers when they aren’t getting injured.
I’m happy to see this transition in climbing gyms across the country as I was there in the early 2000s when every indoor route wanted to actually be an outdoor route. Not only was it boring but to put it politely there’s a very good reason why people my age (in their 30s) call bouldering a ‘young person sport’. It is because we suffered and were hurt all the time from route setting that tried too hard to be hard.
As the community is growing to understand, hand and finger strength take many years to develop. Additionally, we are also learning that climbing on crimps is not the best way to develop finger and hand strength – training on a hang board is the gold standard. Even if it is dreadfully boring.
So as we look to the future of route setting, I hope we will see a lot more big purple holds.
NOTE: I plan to do a blog or two on setting, as I understand it and hope to describe some techniques for forcing some of my favorite movements. Plus, I may also gush over some of my favorite routes during the bouldering World Cups. Stay tuned.